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FROM THE EDITOR: Time to turn the page on Iraq

FROM THE EDITOR: Time to turn the page on Iraq


The recent moves by Sunni extremists and Kurdish militias to seize large swaths of Iraqi territory have sent shock waves around the region and across the globe. The chorus calling for American action grows daily.

But The United States, and specifically President Barack Obama, should resist these calls for military action. The time has come for Iraq to decide its own fate, for better or worse.

True, America helped cause the issues we are seeing in Iraq, starting way back in the 1980s when we played the Iraqis against their rivals in Tehran. America’s involvement in the region has continued since, spanning two wars and four decades of conflict.

However, once the bombs stopped falling, we did what we could to rebuild the nation. We invested billions in U.S. taxpayer money to build infrastructure and establish a new Iraqi Army.

Much of that money was mismanaged, or flat-out embezzled, by incompetent or crooked officials.

Less than three years ago, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki declined to give American forces operating in his country immunity from prosecution, which led to U.S. troops withdrawing from the country.

Within days of the pullout, Maliki began persecuting political rivals and has been consolidating power ever since.

It is this fractious leadership style that is ultimately responsible for the schism we are observing in Iraq. No amount of airstrikes or boots on the ground will solve the problem as long as the politics remain the same.

Obama must resist the caterwauling of Congressional Republicans and the pleas from the corrupt Iraqi government for the American military to be Maliki’s sword. The fact that Maliki’s own army is deserting him should speak volumes about his leadership.

If America truly wants to improve the situation in Iraq, maintaining the status quo by bailing out the unscrupulous government that told U.S. forces to leave is not the answer.

Instead, we need to work with all parties involved, including the so-called “terrorists” (which are enjoying popular support in the regions they have captured) to determine how all the interests of the people can be met.

Anything other than a controlled, diplomatic response that leaves military action off the table will be another defeat on the long list of recent American foreign policy failures.



Be courteous, follow concert etiquette rules

Be courteous, follow concert etiquette rules


The lights go off and the opener is about to come on. Your excitement goes through the roof.
The experience is then ruined because the crowd doesn’t follow unofficial concert etiquette.
It’s annoying to pay $30-50 for a concert only to be disappointed.
To make sure your or someone else’s experience isn’t ruined, follow these simple rules:


Stop complaining about getting pushed. It happens. Everyone wants to get to the front.


Wear close-toed shoes. Your feet are going to get stepped on. Save yourself the pain and refrain from wearing flip-flops.
Do not wear heels. Nobody will think they’re cute in a giant crowd where everyone’s eyes are on the stage, not your feet.
You are also more susceptible to falling over when people push. Plus, it will suck for those unfortunate enough to have their foot under your heel when you start jumping with the crowd.

Cell phones

Put down your cell phone. The people behind you would like to see the artists on stage, not view them from a small LED screen.
Instead of enjoying the concert at home later from the poor quality video you recorded, watch the entire show live with your eyes.


Keep in mind that merchandise sellers are people too, so treat them as such. It’s not their fault you waited till the last second to buy a T-shirt and they ran out of your size.


For the love of everything that is sacred, dance if the music calls for it. Don’t just stand there and do nothing. Nobody cares if your moves are awkward.
How else is the artist supposed to know you’re enjoying the music if you aren’t dancing?

Remember: Everyone paid the same amount of money as you to get in. Please let all fans have fun by being courteous to those around you.

Hernandez is a music enthusiast and avid concert-goer with the band shirts to prove it.

Pg06-Hernandez, Robert

Blame the shooter, not weapon

Blame the shooter, not weapon


People have a tendency to blame an inanimate object for tragic killings such as the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings or the 2011 Tucson massacre in by Jared Loughner.

We are taught that guns are dangerous to us and everybody around. Some government officials are fighting to get guns under control.

But we as a society must understand that the person pulling the trigger is the real danger.

Human beings are born with a sinful nature. It doesn’t matter what weapon they use when they harm others.

Knife attacks

Guns aren’t even used in many cases of violence. Instead, weapons like knifes cause the harm.

A 16-year-old went on a knifing rampage April 9 at a high school in Murrysville, Pennsylvania. He hurt 21 students and a security guard.

“The rampage came after decades in which U.S. schools geared much of their emergency planning toward mass shootings, not stabbings,” KWY-TV said.

The station said the Murrysville school was prepared for attacks with firearms but not weapons like knifes.

Gun enthusiasts

My sisters and I grew up in a house full of guns, with a father who is a gun enthusiast.

