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FROM THE ARCHIVES: Sexist attitudes abundant in past decades

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Sexist attitudes abundant in past decades

Second in a two-part series


The roles of women have changed considerably within the past 50 years.

In a 1977 Aztec Press interview, a young woman shared her experiences as a biker, a stripper and a prostitute. She joined a local biker gang at age 17 and left the group after she had been raped and suffered a broken jaw.

“Women meant nothing to them,” she said. “I wasn’t a person.”

The woman used a pseudonym, although she said she wasn’t ashamed to use her real name. She said she’d seen a dark side of men that is not revealed to everyone and planned to spend the rest of her life helping to protect others from such darkness.

An article from the late ‘70s discussed sexist attitudes in the classroom.

A female majoring in mechanical engineering said many of her instructors assumed she was having difficulty grasping the material and displayed paternal behavior.

Ironically, she said, “Many male instructors try so hard to avoid being sexist that they become even more sexist.”

In an interview from 1981, KOLD news anchor Kathy Randall said women in broadcasting often faced harsh criticism.

Randall cited a recent example when a TV critic had compared Jane Pauley’s I.Q. to that of a cantaloupe. Another critic speculated that Jessica Savitch was too attractive to be an effective reporter.

“There is a negative image attached to women television news reporters and anchors,” she said. “You are the target of many people even though you are just doing your job.”

In 1980, an article about the Every Wo-man’s Center at Pima Community College encouraged both men and women to seek personal support and advice in the office.

A few of the topics that were covered through workshops and film included “Living alone and liking it” and “Sexuality and communication.”

Programs geared toward helping female students increased throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s.

An article from 1992 focused on a “Women in Progress” program, which offered guidance to single mothers and housewives who wanted to further their education and find a career.

Program coordinator Minnie Montez said, “In an initial intensive interview, we try to get a good feel for where they are, where they are going and if they are ready to start.”

The program accepted approximately 90 students each semester and offered help with financial aid, childcare and job placement.

“We’re all about building self-esteem,” Montez said, “so these students can pick up the ball and be self-sufficient.”


FROM THE ARCHIVES: Aztec Press distributes condoms in 1988

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Aztec Press distributes condoms in 1988


wPg07-Archive cartoonIn early issues of the Aztec Press, readers were more likely to see an illustration of a topless woman than an article about contraception.

Gradually, however, safe-sex awareness emerged.

In a 1975 article, a county health educator said venereal diseases do not always have noticeable symptoms, allowing them to spread from one unsuspecting host to the next.

Much like today, one of the most frightening exams for a student to face took place at a doctor’s office. Fear and procrastination often resulted in the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Toni Benson, then coordinator for a STD hotline, said the hotline tried to “share basic health information, insights and provide people with possible alternatives and possible consequences of their behavior.”

In the ‘80s, the outbreak of AIDS ignited increasing concern about sexual precautions.

National Condom Week, which originated at the University of California- Berkeley in 1978, gained popularity at college campuses across the nation.

At Tulane University in Louisiana, “safe sex kits” were distributed in lunch bags with “condom sense” printed on the outside.

Rev. Fred Tondalo, head of a Florida AIDS center, asked hotels to provide condoms to students checking in for spring break.

As part of the awareness effort, Pima Community College permitted the distribution of 6,000 condoms in 1988. The condoms were provided by the Pima County Health Department and distributed by the Aztec Press.

The prophylactics were included in each copy of the December issue. Although some recipients were offended, many students and faculty expressed appreciation and support.

A 1991 spring issue covered a “condom art” contest. Students were encouraged to create flowers and other arrangements from condoms provided by the Tucson AIDS Project and the Pima County Health Department.

El Rio Health Center and Planned Parenthood sponsored the 1992 National Condom Week, which began on Valentine’s Day. Representatives on campus handed out free condoms, lubricants and informational pamphlets.

Planned Parenthood representative Claudia Vanatta Skocpol said a frequently asked question dealt with lubricants. She encouraged the use of water-based lubricants rather than oil-based ones such as Vaseline, which can cause a condom to break.

Magdalena Velasco, an El Rio volunteer, stressed the importance of knowing how to properly use protection.

“We have information on how to use the condom, which is more important than the condom itself,” Velasco said.

FROM THE ARCHIVES:  Remembering our roots

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Remembering our roots



Black history month was established in the ‘70s and is upheld today as a time of reflection. A variety of articles from early issues of the Aztec Press featured key speakers at cultural events in the region.

Alex Haley, the author of “Roots,” spoke in Phoenix in 1977. He discussed the various reactions the book had caused.

