By MICHAEL ANDERSON
Tucson has a long association with aviation, so it’s fitting that the city has one of the finest air museums in the world.
The Pima Air and Space Museum, opened in 1976, is truly a local treasure. The 80-acre facility has about 300 military and civilian aircraft. Many are stored indoors in hangar space the size of four football fields.
The collection includes most combat aircraft that American servicemen flew during the 20th century, plus a wide variety of civilian aircraft. Highlights include an SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest manned jet ever built, and President John F. Kennedy’s Air Force One.
The recently renovated 390th Memorial Museum is devoted to the history of the 390th Bomb Group, a B-17 unit that operated in Europe. While technically a separate museum, admission is free for Air and Space Museum visitors.
The museum-within-a-museum spotlights a B-17G called “I’ll Be Around.” Other fascinating exhibits include a wonderful diorama of an attack on Berlin and a very cool collection of customized leather flight jackets.
Other Air and Space Museum buildings include a WWII-era barracks that was relocated from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and the Dorothy Finley Space Gallery. The gallery features a moon rock, a training mock-up of an Apollo capsule and Phoenix Mars Rover Mission exhibits.
Employees and volunteers, many of whom are veterans, are stationed throughout the hangars. They are all friendly and knowledgeable, and make the museum a fun and educational place to visit.
It’s also a fun place to work, according to Mary Emich, the museum’s director of marketing, sales and visitor services. She has been at the museum for seven months and co-workers are her favorite part of the job.
“The volunteers, who are so enthusiastic, the staff I work with — we’re all a team, we’re on the same mission,” she said. “It’s just a great environment.”
A large part of that mission is education. In addition to hosting a variety of events for children, the museum offers tours to school and youth groups free of charge.
The museum frequently hosts lectures and special events for both children and adults. Check the museum’s website for upcoming events.
Future plans include a new hangar for Cold War-era aircraft and a theater that will show streaming footage from the Mars Rover, Emich said.
Visitors of all ages seem to enjoy the museum.
“I love seeing our heritage; it’s important to preserve,” said Brian Kotnick of Cheyenne, Wyo.
“I’m glad they can keep it together,” added his friend Dan Courtright of Denver, Colo.
For me, the stars of the show are the beautifully maintained military aircraft and the heroes who flew and worked on them.
I encourage you to visit soon while you can still meet men like B-24 crewman Sheldon Coudray and P-47 fighter pilot Howard Cosyns, both of whom volunteer on Saturdays. These WWII veterans will be happy to tell you about their wartime experiences.
“The majority of people, particularly young people, who come in here, they have no concept of what WWII was like,” Cosyns said.
Cosyns enjoys teaching people about the war, as well as “meeting some of my old WWII buddies, of which there are very few left,” he said.
For additional fees, the museum offers tram tours of the outside collection and bus tours of the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, more commonly known as “the boneyard.”
The museum is always looking for new volunteers and memberships are also available. More information is available at pimaair.org or by calling 574-0462.
Pima Air and Space Museum
Address: 6000 E. Valencia Road
Hours: Daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas)
Pima County residents: $12.25
Children (7-12): $9
Children (6 and under): Free
309th AMARG tour: $7
Tram tour: $6
By SHAQ DAVIS
Pima Community College chemistry instructor Silvia Kolchens will discuss her climate change research at the Arctic’s edge during a Dec. 3 presentation.
Her talk, the final session of the 2013 Speakers’ Series, will take place at 6 p.m. in the Community Board Room of PCC’s District Office Building C at 4905 E. Broadway Blvd.
Kolchens will present her findings from two field research trips to Churchill, Manitoba, in Canada.
The presentation will include studies on soil analysis, snow packs, permafrost and the subarctic, and explain how it relates to global changes.
Kolchens has been a PCC instructor since 1995, and became the West Campus chemistry department chair in 1999.
She is an active member of the Southern Arizona section of the American Chemical Society. Other interests include astrochemistry and environmental chemistry.
Kolchens feels the media “bombards” citizens with second-hand news. She also believes people can step up and do something to make the world a better place.
Being more critical is essential to change, she said.
By SIERRA J. RUSSELL
Decades before the recent national security scandal regarding leaks by Edward Snowden, there were concerns about restrictions on personal privacy.
“Millions of Americans are affected by some form of government surveillance carried out by a nationwide computerized network of federal and local security agencies,” Aztec Press reporter Tom Kehoe wrote in a 1977 article.
