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FROM THE EDDIE-TOR: We promise indepth news coverage

FROM THE EDDIE-TOR: We promise indepth news coverage

Eddie “Eddie-tor” Celaya


Let me start off by saying it’s good to be back in my old Eddie-tor spot. For that, a big thanks is in order to current editor-in-chief Melina Casillas. The content of the paper will only get better under her leadership.

Thank co-photo editor Kate Roberts for the paper’s clean, hip new look. With a new streamlined flag and modern headline font, we think the physical characteristics of the paper are finally ready for the 21st century.

Ashley Muñoz is Roberts’ co-editor partner-in-crime. As crazy as they are talented, the duo will keep improving the newspaper’s artistic direction.

In the news department, yours truly is running the show. The Aztec Press will deliver indepth coverage of major issues affecting students: accreditation, administrator/faculty issues and a potential rise in tuition.

This issue alone contains multiple stories that affect the entire college community, including Brianna Hernandez’ story on PCC budget woes, Dale Villeburn Old Coyote’s piece on a STEM grant awarded to East Campus and my accreditation update.

Since I’m also overseeing our opinion section, you can expect analysis of news happening locally and nationwide.

In this issue, Erik Medina talks about the advantages of being bilingual and Elise Stahl encourages readers to challenge themselves. Meanwhile, I dive deeper into my recent interview with Chancellor Lee Lambert.

Our arts and entertainment coverage has also undergone a change, with Robyn Zelickson taking the reins from longtime editor Travis Braasch. We’ll miss his indepth band profiles but Zelickson will keep arts in the spotlight.

What would a news publication be without sports? Casey “and the sunshine band” Muse Jr. is ready for every sport. With coverage from preseason to playoffs, our sports section will be a one-stop shop.

There is bitter sweetness to this semester, however. Our faculty adviser, Cynthia Lancaster, will retire in May. She won’t ever admit it, but we’re pretty sure she’ll miss us as much as we’ll miss her. Love ya, Cynthia.

It’s up to us to ensure her legacy. The world may be a little more scary and orange, but we’ll be here in the newsroom.

Lancaster’s eternal words will continue to guide us: “Deadline is Friday at 9 a.m. Not a minute later!”

Chancellor must add constituent empathy to his ledger approach

Chancellor must add constituent empathy to his ledger approach


I recently had an opportunity to sit down for wide-ranging interviews with numerous Pima Community College decision makers, including Chancellor Lee Lambert. You can find portions of my interviews in our reporting throughout this issue.

A page 7 story by Brianna Hernandez focuses on college budget woes. It details three possible budget scenarios that Pima is considering.

My Higher Learning Commission story on pages 8-9 spotlights the college’s fight against accreditation sanctions.

These stories open a window into the inner workings of the bureaucracy that makes Pima run (or not run, depending on your point of view). This piece focuses on the last part of my conversation with the chancellor.

If you asked me to characterize the overall tone of our chat, I would call it educational and friendly. I allowed the chancellor wide latitude in answering questions at length, and he allowed me to interject for followups where required.

I found Lambert to be collegial, intelligent and well spoken. I also found some of his answers aloof to the concerns and views of average students.

When talk turned to Pima’s tuition rates, things got interesting. The chancellor began by referencing the Strategic Enrollment Management Plan. The SEMP acts as a guide for college enrollment priorities.

“We have also looked at, ‘How do we strengthen attracting out-of-state and international students?’” Lambert said. “Never though, and this is key, at the expense of the local students.”

Reasonable enough. Then he continued.

“Because on the international students, those students pay the actual cost of what it means to come to Pima,” he said. “They aren’t being subsidized by the taxpayer. They are paying what an individual student ought to pay.”

Perhaps the chancellor needs reminding. Most in-state students are Pima County residents. That makes them, and their families, taxpayers. You could even say they “subsidize” the chancellor’s salary.

Lambert ended his answer by asserting that concerns about the contrast in tuition rates between in state and out-of-state were “simplistic characterizations.” He continued to insist out-of-state students are “paying the true cost of the education.”

When I pushed back, asking if he could understand the frustration among students and other local constituencies in seeing their tuition rise while non-local students see theirs fall, the chancellor again was tone deaf.

“I can understand that but also, they should want to come and understand this on a much more sophisticated level,” he said.

That answer doesn’t just sound elitist. It is elitist.

To suggest the public should be “more sophisticated” elicits the worst ivory-tower stereotypes of academia. It implies not only that you’re right, but also that you’re right because everyone else is dumb.