Each of us shot our first rifle at age 8 and our first handgun at age 11. Our father taught us to use them recreationally for hunting and target practice only.

With close guidance, we learned to handle firearms properly. Our lessons included how to control weapons, what not to aim at  and what not to do.

We were taught to respect the weapons, but also to fear them because they are dangerous in the wrong hands.

Once we learned how to handle shotguns and semi-automatic handguns, we lost the fear we had when we were introduced to the weapons.

Mental illness

In some cases, the person who commits violent attacks against people is dealing with mental issues. People with a mental illness may act in irrational ways, which can lead to heinous crimes.

Shooters who suffered from mental illness include Mark David Chapman, who killed John Lennon; John Hinckley Jr., who shot President Ronald Reagan, and Robert John Bardo, who killed actress Rebecca Schaeffer.

Unfortunately, there is no reliable way to foresee an attack on others when mental illness consumes the mind of the gun holder.

Some researchers argue that mentally ill people are not at high risk for violence.

Shannon Frattaroli, Ph.D., says people with mental illness are responsible for only about 4 percent of the violence in society.

In an article, “Guns, Public Health and Mental Illness: An Evidence Based Approach for State Policy,” Frattaroli outlines steps states can take to keep guns out of the hands of people who are at an elevated risk for violence and suicide.

She says her plan also respects the rights of people with mental illness.

Instead of banning guns, we must make sure that people can safely handle weapons. This would keep mentally ill people safe from themselves and help protect everyone else.

Banning guns

Strict gun laws have not prevented high gun violence crime rates in some cities across America. Examples include Chicago and Washington D.C.

James D. Agresti argues on his website “Just Facts: Gun Control” that a ban on handguns increases the murder rate.

“During the years in which the D.C. handgun ban and trigger lock law was in effect, the Washington D.C. murder rate averaged 73 percent higher than it was at the outset of the law,” Agresti writes.

The same thing happened in the Windy City.

“Since the outset of the Chicago handgun ban, the percentage of Chicago murders committed with handguns has averaged about 40 percent higher than it was before the law took effect,” Agresti said.


The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution clearly protects the right of individuals to keep and bear arms. We have a right to protect ourselves from criminals who don’t follow the law.

In the end, the most dangerous element in our society is people themselves, not the weapons we make to hunt or protect ourselves.

We as a society must understand that people are unpredictable. Blaming an inanimate object will not prevent violent crimes. Remember that old saying, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”


(Aztec Press illistration by Larry Gaurano)

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Opinion page holds common theme

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Opinion page holds common theme

In response to the thoughtful Opinion page in the April 10-23 edition of the Aztec Press:

Mr. Del Grande makes the real point that Americans too often fail to note the events of genocide historically and worldwide.

We are too content within our comforts to take serious the deaths of huge numbers “elsewhere,” but the world is becoming so small that such events effect everyone.

Ms. Graham forcefully brings to our attention that “hate” is most destructive to the hater.

To spend our precious time and energies lugging around a grudge is a self-imposed penalty that plays into the hands of our enemies, and does nothing to better our own being.

Life is too short to waste it carrying around feelings of hate, anger and negativity — be happy. It is much more healthy to live your days without it.

Mr. Hoyos honors honest labor. As college students and professionals, it is too easy to become centered on our little problems, and forget those who make our life more pleasant and productive. There are many.

Some students actually hold down a job; a few fully support themselves and study. As in Mr. Hoyos’ case, many have parents who labored long to aid the efforts of their children toward professionalism.

Even if one steps back from the ivory tower just a little, it is possible to see the hard working taxpayer that has committed to raising an institution of higher learning in your behalf.

Look with favor and honor upon the person who honestly works within his society. There is dignity in all labor, and it certainly shouldn’t be overlooked.

Veterans, as Mr. Albrecht notes, have already “paid their dues.” They also deserve honor, even if they don’t carry the wounds of war — those who only stand and wait also serve.

That however, does not mean that they should have a waiting game imposed further upon them, by a college.

It will be 40 to 60 days before they may be treated as vets; this through no fault of the vet, rather screw-ups of the on-campus department that handles them — after warning.

PCC is attempting to correct its errors, but they are errors that should not have been made at all. The need for correction is an indication of non-performance, then others pay the price.

The messages on Page 6 are somewhat tied together — respect. Respect the plight of those who die because of hate.

Respect yourself and keep your mind clean. Respect honest labor.