Kehoe noted that the most notorious example of government snooping happened during the Nixon administration.
As the Watergate scandal unfolded, it was revealed that security agencies opened dossiers on thousands of citizens who openly opposed certain government policies.
Congress enacted the Freedom of Information Act in 1966 to ensure that citizens have the right to request any personal information the government has on file.
As a result of the Watergate scandal, Congress amended the FOIA in 1974 to enforce stricter government compliance.
The 1977 Aztec Press article urged concerned students to request their personal files by writing to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington D.C.
The article explained that most requests would require a fee ranging from $10 to $50, unless the files were proven to be in the public interest.
The article also warned, “The Catch 22 of the FOIA is that if you don’t already have a file with the agency you write to, your letter will cause a file to be started under your name.”
Currently, the National Security Agency is inundated with requests for personal files. Requests have increased since the Snowden security leak.
To learn more about how to make a request, visit foia.gov/report-makerequest.html.
To see some files of famous figures that have been recently released from the FBI archives, visit http://vault.fbi.gov/recently-added.
Notable people in the archives include astronaut Neil Armstrong, author Ray Bradbury and singer Whitney Houston.
By DANA BOYD
Numerous college students fall into a gap when it comes to the new Affordable Care Act.
While students under 26 will still be covered by their parents’ insurance provider under the new law, others are not covered and don’t work the minimum number of hours to receive coverage from an employer.
This leaves college students scrambling to find insurance before the March 2014 deadline or face fines for not having health care.
Pima Community College student Tris Gordon is an example of a student falling into the health care gap.
Gordon goes to school full time and doesn’t work enough hours at her job as a waitress to benefit from her employers’ insurance plan.
“I already know I’m screwed,” Gordon said about the penalty for not having insurance. “I know they’ll have to take it out of my tax deductible.”
A study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 31.8 percent of traditional-aged full-time undergraduate students also worked part time. Employers are not required to offer health care to part-time workers.
So what happens for students who are ineligible for their parent’s or employer’s insurance?
PCC has set up a health insurance information page to help students navigate through decisions they will need to make when picking out an appropriate health care plan.
The link is http://arizonapirgedfund.org/resources/azf/so-you-need-health-insurance-now-what.
Arizona Public Interest Group, a health and safety consumer group, has set up an informational website at arizonapirg.org.
“Having the facts can make all the difference when it comes to health insurance,” a statement on the site says. “To make the most of new choices, protections and financial help, you need good information.”
Many other groups are also urging uninsured young Americans to visit a Health Insurance Marketplace, and follow its steps to gaining affordable healthcare.
The Young Invincibles strives for a “healthy, young America.” A statement on its website says, “Although young people are often healthy, they do need medical care for preventative treatment, regular check-ups and occasional health hiccups.”
“Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act promises to make health care affordable and accessible to young adults across the country,” it says.
Insurance can be purchased at a marketplace through March 31, 2014.
To keep from falling into the health care gap, Arizona PIRG suggests taking seven steps to affordable, understandable insurance coverage:
1) Find out what will be covered.
2) Find out if you are eligible for financial help.
3) Calculate how much it will cost.
4) Compare insurance plans side-by-side.
5) Look at the different health care providers you can see.
6) Look up the quality of coverage you would be getting.
7) Get help from an expert when signing up.
For more information or to sign up for coverage, visit one of these sites:
DESERT VISTA CAMPUS
Compiled by David Del Grande
Schedule assistance available
Desert Vista Campus will hold an orientation to help students prepare their schedule for next semester Dec. 4 from 6-7 p.m.
Orientations are by reservation only, and will be held in room F-119.
Students should complete and submit their applications, take their assessment tests and review the new student orientation packet before their scheduled appointments.
For more information, contact Susan Rivera at 206-5030.
Compiled by A. Greene
Show, Tell, Give
Downtown Campus will host a “Show Tell Give” event on Thursday, Dec. 5, from 3:30-5 p.m. in the Writing Center. Students can read their favorite writing from the year in front of an audience.
This year, “Show Tell Give” is donating to the Gospel Rescue Mission. Acceptable donation items are unwrapped toys, games, new sporting items, household items, clothing, non-perishable food, cleaning supplies, construction materials, computer software, office equipment and cell phones.
Students interested in reading can contact Josie Milliken in advance at email@example.com.
Compiled by Michael Anderson
Student bake sales
Two East Campus student clubs will hold bake sales on the Student Mall this month.