Our conversation then turned to potential campus closings. Were campuses being considered for closure? Which ones? Would that require a reduction in instructors and staff?

No campus closures yet, Lambert said. Just a restructuring of how and where general education classes are held.

But about those staff reductions?

His reply: “There is a mythology at Pima that no one has ever been laid off, OK?”

Lambert again said he didn’t want layoffs, but “we are just running out of real estate for that.”

I’m not sure local advocacy groups like C-FAIRR (not to mention students both current and potential), don’t have “sophisticated” arguments on tuition.

And I’m not convinced that employee groups such as PCCEA and ACES are turning to supposed myths about Pima never having laid anyone off.

I am sure the chancellor first approaches problems from a financial perspective.

“I have a fiduciary responsibility to this community that we will run a financially healthy organization,” he said.

That’s not a bad thing in and of itself. However, if recent spats with the college’s employee associations are any evidence, the chancellor will need to use more honey than vinegar to effectively set his agenda.

Lambert is far from being the most out-of-touch executive in charge of an academic institution. University of Arizona president Ann Weaver Hart takes home all the awards for that.

Nevertheless, PCC needs more than a ledger-keeper to take it into the future.

It needs a leader who does more than acknowledge local constituencies. A true leader must embrace them and their specific needs.

Lambert faces three big showdowns within the next six months.

The first is with the HLC. Lambert has proven effective in dealing with the accrediting body, so credit is due there.

The other two battles, a meet-and-confer fight with employee associations and a decision on tuition, will require Lambert to leave his policy wonk comfort zone. He should attempt a hearts-and-minds campaign with the public.

His handling of these issues will do more than determine Lambert’s legacy in Tucson. It will also determine the length of his stay.

Find ways to challenge yourself

Find ways to challenge yourself

Elise Stahl


In August 2016, I decided to try the Whole30 diet. For 30 days, I ate no gluten, dairy, legumes, sugar or additives.

I had never done something like that and, as wimpy as it sounds to say, it was one of the scariest challenges of my life. But I made myself do it.

Along the way, I talked to many people about my endeavor. As I passed up appetizers and desserts at social events, I inevitably received the question, “Why?”

As I explained, I received a unanimous response from everyone: “Oh. Good for you. I could never do that.”

I hear that line from people all the time. “I could never…” run a 5K, or give something up for a month, or perform in front of an audience, or what have you.

“I could never do that” is a response programmed by fear: the fear of stepping outside your comfort zone. The fear of the unknown. The fear of failure.

The moment you say you could never do something, you cut yourself off from something new. You lose the opportunity to challenge yourself and grow as a person.

I get it: everyone is in pursuit of a life free from pain, awkwardness and failure.

But living in fear of those three things doesn’t make life any happier. They are necessary parts of the human experience. Working to overcome them is the key to a fulfilling and truly happy life.

The only way to conquer them … is to face them.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not easy. But when you do something that makes you uncomfortable, you remove the fear factor. You take away its power over you. Not only that, but you build confidence that can help you tackle the next challenge that lies ahead.

Because once you’ve done one thing you thought you could never do, why can’t you do another?

So I encourage you: The next time someone mentions something they’re doing that automatically makes you think “I could never do that,” stop. Ask them questions. Think about it.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s a challenge you could take on yourself.

Elise Stahl is always finding new challenges to master. She is learning to embrace the uncomfortable and face her fears with confidence.

Hello! Hola! Ni Hao! Salut! Hujambo!

Hello! Hola! Ni Hao! Salut! Hujambo!

Erik Medina


For some reason, many residents of the United States think it’s “un-American” to speak a language other than English. In reality, the U.S. does not have a national language.

Many of our citizens use the excuse of “it’s freedom of speech” when speaking their mind, but harass individuals who are speaking another language. Isn’t that the non-English speaker’s “freedom of speech?”

I believe that being bilingual should be glorified and not criticized. We should embrace the diversity our nation holds.

Being bilingual is without a doubt a positive thing. It’s been proven to actually help intellectual growth and enhance mental development.

Many like to say that if children speak two languages, they will be confused or forget their native language. Ironically, learning two languages actually helps children understand their native language.

Being bilingual also provides better job opportunities. Employers look for individuals who are able to communicate with more than just one group of people.

Now for the downside of being bilingual and learning two languages … There is none.

