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Pima grapples with budget limit law

Pima grapples with budget limit law



Pima Community College won a narrow victory earlier this year when a bill in the state legislature that would have cost the college an additional $30 million in spending failed.

The vote came less than a year after the state eliminated $7.1 million in funding to the college.

“It’s something that would have had a catastrophic effect if it had passed, because we would have had to immediately reduce our budget because of that bill,” said Michael Peel, government relations liaison for PCC. “We had to move quickly with the advocacy against this and all the community colleges were against such a bill.”

According to Pima’s Executive Vice-Chancellor of Finance David Bea, “You’re talking about massive cuts. It would have meant layoffs and cutting high -cost programs.”

Rep. Justin Olson, R-Mesa, introduced HB 2442 during a legislative session on Feb. 19, which would have changed a formula limiting Pima’s expenditures,  based on full-time student enrollment, to reflect the college’s actual enrollment as opposed to the estimate the college currently provides.

The bill is currently on hold while a study committee hears cases from community colleges, local businesses and the Arizona Tax Research Association. Pima administrators have attended the three sessions held so far to advocate for the college’s current budget decisions.

The formula calculates expenditure limitation for Arizona community colleges, which were introduced into Arizona’s state constitution in 1980, to restrict the spending of money collected from property taxes within each county.

The current calculation takes a snapshot of Arizona community college spending 35 years ago, adjusts for inflation and enrollment and dictates how much PCC can spend in revenue collected from property taxes.

The legislative committee spared Arizona’s community colleges in deciding to table the bill. Rep. David Stevens, R-Sierra Vista, introduced another bill that formed a study committee to explore the issues surrounding the calculations of Pima’s and other community colleges’ expenditure limitations.

“The formula is nutso,” said Libby Howell, spokeswoman for PCC.

“It’s this very arcane formula,” Howell added. “It uses a price index that nobody uses. It’s not valuable.”

The majority of support for HB 2442 comes from the ATRA, Olson’s previous employer. ATRA represents large business interests with officials from businesses like CenturyLink, Intel and Southwest Gas populating its board of directors, according to the group’s website.

“ATRA is very influential at the state level,” Bea said.

In defense of the bill, ATRA’s senior research analyst, Sean McCarthy, maintained that while multiple facets of state governance must adhere to expenditure limitation, community colleges are the only “jurisdictions” that have the ability to so freely dictate their budget.

“This provides a good step forward,” he said. “Right now what we’re doing is, essentially, disrespecting the constitution.”

However, now that the issue of expenditure limitation calculations is being discussed, almost all parties involved agree that some change has to be made.

“The expenditure limitation problem is a complex one,” Kristen Bollini, a lobbyist for community colleges in Arizona, said during public comments when the bill was introduced. “The estimates versus actual FTSE is a very small component of an overall challenging formula for the community colleges.”

In September, ATRA released a report analyzing Arizona community colleges’ finances, and accused Pima of exaggerating the estimate of full-time enrollment in order to “sidestep a declining expenditure limit.”

Indeed, PCC reported an FTSE of 23,000 while current enrollment hovers somewhere around 18,000—an overestimate Pima officials knowingly made.

Bea said “it would have been extremely unlikely” for Pima to reach such high levels of enrollment, as the college has seen enrollment decline since 2011.

However, like Pima, other community colleges have the tendency to vastly overestimate their enrollment in order to maximize expenditure limitations.

In 2014, Mohave, Graham and Pinal community college districts estimated FTSEs at a higher percentage of actual FTSEs than Pima.

The college stands by its estimate as it claims the extra cash is necessary to operate in the 21st century.

Howell said that the exaggerated estimate “allows us the opportunity for growth and to plan ahead. If you told any other kind of business that they could estimate what their customer demand was going to be, it’d completely hamstring them.”

A major difference between 1980s Pima and today’s Pima is the higher cost of technical programs such as nursing, dental hygiene and truck driver training. The current formula for expenditure limitations does not reflect the higher per-student cost of these programs compared to per-student costs of 1980.

“We are very different today than we were in 1980,” Bollini said in defense of all Arizona community colleges. “The programs this state needs are very different today than they were in 1980, and it’s time to adjust the formula.”

Pima also maintained a “fiscally conservative” budget in 1980, placing them far below the average of Arizona community colleges. In fact, Pima had the lowest expenditure per student of all Arizona community colleges in 1980. This allows other colleges to spend more per student than PCC.

If Pima’s expenditure limitation was set to the average of all Arizona community colleges, the college would see a $60 million increase in available funds.

“It’s a fascinating case of policy gone awry and not understanding the long-term implications,” Peel said.

The college’s expenditure limitations do not affect the rate of property taxes. PCC has maintained a tax rate below the state average for the last 10 years.

Almost every community college district in the state raises property tax rates the maximum 2 percent every year, and Pima doesn’t have a secondary tax, unlike some districts.

A few other nuances of expenditure limitation keep community colleges from being able to maximize their potential budget, such as what is and isn’t included in the law.

One common example is that funding for buildings are exempt from the expenditure limitation.

“We could build a building, but we can’t run a program in the building to educate the students,” said Howell.

If changes are made that aren’t in the colleges’ best interests, costs may need to be accounted for in other areas. Currently, tuition is the largest source of income for colleges that is not included in the expenditure limit.

“That puts huge upward pressure on tuition,” Bollini said. “If we’re going to continue to operate community colleges in an affordable manner…tuition increases are not the way to go.”

Also included in the expenditure limit are certain financial involvements from local businesses.

