What started off as a bang, ended more in a fizzle

 by Aimee Tucker
 published on Friday, April 6, 2007

EQUAL: Matthew Jezierski, a lead officer of Caucasian American Malaes of ASU, hopes the group got across a message about equal rights.

What's in a name?
Quite a bit, said Samantha Schwartz, a sociology junior and original member of Caucasian American Men of ASU.
CAMASU's name, modeled after African American Men of ASU, combined with the controversy surrounding a group that featured white males, may have scared students away, Schwartz said.
Controversy swirled this fall around the proposition that Caucasian men wanted more representation on ASU's campus.
CAMASU, dedicated to promoting European culture, never became an official ASU club despite national media attention last fall.
"It's still really a taboo, unfortunately," Schwartz said, referring to white culture groups.
CAMASU members considered changing the name, but it was "basically just a publicity stunt to cause an uproar and get people to start thinking about racism," she said.
But Matthew Jezierski, the club's founder, said his promotion of CAMASU was more than just a publicity stunt.
"It was a serious issue," he said.
Even though some people automatically think of white supremacy, "Caucasian" is an ethnicity and not a derogatory term, said Jezierski, an anthropology sophomore.
And a lot of people supported the club, Jezierski added.
"Surprisingly, we got mostly positive feedback," he said.
Despite the club's praise and publicity, hardly anyone showed up to the meetings, Schwartz said.
Officers gave up on the club after a couple of meetings because of the lack of attendance, Jezierski said.
The group did lead to interested students joining other European culture clubs, such as German Devils Deutsch Club, he said.
Jezierski, who is Polish, said he joined a Polish group on campus.
David Kirkland, president of German Devils, said he doesn't know whether members of CAMASU joined his club.
He said he supported the ideas behind CAMASU, mainly that everyone has a culture and every culture has to be included, but he prefers groups for specific cultures, such as French or Spanish.
"I think [Jezierski] had a pretty good idea, but I think a lot of people misunderstood what he was trying to do," Kirkland said.
Potential CAMASU members may have been "afraid of being labeled racist" or had a "fear of the crowd's opinion," he said.
Kirkland was never involved with CAMASU, but he "would recommend and support any cultural clubs," he said.
Although CAMASU didn't pan out, Schwartz said she is still glad she got involved.
"I met a lot of people through it and made lots of friends," she said.
As for CAMASU's fate, Jezierski said the outcome is "a mixed blessing."
"We're happy that we got our voices out," he said.
But he said he wasn't happy with the media's negative portrayal of the group or people's hysteria over the issue. He felt that students were driven away from the group because they ran the chance of being unfairly labeled.
Jezierski said he plans to focus on school for the moment, but he has discussed the possibility of putting on a European festival.
Hopefully people got the message, he said.
"As political issues come up, I'm definitely going to get my voice out there and continue to raise awareness of European culture," he said.
Reach the reporter at: aimee.tucker@asu.edu.

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