There has been no proof that learning two languages can negatively affect the mental function of an individual. The only possible downside is discrimination and typically discrimination comes from those who see bilingualism as a “bad thing.”

We as a nation should understand that people are not born with prejudice. They are taught it.

Instead of growing up to believe that something or someone is superior to others, we should learn to understand that we are all equal and that we are all humans.

Language is a form of communication. It brings people together and helps them express themselves. Language is a way to share culture and tradition.

Cesar Chavez once said, “Our language is the reflection of ourselves. A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speaker.”

Erik Medina plans to transfer to Arizona State University and hopes to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and journalism. He also likes cats.

Here's a tip

Here’s a tip


Tip. Your. Server.

It’s discouraging to find a table left filthy and penniless after the patrons ran you ragged for extra ranch dressing and fourth refills of Dr Pepper.

I understand the minimum wage has gone up along with prices at certain restaurants, with minimum wage for servers going from $5.05 to $7.

However, servers still earn less than minimum wage. Tips are the reason a server’s minimum wage is $7 and not $10 or more.

Tipping is important and appreciated.

Remember the person serving you could be a mother, father, struggling college student or someone struggling financially in general.

Yes, we all work hard and our money is indeed ours. Do as you wish with your money, but please be considerate of servers.

I’m that struggling college student server, and I know I am good at my job. I hate when people don’t tip.

Tips help me get to my next paycheck, especially since I get paid every two weeks.

Serving is not just about fixing the order when a customer only thinks he requested “no cheese.” I’m serving three to six tables besides yours, and still making your stay enjoyable.

In addition to taking the drink order, food order and everything in between, I am bussing the table. I leave no trace that anyone was ever there, just in time to seat more guests.

Perhaps you’re wondering why I don’t get another job since I cannot handle someone not tipping. Let’s rephrase the question: Why would anyone go to a restaurant in the first place if they’re not going to tip?

Yes, horrible servers are out there and do not deserve a cent. Don’t take that out on someone who provides excellent service.

Dakota Fincher is a waitress at Denny’s. She encourages you to treat servers as they treat you, and to understand that tipping does matter.

Don’t fear ongoing, inevitable change

Don’t fear ongoing, inevitable change


New year. New semester. New Aztec Press.

Change has happened here at the Aztec Press. We’ve handed over the editorship to someone new and once again changed our flag and layout. Our goal, however, will always be the same: to deliver Pima news to our readers.

We’ve also welcomed new staffers to our team. They’ve been taken under the wings of our senior reporters and editors to learn the ropes of publication.

We’re all adjusting to the change of a new year, a new government and personal changes we may have faced within the weeks we were gone from Pima. While some of these changes feel like new slates, others feel scary. We must embrace what we cannot control.

Here at the Aztec Press, we’ll be covering how the changes within our local and national government affect us at Pima. Topics include the rise of minimum wage, an accreditation update and how Tucson reacted to the Jan. 20 inauguration.

The changes we write about and experience throughout the semester in the newsroom feel symbolic to the changes that happen around us at the Pima campuses at the beginning of every semester: different but with a feeling of similarity.

You, our reader, may be a returning employee or student, or a newcomer to the Pima campuses. Either way, we’re all experiencing some type of newness whether it be classes, instructors, friendships or challenges.

While it seems scary or overwhelming, we eventually adapt. We’ll get our schedules down and we won’t get lost trying to find our classrooms. We’ll finally figure out after two year that coming to campus at 10 a.m. guarantees a crappy parking spot.

Welcome back to Pima and to the new-ish Aztec Press. Not much has changed, so don’t be scared and enjoy our first issue of Spring 2017.

Sudanese-born student helps a world in need

Sudanese-born student helps a world in need

Ibrahim Younis gives a community talk to share his worldwide experiences working for the Doctors Without Borders organization. (David Pujol/Aztec Press)


Ibrahim Younis, a 44-year-old Sudanese-born Tucsonan, has worked as a coordinator for Doctors Without Borders since 1997.

“To save a life, to feed people, to be able to make this change, it’s addictive,” Younis said during a Pima Community College presentation that drew students, faculty and community members. “When you’re back home, you’ll want to do it again.”

Younis grew up in the United Kingdom and in Belgium. He holds citizenship with three countries: Sudan, Belgium and the United States.

After obtaining his primary school education in Sudan and attending school in Europe, Younis enrolled at PCC two years ago. He hopes to transfer to the University of Arizona to continue studying political science.