Respect those who devote their lives to teaching.

Their rewards are small, but your respect has the potential of making their day and uplifting you too.

Dr. Don Burk

Burk is a student at Downtown Campus. He is non-traditional at age 83, a vet, a teacher, and is seen playing chess on campus.

GUEST COMMENTARY: New ‘On-Time Registration’ helps students

GUEST COMMENTARY: New ‘On-Time Registration’ helps students

Editor’s note: On-Time Registration will begin in Spring 2015. The On-Time Registration Faculty Senate Work-Group recommended the new Pima Community College registration procedure. The Chancellor’s Cabinet approved the changes on April 1.

By the On-Time Registration Faculty Senate Work-Group

We read with interest the March 13 Aztec Press editorial on Pima’s planned transition to on-time registration. We found it valuable for tuning in to initial student reaction to the proposed new procedure. We care very much about student perceptions of these proposed changes.

It is our concern for the academic well-being of students, after all, that motivated the set of changes we are proposing in the first place. For more than 20 years, faculty have been discussing the pros and cons of late registration and what registration policy alternatives might be more beneficial to students.

Many of the exact registration problems the Aztec Press editorial identifies are the issues that have driven faculty to attempt to find solutions. We think our plan for “on-time registration” addresses many of the registration issues that so frustrate students and that it will promote student success.

A central concern raised in the editorial is student access to classes that have already gotten underway. In particular, cases in which a class the student had validly been registered but was cancelled or turned out to not be a good fit for the student.

By having a policy of “on-time” registration, this would not affect those students who still might have the need to register late.

Such access will still be available, granted on a case-by-case basis by the faculty member teaching the course into which the student wishes to enroll.

By being able to confer with the student on an individual basis, the instructor will be able to better recommend a course to the student, given the student’s particular aptitude. Thus, the student will be a good candidate for registering late into that particular course.

Late-start courses will provide another option for students who experience financial aid delays, course cancellation, course mismatch or other reasons for needing to begin a course later than the traditional 16-week semester start date.

The on-time registration work-group has calculated the percentage increase needed in PCC’s current late-start options to counter-balance what would otherwise be undue rigidity of on-time registration.

The work-group will be working with department chairs of all different academic disciplines to substantially increase the number of 14-week late-start courses and second eight-weeks courses, so as to provide maximum access and flexibility for students who need to register later into the semester.

Late-start options allow students the flexibility of registering into courses later, when needed, but without the downside of missing initial lessons in the course–lessons that are often most crucial to student success.

Finally, one of the most appealing benefits of on-time registration is that it stands to actually decrease course cancellations (one of the reasons students might need to register late in the first place).

Simply put, many courses have had to be cancelled because they did not attract sufficient enrollment early enough in the semester to make them fiscally viable. This makes it difficult fo the academic deans responsible for keying class schedules to the PCC budget (and cancelling classes that appear to have “low enrollment”).

With a policy of on-time registration, students will be demonstrating their enrollment intentions in a timely manner. Deans will be able to see (rather than just guess or gamble on) which courses are viable and which are not. Therefore, there will be many, many fewer courses getting cancelled for low enrollment.

In sum, transitioning to a system of on-time registration stands to benefit students in three major ways: fewer class cancellations, greater flexibility of more options so that students can begin a course later in the semester but still attend from lesson one, and increased opportunity to get the one-on-one attention from a faculty member. This faculty will know whether or not a student requesting to register late into the particular course has the level of preparation to succeed in the course.

And that, for us, is what this proposed policy change has been about from the beginning: student success.

Who let the watchdogs out?

Who let the watchdogs out?


A collection of journalists from around the state recently converged at the University of Arizona to take part in professional workshops designed to strengthen investigative reporting skills.

Seven members of the Aztec Press student staff, along with our faculty adviser, joined journalists from local publications at the 2014 Tucson Watchdog Workshop.

All of us attending had a similar goal in mind: improving our investigative skills in order to hold people accountable for their misdeeds. That serves as an important check on those in power.

Investigative Reporters and Editors, a nonprofit group dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting, delivered this vital training.

The first session, hosted by IRE trainer Megan Luther, covered quick-hit investigations. We learned how to produce in-depth stories in the same amount of time usually required to write a simple news article. We fine-tuned our analytical minds to help expose fraud or corruption.

The next workshop, “The Art of Access,” was my personal favorite. It was led by David Cuillier, head of the UA journalism department and current national president of the Society of Professional Journalists.

