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AZTEC PRESS EDITORIAL: Honesty is the only policy

AZTEC PRESS EDITORIAL: Honesty is the only policy

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Pima Community College has a long-standing history of questionable conduct.

PCC is known locally for being a tough organization to get a word from, especially if it isn’t something administrators want you to hear.

Pima made national news for withholding information pertaining to Jared Loughner in 2011.

Prior to Loughner’s murder of six people in an attempt on former Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s life, Pima was aware of Loughner’s mental issues and ultimately expelled him.

Pima only released documents pertaining to information they had on Loughner following a court order.

Many of PCC’s problems have been attributed to the former administration of Roy Flores and were brought to light in a site visit from the Higher Learning Commission that led to the college’s probation.

This is not the Pima we want to be known for.

Since then, issues have come more from turnover and inconsistency within the administration than from individuals themselves.

While no one can doubt that the current administration believes in its clear goal of bringing Pima back to its feet, there are elements of the past that still linger.

One of them is transparency.

Chancellor Lee Lambert often champions the qualities of openness and accountability − a message that gets passed down to other administrators and employees.

However, this does not keep some of the higher-ups from denying transparency when there is something for which the college does not want to be held accountable.

At the Aztec Press, we’ve seen this reluctance in forms ranging from outright refusals of requests for public information from police reports to internal investigations and even interviews.

This policy is obviously contradictory to accountability. In conjunction with the college’s assurance that it wishes to bring its focus back to the students, it is safe to say Pima needs to adjust its sights.

Sometimes openness means talking about the things you don’t want to talk about. Sometimes it means ‘fessing up to your own or others’ mistakes. It’s not always easy, but when it comes to public institutions it is necessary.

The word “community” should not be taken for granted in our college’s name.

We are meant to tackle these problems together, much like we saw during self-evaluations after the probation or even internally as with Pima’s Meet and Confer program.

But when a rift is caused by a lack of communication, it only serves to separate the policy makers from the people that policy ultimately affects.

It is with this urgency that the Aztec Press calls not only upon PCC, but on the students and the community to help dissolve these barriers and focus not on what is easy but on what is right.

This responsibility falls not only to the college, but students as well.

The only way to be comfortable with accountability is to be conduct yourself in a way that you’re positive you’ve done nothing that you wouldn’t want to be held accountable for.

If Pima can make this change then they’ll no longer have to dodge the press, restrict access to public officials, ignore requests for information and deny others the ability to have the conversations this college so desperately needs to have.

Reaccreditation was a milepost, not the destination.

Once Pima shows that it is ready and able to talk about the things it doesn’t want to talk about, then we’ll be on the right path.

When it comes to a college that has “community” in the name, honesty is the best and only policy.

Written on behalf of the Aztec Press Editorial Board by Co-Editor in Chief Nick Meyers.

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FROM THE EDITOR: We want you to know the truth

FROM THE EDITOR: We want you to know the truth

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By JAMIE VERWYS

When you love something, you will do everything in your power to care for it, protect it and nurture it.

For many of us at the Aztec Press, our words are our children. We pay close attention to our pieces, tenderly editing and re-editing like a gentle, assuring kiss on the cheek before we send our babies out into the world.

And yes, like a mama bear, we will fight for our offspring when oppressors seek to harm them.

In this issue, we stand in unity against wrongdoings at Pima Community College, particularly obstruction of freedom of press.

This is not a clever, low-blow tactic to create a salacious story. This is us standing up for what we love and for what is right. The walls being erected by the college have been growing up around us for years, and it is not just an inconvenience, it may be a crime.

The responsibility taken on by a journalist is to the people and the truth. The truth is sometimes beautiful and sometimes unthinkably cruel, but it always remains more valuable than its outcomes. It is what is. The truth is right.

Our belief that the community should have access to valid information is one so shared that laws are in place to protect us in that mission. They are there for you, the reader, as well.

Freedoms of press and information laws benefit us all on a large scope.

For those of us working in the medium of truth, access to records and information will often determine the quality of our work. We will not, cannot, publish information that is not verifiable and lacking key, well-rounded information.

We scrutinize the current system because we believe it can be improved. I personally have seen Pima’s potential to change lives, and we are working to continue the process of change at this college.

We have chosen to approach these issues head-on because we are committed to keeping you informed on what is next for Pima.