Younis worked in the early ‘90s with a United Nations consortium called Operation Lifeline Sudan, handling and managing the food distribution logistics.

He then moved to Doctors Without Borders, which is also known by its European name of Médecins Sans Frontières.

He started with MSF as a logistician, and later became a logistics coordinator and then a program coordinator. He’s now worked as a manager in MSF’s European headquarters and has also traveled to more than 50 countries.

Much of his early MSF work focused on conflicts in Islamic countries, including Afghanistan, Iran and Somalia. He worked on the front lines in African areas where Boko Haram extremists were active.

His non-medical work with emergency units made him an emergency specialist, so he now concentrates on emergency preparedness and response for both human-caused and natural disasters.

“I find it sad that the kind of work he is doing is necessary, but I appreciate the work that he does,” said Elizabeth Moisin, a PCC nursing student who attended Younis’ presentation.

“I think it’s heartwarming that there are people who have the courage to go out there and do this kind of work,” she said.

Lizette Durazo, another PCC student who attended his talk, said she will consider working with a relief program like MSF in the future.

“To hear that there are people who risk their lives to save lives is miraculous, especially in the face of danger on the front lines,” she said.

Younis said 60 percent of his job involves gaining access and developing strategies. He must deal with politics, security and diplomacy while working with local authorities.

He has seen tragedy and loss throughout his time working with MSF, but said he continues to return because of its potential for good. When patients recover and start smiling, Younis said he knows MSF has made a difference.

“There are a lot of sad and happy memories, but in general the fact that you save lives gives you so much consciousness of the situation and the work you do,” he said. “And we do save lives, especially for children, pregnant women, the elderly and the wounded.”

He supports MSF’s belief in staying neutral, and said aide workers can’t differentiate by color, gender, age, religion or creed.

“Whatever comes on the table, you treat,” he said. “That, for me, is fundamental if you want to provide humanitarian assistance, especially in conflicts.”

Younis met his physician wife about five years ago through MSF. They now both live in Tucson with their two children.

He sees himself doing what is right no matter the danger. “I get to have that pleasure of making a difference in somebody’s life,” he said.

State budget harms community colleges

State budget harms community colleges

Brittney Young


The more time spent looking at Gov. Doug Ducey’s educational funding budget, the more it sucks.

Kindergarten through 12th grade spending isn’t the only thing that has been reworked in the governor’s new plan to redefine educational spending.

Community colleges have endured the most in Arizona’s “redefined” state funding.

Rather than rework the numbers in the budget under the guise of changing it, the budget simply cut funding for state community colleges.

Pima Community College students know that better than anyone, as tuition rates have increased in part due to lack of state funding.

The school received nearly $6.5 million from the state in fiscal year 2015, according to the PCC budget report. State funding listed in the 2016 budget report was a big fat $0.

Last year, tuition cost $75.50 per unit for in-state students. This year it cost $78.50. PCC cut tuition rates for out-of-state students, in hopes it would encourage those students to come to our community college.

The 10 Phoenix-area schools in the Maricopa Community Colleges system are also no longer receiving any funding. They and PCC are the largest community colleges in the state.

It won’t stop there either, as plans are being made to cut funding from other community colleges statewide in the future.

The state has already moved to cut funding from Central Arizona College in Pinal County, but CAC was saved by legislation that protected its funding.

The immediate problem these schools face is the hardship the funding cuts create for their students. PCC has had an expenditure limitation in which it needs to reduce costs by $5 million.

Suggestions for ways to do this include tuition increases, department and campus consolidation, hiring freezes, elimination of certain positions and leasing equipment rather than purchasing it.

Another issue that has been created by the state is how dependent PCC has become on federal aid for its students.

The Pell Grant is pretty much the only aid a community college student can receive that isn’t a loan. It’s no wonder admission rates have decreased when no one can afford to attend.

As a nation, more emphasis has been put on community colleges as a starting place for higher education, but in Arizona it seems to be penalized.

At least this doesn’t seem to be a growing trend throughout the country. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam began the Tennessee Promise program, which focuses on ways to make community colleges essentially tuition-free for graduating high school seniors.

Arizona continues to be the anomaly that baffles educators and students alike.

Brittney Young is a financial aid student and appreciates the opportunity of starting at a community college rather than a university.

Believing in the power, not the institution

Believing in the power, not the institution


I am a person of faith. I believe in a higher power. I believe in God. But I disagree with most of what the church has to say.