On Dec. 3 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., the Chemistry Club will sell cupcakes, Rice Krispy treats and brownies. The club will also hold a raffle for a blanket emblazoned with the periodic table of elements.
On Dec. 12 from noon-4 p.m., the Pride Alliance will sell winter-themed treats including cookies, brownies, biscuits, cupcakes and Indian Fry Bread.
Compiled by Shana Rose
Northwest Campus Student Life will participate in National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month with an event on Thursday, Dec. 5, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in Room D-201.
Pima Community College police officers will provide facts about driving under the influence, and will have “beer goggles” available for students to try.
For more information, contact the Student Life Center at 206-2131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Compiled by Katie Stewart
Digital Arts exhibit
A Student Visual Art Exhibit is on display in the West Campus student gallery through Jan. 31, 2014. The free gallery is located on the second floor of the Santa Rita Building.
Displays by digital arts students showcase illustration, film, graphic design, digital photography, animation and fashion.
For more information, call 206-6986 or email pima.edu/cfa.
By A. GREENE
The state attorney general may sue Pima Community College over the college’s decision to grant in-state tuition to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students.
Attorney General Tom Horne has asked PCC to explain its reasoning for allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition, which he views as a violation of state law.
DACA students are those who were brought to the United States illegally as very young children.
People who meet DACA standards may apply for deferred action, which means they will not be deported. After two years, they will be eligible for work in the United States.
On Feb. 27, the PCC Board of Governors voted to let DACA students receive in-state tuition rates if they submitted an I-766 employment authorization document and met all other residency requirements.
The policy was implemented for the Fall 2013 semester. The change reduces annual tuition costs for a full-time student from $9,000 to about $2,000.
Of the 27,000 students enrolled at Pima this semester, 155 are DACA students. Immigrant advocates estimate that Pima County is home to about 4,000 illegal immigrant students.
In an Oct. 24 letter, Assistant Attorney General Leslie Kyman Cooper asked PCC to confirm that it “is granting in-state tuition to DACA recipients.”
She also requested that the college “provide us with the basis for Pima Community College’s conclusion that it could do so without violating the state law.”
PCC General Counsel Jeffrey Silvyn drafted a response letter confirming that DACA students receive in-state tuition.
Silvyn’s letter said the college scrutinized the policy’s legality before implementing it.
He also said the college understands DACA does not mean a change in immigration status. “However, proof of lawful immigration status is not required under federal law … for a student to qualify for in-state tuition,” Silvyn wrote.
Horne has already sued the Maricopa Community College District for extending in-state rates to DACA participants.
Silvyn wrote that PCC is monitoring that lawsuit.
“Pima College will continue to track the progress of the pending litigation, as well as developments in federal immigration legislation that may address and resolve this issue,” Silvyn wrote.
By ANDREW PAXTON
People following the recent leadership changes at Pima Community College associate the name Zelma Harris with a steadying force.
Supporters call her a respected, experienced educator and administrator who gets results.
Harris was tapped last spring to serve as Pima’s interim chancellor following the resignation of Suzanne Miles. It was the third leadership change for the college in a year.
On Nov. 1, PCC re-hired Harris for a newly created position: executive vice chancellor for institutional effectiveness. She began work Nov. 4.
The college hopes she can continue helping Pima get off probation imposed by the Higher Learning Commission, the college’s accrediting body.
Harris, a retired Chicago educator, was first hired at Pima as interim chancellor on April 15. PCC officials were seeking a fresh approach for an institution operating under a “culture of fear” identified by the HLC during a fact-finding visit in January.
“The people want it, they’re desperate,” Harris said in April. “They know they have to get off of probation. This college is so entrenched in this community. There is no way we can let it lose its accreditation.”
Harris initially planned to work at PCC for a few months, until a new permanent chancellor could be hired. Once the college hired Lee Lambert in July, it appeared as though her work was done.
“It is not my intention to stay beyond that date,” Harris said in an email to all Pima employees. “I am here to get the college off to a good start. I am not here to keep the chancellor’s chair warm until a permanent successor is chosen.”
But Lambert and others recognized her efforts and hard work, and the college decided to bring Harris back in a new role to continue helping Pima.
“During her short time at PCC, Dr. Harris expertly set the college on a course to successfully emerge from probation,” Lambert said in a press release announcing Harris’ rehiring.