According to Bea, depending on how a contract is worded, if a business wants to fund a program at a community college, the college may not be able to accept due to expenditure limitation.

“We’re trying to maintain the very expensive workforce development programs, the very programs that we’re penalized for providing in a time of economic need for Arizona,” Bollini said.

This has rallied support for community colleges from local businesses in the ongoing study committee.

A Tucson company called World View is one such business that came to Pima’s aid in the latest study session on Sept. 30. World View is a space-tourism company that builds high altitude balloons to send people into space beginning in 2017.

Maricela Solis de Kester, a government relations representative for World View, said during the study session that the company may have to move to Florida for better access to workforce development programs.

The company approached PCC about hosting a program to train 400 employees for a prospective factory but Pima is unable to develop the program due to expenditure limitations.

“If a business wants to go to us and say they want to continue and extend a program, they should be able to do that without any barriers,” Peel said. “We’re in a day and age where grants and entrepreneurial activity and business investment are the future.”

While all parties agree that something must be done to address the issue of expenditure limitations, no certain solution is in sight. With the current legislative session coming to a close, time is running out for legislators to arrive at a solution.

College officials said several options exist that may satisfy the needs of all community colleges. Possible changes include weighing certain programs to receive more money or changing the way the formula accounts for inflation.

“There’s a lot of areas that we’d like to see improved,” Peel said. “The question is, how beneficial is one change compared to other changes to the law? That’s where the negotiations get very complicated. There’s all these factors you have to take into account.”

Pima plugs away at accreditation

Pima plugs away at accreditation



Pima Community College officials continue to make progress rectifying concerns regarding the college’s accreditation status.

On Nov. 2, Acting Provost Dolores Durán-Cerda and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Accreditation Bruce Moses sent an email to Pima’s faculty and staff to inform them of the status of Pima’s accreditation.

The update is part of process that began in 2012 when PCC was first investigated following concerns reported by the Coalition for Accountability, Integrity, Respect and Responsibility.

Pima’s accreditation agency, the Higher Learning Commission, sent a fact-finding team to the college in January 2013 for a comprehensive review. The team conducted more than 100 interviews and collected data and other evidence during its three-day examination.

The investigators found several issues, including unaddressed sexual harassment allegations against the former chancellor, a work environment based on intimidation, and policies that conflicted with the purpose of the college.

As a result of these findings, the HLC placed Pima on a two-year probation beginning in April 2013. In February of 2015, the HLC removed Pima from probation and placed them “On Notice.”

The “On Notice” status doesn’t impact financial aid or transfer abilities, and all three state universities have confirmed they will continue to accept PCC transfer students as long as the college remains accredited.

While “On Notice,” Pima must submit reports to the HLC to prove they are making strides towards improving in the areas Pima failed of the commission’s Criteria for Accreditation, Federal Compliance requirements or Assumed Practices.

Pima must submit their next report in July 2016, detailing progress made in distinct areas identified by the HLC.

According to Durán-Cerda and Moses, Pima has already made improvements in the 11 areas the HLC identified as problematic. Moses has narrowed 26 concerns into four categories with a simple  color coding system to illustrate progress.

College officials said Pima has reached 40 percent compliance on the 26 areas of concern.

Moses stresses that while certain items may be “in the green,” that does not mean that work is finished. Many of the areas require constant update and revision for improvement, part of the college’s new stance on making constant progress.

At the Nov. 18 Board of Governors meeting, Moses said that great progress has already been made in the eight months since Pima began working towards improvement.

Moses also expressed concerns about the upcoming holiday breaks.

“We’re going to lose a month’s worth of work just because of the nature of the holidays,” he said. “So this is a very important time to keep an eye on where we’re at as an organization.”

Moses said that one of the most pressing needs for Pima was a mission and vision statement assessment. Because Pima currently lacks an established mission and vision, other areas that needed to be addressed had to wait.

The HLC laid out specific requirements for the mission and vision in a letter on March 9. They said that Pima needed “a well-defined, inclusive formal review process of the institution’s mission, including description of implementation and resulting outcomes.”

“We have to wait for that domino to drop,” Moses said of the mission and vision.

The college is currently reaching out to the community to input in redefining its mission statement. For more information on how to get involved, contact the office of Institutional Planning, Research and Effectiveness at 206-4934 or



Pima considers educational exchange with fire and police departments

Pima considers educational exchange with fire and police departments



The Northwest Fire District, Rio Rico Fire District and The City of Tucson requested a one-year Intergovernmental Agreement with Pima Community College and specifically, the Emergency Services Institute, to exchange training that would benefit all parties involved.

As part of the agreement, the two fire districts are requesting that Pima offer fire science, emergency medical technology and paramedic training to their employees, according to the college.

In exchange, they would offer Pima students field experience by participating in vehicular rotations.

The City of Tucson, on behalf of Tucson Fire District and Tucson Police Department, is offering Pima students the same field experience in exchange for a program in which PCC teaches city employees in the areas of fire science, emergency medical technology, law enforcement, paramedic training, Airway Lab services, advanced life support continuing education and emergency vehicle operations.

Currently, there are two fire science programs offered by Pima Community College. One is a technical academy certificate. The other is an associate degree of applied science. Both are different sub programs which essentially aim to teach the skills it takes to be a fire fighter.

The program is taught at the West Campus and at Tucson Public Safety Academy.

Pima’s chancellor Lee Lambert recommends that the Board of Governors accept the agreement, according to a statement concerning the partnerships.