Sunday has been church day ever since I was a little kid.

I grew up with a Christian mom who came from a very devoted family. My granddad was a pastor for most of his life and many of my relatives are involved in the church as well.

My dad, on the other hand, was raised Catholic but rarely goes to Mass.

I was taught in church that we must follow the rules to go to heaven. If I did not behave correctly, God would punish me.

But as I started to grow up, things the church said did not make sense to me anymore.

We live in a society that is more liberal than in the past but still people use their religious beliefs to discriminate against others.

Churches are becoming places where you can judge others who don’t agree with you.

Not all churches are bad but not all of them work for all people.

There are so many religions and each has aspects different from the others. One thing they have in common is that each religion feels it is the right one.

A quote in the movie “Spotlight” stuck with me: “The church is an institution of men and that’s passing. My faith is in the eternal. I try to separate the two.”

That made a lot of sense to me. I don’t need to go to church to have a relationship with God or to believe in something.

If you don’t go church or identify yourself with a specific religion, people automatically think you are an atheist.

There is nothing wrong with being an atheist but I disagree with the assumption that anyone who stops attending church is a non-believer.

I don’t need someone to be an intermediary for me. I don’t need an institution to know that I have a relationship with a higher power.

We should believe in whatever we need. Belief is something people look to for comfort.

What may work for you may not work for somebody else.

Maria Angulo is a journalism major at Pima Community College. She hopes to transfer and graduate from one of the three state universities.

GUEST COLUMN: Lyft, Uber prime time a rip-off

GUEST COLUMN: Lyft, Uber prime time a rip-off


Things that should be illegal: stealing, murder, drug use and prime time on Lyft and Uber rides.

As a college student, I use Lyft and/or Uber when I don’t want to drive on the weekends. Ergo, I always use it.

Prime time happens when potential customers request an excessive number of Lyft or Uber rides within a short period of time. A formula compares the number of Lyft/Uber drivers available to the number of ride requests, and multiplies the price of rides by a multiple.

On Friday and Saturday nights, prime time rates typically go up 50-100 percent. This is a little ridiculous but doable, especially if the party I need to get to is going to be worth it.

Just last weekend, however, I was out with a friend. We were going to request a Lyft to take us home, until we saw it was a 500 percent prime time markup.

Five hundred percent? This outrageous amount would have been roughly $50 for a 15-minute ride. If this isn’t robbery, I don’t know what is.

As a college student with enough to worry about and pay for, I am appalled by Lyft and Uber for putting these prices on their rides.

So why do they do it? They say that at times of high demand, the number of drivers become limited and higher prices encourage other drivers to become available.

With that in mind, I did a survey to determine whether college students (ages 18-24 from Pima Community College) would rather pay the extra $20 or wait an extra 45 minutes for an Uber/Lyft driver to become available.

The results concluded that 39 of 50 students would rather wait than pay. This survey shows that Uber and Lyft should have consulted with their users before raising prices.

Here I am thinking that whoever invented Lyft and Uber had a main goal of helping to provide cheap, easy and reliable rides for people who want to get to where they are going.

In my humble opinion, that person is doing a crummy job. College students should not, under any circumstances, have to pay prime time for services that are supposedly the “best deal” for rides,

Pima Community College sophomore Isabel Forsman is from Hagerstown, Maryland. She is a studying political science and plans to pursue a career in law after completing her education.

Nostalgia: How sweet it was

Nostalgia: How sweet it was



While on Facebook the other day, I received a notification from my friend Mike. His profile picture appeared to the left of his witty comment and I clicked on the thumbnail to get a closer look.

That had been his picture for awhile now, and I could tell it was a childhood portrait. When I clicked to see the full-sized image, a brief thought of how cute he was crossed my mind, but I was quickly overtaken by a deep sadness.

I looked into the child in the photograph’s eyes and compared them to Mike’s eyes now. I started crying.

Mike is not the type of person to make me cry.

I’ve felt this way looking at my own childhood photo albums but I wondered why a friend’s baby picture, especially one as insignificant as an old coworker’s, could also make me sad.

I dug deeper. Why does childhood nostalgia make us sad?

When you’re a kid, you’re not intentionally painting memories to make yourself sad later in life, and that’s the joy of being a child: being able to take every sweet, careless moment for granted.

Well, those fond memories get bundled up and shoved into a treasure chest in your mind.

They later come out to strike you with a bittersweet, wistful sadness.