“She quickly earned the respect of the community and of her colleagues at PCC,” he said. “Her insights and guidance will prove invaluable as we move forward.”
Harris will serve as Lambert’s chief advisor and will be in charge of running the college if Lambert is absent or away on business.
Her specific responsibilities include representing the college in the community, supervision of ongoing projects, strategic planning and change management, according to her contract. She will also oversee several programs.
Harris will serve in the position on an interim basis through June 30, 2014 with an annual salary of nearly $194,000.
By SHANA ROSE
The sun is just peeking over the Catalina Mountains as cadets with the Pima Community College Law Enforcement Academy gather outdoors at 6:30 on a Saturday morning.
The class breaks into groups, and squad leaders check that cadets are in proper uniform. Students are commanded to salute the nation’s flag, known as “presenting arms.” While still in formation, they answer pop quiz questions.
The academy, which started in 2010, combines hands-on training and classroom instruction to prepare students for a career in law enforcement. It is currently training its fourth class of cadets.
Instructors acknowledge the program can be tough and isn’t for everyone.
“In the first weeks, we have a couple students that realize this isn’t for them,” defensive tactics instructor Anthony Castiglia said. “The ones that are committed and realize this is a great career, they stick with it.”
A weekend workout may open with physical training that targets responsiveness and agility, or a long run to build endurance.
The cadets then report to a defensive tactics training room padded with floor and wall mats. Castiglia prepares drills involving life-or-death situations.
“We give them scenarios where they need to use their basic stuff,” Castiglia said.
In the real world, not having that knowledge could be deadly.
“We’re not rolling around on a mat,” Castiglia said “Someone isn’t going to get off of us if they pin our shoulders and say ‘I win.’ You’re in a position where the officer’s life is at stake.”
Cadets spend their afternoon in a classroom, taught by officers with years of experience.
The day ends as cadets present arms while the flag is lowered. Academy Commander Kevin Lane gives words of encouragement and cadets recite their class motto: “Pima 13-01: Honor, Courage, Commitment.”
On Nov. 2, cadets received their class guidon, a small flag on a staff.
“They’ve reached a point in their training where they have earned the right to be recognized,” Lane said. “When they can demonstrate they can work as a team, this is a reward for them.”
After students graduate from the PCC academy, they take the Arizona law enforcement licensing exam. It is then up to a cadet to apply at a law enforcement agency.
This year’s cadets are all part-time students working full-time jobs. Some are already employed in the law enforcement field.
Class leader Ali Martinez works as a corrections officer. He enrolled in the academy to earn police officer certification.
“I work full time, I have one day off a week, but I got to push myself because this is something that I want,” Martinez said. “I view it that it will pay off.”
After graduating, he plans to broaden his law enforcement knowledge and assist young people in need.
“Help out little kids, go to schools, let them know what we’re there for and open their minds, because some people view police officers in a bad way,” Martinez said.
Class president Roberto Lucero shares a similar eagerness to apply what he has learned.
“Just the excitement from day-to-day life as a police officer and have people look up to you, pretty much as a hero,” Lucero said. “It’s appealing to me.”
Cadet Clara Diaz said her interest in law enforcement started at age 13.
“I’ve always wanted to help people, I just didn’t know how or what I could do,” Diaz said.
“I want to get involved in the community, make my presence known and apply the skills that I have learned here.”
She is eager to graduate and serve her community in many ways.
“You’re going to be in someone’s worst day of their life, and you have to put your best foot forward and help that individual,” Diaz said.
Officer Tommy La graduated from PCC’s academy in June 2011 and has been employed with Marana Police Department for two years.
“The academy provided me with skills and concepts that I use on a daily basis,” La said. “The instructors from surrounding agencies and staff members were very supportive from day one and prepared me to become where I am today.”
By MICHAEL ANDERSON
Americans are living longer than ever before. For many, this longevity brings a need to work later in life than previous generations.
To enhance the employability of older Americans, the American Association of Community Colleges began the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program.
Pima Community College held a kick-off event Oct. 29 at East Campus to celebrate its recent inclusion in the program.
Keynote speaker David M. Mitchell, the Arizona director of the American Association of Retired Persons, spoke about the value of older employees in the workplace.
He described how older employees have fewer workplace accidents, take fewer sick days, are punctual and serve as valuable mentors for younger employees.
“They bring a lot of experience in making the right decisions,” Mitchell said.