The 2014-17 Strategic Plan includes adding directions for all the parties to work together in a way that would make all students and employees ready and well trained to work in these departments.

The college hopes to “improve responsiveness to the needs of business community and economic development opportunities,” through the agreement, according to the plan.

Pima will submit quotes on education costs, based on current tuition rates, to the fire and police departments as they request services.


From the Editor: Social media, meet journalism

From the Editor: Social media, meet journalism



Many of us saw the same images and eye witness accounts of the attacks on Paris on November 13. A complex mix of sadness, anger, fear, support and suspicion were the forefront of media outlets and quickly spread across the Internet.

While we all may have our own separate thoughts and concerns about the tragedy, chances are most of us got our information from the same place, Facebook.

Social media is a part of the daily ritual of thousands of people around the world, so it makes sense that users quickly started tweeting and honing in on the ability a site like Facebook had to send them to the heart of the chaos.

Everyone has every right to go online and inform themselves about what is going on in the world. People should have quick and responsive spaces to talk about their feelings and gain support. Nothing is quicker or more visible than social media, and it’s almost guaranteed you will receive a little token of comfort in a “like” validating your feelings.

Sure. Social media has some beneficial offerings in obtaining up to the minute updates, images, videos and personal stories. We need to remember, just because we read it first on Facebook, doesn’t mean it’s true. A lot of misinformation has been produced about large tragedies by social media.

With the recent attack on France, rumors both harmless and more than a little dangerous became viral in matters of moments.

A Twitter user made a claim that the lights on the Eiffel Tower had been turned off for the first time since 1889 in light of the attack. The photo and false statement took the fast track around the globe and quickly spread as a public symbol of respect. Even some journalists and news outlets picked up on the tweet and reported it.

Turns out the whole thing was some kind of social ‘I told you so’ experiment by Twitter user @ProfJeffJarvis, who wanted to show how quickly information can be spread and accepted. The Eiffel Tower lights are turned off for many occasions and dimmed regularly, as in every day.

A French soccer player was “sighted” rescuing someone from the attacks, identified by Twitter users, incorrectly. The same “Where’s Waldo?” game happened on Reddit in 2013 during the Boston Marathon bombing, when users began to speculate on the identity of the bomber and incorrectly accused people.

As long as the Internet exists, there will always be room for misinformation to zip out to millions of people every day. Social media has become entwined in almost every facet of our lives, and will continue to play a large role in the face of the tragedies.

Regardless of the advice to distrust the media to cover these topics, I urge you to look to reputable journalists who have ensured the highest level of accuracy in their reporting. In this very issue, one of your peers takes a look at current world affairs, so check out the Insight page for more details.

You can get on your Facebook and talk about how all this craziness in our world makes you feel but remember this. On social media, you share information and apologize for a mistake later. A journalist ensures accuracy first, then shares information.

Enjoy the issue.

Pima news briefs

Pima news briefs


PCC Dental Clinic renovated with new technology

The Pima Community College West Campus Dental Clinic will receive a grant funding renovations for their patient waiting room and lobby.

In addition to new cabinets and a bathroom in the lobby, the grant will also help fund updates to seven dental operatories, as well as computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing equipment, allowing dental student access to the latest cutting-edge technology.

Part of the five-year West Campus Title V grant, Abriendo Puertas /Opening Doors; Innovation in Dental Studies Education, many different medical programs at Pima will benefit from the grant such as dental assisting, dental hygiene and dental laboratory technology.

Located in Science Building K, the PCC Dental Clinic offers affordable preventive dental work with the latest technology and services.

The PCC Dental Clinic is open based on student needs. To set up an appointment or for more information, contact the PCC Dental Clinic at 206-6090.

by Travis Braasch


PCC Adult Education staffers receive state recognition

Two PCC Adult Basic Education for College and Career employees were honored at the Arizona Association for Lifelong Learning awards conference on November 6.

Wendy Scheder-Black, coordinator for the Adult Education Advanced Program, received the Arizona Association for Lifelong Learning Advocate Award.

Black spent the last two years working to help create the Pima Bridge To College and Career Program as well as helping start Pima’s Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training programs.

“She is a model of the respect and patience all educators and leaders should have,” said Laurie Kierstead-Joseph, advanced program manager in Adult Education.

“She has a way of showing students that she believes in them and that we are here to help them reach their goals.”

Lisa Grenier, IBEST program coordinator, was given the Arizona Association for Lifelong Learning Educator of the Year Award that recognized four or more years of active service in the field of adult education as a full or part-time instructor.

In addition to Greiner’s 18 years of experience in teaching adult learners, she has lead a development writing course for education teachers and provided one-on-one coaching for adult educators.

Greiner’s “profound thinking, passion for learning and natural leadership skills make her an outstanding educator and leader,” said Kierstead-Joseph.

To learn more about PCC Adult Basic Education email

by Travis Braasch


PCC calls for artists for sculpture on campus 

PCC is inviting students to participate in their fifth edition of the Sculptures on Campus exhibit at the East Campus.

The exhibit serves as an opportunity for student artists to showcase their works in the three dimensional medium of sculptures.

Applications for the project are due by Jan. 22, 2016 and must include all required texts, photos and a resume. Students must commit to having their piece on display for at least 18 months, unless it is sold.

For more information, visit

by Jamie Verwys

Pima student speaks to GOP candidate

Pima student speaks to GOP candidate



A Pima Community College student spoke with Republican presidential candidate Brooks Cullison in Chicago about issues facing young people, particularly college students.

John Dalton was part of a panel of six students from across the country that were brought together by the candidate.

