Grajeda's response to chancellor Zumberge's request


Grajeda's response to chancellor Zumberge's request


In this letter Professor Grajeda respectfully declines a request by chancellor Zumberge for Grajeda to remain on the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Mexican-American affairs. Of all the people that are asked to remain or become new members, Grajeda is the only one who declines. He gives his reasoning in a mater-of-fact recall of the happenings of the past two years in the committee (click on thumbnail to enlarge image).


RG05 Archives and Special Collections UNL Libraries


1972 September 12

Original Format



University of Nebraska
English Department
September 12, 1972

Chancellor James H. Zumberge
The University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Office of the Chancellor
City Campus

Dear Chancellor Zumberge:

Thank you for your invitation of July 28 to serve as a member of the Mexican-American Advisory Committee and the University of Nebraska. For reasons which I shall discuss below, I must decline the appointment.

You will recall that during the second semester of the 1971-72 academic year, shortly after your arrival on campus, the Advisory Committee had its initial meeting with you. Immediately after that meeting the Chicano members of the Committee caucused to discuss means by which the group might more effectively function to improve the educational opportunities of the Chicano community. Present at that meeting were Simon Orta, Rev. Robert Navarro, Joe Renteria, Joe Aguilar, Marta Hernandez, Ben Salazar, and I. All of us agreed that if the Advisory group was ever to be a viable channel of communication with your office, that it was of the utmost importance to have an active Chicano membership. At the same time, however, we saw that there were persons (nominal members of the Advisory Committee) from Scottsbluff, Grand Island, and Lincoln who had attended but one meeting, and others who had never attended. These absences we understood as the result of inconvenience involved in traveling relatively long distances to attend meetings of the Lincoln campus; or to sheer indifference to the work of the Committee. All of us present at that caucus, therefore, unanimously decided that those persons who had been inactive members of the Committee would be replaced by others for whom attending meetings would not be such a great inconvenience. We agreed that Mr. Orta should schedule a meeting with you to discuss this very matter.

That second meeting with you was attended by Simon Orta, Joe Renteria, Joe Aguilar, Romeo Guerra, Ben Salazar, Marta Hernandez, and me. It was at that time, you will recall, that we discussed with you our plans to reconstitute the Committee’s membership. Your response was quite favorable; and it was in fact your suggestion—agreed upon by all present—that it is usually a healthy policy to introduce “new blood” into established groups to insure for a continuous fresh contribution and to avoid the entrenching of personal interests. Your recommendation at that time was for the Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Orta, to communicate to your office the names of persons who we wished to have appointed to the group.

As before, the Chicano members of the Committee caucused to discuss the matter. A list of names was agreed upon and Mr. Orta was instructed to communicate this list to you.

It is within this context that I note—with some surprise and with extreme disappointment—significant discrepancies between the list which we as a group recommended and the persons which you have in fact appointed. Since I assume that your acquaintance with the Nebraska Chicano community is limited, I can only conclude that in making your decision you chose to respond to other voices rather than to the voice of the Chicano members of the existing Advisory group.

I cannot in conscience serve on an Advisory Committee from whom advice is sought, but whose advice is then rather flagrantly ignored because voices of individuals—loud as they are—are judged to be more imperative that the voice of a group. I personally find it humiliating and insulting to serve on a Committee that is purportedly devoted to assisting Chicanos, when the voice of Chicanos is ignored in the very make-up of that Committee’s membership.

I wish not to be misunderstood. My protest of your action is based not on any animus or distrust which I may or may not have for particular individuals; rather, it is a protest against a procedure by which the tempered voice of a group is ignored in preference for the loudly insistent voice of an individual.

In recounting above the manner by which we as a group arrived at certain decisions, I have deliberately gone into some detail in order to illustrate a principle by which we choose to operate on matters that relate to the Chicano community. You will note that I was very careful to explicitly identify two meetings as “Chicano caucuses” of the Advisory Committee. Though we accept the participation of non-Chicanos on the committee, all of the individuals named above, I believe, agree that we as Chicanos must begin to make decisions that affect our lives and those of our children. It becomes more and more difficult to accept leaders and spokesmen who are chosen for us. (It is my judgment that the non-Chicano members of the committee understand the implications of this and are in full accord with the principle.)

I fully realize that this group is the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee. Yet, it my opinion, that in the present situation—when the Chancellor is recently arrived to the State and hence has few if any contacts with the Chicano community—the minimum we could reasonably and with dignity accept would be to decide the membership of a committee that exists to serve us.

You can be assured, however, that, though not a member of the Advisory Committee, I will continue to do what I can to assist this Institution to serve the educational needs of Nebraska Chicanos.

I wish you and the Committee well.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Grajeda

cc: Simon Orta




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