Terry Hawkins, the PCC Plus 50 completion coordinator, said employers are more willing to hire older workers than they were just a few years ago.
“Employers are recognizing the value of older employees,” she said.
AACC launched the Plus 50 Program in 2008, with funding from the Atlantic Philanthropies. Its mission is to retrain 10,000 workers to fill high-demand positions in three fields: social services, education and healthcare.
The program began in 15 colleges, with 12 more added in 2009 and 32 more in 2010. A 2013 report prepared for the AACC said 7,192 participants earned degrees or certificates in the first three years of the program, 54 percent more than anticipated.
The early success led to adding 36 new colleges in 2013, including PCC. Pima’s Plus 50 program received a grant of $16,000 over three years.
“The goal is to help our students, their families and the community,” Hawkins said
She wants to help older students prepare for an “encore career” by using a “start to finish” approach.
This will include new student orientation, career focus workshops, tutoring and job placement assistance upon completion. If needed, students can also count on “a little handholding” to help them navigate through confusing college policies.
Roger Forrester, assistant program coordinator, is working on community outreach to build relationships with partners and employers.
Partners include the Pima Council on Aging, the AARP and the One Stop Career Center.
Forrester is currently recruiting more employers but has already brought many onboard, including Jim Click, the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System, Tucson Unified School District, Goodwill and Lutheran Social Services.
“We can help them by providing well qualified, experienced candidates, and they can help us with internships and jobs,” Forrester said.
He hopes to have more than 100 employers signed on before he’s done.
East Campus Vice President of Student Development Nancee Sorenson and PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert also spoke during the program kickoff.
Anyone 50 or older who is interested in a new career is encouraged to take part in the Plus 50 program. They can participate through any of PCC’s campuses, and choose from a wide variety of academic programs.
More information is available online at pima.edu/current-students/advising/plus-50.html or by calling 206-7430.
By A. GREENE
Pima Community College is relocating and renovating the Veteran’s Center at Downtown Campus, following veteran complaints about lack of space.
The new center, which will now be inside the Roosevelt Building, is slated for completion before the Spring 2014 semester begins on Jan. 21.
The new space will be enlarged by 500 percent to 1,500 square feet. It will include computer commons, a conference room and a kitchenette. Individual work spaces will also be expanded from their current sizes, and the “quiet room” will be improved.
There will also be access to the courtyard from the new center.
The changes follow complaints from student veterans who wanted improvements.
“We get seven or eight people in here and it’s way too crowded,” Scott Plotts, Student Veteran’s of America Club president, said about the current center in October.
Chancellor Lee Lambert said that the college worked closely with student veterans in planning the redesign.
“PCC is committed to doing right by the student-veterans who come to the college seeking a path to a productive civilian life,” Lambert said in a press release. “The veterans talked, we listened, and the result is a new center that meets their needs.”
The necessity of hiring administrators with veteran experience has also been a much-discussed issue.
“It’s difficult for veterans to sit down with people who are non-vets and be themselves,” Plotts said in the October interview.
PCC will add three veterans services specialists to support Pima’s almost 2,000 vet students.
The college also recently hired Gary Parker as assistant registrar for veterans and graduation. Parker, who is a former student vet, retired from the U.S. Air Force as a chief master sergeant after 28 years.
PCC said it hopes to make the student vet processes a little easier, and plans to cut the amount of paperwork student veterans submit by half. The college also hopes to improve the vet certification process.
To start making the paperwork process easier, two financial aid workshops for veterans are scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 16. The workshops will be held at Downtown Campus from 9-11:30 a.m. and from 1-3:30 p.m. in Room AH-260.
Trayvon Martin: Do We Look Suspicious?
Pima Community College will host a “Project Hoodie” panel discussion on racial profiling, gun laws and criminal justice on Nov. 15 from 9-11 a.m. at Downtown Campus in the Amethyst Room.
The college is cosponsoring the event titled “Do We Look Suspicious?” along with the Center for Community Dialogue and the NAACP.
The Project Hoodie forums were spawned by the February 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old black American who was shot and killed in Florida by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.
Pima also hosted a forum, “A Tucson Conversation on Race” last year following the shooting.
The forums are free and open to the public. They are intended for those 13 and older.
For more information, call 256-9548.
-By A. Greene
Savings to Scholarship Program
Student loans are hard to apply for and aren’t getting any cheaper, but a new tuition-saving program can help with the high cost of education.