The group and the presidential hopeful discussed a range of issues from overpriced college tuition, social security and the national debt.

College tuition was one of the most notable topics pertaining to the panelists and other young millennials.

“Tuition is obviously out of control pretty much anywhere in the United States,” Dalton said. “I’m not necessarily saying we should have free college because there would be financial repercussions for the country if we’re just going to give out free school.”

Along the topic of college costs, the issue of over-priced tuition and college textbooks were discussed.

Dalton said it’s important to start the conversation.

Dalton served as Human Relations Commissioner in Livonia, Mich. Appointed at the age of 21, Dalton served a three-year term that concluded in 2015.

The Human Relations Commission deals with issues in areas of civil rights enforcement, as well as works to put an end to human trafficking.

After finishing his term, Dalton decided to go back to college instead of trying for another term.

He was born in Tucson. He is half-Mexican from his mother’s side, and British and German from his father’s side. He’s also fluent in both English and Spanish.

The panel and the presidential candidate also discussed the issue of Social Security and whether or not it should be privatized, or should simply reform the public version that we currently have.

Dalton said that Cullison, unlike many other presidential candidates, was rather specific with his plans and ideas.

“When he responded, he gave a quick synopsis as to what he thought might be the solutions, but he’s also someone who likes to really delve deep into the issue,” Dalton said.

He noted that even though it was a panel, the whole encounter was conversational and  “relaxed,” as opposed to a strict and formal discussion.

On top of being the former mayor of Olney, Illinois, Cullison is also an attorney and has a significant amount of knowledge on foreign policy issues, as well as speaking Spanish.

“These issues are constantly talked about in the race for president, but few candidates take the time to actually speak with our younger voters to see what they truly care about,” Cullison said.

Dalton said that he liked the candidate, even though the panel didn’t endorse anyone.

“I think that it’s great for a candidate to take the amount of time that he took out of his day, which was really busy,” Dalton said.

“I definitely like him. He’s qualified. He understands the issues. Because you see some candidates that no one’s ever heard of, if you ask them something, they have no idea what’s going on.”

Dalton said it would be possible for him to support this underdog candidate. He explained in previous election cycles, people of lower popularity would have had an easier time making it to the debates than they would in this election cycle, mainly because there were fewer people then than there are now running for office.

The students who were on the panel have also spoken to many other presidential candidates in the past, including Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, Rand Paul, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Rick Perry and others.

“We have so many candidates with different ideas, backgrounds and personalities,” said Lucas Hawley, a student at Trinity Christian College in Illinois, who was also part of the panel.

“To really narrow this field down to who you like, you really have to talk directly to the candidates and ask questions.”

Hawley also liked Cullison, saying that he is very experienced and a very nice person to meet.

Hawley originally met Dalton on Facebook, and they became good friends. Dalton invited Hawley to be one of the panelists when he visited Detroit.

Photo courtesy of Steve Tzau Panel members from around the country, Yunbo Nie, Lucas Hawley, Anthony Wozniak, presidential candidate Brooks Cullison, and John Dalton.

Photo courtesy of Steve Tzau
Panel members from around the country, Yunbo Nie, Lucas Hawley, Anthony Wozniak, presidential candidate Brooks Cullison, and John Dalton.


PACC faces challenges to stay no-kill

PACC faces challenges to stay no-kill



Pima Community College student Francy Luna knows every time she volunteers at Pima Animal Control Center, she is making a difference.

“They don’t turn down animals, and they do whatever they can to save a pet’s life,” says Luna, who has been volunteering with PACC for more than a year.

“I fall in love with each pet, and I feel an overwhelming happiness when they find a loving family to love them too,” she said.

The problem is PACC receives far more unwanted pets than it’s able to help find homes. Since moving toward a no-kill policy several years ago, the number of dogs and cats at the facility have skyrocketed, so much so that Pima County voters were compelled to approve a new multimillion dollar facility in 2014.

PACC takes in about 25,000 animals every year, according to the county. Many of those are strays or feral animals born to wild dogs and cats that haven’t been spayed or neutered.

Advocates said the simplest way to reduce the number of intakes at the shelters is to reduce the number of new animals being born.

That goal in mind, PACC has been partnering with local animal welfare organizations and veterinarians to hold free and low-cost spay and neuter clinics around the county.

One such event was the 48-hour spay/neuter MASH clinic, which was held at Los Ranchitos Elementary School from Oct. 9-11. The organizers had hoped to alter more than 500 animals, but ended up fixing about 800, according to a news release from the group.

Sara Dent, a local lawyer and animal activist, said she volunteered at the event because “I believe in responsible pet ownership.”

“That means adequate vet care, altering your pets so that they cannot contribute to intake at shelters, because accidents happen even to the best people,” she said.

PACC is investing more than $600,000 this year into low-cost spay/neuter programs for Pima County residents in an effort to reduce the number of rescued strays and feral animals.

Dent said the city of Austin, Texas recently achieved no-kill status at their shelter, and that Tucson should follow their example.

“Austin is a larger metropolitan area than Tucson, and there is really no reason why we cannot accomplish that same goal here,” she said.

PACC also partners with many non-profit groups, such as Animal Welfare Alliance of Southern Arizona, to get the word out about low-cost clinics and other resources for pet owners and those providing foster or temporary care for sick animals, or those looking for a permanent home.

“AWASA promotes the reduction of pet overpopulation and advocates for animals by increasing the number of spayed/neutered animals in our community,” the website said.