I was practically salivating thinking about all the different public records and files the newspaper will start requesting in order to better serve the students and employees of Pima Community College. After all, this is our college and we deserve to know what’s going on.

The final workshop before lunch delved into the art of better navigating the Internet for our journalistic work. Web searches become a lot easier when you realize Google isn’t the only way to fly.

The sheer abundance of sites available for background searches makes our college’s recent hiring woes that much more puzzling, but I digress …

After lunch, our intrepid staff decided to take a commemorative group photograph in front of the Marshall Building, home of the UA journalism department.

What should have been a 30-second jaunt around the corner turned into an hour-long expedition across the UA campus, with staff members disappearing quicker than characters in a scary movie.

We eventually rounded up the strays and our unexpected trip turned out to be most fortuitous. When we finally “found” the Marshall Building, we bumped into Cuillier, who informed us we wouldn’t have even been able to access the building without him.

He then led us on an impromptu tour. The impressive credentials of the department’s various professors had us all chatting long after our excursion ended.

The afternoon workshops offered opportunities to learn more about investigating cartels and immigration issues, important topics across the country and especially here in the Southwest.

I would like to extend thanks to IRE and UA for hosting the workshop, and also acknowledge Jennifer Wellborn, Shawn Graham and everyone at West Campus Student Life for helping us with funding.

Our staff intends to incorporate everything we learned at the 2014 Tucson Watchdog Workshop into our reporting. We will dig even deeper for the stories that matter most to you, because that’s how we roll.

Enjoy the issue.

Cannabis shows economic, medicinal promise

Cannabis shows economic, medicinal promise


Green is the color of progress, but it’s marijuana not money that is ushering in change.

Marijuana may provide tomorrow’s medicine of choice for those with chronic illness, and the economic change that Arizona needs to turn a new leaf.

America has a sordid past with cannabis.

When the United States was a much younger country, farmers were encouraged to plant hemp for production of cloth and other material. Marijuana was a staple trade plant during the Civil War era and a respected medicine during the Industrial Age.

However, it was mysteriously outlawed in 1937 with the Marijuana Tax Act.

Today, as Colorado and Washington experiment with legal regulation, cannabis shows promise as both a growing economic venture and as a medicinal treatment.

Medical marijuana dispensaries have emerged in more than 20 states, and physician-journalists like Sanjay Gupta have explored the plant’s medicinal benefits.

Though the legality and effectiveness of medicinal treatment remain under a political microscope, some patients consider marijuana an alternative to prescription drugs.

Highly debated points include health factors and side effects.

Many people opposed to marijuana think long-term effects should be considered before society takes steps to formally regulate cannabis for the masses.

The American Medical Association took an avid stance against medical marijuana in 2013, saying cannabis is a dangerous drug and a public health concern. The AMA opposes legalizing the sale of cannabis.

Dr. Stuart Gitlow, chair-elect of the AMA, believes hard science will prevail over frivolity.
“We can only hope that the public will listen to science – not ‘big marijuana’ interests who stand to gain millions of dollars from increased addiction rates,” Gitlow said in a news article.

In Arizona, medical marijuana has been legal since 2010. Patients can obtain treatment through a doctor’s recommendation and a state fee of $150. Tucson has 10 medical marijuana dispensaries.
Many patients turn to the Downtown Dispensary, where manager Michelle Sweetapple, 29, is proud to be an advocate of legal weed.

“It’s harder to come off of pharmaceuticals, and they have a longer term effect on your body,” Sweetapple said. “The difference is you can’t overdose on marijuana. You would pass out before that could even happen.”

An article posted on an addiction website,, also says no one in the United States has ever overdosed with cannabis alone.

Debate over medical marijuana includes discussion of the long-term effects of prescription medicine. Having been diagnosed with Crohn’s syndrome, an inflammatory bowel disease, I can tell you first-hand that relief and treatment is limited.

Legal treatments include the prescription medication Humira. According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, Humira can cause respiratory infection. In extreme cases, it may cause sepsis or cancer.

Many states have approved the use of cannabis as an alternative for treating Crohn’s and other serious diseases.

Side effects may include light-headedness, euphoria and a case of the munchies.

Granted, pharmaceutical companies would have stiffer competition if cannabis treatment were legal, but is that reason enough to hold off on legalization?

A 35-year-old Pima Community College game design student who calls himself Aaron doesn’t think so.
Aaron suffers from ailments like neuropathy and venous reflex disease, which affect the function of nerves and lower body blood flow. Aaron has been a certified medical cannabis patient for three years in Arizona.