If there are crimes committed on campus, we want you to know so that you may protect yourself. If the budget is being misspent, you deserve to know why it is not being used for you.

If the state is drawing financial support from higher learning institutions, we want to decode the language of politics and share what we have learned.

Enjoy the issue and please note that while we are unsatisfied, we are not negative. The point of these stories is that it doesn’t have to stay this way.

I don’t believe in failure. The only failure we can ever truly experience is the failure to learn, move on and change in the light of our errors.

Congratulations to all of us at Pima for the lifting of our HLC probation.

Let’s make it count.

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Vaccinate to protect society

Vaccinate to protect society

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Parents: Vaccinate your children. Forget the nuts and twigs argument and get off the granola soap box. Studies and basic common sense shows that vaccinating is far safer than not vaccinating.

When a critical portion of a community is immunized against a contagious disease, most members of the community are protected against that disease because there is little opportunity for an outbreak.

Even those who are not eligible for certain vaccines—such as infants, pregnant women or immune-compromised individuals—get protection because the spread of contagious disease is contained. This is known as “herd immunity” or “community immunity.”

A new CDC report shows the vaccination rate for kindergarteners in the 2013-2014 school year varied, with some rates low enough to put communities at risk of losing herd immunity.

What are the reasons for this precipitous drop? Some parents, many highly educated and well-meaning, are concerned they are giving children too many vaccines, or think the risks outweigh the benefits.

At the same time we feared the end of the world from Y2K in 2000, our government declared we had eliminated measles. Vaccines have proven they can prevent outbreaks and save lives.

I wonder how many Tucsonans can remember why many children were not allowed in public pools. Imagine not being allowed to swim on the hottest days of summer.

Many parents simply wouldn’t allow it because they feared their children would contract polio or other diseases. Then in the 1950s, lines stretched down streets and around corners when the new polio vaccine was launched.

A decade ago, a prestigious medical journal published an article by a scientist linking vaccinations to autism. The article was subsequently debunked and has been discredited, but the fervor it created has lived on long after its fabricated findings.

Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children may think they are protecting their children, but science doesn’t agree.

They are risking their own children getting potentially deadly diseases and, if enough parents follow this philosophy, they put the community at risk. I hate to term it being selfish, but there is no way to sanitize it.

Individual liberty is important. Parents should have the right to raise their children as they see proper. However, when these decisions impact others in a potentially devastating way, the overall welfare should prevail and be protected.

Nicoletti feels it’s time for parents to become less emotional and more analytical. Protect the children, immunize. 

Emmery

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‘Let’s Play’ video trend a win-win

‘Let’s Play’ video trend a win-win

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Creating video commentary about playing video games, commonly known as “Let’s Play,” has become a lucrative online trend.

Making money from the videos relies on many factors, including views. A typical exchange rate of 1,300 YouTube views nets a Let’s Player about $3.

The most popular Let’s Player, PewDiePie, has more than 35 million subscribers and makes an estimated $4 million a year from his YouTube channel.

Developers have taken notice of the trend’s impact on the video game industry, and have split into two camps.

The first camp encourages people to make videos about their games, because they see it as free publicity.

The Playstation 4 even has a “share” button on the controller, to allow people without recording equipment to make video commentaries.

The other camp is not happy about gamers making money by talking over their games.

Nintendo, unfortunately, adopted strict policies. The company even filed suit to seize profits from Let’s Players, claiming the money belonged to Nintendo.

The company has recently attempted to make deals with Let’s Players, but negotiations are slow.

Even without monetized profit, some argue that potential players will refuse to purchase the game after watching a Let’s Play because they’ve vicariously seen what the game has to offer.

I personally have purchased several games I never would have otherwise, had it not been for online videos showing me how entertaining the game could be.

I’ve been making my own Let’s Play videos with a co-host for a year, and have no doubt that the process is a positive experience for everyone involved.

Look at Minecraft, which got popular because of people making videos about it. It’s now one of the biggest games since Super Mario.

Let’s Players get paid, developers make more sales, everyone wins.

Fruechtenicht and his co-host make up the Let’s Play duo Coffee Table Zeroes on YouTube.

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Cartoon B.S.

Cartoon B.S.