Activists like Dent said the work is vital to achieving no-kill status in Tucson, which could mean that 90 percent of animals taken in eventually would receive homes.

“Spaying and neutering him is not the only answer to reducing the numbers of animals that get killed every week at our local shelter and across the nation, but it is a part of the solution,” Dent said.

For those like Luna giving their time to help the animals, the need for the work that PACC and other groups are doing is immeasurable.

“Volunteering at PACC has been a very rewarding and happy experience,” she said. “They offer Tucsonans the opportunity to be part of the important work they do, as well as giving families happiness when they adopt a new family member.”

She is also grateful that PACC is focused on saving more animals through spay/neuter programs and increased adoption outreach.

“I thank PACC for all they do for our community and for our pets,” she said. “They are life savers.”

Photo courtesy of Francy Luna Pima Community College student Francy Luna with a PACC dog.

Photo courtesy of Francy Luna
Pima Community College student Francy Luna with a PACC dog.

The Word: If you went to Comic-Con, what or who would go as and why?

The Word: If you went to Comic-Con, what or who would go as and why?

“I actually do cosplay. I would go as Ninja Brian from Ninja Sex Party because it’s the only costume where people laugh and applaud you flipping them off.” Adam Metzger Major: Art Education

“I actually do cosplay. I would go as Ninja Brian from Ninja Sex Party because it’s the only costume where people laugh and applaud you flipping them off.”
Adam Metzger
Major: Art Education

“Last year I went as Meiko from Vocaloid. I will probably just go wearing my Star Wars shirt. I hope the guy that makes the Friday the 13th comics comes.” Mireya Piña Major: Animatio

“Last year I went as Meiko from Vocaloid. I will probably just go wearing my Star Wars shirt. I hope the guy that makes the Friday the 13th comics comes.”
Mireya Piña
Major: Animatio

“I’m probably going to do something really casual because it’s not as big of a convention. I may just go in my normal clothes.” Erika Kendall Major: Digital Art

“I’m probably going to do something really casual because it’s not as big of a convention. I may just go in my normal clothes.”
Erika Kendall
Major: Digital Art

“[I would be] a character named Ioriya-gami from the game King of Fighters because ever since I was a kid I thought he was a really cool character.” Eli Peskin Major: Digital Art

“[I would be] a character named Ioriya-gami from the game King of Fighters because ever since I was a kid I thought he was a really cool character.”
Eli Peskin
Major: Digital Art

“I would cosplay Wonder Woman because she was one of the first ones to be a super-hero. She was really iconic.” Vanessa Reynaga Major: Digital Arts and Film

“I would cosplay Wonder Woman because she was one of the first ones to be a super-hero. She was really iconic.”
Vanessa Reynaga
Major: Digital Arts and Film

Celebrating Native heritage

Celebrating Native heritage



Established in 1990, President George Bush declared the entire month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month. It’s a celebration that pays tribute to the rich history and traditions of Native Americans and their contribution to the growth of the United States.

Originally, it started as a day that celebrated Sept. 28, 1915 when an appeal was made to recognize Native American Indians as citizens. The first American Indian Day in the states was declared in 1916 on every second Saturday in May, by the governor of New York.

The ancestors of these Native Americans were the indigenous people who lived on this continent for thousands of years. They lived as hunter-gatherer societies and preserved their histories through oral traditions and artwork.

Native Americans lived in their communities peacefully until Spanish settlers came in the middle of 15th century. The settlers brought with them small pox epidemics which caused the greatest loss of lives for indigenous people.

In late 1800s to 1900s, Native Americans struggled and fought a tough battle in pursuit of protecting their lands. Eventually, they were forced out of their homeland which led to the infamous story of the “Trail of Tears.”

Native American culture continues to thrive and evolve within communities across the U.S. Tribal leaders are working hard to preserve their way of life and pass their ancient traditions to the younger generation.

Today, there are approximately 560 federally recognized Native American tribes within the states. Celebrating their history reminds us that their ancestors lived here before European immigrants came and they played an important role in the development of this nation.

There are local celebrations happening in Tucson, and college students will have opportunities to participate. The University of Arizona celebrated Native American Heritage month Nov. 6 with activities, a film showcase and public television programming. The UA has more than 1,000 students who are Navajo, Tohono O’odham, Pasqua Yaqui, Hopi, Cherokee and other native nations.

Pima Community College is also celebrating Native American Heritage Month. The Redhouse Family performed a native dance at the West Campus cafeteria on Nov. 4 at 1 p.m.

West Campus will also host a Yaqui deer dance performance on Nov. 19.

Deljean Valentine, the vice chairman of Native American Students Association at Pima Community College, felt it’s a huge honor for the U.S. to acknowledge November as Native American Heritage Month.

“It gives awareness of who we are and also reminds our youth to preserve our culture and traditions,” she said. “My father is a veteran, and he has helped shaped the Tohono O’odham community as a council member.”

Daniel Joaquin, a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation and also a performer in “The Joaquin Brothers Band,” thinks November makes sense to celebrate native heritage, given the history.

“It is good having this celebration in November because it reminds us of the very first Thanksgiving celebrated between the pilgrims and the Indians,” Joaquin said.

One of the greatest contributions that the Native Americans played was the Navajo code talkers in World War II. In today’s society, Native Americans are leaders not only in their own tribe, but in the United States as a whole.

Photo courtesy of Larry Redhouse Larry Redhouse performs a traditional Native American dance. The Redhouse family performed a native dance at West Campus on Nov. 4.