“It shocked people so much, while on the other hand it was a cosmetic version of what really did happen,” Haley said.

He explained that he chose to omit some of the more gruesome details because he didn’t deem them necessary for readers to feel the weight of the story.

“I try very consciously to write with the five senses,” Haley said. “But I would no more try to portray what it was really like on a slave ship than I would try to really portray what happened in Nazi Germany.”

One of the most positive reactions that Haley observed was a renewed interest in genealogy. At the time, the national archives had reported an increase of 50 per cent of people interested in their heritage.

He also noted a clarity that often results from examining a time that sparks fierce emotions.

“There seems to be a rather wholesome thing that happens when we have been told the truth,” Haley said. “Particularly when we have dealt previously with mirages, half-truths and myths about an evil.”

Other cultural festivities from the same year took place at both the University of Arizona and Pima Community College. The schools had joined efforts along with Davis Monthan Air Force Base to unify and organize events.

Johnny Bowens, then advisor of the Black Student Alliance, said that one of his main aims was to strengthen the lines of communication between African-Americans and the community.

“People react on the basis of pre-conceived notions,” Bowens said. “We want to break down myths so we can move forward as human beings.”

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Arizona MLK Day resistance spurs boycott

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Arizona MLK Day resistance spurs boycott



The holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. has been in place as long as most young students can remember. Yet others may recall the controversy that accompanied its origins.

Months after the civil rights activist was assassinated in 1968, Congress introduced legislation to make King’s Jan. 15 birthday a federal holiday.

The bill did not become law until 1983. Most states observed the holiday for the first time in 1986.

Arizona was one of a few states to resist the law, and possibly the most publicized.

In the early ‘90s, a number of people, including King’s widow and singer Stevie Wonder, encouraged a boycott of Arizona until the holiday was made official.

Super Bowl XXVII was originally planned to take place in Tempe. The 1993 game was moved to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., in support of the boycott.

Rap group Public Enemy released a song titled “By the Time I Get to Arizona” with a music video that targeted politicians who opposed the holiday.

An Aztec Press article from January 1992 reads, “The issue has become so distorted that if the holiday passes, there will always be the question of whether we passed it simply to get the rest of the country off of our backs.”

The anonymously written editorial continues: “If it fails, we will wonder how many votes were cast against it simply as a hostile reaction to the country’s attempts to make us conform.”

The state’s holdout finally gave way when citizens voted in 1992 to enact the holiday. Arizona observed its first official MLK Day on the third Monday in January 1993.

An Aztec Press article covered a PCC commemoration at East Campus and described how harsh winter weather seemed to add to the power of the ceremony.

Several speakers and musicians scheduled to perform were unable to attend due to the weather conditions.

Nonetheless, Regina Mims, leader of the Prince Chapel’s Voices of Praise choir, was “nonplussed by the lack of instruments and explained that the origins of African American music were rooted in song.”

She led the gathered crowd in songs such as “We Shall Overcome” and “Amazing Grace.”

Johnny Bowens, sociology instructor, spoke about keeping King’s dream going.

“This is a time for all of us to reflect on the man, his message and what he tried to accomplish,” Bowens said. “We must realize that most of the issues which King addressed are still with us today.”

Members of Girl Scout Troop 6801 work at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at Reid Park on Jan. 21. (Aztec Press photo by Larry Gaurano.)

Members of Girl Scout Troop 6801 work at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at Reid Park on Jan. 21. (Aztec Press photo by Larry Gaurano.)

AmericCorps volunteers Cecilia Burruel and Mareya Zepeda-Taylor work a booth during MLK Day festivities at Reid Park on Jan. 21. (Aztec Press photo by Larry Gaurano.)

AmericCorps volunteers Cecilia Burruel and Mareya Zepeda-Taylor work a booth during MLK Day festivities at Reid Park on Jan. 21. (Aztec Press photo by Larry Gaurano.)

FROM THE ARCHIVES Ongoing efforts promote student interest in politics

FROM THE ARCHIVES Ongoing efforts promote student interest in politics



Student interest in politics has waxed and waned over the years at Pima Community College.


Numerous articles from previous issues of the Aztec Press focused on apathy toward student government.


Students generally expressed greater interest in national or city elections, especially in close races or when political scandals were reported.


In February 1974, when president Richard Nixon was being questioned about his involvement in the Watergate scandal, the student newspaper surveyed more than 30 students.


PCC students expressed a wide range of opinions when asked whether Nixon’s resignation would make the country stronger.


“The U.S. will be in just as bad shape whether Nixon resigns or not,” Bob Swanson said. “The problems the country faces will not disappear overnight and neither will Mr. Nixon.”