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ICK THE GERM

ICK THE GERM

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- By Sierra J. Russell
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WAITING TO EXHALE! Some student desks a tight fit

WAITING TO EXHALE! Some student desks a tight fit

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By EMERY NICOLETTI

Returning to school late in life was a monumental move for me. I actually drove to my first class the night before and turned on the lights because I wanted a feel for the room. I planned to pick my desk, then arrive about 30 minutes early the next morning to make sure it was available.

When I was in school 30 years ago, I had a young man’s 29-inch waist. Over the years, my waist size has increased. I was never more reminded of that when I walked into the classroom to discover those wretched, unforgiving desk/chair combinations from middle school. Even back then I found them dysfunctional.

Those kiddie desks are great for classrooms because you can fit a ton of them in the room, and the chairs remain with the desks.

However, this poses a problem for more than just the token fat girl or guy. There are many body types that do not fare well in these metal death grips.

It’s hard to get into some of these desks comfortably. Yes, I know life would be easier if I lost 10 or 50 pounds. I’m working on it, OK?

However there are 18-years-olds who look obviously uncomfortable when they must squeeze into these made-for children-desks. Their breathing is restricted and half of them are hanging off the seat.

Missed opportunities

This is truer for older students like myself who return back to school later. Our bodies generally aren’t as small as they used to be.

You may be aware that enrollment numbers at Pima Community College continue on a downward trend. A tremendous opportunity exists to reverse the trend by marketing the benefits of a community college education to both young and older potential students.

Many students desire to springboard their education from a two-year to a four-year college. But a large demographic exists that wants to learn a new trade or skill, or simply improve their knowledge and expand their horizons.

Older students represent a very marketable group to help fill the empty desks that exist in many of our classrooms. But, they must be able to fit in those desks.

Students asked to comment

Many of the desks throughout all of our campuses are either too small, or made for a right or left-handed student. Some are only accessible on one side, but most have a small kidney shaped desk.

If you’re more than 10 to 20 pounds overweight, take a deep breath and push yourself in. Smile and try to look pretty. You may exhale after class.

I’m sure these desks were state-of-the-art a long, long time ago in a time called the ‘80s in a variety of elementary and middle schools. But by today’s standards and average waist size, they’re a bit out of touch with function.

Recently, PCC’s administration asked students to comment on and pick their favorite desk among a varied selection. There were clear favorites.

Some of the choices didn’t adequately accommodate the basic function of a student — room to sit and put a book or notepad on a flat surface to take notes and study. Others were more fashionable than functional.

Some seemed like over-the-counter, snap-together quality whose longevity and quality could be questionable.

The top two winners were sleek and functional. They were both a table-styled desk rather than a traditional student desk.

The model “F” gave two students space to sit next to each other thus allowing ample space for a laptop, book and notepad. Additionally, you could rest both elbows, lean into it and relax during lectures.

Model “E” allowed the same advantages, but was a table sized for one individual student.

These table/desks are ideal for adult students of any size or frame because there is no restriction between your free-standing table and the disconnected chair.

Why do chairs cost $1,300 each?

Campus Director of Administrative Services Andrew Plucker, who also holds the title, “Support Coordinator, President’s Office,” said the state has granted the Downtown Campus  $129,000 to purchase student desks and chairs.

The following is a paraphrase of my discussion with Plucker:

“How much do the desks cost, so we can figure out how many can be purchased?”

“$1,300,” Plucker responded.

“What?”

“$1,300.”

“Per desk?”

“Yes.”

“You are kidding me, right?”

“No.”

“Why do they cost so much?”

“They are rugged and built to last — they come with a lifetime warranty,” Plucker said. “They need to be really well built in order to outlast the rough treatment they get from the students. In fact, there is a whole warehouse full of broken desks and chairs that are not useable.”

Perhaps Plucker shouldn’t have mentioned that.

“I thought they came with a lifetime warranty.”

“They do,” Plucker responded.

“Then why do we have two warehouses filled with broken desks? Why don’t their lifetime warranties fix them?”

“The manufacturers don’t make the parts anymore and no one wants to deal with it after 10-15 years.”

“Then why are we paying exorbitant fees for a lifetime warranty at the time of the original purchase if no one is redeeming them?” I asked.

“My coffee maker came with a lifetime warranty. When it stopped working after six years, the company claimed they no longer made that particular model but they still exchanged it for the latest one they made in its class,” I added. “Someone needs to toughen up and step up to the plate and insist on getting these desks fixed, or negotiate lower prices and warranties that are honored.”