Students eligible for the “Savings to Scholarship” program will receive an 8-1 match on savings toward their tuition costs at one of the state’s universities. Maximum match is $4,000 on $500 in savings.
Pima Community College Chancellor Lee Lambert is encouraging students to apply for the program.
“This scholarship opportunity gives students the incentive and support to be successful as they continue on their path toward educational achievement,” he said in a press release.
Helping University Bound Students Live the Solution, a non-profit organization, is running the program.
For students planning on attending a university in Fall 2014, the deadline to be accepted to the program is Nov. 15. The first step is to fill out an online survey at azearntolearn.org/eligibility/participant-survey or visit livethesolution.org for more information.
-By Shana Rose
Paralympians Meet and Greet
Pima Community College will host a special event, Team USA in Tucson: Meet the Athletes, on Nov. 25 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Downtown Campus. Paralympic athletes from Tucson will participate in a discussion about adding an adaptive athletics program at PCC.
The event is free and open to the public. The discussion will follow a screening of the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Murderball.”
Athletes participating include Chad Cohn and Derrick Helton from the U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby Team, Jenny Goeckel from the U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Track and Field Team and Jennifer Poist from the U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Basketball Team.
-By Shana Rose
By ANDREW PAXTON
Pima Community College’s Board of Governors is reviewing and revising its bylaws, a crucial step to getting sanctions removed by the Higher Learning Commission.
The HLC, the college’s accrediting body, placed Pima on probation in April. It sent a fact-finding team to Pima in January to investigate numerous allegations of violations.
The governing board met for a study session on Nov. 7 to review the bylaws and make corrections and additions needed to bring the college into compliance with operating criteria.
Among other findings, the HLC team determined that “the board has failed to appropriately review many of the college’s policies, regulations and standard practice guide procedures as a matter of routine business or to review these items following administrative action.”
Many board policies were written in the 1970s and some have not been updated in more than a decade, according to the report.
“This team believes the board has essentially abdicated appropriate oversight of college operations in personnel policies and actions,” the report said.
Now the board is working to ensure that procedures and policies are clear, up-to-date and in compliance with the HLC’s expectations.
Another issue cited by the HLC when the college was placed on probation was the lack of faculty involvement with board decisions. The board discussed how to give staff, specifically adjunct instructors, more input.
“What we want to do is give a stronger voice to adjunct faculty since they teach such a large fraction of our classes,” board member Scott Stewart said.
Board member David Longoria agreed.
“I think it is essential to include adjunct faculty representation, because for too long they haven’t had a seat at the table,” Longoria said. “They deserve a voice just like everybody else.”
The board was unsure whether Faculty Senate or Staff Council represents the concerns of part-time instructors or adjuncts who may teach one or two classes.
“Not all people are members of these groups,” board member Marty Cortez said.
The members decided to study the matter further and make a decision regarding the best way to include adjunct faculty participation during a future session.
They also discussed operational matters such as how to add items to their agenda, the formation of committees and updating the college’s discrimination policy.
Recognizing that the bylaws may not be revisited for years to come, the board members said they understand the importance of making the rules definitive and manageable.
“We need to be cognizant that we are amending these bylaws for future boards, not just for our own usage,” Longoria said. “We want to empower future boards with good ways of governing themselves”
“I would like to see what the best practices are,” board member Sylvia Lee said. “What are some of the other governing boards doing?”
The board members will continue revising their bylaws before putting them to a final vote at a regular meeting. The next study session will be held on Nov. 19 at 5 p.m. at the college’s district office, located at 4905 E. Broadway Blvd., in the community room.
Student leaders at Pima Community College have been working to increase their impact, and their efforts are starting to gain attention from the college.
For months, student governments and other groups at Pima have been exploring ways to reach out to college administrators.
In April, students hosted an advocate training session and met with Sylvia Lee, the newest member of PCC’s governing board.
“We don’t have any say in governing,” Marquita “Kyra” Wallace, West Campus student government secretary, told Lee. “I don’t see a voice for us.”
Since that time, student leaders, working closely with Student Life coordinators, have explored ways to turn up the volume.
On Sept. 27, dozens of students representing each of Pima’s six campuses met and discussed ways to make the college more efficient for students.
They identified advising, class offerings, admissions processes, funding for student organizations and veterans services as the top issues that need to be addressed.
“The advising process needs either a really, really intense tune-up, or a complete overhaul,” said Chris Meece, Northwest Campus student government vice president.