A few students said resignation would only hide the issue and that Nixon needed to be tried and impeached for his crimes. Others said his resignation would damage the American people’s faith in government.


Student Mike Casetta said the resignation would strengthen the country because it would show that “the people have come together as a majority to force this issue of justice and honesty.”


An October 1974 issue covered the lack of participation in student elections. The most recent election had seen the lowest turnout in PCC history, with 3 percent of the student body voting.


Slightly more than 400 students voted in the 1974 election, compared to 800 voters the previous year.


Newly elected student representatives offered ideas to increase interest and involvement, such as creating an open forum to allow better communication with the board of governors.


A 1975 cartoon commented on a bruising campaign for Tucson mayor. The race featured “a hard-fought, bitter contrast of political, economic and personal philosophies” between incumbent Republican Lewis Murphy and former Democratic mayor James Corbett.


The struggle to capture student attention continued to surface over the decades. A 1990 article encouraged students to become a part of the PCC political process by casting a vote or applying for a position on the governing board.


At the time, there were 36 positions available and just 20 applicants.


Efforts to increase participation included a campaign called Students Are Voting Everywhere 1990, or S.A.V.E. 90. The effort included voter registration drives and “Voice on the Mall” meetings that let students talk with candidates and elected officials.


In 1993, the West Campus student government secretary, Laura Engle, said, “We want to see more activities for the students, more involvement. Mostly, we want to know what the students want.”


A 1994 editorial remarked on the effectiveness of campaigns such as MTV’s Rock the Vote, which helped to raise awareness among younger voters.


An anonymous Aztec Press staff writer summarized the situation: “The fragile world we live in is deeply affected by our government, and so it makes sense that we make a pivotal stance in choosing our future leaders.”


Aztec Press 1975

From the archives

From the archives


Series explores state prison system


First in a two-part series




In 1975, Aztec Press writers participated in an investigative journalism project that focused on Arizona’s prison system.


Under the direction of advanced reporting instructor Bill Waters, students interviewed inmates, ex-convicts, wardens and instructors.


Convicted killer Charles Schmid Jr., the “Pied Piper of Tucson,” was stabbed to death in 1975 by fellow inmates at the state prison in Florence. Ten years earlier, Schmid had been found guilty of triple homicide in a case that sparked four films and a book by Joyce Carol Oates.


David A. Williams taught classes to Schmid and fellow inmates in Florence.


“We put prisoners in and forget about them,” Williams said.


He said it was essential that inmates stay in touch with the world outside prison walls. He feared isolation could ultimately cause inmates to feel more comfortable behind bars, a home away from home and a place to which they could easily return.


The 1975 series voiced concern about inmate idleness: “Keeping from being bored is difficult, especially when there’s over 2,000 bored all at the same time.”


In the 1970s, the state prison housed approximately 2,000 inmates. The medical staff consisted of two physicians, nine medical technicians, two dentists and five psychologists.


An inmate referred to as A.V. told of difficulties involved with seeking treatment, especially from a dentist or psychologist.


“You’re considered very lucky if you get to see the psychos because it takes over four and a half weeks just to make an appointment,” A.V. said.


At the time, he was in his third week of being on a waiting list.


Corrections official Greg Goggins explained that many educational and therapeutic programs were filled to capacity, preventing the majority of inmates from receiving help and treatment.


“If you send a true sociopath or psychopath to the prison, chances are he will not get the in-depth care he needs,” Goggins said.


Aztec Press reporter Oscar Saenz conducted some of the interviews for the investigative project. He was admitted into the prison as a guest of a rock band Black Horizon.


The band gave three performances for minimum, medium and maximum-security inmates. The show was videotaped for those who could not attend, including female prisoners and convicts in solitary confinement.


Almost everyone who was imprisoned wanted to hear the concert, but not everyone was allowed to.


Most also wanted to be involved in sports, work and educational programs, but there was only enough room for a certain number.


A select few were featured in the pages of the Aztec Press. The patient majority is still waiting to have its say.


Next issue: Education and rehabilitation of convicts.




Sidebar poem


Men are Found


in the crust and calcium


the bone tunnels

where pain stumbles down

like a hobo warming his fingers


in the pitch and resonance

the thick vowels

where the tongues of murder are formed;


in the hospitals

where needles tear out their eyes

when they see the bruised lips

of our children;


in the parade of the dirty,

the lost and the unlucky

in the shudder of a delicate


who fell down

the stairs without a parachute;


in the salt and resin

of a woman who is the last

of a sacred culture

all of us remember

but have never been able to find


-Charles Schmid Jr.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: 1970s comics reflect era’s culture, trends

FROM THE ARCHIVES: 1970s comics reflect era’s culture, trends


Aztec Press comics and illustrators have sparked imaginations, added humor and flair, created controversy and helped to reflect the times over the years.