I asked some Tucson friends what sort of scents, objects, sounds or memories brought them back. Some of their replies included:

  • Joop Cologne
  • Maltese puppies
  • The hour before the sun sets in October
  • The smell of citrus blossoms
  • Cedar wood
  • A-Ha’s “Take on Me”
  • The sound of snow crunching
  • Legos
  • Root beer floats
  • Reading books during the early hours before the sun rises
  • Strawberry Shortcake dolls
  • Scented pencils
  • Grandma’s makeup
  • The elementary school library
  • Darkroom fixer
  • Dove soap
  • Freshly-mowed grass
  • Little League
  • Doug
  • Bath and Body Works Cucumber Melon
  • Smoking pipes
  • Antibacterial soap
  • John Denver’s “Rhymes and Reasons”
  • Orange and purple Halloween lights
  • A skateboard’s wheels rolling over cracks in the sidewalk
  • The New York City subway

Anything can take you back, particularly picturesque objects like fireflies or a sunset.

For me, it’s my mom’s sundresses and the smell of fresh dill.

The duo reminds me of my mom hanging out in the backyard with us, gardening, or calling us inside to try on the matching dresses she sewed us.

I find myself yearning for a past that feels comfortable and normal.

For many of us, being a kid was lonely, even frightening. Why would those with tough childhoods want to go back?

You’ve heard it before: “Things were better back then.”

I always figured people referenced the past as “the good old days” because it had less technology and simpler pleasures. Or, they were blurring out the hardship and remembering the good stuff, as we all do.

In my research, I found many online forums about the topic. A number of people admitted to even having addictions to nostalgia.

Nostalgia is, after all, a concentration of all the good memories we’ve collected. That sounds like a drug to me.

But that is between you and your therapist.

Apparently, if these folks, myself included, were around during the 17th through 19th centuries and fell into a stupor of memories, we’d be diagnosed with a psychopathological disorder.

The Swiss physician Johannes Hofer created the word “nostalgia” in 1688 by combining the Greek word “nostos,” meaning “homecoming,” with “algo,” meaning pain.

It seemed to be most common in soldiers missing their home and children missing their mothers.

In “The Future of Nostalgia” by Svetlana Boym, the first people stricken with the disease were those displaced during the 17th century like “freedom-loving students from the Republic of Berne studying in Basel, domestic help working in France and Germany and Swiss soldiers fighting abroad.”

Boym described nostalgia as a disease of an afflicted imagination.

The melodrama of deeming nostalgia an illness sounds crazy itself, and should be filed away with other ridiculous ailments of the past like “women’s hysteria.”

According to “Dying of the Past,” Michael S. Roth’s study on nostalgia in the 19th century, nostalgia as an illness was considered so serious that some soldiers even faked it.

But there is a helpful lesson in this research.

For me, nostalgia is my biggest kryptonite. As soon as I sense the feeling coming, it cripples me into a somber daydream.

While my sister will patiently listen to me dwell on the past and even interject with her own memories, we eventually cry it out, snap out of it and continue to live our lives.

Just as baby Mike grew up and was replaced by 40-something Croc-wearing Mike, many moments we hold onto from the past will change, age or decay.

And that’s life.

It’s OK to be afraid to face something from the past. It’s OK to miss something from the past.

Luckily, this is the 21st century and we won’t be electrocuted, tortured, shamed or covered in leeches for it.

But too much of it won’t get you anywhere. Living in the past is easy. Facing the unknown is not.

Childhood nostalgia is my fear of the unknown, my apprehension to take steps into my unwritten future, my search for comfort.

After all, we find comfort in the familiar.

FROM THE EDDIE-TOR: Navigating Thanksgiving family politics

FROM THE EDDIE-TOR: Navigating Thanksgiving family politics


Food is definitely the best part of Thanksgiving. Second best are the utterly insane political points of view that start spewing after the third course of food and fifth bottle of beer.

Every typical family has a “racist uncle.” Try growing up with seven uncles of varying political outlooks, an aunt who is a high-level Republican political consultant and extended family with fingers in local and state government. Let’s not even touch my parents.

Unless my brothers, cousins and I want to get sucked into a conversation about Janet Reno possibly overstepping her authority by ordering the raid on Elian Gonzales’ home during Easter of 2000, we need a strategy.

My strategy is time tested and encompasses the full political spectrum. Because I halfway enjoy Mitch Albom and his sappy, moralistic short stories, I call it “Six People You Avoid in Food-Heaven.”