Student Services Manager Craig Winters said the advising format gets completely re-evaluated every three years, and that process is happening right now.
“Everything is on the table,” Winters said.
Winters met with the West Campus student government on Oct. 28 to hear first-hand exactly what problems they have with advising.
“It seems like most of the advisers don’t really know what’s going on,” music major Sierra Nealy said. “I got put back two semesters because they were telling me to take my Gen. Eds. when I needed to be taking my music classes congruently.”
Winters said Student Services brings in program coordinators to talk with the advisers, to try to keep up-to-date with what is needed for each field.
But he admits advisers aren’t always aware of what is required.
“Sometimes we find out through students that things have changed,” he said.
Customer service for students seeking guidance from advisers was also identified as a major issue.
“Some of the advisers give you an attitude,” said Paola Castro, West Campus student government vice president.
“I don’t know if it’s because they don’t want to be there, or they don’t like their job, but it’s really uncomfortable to be speaking with a person who doesn’t want to help you out,” she said. “It’s very, very disturbing,” she said.
Castro said she had this experience with multiple advisers. Many other students present expressed similar experiences.
Winters asked the student leaders how the advising process could be improved.
The students suggested having advisers specialize in just a few subjects instead of trying to do blanket advising.
Another suggestion was for a survey to be sent from the college to a student shortly after seeing an adviser. The survey would ask for feedback about their experience and whether they were satisfied or have suggestions for improvement.
PCC’s top leadership has taken steps to seek more response from students.
At the Oct. 10 Board of Governors meeting, student representatives who sit on the board were asked to begin submitting a student issue or concern, as well as possible solutions.
Previously, the student representatives would read brief notices of events happening at each campus.
April May Ramey is the current president of Student Government at Downtown Campus and is serving as one of the student representatives this semester.
“Giving the students an opportunity to state concerns and possible solutions from their campuses is one of the best ideas that the board could ever put forward,” she said via email.
“The students are the reason for Pima. We should have a voice and opportunity to bring these issues forward and have them resolved for future students and the success of Pima,” she said.
Other students leaders agree with Ramey.
“Having a governing board willing to be more open to the student voice is huge,” said Alec Moreno, West Campus student government co-president. “It’s a step forward in the right direction and a push to give students a say on what goes on around campus.”
The student leaders want more students to join them.
“If you are passionate about making a difference, I would encourage you to get involved,” Moreno said. “You don’t know what opportunities are available unless you look for them.
By SHANA ROSE
Nineteen members of the Prescott Fire Department Granite Mountain Hotshots lost their lives battling the 2,000-acre Yarnell Hill fire on June 30.
Pima Community College graduate William “Bill” Warneke was one of the fallen.
Warneke, a graduate of PCC’s Fire Academy, was a former Marine, a husband and an expecting father.
The family had been awarded checks as a form of compensation for Warneke’s death, and was exploring ways to honor him. His aunt, Lisa Warneke, decided to grant a scholarship to PCC students who are currently or will be in the Fire Academy.
“We were struggling with what to do to honor Bill,” Lisa Warneke said. “I’ve gone to Pima before, and I know that the kids that go there are dedicated. So I thought, ‘Oh, let’s help them with the William Warneke Hotshot Memorial Scholarship.’”
The checks were donated in the sense of “Here, go do something for him,” Lisa Warneke said.
At the time, many other people were doing things for Granite Mountain, she said. Anything her family could do seemed insignificant.
The family decided instead to create a scholarship for students who share the same passion for firefighting that Warneke did.
“He died a hero and doing what he loved,” Lisa Warneke said.
The William Warneke Hotshot Memorial Scholarship is open to applicants enrolled in at least six units in the PCC Fire Academy during the semester the scholarship is being used. In addition to demonstrating financial need, applicants will submit short answers to a few questions.
The scholarship will award $500 to four students per semester. This year, the cost for one semester at the Fire Academy will be about $3,500, not including fees.
The Warneke family is also accepting donations, which are tax deductible. The family hopes to keep the scholarship going, to help future firefighters through a semester of tuition and fees.
“No one signs up for this thinking, ‘I’m going to die,’” Lisa Warneke said. “That might be something they’re aware of as a possibility, but it’s not in their mind. They’re out there to fight fires. All of them.”
To apply for the William Warneke Hotshot Memorial Scholarship, visit pima.edu/paying-for-school/scholarships-grants/pcc-foundation/index.html and click the link for the STARS On-Line scholarship application.