“I’ve been educated in the use of marijuana medically for a while now and I self-medicated before it was legal,” Aaron said.

“I went to get my first certification in California after I had to have a vein removed,” he said.
“In California, it’s easier to get a card and sometimes it’s frivolous, but the doctor said I had to get one.”

Aaron believes marijuana will be legalized soon because of the shift in perception of cannabis for medical treatments.

Back at Downtown Dispensary, Sweetapple said her patients can range in age from 7 to 90. They seek treatment for numerous conditions.

“Everyone’s here for a different reason,” Sweetapple said. “You have recreational smokers and people who medicate themselves. You have people who have never touched it in their lives who literally just use it for medicinal purposes.”

With a history of bad policy-making and debacles like Senate bills 1070 and 1062, medical marijuana is the only progressive action Arizona has going for it.

Some may argue it’s a seed worth looking after.


With liberty, justice... and income for all?

With liberty, justice… and income for all?

There’s no denying it folks: Somewhere along the way we messed up.

Maybe it was when we decided Medicare and Social Security were good ideas. Maybe it was when we decided to wage war on communism or more, recently, on drugs and terror.

Whatever the cause, we have a problem.

America is neither the social nor economic powerhouse it was once known for being. Sure, capitalism has gotten us this far but it’s running out of gas.

Few would disagree with the fact that we’re slowing down, but fewer would agree on the reason why.

President Obama is currently attacking one of those causes by lobbying for an increased minimum wage. Since the ‘70s, productivity has skyrocketed while wages of the lower class have stagnated and even fallen when adjusted for inflation.

Combine this with outrageous medical and schooling costs, and we have a class trapped right where the super rich want them: without a voice and without opportunity.

The unfortunate solution to this problem is making money available.

There’s been an idea popping up on various news outlets that may seem unpopular at first, but has a certain appeal in its simplicity and potential consequence.

The idea is a Universal Basic Income.

The concept:

What if we gave every self-dependent adult in America a standardized allowance?

From the jobless and penniless to the investors and CEOs, every nondependent would get a flat non-taxable income.

The idea, although labeled radical by some, is not as crazy as it seems.

Of course, you can argue that social programs help to support those who need it, but Republicans hate social programs. And you know what? So do I.

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, tax credits, these are messy programs. They’re inefficient, expensive and easily exploited. They cost more money than they generate due to endless bureaucracy.

So let’s make things simpler.

The United States currently spends nearly 40 percent of its budget on two things, neither of which is the military. Our government devotes more funding to health care and welfare than anything else.

The cost:

Providing a livable wage for every adult in America seems hugely expensive. But we’re already spending $400 billion just on welfare.

If we factor in vendor payments provided under health care, that number shoots up to $800 billion.
So far, this is enough to provide an extra $4,000 per year to every adult in America.

However, some experts have estimated an achievable $5,000-$6,000 UBI if certain reforms were made. Other economists go as high as $11,000 for each eligible citizen annually.

The UBI debate is arriving at a crucial time for the working class. An increase in minimum wage would mean a near 50 percent increase in their personal income.

The result:

UBI opponents argue that it could decrease incentive for workers to produce at their best.

They have it backwards.

Without having to worry about the daily struggle to make ends meet, people will be able to focus on what they really want to do.

One core component of capitalism is that people maximize happiness. If that is factored into how they spend money, shouldn’t it factor into how they make money as well?

Giving people the power to decide where they work will stimulate the job market in a way that makes the most popular firms the most productive.

Not only will people buy what they want, but they’ll produce what they want.

Even if the UBI provides enough to cover the entirety of an individual’s cost-of-living, they are still spending it locally.

That’s better than recycling billions of dollars through the same few pairs of hands over and over again.

My conclusions:

I’ve been researching the concept of a UBI for months, and am not sure I’m sold on it yet.

It requires a massive reform in our government, and I have yet to see a thorough breakdown of the price and recipients.

In any case, perhaps the UBI is a jumping off point.

It’s an attractive idea with enough room for manipulation that deserves the opportunity to please people across the political spectrum.

Meyers is a student of journalism and economics at Pima who enjoys following changes in the economic environment. He intends his writing to arm the public with knowledge and perspective.



Pay the college athletes

Pay the college athletes


College is hard enough for students who don’t participate in extracurricular activities.

For college athletes who practice at least 25 hours a week, college becomes much more difficult. These athletes are in practice for the hours of a part-time job, yet make no money.