Photo courtesy of Larry Redhouse
Larry Redhouse performs a traditional Native American dance. The Redhouse family performed a native dance at West Campus on Nov. 4.

News Briefs

News Briefs


Pima now offers online courses to 28 states

Arizona State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements Council, which oversees online education, recently authorized Pima Community College to offer online classes and degree programs to 28 states.

The 28 states are a part of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. All states which are a part of NC-SARA can offer online courses to schools in states that are part of the organization.

According to the press release, PCC Vice President of Distance Education, Michael Amick said it’s exciting to have authorization to serve additional students in other states, while being compliant with federal requirements. He added that the membership requires PCC to maintain high-quality education, adhering to national standards which benefit all students not just those out of state.

Students studying in NC-SARA states can now take hundreds of online PCC classes.

The degrees which students can currently receive entirely from online classes are Associate of Applied Sciences, Associate of Arts, a certificate in Human Resources and a two-year post-degree certificate in Elementary or Secondary Education.

For more information go to, or email  For more information about NC-SARA visit

-by Danyelle Khmara

Arizona STEM Adventure comes to PCC

One thousand grade-school students, kindergarten through 12th grade, are expected to attend Arizona STEM Adventure at Pima Community College’s Northwest Campus on Nov. 13 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

There will be more than 250 scientists, mathematicians, doctors and engineers leading the kids in workshops and activities, with titles like Fun with Electronics, Dissecting Owl Pellets, Living and Working in Space, Night Vision Goggles and Fighter Jet Cockpit to name a few.

Arizona STEM Adventure chose the teachers for the event based on the merit of their submissions. Teachers submitted applications to attend, and in September they were notified whether they were selected.

According to the press release, Mike Tveten, acting academic dean at NW Campus said it’s a great opportunity to get children excited about science while also showcasing the excellent science facilities available at Pima.

This is the first year the event is being held at PCC and is replacing the annual FunFest. It is sponsored by Pima, Southern Arizona Research Science and Engineering Foundation, IBM, Raytheon, the STEMAZing Project, Office of the Pima County School Superintendent and the University of Arizona Stem Learning Center.

For more information call Mike Tveten at 206-2180.

by Danyelle Khmara 

Alcohol to be permitted at PCC events

Pima Community College will now permit alcohol at on-campus events that benefit the college.

Last month, at a meeting with the PCC Board of Governors, the PCC Foundation Board indicated that removing the constraint against alcohol on campus would be responsive to requests from potential donors and would save money on rental fees. It would also grant more opportunities to showcase our campuses and raise funds for scholarships.

The selection of alcoholic beverages offered at these events will be limited to beer and wine, and service will be restricted to noon-10 p.m.

by Anna Stiltner

From the Editor: Take time for you then take care of business

From the Editor: Take time for you then take care of business



As college students we’re often overwhelmed with responsibilities. Whether we’re studying for class, working for rent or mastering our crafts, it seems like we’re always trying to keep our heads above water.

When our obligations begin to pile up, we’re likely to neglect the most important one: our obligation to ourselves.

Usually when we’re stressed out, we don’t feel good. And if we don’t feel good, then why are we doing what we’re doing? Being happy with your life is your first obligation and if external pressures are making you unhappy, then maybe you need to make a change.

We can’t do all the things that we want to do all the time, but we can budget our time to balance between what we have to do and what we want to do.

Our culture may seem like it emphasizes constant hard work  over recreation and relaxation, but these are important parts to living a happy and healthy life. Don’t feel guilty if you need to give yourself some time to decompress from the daily whirlwind that is your life.

The time you take for yourself and your hobbies is just as important as any other obligation you find yourself facing.

Sometimes this means relinquishing responsibilities that seem impossible to give up. It’s hard to quit sometimes, but when it comes at the expense of your mental or even physical health, then you have to make that call.

And that’s OK.

We still have the rest of our lives in front of us and those lives are probably long enough for us to do all the things that we hope to do even if those things don’t happen right now.

Of course we always need to prepare for the future, but that shouldn’t come at the expense of the present. There will be time.

However, this advice comes with a grain of salt. There will be times when we we’re faced with the seemingly impossible and have no choice but to keep moving forward.

Inevitably, we are going to face difficult periods in life, but those challenges give us the opportunity to succeed where we think we might fail.

All of us, when we put our minds to it, have the ability to overcome the obstacles in front of us. No doubt it’ll be difficult, but as we’re trying to keep our heads above water, we can either keep treading or start swimming.

The best thing we can do to address these challenges is make sure that we’re healthy and mentally prepared to take on whatever life throws at us.

It’s those difficult times that will end up defining our character, and we don’t want to put ourselves at a disadvantage by neglecting our basic needs the rest of the time.

So wherever you’re at in life, make sure you’re taking care of yourself. When life starts getting tough, make sure you’re able to come back even tougher.

Prepare for those times by making sure there is something in your life that means something to you beyond the obligations that come from school, work or other people.

I’d like to end with some encouraging (and  spoiler-free) words I received this weekend from Matt Damon in Ridley Scott’s new movie, “The Martian.”

Damon’s character, Mark Whitney, says that, “at some point, everything’s gonna go south on you and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem and you

solve the next one, and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.”

Nick Meyers

Payment changes offer more options for students

Payment changes offer more options for students



Next semester, Pima Community College students and employees will notice some significant changes to the college’s payment options and deadlines.

Those interested in enrolling will either have to pay out of pocket, sign up for a payment plan, provide verification that they will be receiving financial aid or confirm protected status, such as being a veteran, within 14 days of signing up for classes.