“The state has a department that does that,” Plucker explained. “They negotiate the best price so administrators don’t have to.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Really? Show me a state employee that’s negotiating the best prices for this campus and I’ll show you a state employee that’s getting taken out to lunch far too much. We’re paying medical equipment fees here, not fair prices for student desks.”

Find a negotiator

The conversation highlights a pressing need for the college to find a good negotiator for furniture and supplies.

Unfortunately, our campus administrators are overworked and underappreciated. They just recently were able to take their own deep breath after an exhausting audit and academic probation period.

Some administrators, like Dean of Students Pat Houston at the Downtown Campus, have been asked to wear two hats during this transitional time.

It’s clear Pima administrators do not have time to negotiate prices when the state has its own department that is supposed to provide that very service for us.

So, who up north is not doing their job? Why are we getting charged these outrageous prices?

It kind of reminds me of the $100 bolts and $500 hammers purchased by the Department of Defense a few years back.

If we have any hope of increasing the enrollment at our college, we need to make sure that there are functional desks.

We also need to make sure there are enough desks to accommodate all students in a way that encourages lifelong learning in comfort and efficiency. Students come in all shapes and sizes.

There needs to be a thoughtful discussion about the type and size of desks required, and then an aggressive negotiation for the best unit price. We cannot afford $120K for barely three classrooms of desks.

How does $300 sound?

I took it upon myself to go online and found $300 desks almost identical to the two student-sized desk that was clearly the winner in our recent student poll. The quote came from the professional division of Office Max.

In minutes, a sales department head returned my call. The company was eager to work with me, and offered a lifetime warranty.

The Internet is an amazing tool for price match or cost comparison.

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FROM THE EDITOR: Bring PCC focus back to students

FROM THE EDITOR: Bring PCC focus back to students

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By NICK MEYERS

Pima Community College has overcome a huge challenge in working to get the college off probation from the Higher Learning Commission.

In addition to a new chancellor, self-study reports and a higher level of scrutiny of operations, the college has hired an abundance of administrators to oversee various facets of college operations.

However, this focus has come at a cost.

One of Pima’s new mandates is a focus on customer service. Chancellor Lee Lambert has said that he wants to make Pima a global, premiere college.

If that’s the case, we need to bring the focus back to the students.

Recent restrictions on students’ choices at the college are not the way to attract prospective students.

Pima has stopped offering winter courses and outsourced our food at the expense of students.

At a board meeting last month, there was mention of the possibility of closing campuses during the summer.

Additionally, students’ ability to receive credit for courses is hindered by the new restrictions on registration and continued participation by being labeled “registered but not attending.”

These restrictions of freedom and funds are not attractive to prospective students.

Pima does have to comply with HLC regulations, which is the reason for many of the restrictions, but there must be better ways than putting limitations on students.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that the responsibility to meet these regulations relies solely on the college.

Students must be held accountable too, but that’s where communication comes into play.

Many students at Pima care about the college and their education and have a lot to say about changes being made. Unfortunately, we aren’t all in on the conversation.

We have the ability to reach out and speak up, but few students are both willing and have the time and effort to focus on building foundations for student involvement. However, engagement is one of the biggest responsibilities for college employees.

Pima has problems that will require all of us to work together and communicate our wants and needs in a meaningful way.

On Page 5, you’ll find a story on the Meet and Confer process in which employee groups are able to have constructive conversations with the administration to reach equitable goals and policies.

Why doesn’t something similar exist for students?

If it did, would students participate?

As a member of the Aztec Press for three semesters now, I believe they would. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear from fellow students or fellow employees about something they believe should be addressed at the college.

Pima has recently announced the end of HLC probation. Now that it is in the rear-view mirror, we need to bring the focus back to the goals of the college.

Those goals should be to provide a comfortable and productive place to learn and grow.

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Hip-hop lyrics have lost meaning

Hip-hop lyrics have lost meaning

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By ALFRED DICOCHEA III

In today’s world, we can access a vast  variety of music. With the click of a button, we can choose country, rock, pop, classical, dubstep or someone just banging on drums in his basement.

However, the juggernauts of the music business remain rap and hip-hop.

If you’re at a club, switching stations in your car or even listening to the speakers on the 2001 Impala next to you, you’re likely to hear some kind of hip-hop.

Hip-hop has dominated the music industry since 1986 and will continue doing so for decades to come. But would it be safe to say current hip-hop is the worst the genre has ever produced?