The alt-right lite

The Samuel Addams lager is a dead giveaway, but there’s more. Listen for key names and phrases: Rush, :, DeSouza, Hillary for Prison and this season’s favorite, “Did you see Breitbart?”

These conversations are usually funny in a pathetic, ironic way. They won’t let you get a word in, so just listen. It’s the best way to get to know the other side.


“They’re all the same”

They didn’t say they were voting for Trump, and probably said they weren’t a year ago. But life gets busy and politics is far off and, damn it, those politicians are all the same!

They’ll be the first to complain that Trump no longer hosts “Celebrity Apprentice.” An “I told you so” is warranted.


The true believer

These relatives hail from both sides of the aisle.

On the left, they were “Bernie or Bust” and can’t imagine attending that Country Thunder “gathering of the young sons and daughters of the Confederacy.”

On the right, Fox News is news (except for that rude traitor Megyn Kelly), John Wayne is their moral compass and everything wrong with society is caused by government intervention and/or PC culture.

It can be fun to talk with them, but the self-sanctimony on the left and insistent whining on the right get boring after one beer. Move the conversation towards sports (not Kaepernick!) and you’ll manage.


The operative

Perhaps this is unique to my family, but you better bring your A game if you find yourself across the table from an actual political strategist. This relative is the most fun to talk to, until he/she finds your intellectual weakness. Mine is economics.

The conversation starts out fun and seems like normal chitchat, but these relatives always steer to politics in general and your weak spot in particular.

There’s no winning here. Sports and the upcoming family wedding are not worthy distractions. Cut your losses and help Nana with the dishes.


The disillusioned lefty

My family always has one or two. They’re apoplectic about the state of the Democratic Party, public education and public sector unions with the exception of police and firefighters.

This happens to be the group I fall into this holiday season. Younger family members should approach only after we open the good tequila.


The honest-to-goodness apolitical one

It’s a trap. These relatives may not have any interest in politics but they definitely will ask why you can’t hold down a serious relationship and what you plan on doing after writing for the school newspaper.

My advice: give Nana a hug. Tell her you’ll find the right one with long legs and red hair soon, and then show her this column. She’ll love you for it.

Electoral College needs a fix

Electoral College needs a fix


It troubles me that we don’t actually vote for president of the United States. Instead we vote for “electors,” who then vote for presidential candidates on behalf of the people from their respective states.

This sequence known as the Electoral College was put in place by our Founding Fathers and dates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. They instituted the system to ensure that voters wouldn’t elect criminals, or anybody unfit for presidential duties.

The Founding Fathers decided against popular vote because they believed the people didn’t have sufficient resources or information on candidates from other states.

It’s safe to say most modern Americans have sufficient information on out-of-state candidates.

The Electoral College questions the voice and intelligence of the people, deeming them unfit to decide who should be their president. It violates democratic principles.

Regardless of how you feel about the result of the 2016 election, the Electoral College needs to be amended or eliminated.

Hillary Clinton found herself on the wrong end of the popular and electoral vote split.

She became the fifth candidate to win the majority of the popular vote yet lose to the Electoral College, thus awarding the presidential election to Donald Trump. At press time, she led by a million votes.

The popular vote count previously lost to the electoral vote count in 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000 elections.

In a country where “majority rules,” how can the majority vote for their candidate and have their voices unheard due to an outdated system? The Electoral College really should have been ditched after the 18th century.

I have heard people argue that the Electoral College has worked for over two centuries, so why change it? The key word is “worked.” We all know even a dead clock is right twice a day.

We must continuously evolve to maintain democracy.

Congress constantly amends the Constitution and comes up with compromises. Why? Because what worked two centuries ago isn’t necessarily what will work or is working in the 21st century.

Situations change, people change and our traditional ways of thinking change to ensure an ever evolving and stronger country.

I could support two possible solutions:

Solution 1: Amend the Electoral College to make every state equal in terms of electoral votes. If there is an ensuing tie, settle it through the majority vote count. Why give bigger or swing states a distinct advantage in the presidential race?

Solution 2: Eliminate the Electoral College entirely in favor of the popular vote. Win or lose, everyone in America has a voice. This would eliminate the controversy of the split between electoral and popular vote counts.

Let Americans decide who they want to be their leader. Give us a decisive voice in picking our leader and stop depriving us of our right to democracy.

Francisco Zapata studies journalism at Pima Community College and the University of Arizona. He enjoys writing about sports, politics and entertainment.