Students who fail to satisfy these financial requirements will be dropped from all their courses.

David Bea, executive vice chancellor for finance and administration, said in an Oct. 16 email to faculty that the college worked to improve the student payment system for the past year and the changes are to increase student success.

“The new process will allow students to commit to their class schedules earlier, which should result in more accurate course enrollments, fewer class cancellations, and a smoother start to the semester,” he wrote.

According to the email, revising the payment system of the college was necessary in light of the frustration caused by the fall semester’s early registration payment deadline. The final deadline, Aug. 15, was 11 days before the first day of class. Once the funds were due, large numbers of students who hadn’t made a payment were dropped from registration, sometimes leading to cancelled classes due to low enrollment.

PCC student and former board student representative Alec Moreno thinks creating this new deadline can actually help students, many of whom have expressed their frustrations over having their classes dropped.

“I think it’s a great idea to put new deadlines in place,” he said. “I always hear students complain about signing up for a class to find out later that it’s been dropped,” he added.

“Now students will know they have two weeks to make the payment from any time they register. It’s going to make registration more reliable not only for students, but faculty as well.”

PCC representatives said that the deadline is not an uncommon one in the collegiate world and they examined the payment procedures of eight different colleges to determine the new deadline.

Although many colleges require payment even quicker then Pima, the deadline could still prove to be a struggle for some students.

Liz Pennington, East Campus Inner Campus Council representative and current Board of Governors student representative, expressed some concern when learning of the new payment deadline.

“I was concerned that there is still not an option to stretch out payments over a longer period of time,” she said. “My thoughts were that giving students six to eight months would help them manage payments with all of their other financial responsibilities.”

Students who rely on the payment plan option to afford college can also expect some major changes next semester, but many of the revisions are improvements according to Pennington.  She said that the old payment plan didn’t  benefit many students.

“Students have shared with me that the current payment plan option does not make paying for school more manageable,” she said. “I know of students that have had to drop courses this semester, because they could not afford to make the payments on all of their classes,” she said.

The issues with the payment plans caused some students to think about leaving Pima.

“Many of these students have told me that they are seeking other learning institutions that provide options for longer periods of repayment for institutional loans.”

For the first time, the college will offer payment plans for the summer semester, spread over 3 months. Pima will also drop the enrollment fee and the minimum $200 in costs required to be eligible for a payment plan. The old plan required students to pay ten percent down when they registered.

Students who receive financial aid are also now eligible to enroll in a payment plan. They are still held to the new 14-day deadline cycle and are required to prove that they have completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid and have been certified by deadline. Anyone who falls under protected status must confirm this with PCC before the deadline.

On Oct. 26, ten days after faculty were informed, a post was added to Pima’s website alerting students that changes were occurring. Unlike the previous page defining payment rules, there is more information available to help students understand their options and the addition of a “payment estimator” can help students determine their payment plan costs.

For Pennington, the changes are a step in the right direction for Pima students.

“I can see initiatives to improve the well being of PCC. I do believe that these efforts are motivated by a desire to not only meet HLC accreditation standards, but in Chancellor Lambert’s words at the last Board of Governors meeting, ‘to exceed standards.’”

Bea said that student services employees and cashiers have all been trained and instructed in the changes to assist students.

PCC will also offer training to employees in their Fall Student Services Symposiums.

Students with questions about the changes should contact the Students Accounts Office at 206-4574 or

For more information about the payment plan changes and the new deadlines visit

Additional information can be found on PCC’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Aztec Press illustration by Alex Fruechtenicht Pima Community College students will encounter new changes to the payment system next semester.

Aztec Press illustration by Alex Fruechtenicht
Pima Community College students will encounter new changes to the payment system next semester.

Longoria resigns from board

Longoria resigns from board



Pima Community College lost its second member of the Board of Governors in four months following David Longoria’s resignation in early October.

Chancellor Lee Lambert sent an email to employees that notified them that Longoria had taken a “professional position requiring him to relocate outside Pima County.”

He obtained a position as chief of staff for the District 4 council office in Phoenix under Councilwoman Laura Pastor, according to the City of the Phoenix website.

“I am extremely proud of my tenure on the board and what it has been able to accomplish during my service,” Longoria wrote in an email, writing specifically that he was proud in his role of bringing Lambert to the college. “I am proud of the advances and growth the institution has achieved under his leadership and the current board’s stewardship.”

Longoria is the latest in a long line of recent withdrawals from the Board of Governors, following Marty Cortez’s resignation in June and Brenda Even, who didn’t run for re-election of her District 1 in November 2014.

With Longoria gone, Scott Stewart of District 4 remains the only board member who was named by a Faculty Senate Resolution as having failed “to recognize and act ethically and prudently upon problems” concerning the circumstances leading to former chancellor Roy Flores’s resignation and the resulting investigation by PCC’s accrediting institution, the Higher Learning Commission.

Stewart, Longoria, Cortez and Even were all called upon to resign in the March 2013 resolution.

Longoria served on the board since February 2010 and was elected for a full term that November which was supposed to last until the end of 2016.

Pima County Superintendent Linda Arzoumanian needs to assemble a six-member committee to choose a replacement to serve out Longoria’s term through the end of 2016.

The committee will consist of a PCC faculty member, staff member and student, a resident and a business owner within the district, and a school district superintendent.

Applications are now open for those interested in replacing Longoria on PCC’s Board of Governors.

Arzoumanian appointed former city planner, Martha Durkin, as a replacement for Marty Cortez in late August.