Contributors were rarely granted much recognition. Typically, the most a reader saw of an illustrator’s identity were tiny initials scrawled in a corner.

However, the virtually anonymous artists captured details such as fashion and slang that escaped black-and-white text.

Many comic strips in the ‘70s contained terms like “far out,” “heavy” and “groovy,” often spoken by characters wearing feathered hair, v-necks and bell-bottoms.

Comics reflected the changing roles of women, too.

A 1973 comic strip depicted a scantily clad woman standing near a classroom, offering a young man “non-credit sexual education classes” — paid in advance, of course.

A year later, a comic showed a young woman standing with a sign reading, “Equal rights for women.” A man tells her, “No, I don’t think a woman’s place is just in the kitchen. I think they should clean up the rest of the house too.”

Comics also captured changing views on cigarettes.

Smoking was a controversial topic in the ‘70s. At the time, state law prohibited smoking in classrooms yet it was commonly practiced by both students and instructors.

A 1975 article reported, “Although the security department is charged with maintaining order, it is obviously impossible for their personnel to patrol every classroom to enforce the ban.”

It comes as no surprise that campus security was a popular target. One 1970s comic strip features an enormous figure dressed as a Western sheriff sitting atop a building.

A comic from 1974 shows a rabbit expressing his views on “streaking.” The illustration ran alongside an article discussing how students felt about shedding their clothes and racing through public areas.

At the time, PCC had been challenged by University of Arizona students who were streaking naked down halls and across courtyards. Streakers also raced through Tucson high schools, including Sahuaro and Canyon del Oro.

“Streaking is nothing new,” reporter Lynn Rogalsky wrote. “This exhilarating practice has been around ever since man appeared on the planet.”

Rogalsky said 60 percent of students polled said they would never streak. Some cited religious reasons and others said they were too modest.

A student who chose to remain anonymous said he would streak, but “only in warm weather. Also to protest the ridiculous uptightness of a society that seems to be against anything free or unlimited. I’d streak in front of the White House; what would be more symbolic?”

Janos Molnar said he declined the idea of streaking because, “All streakers are not created equal.”

On a similar note, Jeff Boltman said, “I’d only streak in my house, from the bathroom to my bedroom, with the curtains drawn.”

And Mike McQuade said, “I don’t think the pressure of the world has driven me to that extreme … yet.”

Pg 5 – From the Archives, w/ sidebar Articles spotlight exemplary instructors



Notable instructors have been featured in the Aztec Press since its earliest issues. Many talked about how they were inspired to teach, often through the help of other teachers and students.


Math instructor Norbert Pittner and Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith, who taught history and sociology, received creative teaching awards from the Pima Community College Foundation in 1984. Both were hired as PCC instructors in 1969.


“What turned me on to math was a teacher I had in junior high; he made it all come alive,” Pittner said.


“I’m fortunate to have a job I really like,” Rubio-Goldsmith said. “PCC allows a connection between higher learning and the community.”


In the late ‘70s, an article featured Donald A. Graham, a bearded Sufi priest with spectacles and a wide smile who had earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a master’s degree from University of California, Berkeley.


Graham also taught at Yale, but said he was happy to be teaching religion and writing classes at PCC because he felt it was a part of his spiritual path.


“In reality, everything is so beautiful, shining and luminous,” Graham said. “It is only because of our limited viewpoint that we see evil and ugliness.”


He continued to explain the spiritual path. “At some point, every being will feel a sense of emptiness and will begin to seek something to fill that emptiness.”


Graham filled the empty void through the mystic practice of Sufism.


“Instead of seeking enlightenment by sitting in a cave or a cell,” Graham said, “Sufis pursue their path in the midst of human life and learn to see God in every being they encounter.”


Mentalist Ross Horwitz helped students “hone their psychic skills” in a course he taught in the early ‘90s.


“It doesn’t matter if a person has true psychic ability or if it’s just a very high power of perception,” Horwitz said. “What matters is the way these skills are used.”


The class covered such topics as the history of Gypsies and subliminal signaling.


“I went into teaching the subject because I believe that someone who is an educator should lead a student further,” Horwitz said. “I want the skeptics that join the class to leave with more of an understanding and less skepticism.”


In the fall of 1991, writing instructor Meg Files was featured because of her recently published novel, “Meridian 144.”


Files talked about the four years it took her to write the novel, including the times when she was tempted to “throw the whole thing out the nearest window.” During the editing process, she discarded her prologue and completely rewrote the protagonist.