Revise transfer class

Revise transfer class

Editor’s note: This guest column was written by a Pima Community College student who requested a pseudonym. The student is currently enrolled in STU 210.


 The Transfer Strategies class at Pima Community College starts out helpful, but after a few weeks becomes redundant and pointless.

Transfer Strategies, better known as STU 210, seems like a great way to integrate yourself from Pima to the University of Arizona, especially since the class offers priority registration at UA for two semesters after you take the class.

The class emphasizes the idea that you’ll be at a great disadvantage if you don’t take it, because you won’t have the knowledge of UA that other students enjoy.

At first I was enamored with the class. I received a packet with a map and a booklet that lists programs offered by the university.

Our first UA visit included an information fair in the South Ballroom of the Student Union building. I could talk to advisors from the different departments of study and gather contact information for the future.

I’ve since decided the class could cover everything in a few sessions. It seems too drawn out, like they need reasons to justify it being a 16-week course. It would be better as an 8-week course.

If it has to be a 16-week course, it should include the other two state universities.

Not all Pima students want to transfer to UA. Some want to go to Northern Arizona University or Arizona State University. STU 210 puts students at a disadvantage with other universities because the class doesn’t cover transfer processes for them.

Instructors could still cover financial aid, outline the different programs offered at UA, provide contact information for advisors and give tours of UA in an 8-week course.

So far this semester, we’ve had three tours and one scavenger hunt. That’s excessive.

The scavenger hunt I understand, because we had to find places like the financial aid and admissions offices. However, the rest of the tours have been generalized and simply not useful.

How am I supposed to find my classes if all I know is the way around the Hall of Champions?

It also costs $2 an hour to park at a UA garage. That’s $56 or more a semester for class, because the class is two hours long and you usually must arrive an hour early to find a parking spot.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have to pay for parking, but it would be nicer if there was a way we could have guaranteed parking and a flat rate parking pass for the semester.

Then again, parking passes at UA aren’t even guaranteed for actual enrolled students, who apply each academic year.

At this point in the semester, it’s become more of a hassle than a benefit to attend class.

Pat Smith does not like sports and does not care about UA basketball.


Increase educational funding

Increase educational funding


 Arizona ranks dead last among states when it comes to educational funding.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities gave Arizona that ranking when it compared state funding for K-12 schools from 2008 to 2014. It found Arizona cut its state funding per student by 23.3 percent.

Most jobs now require more than a high school diploma. If K-12 funding keeps getting pushed aside, our students won’t even be ready for an entry-level job.

Education spending averaged $10,700 per student in 2013. The gap between the highest and lowest state was more than $12,000, with New York at $19,818 and Utah at $6,555. Arizona was just above Utah, spending $7,208 per student.

Past cuts have damaged art programs. Teachers had to turn to parent fundraising, grants, donations and voter-approved bonds to keep programs like music going.

Five local school districts sought voter-approved bonds in the Nov. 8 election. Amphitheater Unified School District requested $58 million for general maintenance such as replacing or restoring structural components of school buildings.

However, cuts have gotten so bad that even voter-approved bonds aren’t enough.

The budget Gov. Doug Ducey released in January will modify education funding. State voters approved Proposition 123 in May to provide other changes.

Teachers appreciate the emphasis Prop. 123 put on educational funding, but opponents worry the new structure won’t benefit schools as much as promised.

Changes reset the base per student to $3,600 for the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years. Just last year, the base was almost $8,000.

Building Renewal Grants will increase by $15 million to $31 million, and the state will provide $200,000 to the State Board of Education for academic standard setting to assist with the review of standards.

In the 2017 fiscal year, the budget will include a net addition of $46.5 million for more student growth, a continuation of the Building Renewal Grants, a Public School Credit Enhancement Program and $46.9 million in New Initiatives programs.

The changes may put more emphasis on funding but educators still worry.

For instance, the New Initiative programs reinforce academic programs already in place rather than helping struggling art programs.

It will also take time to build funding back to what it used to be. Schools need money now rather than later.

The new budget needs to be thrown out. Ducey made it look like he fixed educational funding, but he hasn’t. He merely disguised new funding cuts by saying he “restructured it.”

We should just increase the amount of money allotted per student.

Education should not be an afterthought. Arizona’s future is being diminished for the sake of the all-mighty dollar.

 Brittney Young grew up in California and moved to Arizona to attend college.