“David is an experienced public servant who has worked tirelessly on projects that improve our county and has been an articulate and effective champion of PCC during his tenure on the Board,” Lambert wrote in the email.

“Please join me in expressing gratitude to David for his support of Pima Community College.”

If you are interested in applying fill out the questionnaire on the superintendent’s website.

Photo from PCC David Longoria held the Distirct 2 board position since 2010.

Photo from PCC
David Longoria held the Distirct 2 board position since 2010.

SandScript wins first place in national competition

SandScript wins first place in national competition



Pima Community College’s SandScript 2015 recently won awards from the Community College Humanities Association. It was named National Winner and First Place Winner in the Southwestern Division of its Literary Magazine Competition.

SandScript is a printed collection of student art, short stories and poetry compiled by the Literary Magazine Workshop class (WRT 162) .

Sathya Lacey has worked closely with the publication and was in WRT 162 during the Spring.

“Last semester was my first time working on SandScript,” he said. “I started off as our submissions manager, mostly working in the office, printing out and organizing the submissions into packs for the class to read, as well as putting together the digital files of the artwork for us to look at.”

Lacey moved up through the ranks quickly and is now the assistant editor. “I was the person maintaining the screen of anonymity for all our submissions,” he added.

Lacey helped assemble the winning edition.

“Working with everyone on the staff to get the magazine published and presented was a huge sense of accomplishment,” he said. “It’s quite amazing having a tangible piece of beauty that I know I helped bring into the world. I also was given the chance to help elevate the artistic voices of so many talented contributors.”

SandScript has won the Southwest Regional Award for four years now. The first place winners include Daniel Kylma Bahman, for his short story, and Patrick Cobb for his artwork.

Khrystle M. Chavez won third place for her artwork, while Mariana Ceja won third place for her poetry. The awards will be accepted in Phoenix in November at the CCHA national conference.

“The award is a definite cherry on top,” said Lacey. “I knew in my heart that the magazine we made was incredible, but to have someone else looking at many magazines and choose to highlight ours was a big moment.”

Joshua Cochran, the advisor of SandScript and teacher of WRT 162, the editor Danyelle Khmara,  and the rest of the student staff contributed greatly to the effort.

Lacey hopes to spread the word about the magazine around campus so others can experience it.

SandScript comes out in May, and includes submissions from both the fall and spring semesters.

Fall submissions are being accepted for its 2016 publication until Dec. 12. The spring deadline is March 2, 2016. All the submission rules and guidelines are listed online.

For students entering work, please do not include your name, only your student identification number to prevent bias. For artwork submissions, only a photo or a scanned file may be entered. Concerning prose and poetry submissions, please proofread work beforehand.

For more information, visit

Photo courtesy of Sandscript “Cityscape” by Patrick Cobb won first place for visual art in SandScript and in the Community College Humanities Association’s 2015 Literary Magazine Competition.

Photo courtesy of Sandscript
“Cityscape” by Patrick Cobb won first place for visual art in SandScript and in the Community College Humanities Association’s 2015 Literary Magazine Competition.

From the editor:Believe in yourself, chase your dreams

From the editor:Believe in yourself, chase your dreams


by Jamie Verwys

At some point in all of our young lives, the whole world changes. Gone are the days when our largest concerns are scrapped knees and lost toys. Now, we have to face late payments, health insurance, jobs, relationships and of course, school and our futures.

It didn’t happen overnight. The process in which our childhood innocence gives way to the realities of adulthood is a journey that takes time, and even years down the road another truth we once knew will change again.

I don’t know about the rest of you, my fellow classmates, but at age 27 one of the biggest shifts I am experiencing is naysaying in regards to my career choice. When I was a child, all my elders told me the same thing: you can be anything you want to be. I still hear those voices every day, but there’s been multiple times someone’s scoffed when I said, ‘I want to be a reporter.’

As a young journalist, everyone from ex media people to current journalists, all the way down to distant family members have asked me, “why the hell would you want to go into this field? Print journalism is dying, don’t you know that?” Society itself often points a questioning finger at my kind and lumps me into a category of truth twisters and scandal rousers.

I know who I am, and I know what journalism truly means. While it is incredibly frustrating at times to hear the negativity directed towards journalists, it can never change the meaning of it for me. I believe with every inch of me that journalism is the preservation of truth and justice, a means of empowering others with knowledge and an important collection of humanity’s great goods and evils.

I am convinced that journalism can help save the world and I’ve wanted to do that ever since I was just a kid.

I’ll never forget the day I attended an investigative reporting seminar at the University of Arizona with my colleagues and instructor Cynthia Lancaster. I was inspired by all those journalists in the room and they reaffirmed I was making the right choice. One man sat next to us, a former professional in the media world, and when I told him my plans he had nothing but bile and negativity. He wished me a condescending good luck.

Cynthia leaned in to me right away and said, “don’t listen to that bitter old man,” and I said, “I never will.”

Don’t let anyone in this world convince you that your dream is wrong. Anyone who says you won’t succeed, or your field is a joke, is only trying to take your light away. They can’t actually take that from you by the way, you can only give it them. Don’t.

If you believe in something so strongly that you know you could not live without it, do everything in service of that belief. If you don’t know what that thing is yet, that’s OK too. Don’t let anyone make you feel unaccomplished or behind because of that. Take your time and wait till you know what really drives you.

Do what you love and own it, because it’s yours and anyone who is negative about it, isn’t worth your time.

Listen to that mentor who leans in and tells you not to listen to the doubt, because they are probably right.