Nevertheless, Files was pleased with the final results and said she learned a lot from the editing process.


Her advice for the unpublished writer: “Read and read, and write and write.”


Another article from 1991 featured instructor Helena de Crespo, who taught Speech 105. The course primarily helped students interested in drama, singing and public speaking but was open to anyone.


Topics included hip and abdominal exercises, plus jaw, lip and tongue movements. Students also received instruction in panting and controlled breathing.


“Breathing is everything,” Crespo said. “You must learn how to latch onto your voice and use it.”

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FROM THE ARCHIVES 1970s saw influx of Vietnam vets


In 1975, Pima Community College officially observed its first Veterans Day celebration.

Festivities included live music, guest speakers, a flag raising ceremony and a shrine to honor Col. Gutterson, a former POW.

The Rincon Exchange Program donated the Freedom Shrine, which featured a variety of commemorative plaques including 28 documents ranging from the Bill of Rights to the World War II treaty.

Aztec Press reported in Fall 1975 that colleges across the nation were experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of veterans enrolling. “Nowhere is this more evident than in the community college,” staff writer Eddie Terrell observed.

Then, as now, PCC had the highest vet enrollment of any college in the state.

A 1977 Veterans Day celebration offered advice from officials who could answer questions about disability claims and dishonorable discharge. There were also doctors present to talk about drug abuse, rehabilitation programs and counseling.

“We’re encouraging vets to come meet these people,” Veterans Advisor Mike St. John said. “A lot of the problems vets come to us with are beyond our scope. This will give them a chance to find out what to do to solve them.”

Proper use of GI Bill funds was a major topic in the late ‘70s. Stories reported cases of fraud, as well as a general sense of confusion and frustration.

By Spring 1978, signs of improvement were becoming evident. VA administrator Max Cleland and a Veteran’s Affairs Committee began working through previous problems by keeping in close contact with the education community.

In 1979, the newspaper interviewed Vietnam veteran James E. Kruse. He joined the Army in 1967 after a Las Vegas judge said charges for possession of marijuana would be dropped if he joined. He was 17 at the time. Within a year, he was in Vietnam.

“I was brought up believing that our government could do no wrong, as taught in history books and projected by the news,” Kruse said.

After serving 18 months in Vietnam, Kruse returned “disillusioned with the country, full of questions and not getting any answers from the government regarding moral issues.”

He searched for answers among the many movements surfacing, and experimented with drugs.

“We did a lot of acid in those days,” Kruse said. “Many people in the Army got into heavy drugs.”

Eventually he left the party scene.

“I didn’t find any fulfillment in drugs either,” Kruse said. “Inside I had a yearning to accomplish something.”

Kruse was working as a hospital orderly and continuing his education at PCC. He said the youth of his generation were looking for something to live for, something to fight for.

“They started waking up to a more active way of thinking,” he said. “They demanded facts instead of just submissiveness. They weren’t going to take the ‘moon is made of green cheese’ attitude anymore.”

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From the archives: Satanic rituals common in 1990s



Satanism and witchcraft were popular topics in the pages of the Aztec Press 20 years ago.

Areas such as Greasewood Park near Pima Community College West Campus, Peppersauce Canyon and Picacho Peak were notorious for occult activity.

Many satanic ritual sites were found around Halloween, according to officials.

“We’re in the field a lot and stumble across rituals. An officer can be in considerable danger,” said Tim Baumgarten, program coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish department. “By killing a police officer, they would gain a lot of strength in that ritual.”

A November 1991 story followed the case of former PCC students who appeared on a controversial cable show, “The Great Satan at Large.”

Host Louis Perfidio dressed like the devil while drinking beer and cursing frequently in a guttural voice.

The program opened with a shot of a U.S. flag with a swastika spray-painted on it. During the show, violent and sexual images flashed on a screen.

The show was cancelled after only a few episodes and sparked a debate over free speech.

Michael Sherman, “The Sexecutioner,” and Thomas Ferguson, “The Jester,” faced four felony charges for obscenity. Perfidio was indicted for presentation of obscene materials and commercial exploitation of a minor.

The minor was Kerie Ann Francis, “Morticia the Limitless Sex Slave.” She was 17 when the shows aired, and married Sherman several weeks later.

“They’re saying I was sexually exploited by my husband,” Francis said at her arraignment. “I am not a victim.”

Sam Behrend, executive director of Tucson Community Cable, called the case “a classic issue of when rights collide.”

