A group of UC Riverside students is making sure the statue of Cesar Chavez in downtown Riverside looks its best.
As part of their community service mission, students from La Union Estudiantil de la Raza, or UER, fraternity have volunteered to maintain the memorial to the Chicano labor leader.
Since late October, students have been cleaning the bronze statue and the area around it every two weeks.
“We’re trying to give back to the community as much as possible,” said Jose Leonardo, a fourth-year student and president of UER. “Our pillars are education, brotherhood and community.”
It’s not the first such project for the fraternity, which has helped clean a section of University Avenue between Iowa and Chicago avenues for several years through the Riverside Adopt-A-Street program.
Alexander Ramirez, a fifth-year student and minister of community service for the fraternity, said the group gladly took on the opportunity to maintain the Cesar Chavez statue. While he said they would have maintained any of the statues downtown, it was especially significant for the members of the Chicano and Latino fraternity to do so for the Chavez memorial.
UER was one of the groups that sponsored the 2013 installation of the statue led by the Riverside Latino Network. The statue is part of the Peace Walk in the Main Street pedestrian mall that also includes memorials to Ismael Villegas, Martin Luther King Jr., Ahn Chang Ho, Mahatma Gandhi, and Eliza Tibbets.
The eight members of the fraternity take turns, with four of them going out every two weeks, with a step ladder, sponges, and buckets to clean the statue of any graffiti or paint and pick up litter around the area, Ramirez said.
“We want to show people care about the statue,” Ramirez said. “We pick up anything in the surrounding area to make sure it looks clean, pristine, and presentable.”
The fraternity committed to keep maintaining the statue through the academic year, but Ramirez said its members are happy to continue as needed.