Tuition, room-and-board, a meal plan and books are generally included in a full-ride college scholarship. But what about the gas it takes to get to practice or the clothes athletes wear every day?

Life isn’t free for college athletes, even if college is. Daily living expenses aren’t covered under these scholarship plans.

In-state university tuition averages less than $10,000 a year. If you assume these athletes practice 27 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, their hourly wage is $7.41. That’s less than minimum wage.

Most of these athletes could make a lot more from doing other things. Take former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, for instance.

Controversy surrounded Manziel for supposedly selling autographs to an autograph broker. There was little to no proof of him actually doing this, but if Manziel wanted to make money selling autographs then he should have every right.

Manziel is already a bigger star than most NFL players but hasn’t been allowed to make a single dollar off of his marketability due to NCAA rules.

The NCAA is a multi-billion dollar industry, yet pays its moneymakers nothing. This is great for the NCAA, but not so great for players.

The main “problem” with paying college athletes is that it would cause them to lose their amateur status. However, a minor rule change could revolutionize the way these players are treated.

Simply set a salary cutoff that defines who is an amateur. Make the cutoff about $20,000, then pay the players close to $10,000. Two hundred dollars a week.

It’s not a lot, and is nowhere near what some of them could make off their marketability alone. It is still only a small fraction of what the NCAA makes in a day, but it is a start.

These athletes deserve much more than what they are being given.

Sports and swag are pretty much Santiago’s specialty, but he also likes Pokemon, playing ukulele and writing.


'Consent' lessons prevent rape

‘Consent’ lessons prevent rape


Do you like that? Does that feel good? Do you want me to keep going?

These are questions we can ask our partners to obtain their consent. Consent is actually really sexy but it is much more than that. Consent is a requirement.

On average, 237,868 people were victims of sexual assault every year between 2008-2012, according to a U.S. Department of Justice survey. In America alone, someone is sexually assaulted every two minutes.

In order to demolish the rape culture that society has created, we must cultivate a consent culture. This is an action that everyone should take to make the world a safer place.

We can’t allow victims to be shamed and we can’t ever justify rape.

Rape culture is a term that originated during the 1970s to tie sexual violence to common attitudes and practices that excuse, trivialize and in some cases encourage rape.

Humanity is not blind to this epidemic and has often asked how we end rape. But considering the current culture, it is no surprise that sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes.

Claiming victims were “asking for it” because of what they wore makes no sense. We all have exclusive right to our bodies. In no way is it acceptable for people to punish someone for not dressing to their standards.

Twitter user Steenfox surveyed victims, and found many were wearing pajamas or work clothes. One wrote, “Pink princess pajamas. I was 6.”

Another excuse is that a person was flirting so sexual assault was their choice.

No one is entitled to sex just because they are dating someone, or were simply engaged in a conversation.

Many victims of sexual assault, such as children, are completely incapable of saying no.

Merely accepting sexual violence as integrated into our society or unavoidable perpetuates rape culture.

Change starts with us.

Commit yourself to learning what consent sounds like. Have open, honest dialogue with your partner about sex. Consent is a clear, vocalized and positive yes that comes without any coercion.

Never forget that consent is given and may be revoked at any time. If it seems like someone is beginning to feel uncomfortable, show respect and back off.

It is our moral responsibility to protect each other. When we commit to making consent the norm, we are taking a stand against sexual violence.

Verwys is an advocate of the sex positive movement and believes it is imperative to create a safe space for victims to heal.


FROM THE EDITOR: Awards put work in perspective

FROM THE EDITOR: Awards put work in perspective


During the day-to-day grind involved in writing, editing and producing a college newspaper, it can sometimes be hard to keep the work we do in proper perspective.

The frenzy to keep up with breaking news, meet deadlines and succeed in other aspects of life can sometimes blur our judgment about what exactly we are trying to accomplish.

It often requires recognition from an external source to help us take stock of our situation, to see things with an “outsider’s eye,” so to speak.

When the Society of Professional Journalists recently recognized Aztec Press as a regional finalist for a Mark of Excellence Award, it helped us see how our work compares with that of our peers.

As it turns out, our results aren’t too shabby.

Aztec Press won the top SPJ regional award for student publications in 2009 and also earned a national finalist award.

The paper has been a Mark of Excellence award regional finalist every year since then.

I should also mention that we are now competing against the “big boys” in the SPJ contest, including universities with student populations over 10,000 strong.