In October 1992, PCC student Diana Vicari was murdered. Her severed arms were found in a dumpster. Although there was no evidence linking her death to cults, satanic symbols were discovered near the dumpster.

A December 1992 issue covered a seminar on satanic cults and rituals. One speaker was Deb Kirk, a therapist and specialist in sexual abuse who worked with survivors of cult-affiliated abuse.

“You can’t protect yourself or your family if you don’t recognize that there are people who want to exploit and hurt you,” Kirk said.

The article warned that satanic followers are not always stereotypical characters.

“You wouldn’t know if your neighbor or the person next to you was in a cult just by appearance alone,” Kirk said.

Kirk warned desert enthusiasts to be aware of fire-rings and symbols such as pentagrams and ancient scripts, and encouraged students not to let fear or anger control them.

“Take power back by making constructive changes in your behavior to help keep yourself safe,” Kirk said.

A 1991 Halloween issue reported that a doe’s severed head had been found in a mailbox.

“All the brains were gone, the right ear was cut off,” Tucson Police Department officer John Burrow said. “It was kind of jagged and rough but it was clean cut, like you cut out of a jack-o-lantern.”

An Aztec Press staff writer questioned Wiccan religion members of the Desert Henge Coven.

“Witches are so anti-killing,” high priestess Jane Dark Wynd said.

High priest Rik Johnson explained, “Wicca is a nature religion with teachings designed to keep people closer to nature.”

Coven members participate in rituals, many of which are performed naked in remote sites, Johnson said, but the rituals are not violent.

“We go in to the Red Cross and we donate blood, that’s how we do blood sacrifices,” Johnson said.

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Groups seek alternative to Columbus Day


In the early issues of the Aztec Press, Columbus Day was mentioned almost as rarely as the observance of Halloween.

In the decades that followed, Halloween gained popularity and eventually earned annual recognition. This is not the case with Columbus Day, which is featured only a handful of times in the pages of October publications.


An article from 1979 outlines the history of the holiday, taking note of both the 300th and 400th anniversaries of the initial arrival of Christopher Columbus on American soil. The earliest celebrations of the holiday were generally honored by Italian Americans.

In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation encouraging U.S. citizens to “cease from toil and devote themselves to such exercises as may best express honor to the discoverer and their appreciation of the great achievements of the four completed centuries of American life.”

Many students, from yesterday and today, know that Columbus “sailed the ocean blue” in the year 1492. Few students are aware of the controversy that is associated with the holiday, yet that is changing.

This controversy is reflected in the pages of the Aztec Press, particularly in an article from October 2000. The article covered the 2nd annual Celebration and Remembrance of the Children of the Sun, which was also referred to as Counter-Columbus Day.


One of the organizers of the event was a Native American, Roland Goodbird Salinas.


“Counter-Columbus Day is an educational day to inform people that Christopher Columbus didn’t find America,” Salinas said. “And to teach people that our people did.”


When Columbus arrived in the Bahamas on Oct. 12, 1492, he thought he had reached an Asian spice island.

It wasn’t until his third voyage to the Americas that Columbus realized he was not exploring Asian territories. Instead, he was venturing into a “new world.”

For centuries Columbus has been credited with “discovering” a land that was already inhabited by various tribes.

The indigenous people of the Bahamas were forced into slavery by Columbus and the settlers who followed him. Some tribesmen and women were brought back to Europe as slaves or trophies.

The dark details of exactly how Columbus “discovered” America have sparked much opposition to the federal holiday.

One opposition group is the Transform Columbus Day Alliance, based in Denver. The alliance organizes rallies and events to help spread awareness about the meaning of the holiday.

Their principles are explained on their website,

One statement reads, “The destruction of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and Africa is considered to be an acceptable cost for the construction of the current settler societies of the Western hemisphere. We denounce these theories and practices.”


Other societies that have attempted to transform the holiday include South Dakota’s Native American Day and Hawaii’s Discoverer’s Day.

In 2002, Venezuela changed the name of Columbus Day to Dia de la Resistencia Indigena (Day of the Indigenous Resistance). Many other Latin American countries observe Dia de la Raza (Day of the People/Race) instead of Columbus Day.

Despite the differences of name and meaning, most celebrations offer similar events ranging from pow-wows to parades.

At the 2nd annual Counter-Columbus Day, dancers for Mexica, also known as the Aztecs, performed dances such as The Dance of Rain (Tlaloc), The Dance of the Ancestors (Chi Chi Mecca) and the Dance of the Four Directions (Naui Ollin).


 “We do the dances to honor the different spirits and elements of the universe,” dancer Ella Zepeda said. “The reason we offer prayers through our dances is to remember our people and remember the struggle and sacrifice our ancestors went through, so we can make sure they live on in balance and in harmony with the elements in the universe.”