The problem: The songs have no real meaning. Most hip-hop songs say little more than: I have so much money, I have so many drugs, I have so many “bitches.”

There isn’t anything wrong with a few songs like this, but it gets tiring when the industry is littered with them.

In the majority of past songs, the artists talked about how they struggled to get all those things they brag about.

Nowadays, there isn’t any struggle.

The lyrics make artists sound one-note and spoiled. It gives zero personality to their work and makes them just another face in the crowd.

It’s not a positive note if the main artist making songs about struggle is someone who grew up with a backyard pool and a dad who worked in the music industry.

Billboards.com uses hits, not quality, to compile its top-40 songs of the week. We speak with our wallets.

If these kind of songs keep littering the list every week, we’re saying this is what we want. We’re also saying this is the best the genre has to offer.

Let’s start saying something else.

Dicochea says that when dolphins decide to take over the world in a few years, don’t say he didn’t warn you.

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Travel promotes learning

Travel promotes learning

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By TANISHA KNUTZEN

We tend to get caught up in a world encompassed by cellphone screens, directing all of our attention toward the latest social media drama.

If we took a moment to look around, we would realize there’s so much to see and experience in life beyond what’s in front of us.

Traveling is the most beneficial way to spend your time and money. With so many different places in the world, I constantly wonder why more people don’t travel.

Not only do you get to experience different cultures, lifestyles and ways of life, you get a chance to step beyond the bright screens of technology and into an adventure far more exhilarating than any Tweet.

There is something so incredibly breathtaking and majestic about being immersed in a place where nothing is familiar. With every blink of the eye, something new presents itself.

I firmly believe that traveling can only benefit your life in an utmost and positive way. It gives you the chance to gain a new and positive perspective on life, all while recharging your batteries.

If more people took time to travel beyond their familiarities, life would be a less stressful place filled with peace, knowledge and understanding of others. Even the briefest moment spent in someone else’s shoes can truly open your eyes to a lifetime of experiences.

TLC’s popular ‘90s song said, “Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and streams that you’re used to.”

I think you should chase those waterfalls. Go beyond the rivers and streams of your life. If you keep your feet in one place forever, you’ll never truly experience the many wonders life has to offer.

Anyone who knows me realizes I’ve never been good at keeping my feet on the ground. When I look around, I can’t help but think about the endless possibilities of places that need to be seen.

I crave what I don’t know and what I haven’t seen, and have an unshakable desire to be introduced to people I have never met.

For me, traveling is the key to opening these kinds of doors and I will always chase the waterfalls of my life. There are far too many mountains that need to be climbed, oceans that need to be swam in and unpaved roads that need footprints.

Traveling is my drug.

Given the chance, I would never think twice about overdosing.

Knutzen hopes everyone gets a chance to travel to all corners of the world, without a thought or worry about anything other than what’s around them.

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Maintain personal connections

Maintain personal connections

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We have created new forms of communication since the beginning of human existence. In today’s social media-driven society, we could make logical connections in the progression from cave drawings to Instagram photos.

But unlike our ancestors, modern communication does not hold the same need to relay important information.

Social media has changed what we hold dear and how we interact. Receiving “likes” on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter seems to take priority over actual human interaction and the social-political issues facing the world.

There is no doubt that social media can do good, and even we journalists use it to reach a larger population of readers. Many groups and organizations maintain websites to inform, organize and create a community. It is evident that social media has played a part in change.

But is the interaction real, or is Facebook breeding apathy and skewed social skills?

Social media works upon both our biological and emotional instincts. With the push of a button, we are able to gain acceptance and become members of a pack. But relationships outside of the Internet take far more work than a “like.”

Younger generations are losing out on valuable learning experiences. The development of trust, body language cues and intimacy cannot be gained by looking at a screen.

Dominance and aggression are also bred online. Cyberbullying and threats have been prevalent reasons for recent suicides in adolescents. Repercussions that would exist in realty are seemingly exempt in the digital world.

I see the positive aspects of social media aiding progressive thinking, but worry that it skews the process of effectively creating lasting change.

The Internet makes it easy to share information about issues that matter, but we still need people to reach out to their legislators, policy makers and community.

Social media is an inevitable aspect of our future and has indeed developed interaction. It is simply not face to face.

My concern is that the lines between the digital world and human world will blur for young people.