The category for community colleges was eliminated a few years ago, but that hasn’t stopped us from being recognized as one of the best student publications in the Southwest.

The feedback the paper receives, whether it is from students, employees or other journalists, is almost always positive.

Multiple people have told me that the paper continues to improve and provide the type of coverage for which they are looking.

Our staff works to advance our journalistic prowess as we deliver the news, entertainment and sports reporting that you expect from your college paper.

Every two weeks, our goal is to bring you a better newspaper than the issue before. We continue to strive for improvement. After all, none of us is perfect.

If you have an idea for how we can expand, let us know.

Tell us what we can do to make Aztec Press even better, so we can continue to provide the type of coverage our readers expect and deserve.

If we happen to win more awards along the way, so be it.

Enjoy the issue.


MY TUCSON: UA pep band, an incredible experience

MY TUCSON: UA pep band, an incredible experience


Last fall, I auditioned to be a member of the University of Arizona pep band. I decided to give it a shot even though just 52 musicians from the 250 members of UA’s full marching band are selected.

My audition didn’t go as well as I hoped, but I ended up making the cut.

Since then, I’ve balanced my dual enrollment at Pima Community College and UA with participation in the pep band.

It’s been a great honor, a fun experience and a tremendous privilege.

As fun as pep band is, however, it’s a very challenging chore. We face agonizing challenges and bitter defeats.

But when we stand to play the “Bear Down” fight song that everyone is so crazy about, we remember why we’re there.

Pep band members are expected to be a positive reflection of the school’s spirit and student life. We must cheer on the team and the crowd, and participate in various fundraisers and events.

Early in the year, we played at women’s volleyball and basketball games. I didn’t have any interest in these sports previously, but ended up respecting them and the athletes for their hard work.

Next came what everyone signs up for – men’s basketball.

Playing at men’s games is a more daunting task than any other sport.

Yes, you get into the games for free, but you are not just a spectator. You are part of the show. You stand, cheer and play your best the entire game. After all, you are heard in households across the nation.

If the team loses, you don’t get to yell and pout. You must show respect to your team and the other school for their efforts.

The music played is incredibly important. For alumni, it is pure nostalgia from their glory days. For the new kids, it starts a tradition.

Just 29 members of the pep band ensemble get to travel on road games. It takes seniority or incredible talent to go on the big trips, such as the Final Four.

If we’re selected for a road trip, we are expected to display the same energy whether it is the Elite Eight or the first game of the women’s PAC-12 tournament.

This year I traveled to places such as Seattle and Las Vegas, and got entire days to hang out with friends.

I got to ride with the men’s basketball team in a private jet and even stayed in the same hotel as them. It was a common occurrence to run into players around the hotel.

On one trip, I rode up an elevator with sophomore center Kaleb Tarczewski, who used to be in band and play drums.

Being around your “idols” so much reminds you that they are normal people, just like you and me.

The tournament environment is an unforgettable experience, with hostile fans, crazy games and wins or losses decided by split-second decisions and buzzer-beating shots.

The Elite Eight loss to Wisconsin was the hardest loss of them all. Our season was cut short just one field goal away from the Final Four.

How did we react? While some fans rioted in Tucson, we kept our heads high with pride and appreciated the magical season the team had given us.

Whether the camera is on us or not, we always have one hand in the air to proudly form the number one. When the clock hits zero, win or lose, we put our warm instruments up to our face and play “Bear Down.”

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Nellie Silva/Aztec Press
Will Willcoxson, who is dual-enrolled at Pima Community College and the University of Arizona, proudly wears his UA Pep Band T-shirt

Genocide requires reflection and prevention

Genocide requires reflection and prevention


April is Genocide Awareness Month, a time when everyone should stop and remember the senseless violence carried out against unsuspecting populations and work to prevent them from happening again.

Approximately 100 million people have been victims of genocide since Raphael Lemkin coined the term in 1944. Lemkin added “genocide” to our vocabulary in direct response to the Holocaust, and hoped humanity would avoid the deplorable act of systematic mass murder in the future.

After World War II, we promised ourselves genocide would end. But the despicable stain of death continues to plague many nations marked unimportant by the mainstream media that wield the power to bring awareness to these atrocities.

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine began on Nov. 29, 1947 when the United Nations adopted Resolution 181.

Thousands have died as a result of direct attacks between Palestine and Israel, and it is impossible to know how many thousands more have died in the occupied territories due to the apartheid-like conditions imposed by the government of Israel.

