Austin Jansen/AS Publicity Center

Jordyn Kehle/The AS Review

Cadillacs, Chevys, Pontiacs and Buicks. What could these classic cars all possibly have in common? They’ll all be ridin’ low in Western’s Flag Plaza on Sunday, May 15. Western’s Movimiento Estudiantíl Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) chapter is hosting the 11th annual “Ridin’ Low in the 3-6-0 Lowrider Show.”

With roots stemming from the civil rights era, MEChA. is a nationwide organization with student-branches located all over the country. MEChA is not restricted to college campuses, but also includes student movements in middle schools and high schools.

According to Nadia Saldaña-Spiegle, one of two Pacific Northwest representatives, MEChA advocates equality, social justice and human rights not just for the Chicano community, but for all communities of color or anyone who is marginalized.

“An important thing about the word ‘Chicano’ in MEChA is that it’s not as much an identity as it is a philosophy—it’s not a Chicano or Mexican club, it’s more about fighting for educational rights for everybody,” Saldaña-Spiegle said.

Guided by this philosophy, Western’s MEChA welcomes anyone to join its organization and attend its weekly meetings every Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Academic West building, room 304.

“MEChA brings a safe space to talk about issues like racism, sexism and homophobia, and in doing so we bring a lot of identities together and have a way of fighting oppression,” Saldaña-Spiegle said. “We strengthen our community by making it a safer place for everybody.”

Throughout the school year, MEChA is involved in several different events such as selling homemade tamales to students in order to raise money to help support low-income families. The club also initiated the Migrant Youth Leadership Conference, an event that brings local middle school and high school students to Western’s campus to encourage migrant youth to pursue higher education. Although MEChA is involved in numerous events throughout the year, their main event remains the annual Lowrider Show.

According to Francisco Ivarra, Lowrider Show committee member, Western’s MEChA established the Lowrider Show 11 years ago with a mission to deconstruct negative stereotypes and celebrate positive lowrider culture. Classic lowrider cars, trucks and bikes have been a part of Latino culture for several decades.

The Ridin’ Low in the 3-6-0 Lowrider Show is the nation’s only lowrider car show hosted on a university campus. This year, show organizers are expecting between 75 to 100 lowrider vehicles including classic 1967 Impalas, Cadillacs and “donks,” a term used for inexpensive American-produced sedans that have been modified to increase height while showcasing large-diameter wheels.

Each lowrider is eligible to enter in the show’s formal car competition with different categories including best in bike, best in show and a hop contest to showcase some of the one-pump and  two-pump lowriders’ hydraulics. Each category will be judged by officials and winners will be granted different prizes from MEChA.

According to MEChA budget authority Michel Perez-Guzman, although the cars are the main part of the show, the Lowrider Show is a family event with several activities planned throughout the day. Among the activities are jalapeno and watermelon eating contests, scavenger hunts, live music and dance performances, a dunk tank and inflatable obstacle courses for kids. If jalapenos and watermelons aren’t exactly your style, there will also be several local food vendors, including two taco trucks.

Last year’s show brought more than 1,000 people throughout the day, among them travelers from Idaho, Vancouver, Oregon and all over Washington. However, MEChA members are hoping for even more at this year’s event.

“I am hoping we go even bigger this year, and with the hard work and dedication of my fellow Mechistas, I know we can make it happen,” Ivarra said.