If people apply social skills learned from Facebook to their physical peers, we could see more superficially based connections, real life “trolling” and a lax approach to activism.

 

Verwys tries to utilize social media for good and is confident it has benefits. However, human interaction is needed more now than ever. 

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EDITORIAL: Pima needs to find balance

EDITORIAL: Pima needs to find balance

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Perhaps not surprisingly, Pima Community College maintains its position between a rock and a hard place. With a constricting budget and distractions brought on through various audits, the college has found little time to focus on students.

That has to change. Students are the ones who have the most to lose.

In this issue, we cover a major problem faced by many of Pima’s student veterans. They have not received funding from their GI Bill, which must be authorized through the college based on their degree program.

This delay has affected the lives of student veterans who rely on their GI Bill to sustain a living, not dissimilar to students who rely on scholarships to pay rent, insurance or buy food.

Among other issues, this suggests a disconnect between administrators and students, resulting in a misunderstanding of needs.

Not only does this disconnect affect students in their learning experience, it lowers morale. Education should provide students with a sense of pride and a feeling of worth.

To have the  administrators of PCC seemingly down-playing the requirements of student success leds to an impression of  ambivalence and under appreciation .

To solve this problem, the college must place students as a higher priority and understand exactly what their average student needs.

But, prioritizing within an organization as large as PCC can be difficult. With a large student body, multiple campuses and a large population of veterans there are many places where error could occur.

“We can’t afford to fail an audit, because then we won’t have any veterans to worry about certifying,” Daniel Kester, Pima’s executive director of veterans services, said in regards to the most recent issues plaguing student veterans.

College administrators must think carefully about the choices they make and how those choices affect the students.

Fortunately, in the wake of the probation under the Higher Learning Commission, Pima has experienced substantial turnover in the upper echelons of administration.

“The people that caused these problems are long gone,” Kester said.

In addition to a streamlined system for certifying student veterans, the college is well on its way in the right direction to correcting this problem.

This won’t be the last time the college comes under scrutiny for its actions.

Somewhere in between keeping Pima open and oblivion lies a middle ground, which can be both attractive to potential students and financially viable.

This editorial was written on behalf of the Aztec Press editorial board by co-editors in chief Nick Meyers and Jamie Verwys.

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There are no gay flags in foxholes

There are no gay flags in foxholes

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A gay-friendly flag on display at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base has been in the news lately.

A wounded Iraq war veteran argued on his social media blog that the flag illegally parodies the American flag, violating Title 4 of the U.S. Code regarding flag etiquette.

His comments reveal a more sinister edge when he cites responses from military personnel who thanked him for saying what they could not.

Active-duty personnel should not feel restrained from arguing flag etiquette, but some may choose to stay silent in expressing anti-gay positions.

Others feel the gay-themed flag is an expression of pride in both country and military service. The rainbow-themed American flag is an expression by gay military of pride in an organization that recently paved the way for more rights.

Throughout history, thousands of gay and lesbian service members have served proudly and honorably.

They fought in wars, losing their limbs, their loved ones and their lives.

Imagine those who could not mourn openly for partners who died fighting for their country. Imagine the tragic love stories forcefully thrown away.

Trying to deny gay service members their right to celebrate their love of country, and honor the service of past and present gay service members, is truly un-American.

It has been argued the gay-themed flag does not conform to the flag etiquette.

However, states in the south proudly fly confederate flags to the dismay of African-Americans and those who view these displays as sanction of the slave trade before emancipation.

It is not possible to rationally argue that flying a gay-themed flag on a military base should not be allowed while flying the flag of the confederacy should be celebrated.

The basic rights of free speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution are one of the most sacred in our democracy.

People across this great country hold varied opinions on every topic worthy of discussion.

Americans fly countless flags in support of causes, people and love of our country. Those who wish to protect the liberty of all should denounce specious arguments denying those rights. This country has no room for enemies in its foxholes.

And while it may seem like gays have come a long way, look again: Blacks were freed in the 1860s, yet in the 1950s they were still forced to sit at the back of city buses. Gay rights are in its infancy, with a long and winding road ahead.

For now, I have picked a comfortable seat at the back of my rainbow bus.

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Emery Nicoletti

Nicoletti recently celebrated 30 years with his partner Scott, an ex-military officer. They are contemplating marriage but don’t want to rush into anything.