Beginning in April 1994, the world watched as almost a million perished in the Rwandan genocide.

The world continues to watch as a similar massacre unfolds in Syria, where more than 150,000 have been killed and millions displaced from their homes.

Other conflicts in Central African Republic, Myanmar and Sudan continue with even less international attention, but the numerous deaths that happen there are no less meaningful.

However, there are some  working to bring these issues to light.

Scottsdale Community College hosted its third annual Genocide Awareness Week beginning on April 7. John L. Liffiton, director of SCC’s Genocide Awareness Week, said the United

States must remain abreast of the negative impact that genocide has at home, and the dire consequences that accompany any leanings toward isolationism.

“To look at the world and to think that these things are not going to make an impact on us as a country is shortsighted,” Liffiton said. “Everybody who feels like being isolationists, I understand they want the best for America at heart, but it would be remiss on our part as a country not to be interested in what’s going on in the rest of the world.”

Now is the time for action, not standing idly by as innocent civilians are slaughtered.

Genocide Awareness Month is a sad reminder of our brutal past and present, but this painful education can be the catalyst that creates hope for generations yet to join us.

Del Grande believes the world is an interconnected community where each one must teach one.

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Hate makes waste

Hate makes waste


Humans have an average life expectancy of about 80 years. Not everyone is lucky enough to make it that far. Thus, life is too short to hold onto hate, anger and negativity.

Yes, sometimes it seems like people deserve the anger and hate you send in their direction via dirty looks and graphic hand gestures.

Venting by way of angry texts, phone calls or social media might help to temporarily alleviate some of the pent-up negativity.

However, in doing so you are just wasting the precious amount of time you have by fixating on whatever is causing you to feel that way.

Simply put, giving in to hate and anger only leads to a negative attitude toward people, situations and life in general. No one wants to be around that.

There is nothing more uncomfortable than being stuck in a room with someone who is seething with negativity.

If you are the one with a hateful and negative attitude, no one wants to be around you. Luckily, there is a simple way to solve this problem. Let it go.

It may not be easy, but try to be the adult and move on.

The reasons to lose the bad attitude and negative outlook far outweigh any reasons to continue going down that path.

And ultimately, there is seldom any way of ever knowing who will still be here tomorrow and who will not.

Losing someone close to you before you have the chance to mend a broken relationship may be the hardest thing you’ll ever go through.

Once a person is gone, it’s too late to ask or grant forgiveness, or patch things up. You’ll carry this burden with you for the rest of your life.

No, not every person you have an altercation with, be it physical or verbal, will die tomorrow.

Still, why waste time and energy being angry or avoiding apologies because you don’t think you should have to say sorry first?

Life is short. It’s messy, full of ups and downs, with many unpleasant situations. Don’t waste what little time you have by being an angry, negative person.

In the words of the wise Yoda: “Beware of the dark side.”

Let it go.

Graham has recently been enlightened to the ways of the light side and no longer harbors any anger for anyone. She is a changed lady.


Campus janitors deserve more respect

Campus janitors deserve more respect


If you have ever walked through your school or college and wondered how it stays so clean, you should thank the janitors and maintenance workers.

Being a janitor is not glamorous, but it’s honest work. If you enjoy having things clean, you should appreciate these unsung heroes.

Of course, appreciating janitors and maintenance workers depends on how you look at it.

My dad has been a janitor at an elementary school in a small town for 13 years and he’s enjoyed it for the most part. My dad does it all: fix, move or put together anything. I’m not exaggerating.

Being a janitor at a school where the students are wilder, like a high school, can be tougher. Teenagers can be such jerks.

I remember feeling so bad for the janitors in my high school because they had to clean the intentionally messed up bathrooms, unclog the toilets and clean the mirrors.

Looking back, the janitors at my high school were always the ones getting excited about the football and basketball games. They would shake your hand like they were your best friend. It broke my heart when people purposely broke things or made messes just for fun.

At a college, things are different. The janitorial staff at Pima Community College does a great job of keeping campuses looking good.

Still, janitors don’t get the respect they deserve. Next time you come across someone cleaning a bathroom or mopping a hallway, say thanks or give them a shoutout. I’m sure they’d appreciate it.

Nobody thinks about how tough that job can be or the many gross things janitors must do.

Waxing floors is not easy. Cleaning up vomit is not fun. But our janitors go out every day and do a fantastic job of keeping our school clean and looking good.

Be grateful.

Hoyos grew up listening to all sorts of stories told from the perspective of a janitor.