Costume winners display creativity

Costume winners display creativity

A Halloween cartoon from a 1976 issue of the student newspaper.


Over the past 40 years, Pima Community College students newspaper have chosen Halloween costumes ranging from Strawberry Shortcake to Morticia Addams.

Costumes were rarely featured in early issues of the school paper. The only mention of the Halloween holiday was found in occasional cartoons, one of which featured President Richard Nixon as Frankenstein’s monster.

A 1980 fall issue covered a Halloween event on West Campus that served “southern fried human legs.” Costumes donned at the time included the Mad Hatter, Strawberry Shortcake, zombies, ghouls and psychotic clowns.

During the ‘80s, Halloween costumes became a more popular topic in fall issues. This was partially because the photography quality of the school paper was improving.

In 1985, a blood drive was held in conjunction with the annual costume contest. The costume winner that year was Dracula’s bride.

Two years later, the contest winner donned a freakish mask, plaid pants and a tie. Other contestants included a nun, witch, jailbird, French maid and Morticia Addams.

A 1988 article encouraged students to take a creative and economical route for costumes by searching attics, basements and thrift stores. Costume suggestions included Paul Bunyan and Rambo.

A year later, the top three contenders in the costume contest were an old Chinaman, the Pokémon Blackthorn dragon and Raggedy Ann.

A 1993 issue spotlighted theater department costume skills. Students used makeup to create Marilyn Monroe look-alikes, Neanderthals and Japanese samurais.

The following year, a cave woman took first place in the costume contest, and “brontosaurus burgers” were served. Little Bo Peep and Elvis Presley also made an appearance that year.

“Nightmare on Congress Street” was featured in 2000. Students photographed in that issue included a burly man dressed as Tinkerbell with a cigar dangling from his mouth.

In the same issue, students were asked their opinions about the best and worst Halloween costumes.

Cassandra Posing said Cleopatra was one of the best costumes, but also one of the hardest to pull off well.

Kerri Lichtenberger thought Teletubbies were the worst costumes, while Janet Gallegos said, “I think the best costume is always the original one.”

FROM THE ARCHIVES:  Features spotlight fall fashion trends

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Features spotlight fall fashion trends


Fall fashion trends have been a common subject in many September issues of Aztec Press.

In 1983, Georgeanne Fimbres of Pima Community College’s fashion design and clothing department predicted a nonromantic or practical trend.

“The computer age, math and high technology will all affect fashion trends,” she said.

Almost three decades later, many students are happy to leave behind the polka-dots and ruffles of the ‘80s. Others confidently reinvent styles donned in previous decades.

From the same 1983 issue, a headline reads “Preppy style dominates fall scene.”

Writer Cindy Roedig wrote about the “elegant tailored look of the 1890s” and said “preppy” and “new wave” styles echo fashions from the late 1800s.

“This style is found mostly in blouses, and characterized by this ‘leg of mutton’ sleeve with a buttoned collar and neck bow,” Roedig wrote.

She also mentioned the comeback of the cowl neck.

“Men’s fashions, as a whole, have changed little,” she added. “We should still see clothing similar to last year’s styles.”

Writer Lisa Pawley asked six students about clothing choices.

Only one, Shawn McHugh, was male. “I’m not a very fashionable man,” he said. “I usually look for comfort, a good fit.”

Monica Nafarrate was another student seeking comfort.

“I look for something I can live in,” she said. On West Campus, she wanted clothes that allowed her to “walk around in, walk upstairs in, especially with all these stairs.”

Other students discussed the “new wave look” and listed garments such as cut-off sweatshirts, geometric prints, sleeveless T-shirts and painter hats.

A featured photo showed two students walking down a hallway wearing jeans. The caption read, “Two Pima students cross the West Campus in the longest-standing clothing fashion, jeans.”

Denim has withstood the test of time since Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss patented blue jeans in1873.

Jeans have changed shape, color and design over the years, but remain popular.

Aztec Press photo by Sierra Russell.

'80s reporter covered Mexico City earthquake

’80s reporter covered Mexico City earthquake


Almost all equipment needed to produce a newspaper has changed over the last 30 years. Newsrooms used to be littered with pica rulers, proportion wheels and Exacto knives.

Nowadays, all that is really needed is an Associated Press stylebook and a computer equipped with word processing and page design software.

However, one constant remains: journalists.

Twenty-eight years ago, Pima Community College student Jim Posner joined the Aztec Press staff. During his time on the paper from 1983-85, Posner wrote about everything from political candidates to enjoying the taste of beer before noon on Sundays.