For more information, contact the PCC Foundation at 206-4646.
By A. GREENE
If you’re not a student veteran, you might not know that Pima Community College’s Downtown Campus has a Veteran’s Center. Even if you are a student veteran, you might not know about it.
The two-room center, located inside the Student Life room, is tucked into a back corner.
The front room has a reception area, two computers and a printer for student vets to use. A “quiet room” at the back can be used to relax and get away from college bustle.
In recent weeks, center director Diane-Marie Landsinger was removed from her position. She has since resigned from PCC.
Scott Plotts, president of the Student Veterans of America club at PCC, said Landsinger’s removal boiled down to a lack of effective communication.
“She didn’t know how to talk to us, we didn’t know how to talk to her and then we didn’t know how to talk around each other,” Plotts said.
Landsinger didn’t have experience working with veterans and didn’t understand their needs, Plotts added.
“I’m not saying that she didn’t have good intentions, because she did a lot of good things for us,” he said. “So it wasn’t her administrative qualities that were the negative thing, it was just her personal relations.”
Landsinger could not be reached for comment.
Plotts said morale is now higher and more veterans have been coming in to use the center.
“It’s difficult for veterans to sit down with people who are non-vets and be themselves, or at least people that don’t understand veterans,” he said.
The change has been positive, but Plotts said Pima’s vet students need more.
“I appreciate that they worked so hard a few years ago to get the space, but now I think it’s necessary for us to grow,” he said.
Plotts estimates there are 1,600 student veterans at Pima, most of whom are based at Downtown Campus. That number only counts students who are receiving GI benefits.
Graydon Staring, a first-year student veteran, said he has been into the vet center only a couple of times.
“They’re really helpful,” he said. “I understand funds are limited. I’m grateful it’s there.”
The center currently uses three Federal Work Study students, a couple of volunteers and an interim “signing official” who is filling in until a permanent director is hired.
First on the agenda for improvements is finding a new director. This time, the SVA is providing input.
“We’re being involved in a lot of the processes,” Plotts said. “They’re listening.”
Chancellor Lee Lambert said he is ready to start making changes.
“We know we need to have a vet center,” Lambert said. “A space that addresses veterans concerns, issues and opportunities.”
Lambert, who is a veteran himself, said he first wants to understand the perspective of the student vets and make sure the changes being implemented will actually provide solutions to problems. He then wants to bring in a leader who knows vets and knows how to help student veterans be successful.
“I know it can be done, and we don’t have to go that far to figure it out,” he said.
On Sept. 23, Lambert fired Downtown Campus president Luba Chliwniak and vice president Jerry Haynes. Lambert said a “leadership change” was needed, but was hesitant to give many details about his decision.
The Arizona Daily Star reported the firings were connected to leadership issues at the Veterans Center, but Plotts said that information was misleading.
“The article by the Daily Star had quotes from people that were talking about Diane-Marie’s issues … but the article made it out to be that those same complaints applied to Dr. Chliwniak and Jerry Haynes,” Plotts said.
As far as he knew, Plotts said, there were never any complaints against the former campus president or vice president.
He doesn’t know the full reasons for the firings, but said the article drew too much of a connection between Landsinger, Chliwniak and Haynes.
Leadership changes aside, Plotts said the SVA would really like to see full-time staffed centers at every campus. Downtown Campus is currently the only Pima campus with a fully functioning vet center.
West Campus is the only other campus with a vet center, but Plotts said it isn’t much. He called it a tiny room with a broken printer.
The club would also like to expand the Downtown Campus center.
“A larger space would be preferred,” Plotts said. “As it stands, we get seven or eight people in here and it’s way too crowded.”
Ben Llamas, a first-year Pima student and a veteran, said he has used the Downtown Campus vet center three times. The size of the space deters him from coming in more often.
“It’s really small in there,” he said. “It’s like the size of a large closet.”
For the SVA, the bottom line is helping as many student veterans as possible transition into an academic lifestyle.
“I’m happy that changes are being made,” Plotts said. “I appreciate that the chancellor has come in. As he’s said multiple times, he wants to help the veterans.
“The biggest thing we can ask for is help from the top.”
From left, Jonah Fontenot, Walter Wesch and Scott Plotts wait in the Veteran’s Center at Downtown Campus for a Student Veterans of America club meeting to begin.
(Aztec Press photo by A. Greene)