 

 

 

 

 

Pg05-Zack cartoon-Opinion

Cartoon B.S. – By Zack Ledesma

 

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FROM THE EDITOR: Always reach out for the stars

FROM THE EDITOR: Always reach out for the stars

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By JAMIE VERWYS

When I am not busy writing, conducting interviews or putting together the newspaper, I am deep in the trenches of the food service industry. I make a lot sandwiches, and I’ve been making sandwiches for a hell of a long time.

Often when I reach up for a rag to wipe the oil and lemon juice from my hands, I wonder if all those voices saying ‘reach for the stars’ ever struggled from the low space under an oven.

It’s easy to forget that humans have proven time and time again that we can soar to great heights. The limitations of the heavens don’t mean we can’t propel ourselves to greater things.

The problem is they don’t always tell us that wishing upon a star doesn’t toss our dreams neatly into our laps. Building a ladder to a better life takes time and practice.

Being a student opens us up to a plethora of opportunities to be seized but they will float away if we don’t figure out to how to catch them. Not much in this world is free and improving your current situation may cost you some work.

The effort is well spent, considering you receive the possibilities of better pay, jobs, health and networking with a bonus treat of fulfillment.

There is no opportunity too small to bear fruit. At Pima Community College, there are a wide range of clubs based around everything from academia to anime. All it takes to expand your knowledge is to attend a meeting.

How is hanging out with strangers going to get you anywhere? You may certainly pick up some new, applicable skills and a compelling complement to your resume. You never know. The people you meet may open up new doors for you.

Internships and volunteering are also wonderful pieces to add to your “best-me-ever toolbox.”

Even if you aren’t getting paid, you are gaining experience that could be the factor determining if you or the other guy gets hired.

Don’t be afraid to take some leaps of faith. You will never know if you don’t try. Trust me, I used to spend a lot of time dangling my feet over the edge, gazing out on my vision of the future too frightened or tired to reach out and take it.

It’s OK if you fall on your face. Dust yourself off and learn to make your landing stronger every time.

It’s true what they say. You can be anything you want to be. But a wish is only a launching point. Take every opportunity you can.

Now you can take the opportunity to enjoy this issue. I just wanted to get one more “opportunity” in there. Even better, that’s two.

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Give future leaders the right tools

Give future leaders the right tools

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The world is getting smaller and social media made it so.

We hear news of wars almost daily, and know what’s happening across the continents within seconds. World leaders convene to plan how to stop terrorism that threatens peace and stability.

American people are getting tired of war. Sending boots on the ground becomes an illusion. It’s a short-term strategy with short-term results.

In January, world leaders attended the World Economic Forum held in Switzerland. One speaker was U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who laid out issues we need to confront.

“We can’t shy away from reality,” Kerry said. “There is a potential threat everywhere. It has to be stopped.”

Commitment to a long-term plan is needed to eradicate threats, Kerry told the audience. He emphasized that the bottom line is getting everyone involved.

“We can’t rely on government resources alone,” Kerry said. “We need non-government organizations, foundations, corporations, philanthropists, faith-based organizations and private sectors.”

What should we do as citizens of the world?

How do we conquer fears, uncertainties and a bleak future as we try to live a normal life? How do we get involved in the community? How do we restore hope to victims of injustice? How do we confront poverty? How do we eradicate diseases and eliminate ignorance?

To be a part of the solution, we first need leadership training. It’s good to know that Pima Community College Student Life offers a Leadership Training Program. Young people, adults and even retirees coming back to school can sign up to participate.

An AZTEC Gold Program offers advanced training. Participants are assigned to make a small difference in some aspect of the community. They diagnose the symptoms and get to the root of the problem, find the need and work on social change.

These emerging leaders will be trained to treat people fairly and address issues of concern. They are the future builders of our community, our nation and the world.

I see a glimmer of hope. We can’t give up. Peace can be reached and it has to start from you and me.

Let’s be mindful. Sometimes we pass each other but we don’t see each other. Let’s fill in the vacuum. Where there’s desperation, we intervene. This is our challenge. We can’t give up.

Where there’s a need, we come in and make the situation better than before. That’s how we help fix and repair the world.

Pg05-Kit Fassler-Opinion

Kit B. Fassler

 

Fassler believes there’s always a solution to every problem. We just need the right tools.  Education and continuing leadership training are some of the best tools to realize a vision and make the world a better place to live

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