Posner’s biggest story was brought on by a natural disaster. In September 1985, a devastating earthquake hit Mexico City.

U.S. Sen. Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., presented PCC with a list of 143 names. The people on the list had been in Mexico the day of the quake, but had not gotten in touch with their Tucson connections since the event.

The college handed the list over to the newspaper as information for an article.

Posner went to Mexico City, enlisted help and began making phone calls, searching for the missing people.

The Aztec Press reported that Posner found five families during his first night of calls.

DeConcini thanked Posner aloud in Congress, so that his efforts would be recorded in the Congressional Record.

While he was in Mexico, Posner put together an article on what Mexico needed to heal. He also composed a photo essay illustrating Mexico City in the weeks after the earthquake. The package was printed in the Aztec Press on Oct. 23, 1985.

Posner got his start in journalism while enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, writing for Center Air Material Area Europe. He wrote music reviews, plus stories on newcomers to each unit and on the air police.

At PCC, Posner left in mid-semester during Fall 1985 to pursue career as a photojournalist.

He remembers a slightly different journalism program than what exists today.

In 1983, the Aztec Press published every week. The newsroom was about 75 percent smaller, students bought personal ads in the paper and there were weekly Friday morning meetings.

While working at the paper, Posner’s titles were in sales, distribution and office management.

Posner, who is now retired, recently returned to PCC to speak with current staffers.

“It’s been about 25 years since I’ve been gone,” he said. “It’s kind of like an anniversary.”


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From the Archives: 1981 editorial called for stricter gun laws


Over the past 40 years, the Aztec Press has published many articles and editorials regarding state and national gun laws.

In April 1981, staff writer Kate Faggella wrote an editorial listing then-recent gun-related deaths or accidents. She wrote:

  • Last July in Tucson, a father accidently shot and killed his 14-year-old son. He thought the boy was a burglar.
  • In January 1980, a man accidently shot and killed himself while demonstrating the safety features on his pistol.
  • In December, singer John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman.
  • Last week, the president of the United States was shot by John Warnock Hinckley Jr.


“All these guns were apparently easily and legally purchased,” Faggella wrote.

In 1981, Arizonans needed only a driver’s license to buy a handgun.

Faggella’s editorial called for stronger legislation. “Handgun legislation may not reduce crime in America, but handgun legislation would certainly reduce the deaths from this all-too-common weapon,” she wrote.

In the last 12 years, there have been 18 mass shootings nationwide, including those at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood and Tucson.


The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence cites the following statistics:

  • Thirteen of the 18 mass shootings have been in states with lenient gun laws.
  • Zero of the shootings were stopped by a pedestrian with a handgun.
  • Arizona had 15 gun-related deaths per 100,000 people in 2007, when the national average was 11.


After the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, the federal government set out new laws for gun sales.

Anyone purchasing a gun must undergo a background check and fill out a 4473 form that registers the weapon’s serial number. A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives form asks about citizenship, plus criminal and mental history. Lying on the 4473 is a felony.

States are required to report to the national background-check system the names of anyone deemed mentally incompetent or committed for mental-health treatment. People on the list are not permitted to own a gun.

However, records provided by the Arizona Department of Justice suggest that only about one-third of the names that should be reported are on the list. Some lawmakers say that at least two million dangerously mentally ill people are missing from the national list.

In Arizona, three pending bills would allow guns on college campuses for instructors and others over the age of 21, as long as they have a valid permit. (See related story, this page.)

Despite Arizona’s reputation for being a gun-friendly state, a 2008 public radio poll found that 73 percent of registered Arizona voters opposed allowing people to carry concealed weapons in bars or on college campuses.

However, others feel that allowing guns on campus would make schools safer.

Jordan Condra, a Pima Community College journalism student, is a gun advocate who supports the idea of students and teachers being able to carry weapons on campus.

“You know when you walk on campus and it says ‘gun free zone?’ Is a criminal or a crazy person going to see that sign and say ‘Ugh, guess I can’t do what I came here to do?’” Condra asked. “The only people that really hurts is the law-abiding citizens.”

Condra carries a .22-caliber handgun that her father gave her.

“I carry it everywhere I’m allowed,” she said. “It makes me feel so safe because I’m such a tiny, not so strong, person. A gun is really my only means of defense.”

Condra doesn’t think extreme cases should taint gun ownership as a whole. “It just makes me sad that these isolated events overshadow all the good people who have guns,” she said.

She believes criminals will find a way to access guns despite tightened regulations, and wants to be able to defend herself.

“I know that I feel a lot safer knowing I have my gun with me,” she said.