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Life in your 20s isn’t all that great

Life in your 20s isn’t all that great

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People say that life starts at 20.

Many begin a new chapter in their life, like starting college and paying their own way.

Some start their first part-time or full-time job, which they use to pay actual bills. Others move out of their parents’ house and are now on their own in what grownups call reality.

When we were adolescents, we thought that being in our 20s was going to be the greatest time of our lives.

We had dreams of endless partying, staying up all hours of the night, eating whatever we wanted and doing whatever we wanted because we were adults. Life was going to be like a Gatsby party.

In reality, some of us are worn out, tired, overworked, starving, lost young people trying to keep above water and wishing we were teenagers again.

A lot of us are insecure and not really sure who we are.

What are we going to do with our lives and where is our next meal coming from?

An article, “The Real World: Recognizing Mental Illness in Young Adults” by Vikram Tarugu, explains how young adults are prone to mental illnesses.

“They find that their independence involves many new responsibilities and stresses, as well as freedoms,” Tarugu wrote. “This period of transition has a cruel twist as it may coincide with the emergence of a mental illness.”

The first episodes of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder tend to appear in the late teens and early 20s, according to Tarugu.

All that stress packed into one person makes it hard for 20-somethings to handle life at times.

Sometimes we don’t even want to get out of bed because facing the world is too much. The grip of responsibilities and pressures to be successful is choking us.

As young adults in our 20s, we must realize that we don’t have to be what society dictates.

We also need to realize that things will get better. Eventually, our insecurities will just be a distant memory.

Pg06-Opinion-Katie Stewart

Vacio thinks being in her 20s sucks and just wants to be 30 already.

 

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Reform social attitudes

Reform social attitudes

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Why, in 2015, are we still dealing with issues of race and discrimination?

These are the kind of issues that generations before us worked hard to eliminate, and yet we’re still seeing traces of this pathetic subject on a daily basis.

Not only does our society deal with problems of black, white and brown but we have growing issues with gender differences and same-sex relationships.

Isn’t this supposed to be the land of opportunity and equality?

Why should it matter how we look, where we come from or who we choose to love?

Some people might argue this isn’t a topic for conversation because it no longer exists in our society.

However, a quick glance at the television screen proves we are still being challenged:

● South Carolina officer charged with murder in black man’s death.

● Walmart faces lawsuit alleging gender discrimination in California stores.

● Houston gay couple allegedly kicked out of cab for kissing.

This is only a small percentage of the headlines that flood news streams with topics regarding race and discrimination.

This is the type of controversy that, I truly believe, is keeping our nation from making positive strides forward.

Maybe it’s just the “peace and love, everyone is created equal, hippie way of thinking” that I have embraced over the years but I don’t see why we can’t just all get along.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple because we don’t live in a peaceful world that promotes the overall goodness of people.

We live in a place that quickly passes judgments based solely on a person’s skin color, cultural background, gender and sexual preference.

If we make an effort to change our way of thinking, we will begin to see fewer headlines denigrating the human race and more words of encouragement and acceptance.

We need to stop allowing stereotypes to take control of our perceptions.

It shouldn’t matter who the person across the street is holding hands with or that the people next to you are a couple of shades darker or lighter.

We need to allow the idea that we are all here for the same reason, and that is to live a healthy and happy life.

I hope we can foster a movement of change in our lives by creating a world without racism, discrimination or stereotypes, a place without acts of violence or hate.

We all deserve a life filled with nothing but kindness and the acceptance of one another.

Pg06-Opinion Tanisha

Knutzen plans to promote a positive change in her life, which she hopes will create a positive change in the lives of everyone around her.

 

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Cartoon: Yuck the Bug

Cartoon: Yuck the Bug

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Pg06-Sierra cartoon-Yuck the Bug

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Small crimes, severe penalties

Small crimes, severe penalties

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We think slavery is a thing of the past. But as prisons continue to be built, more ordinary human beings are incarcerated and more poor families suffer.

It’s time for Congress to repeal mandatory minimum sentencing, which forces judges to base their sentencing on federal guidelines. It is not working.

Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1986, enacting mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes.

That was the beginning of mass incarceration. First-time marijuana offenders and nonviolent offenders received long sentences, serving time in prison with no chance of parole.

The boomerang effect caused overcrowding in prisons. Taxpayer money built more prisons in order to improve inhumane conditions.

Lives of common people were broken. In many families, only the mother took care of the children because the husband was incarcerated.

Children suffered the most. They grew up hoping their father would come back after five years or even 15 years.

In Arizona, debate rages on whether to give more funds to prisons and less to education. The recent cuts in funding public education should become a wake-up call.

Let’s turn to American history. The Civil War of 1861-1865 costs thousands of lives, both from the Confederacy and the Union.

Eventually, President Abraham Lincoln convinced Congress to pass the Emancipation Proclamation. Eliminating slavery became his legacy.

Today, with burgeoning prisons and incarceration’s effect on the millions of people who spend time behind bars, it looks like slavery is coming back.

We must decide whether to follow the same path of mass incarceration or to reduce sentences for first-time offenders and nonviolent offenders.

There are glimmers of hope.

Many grassroots social justice advocates, such as Families Against Mandatory Minimum, lobby Congress to repeal mandatory minimum sentencing.

States from Texas to California, New York to Mississippi, have been reforming their prisons and sentencing laws for years, with overwhelmingly positive results.

If we repeal mandatory minimum sentencing, we give hope to children waiting for Dad to come home. After all, a strong family is the basis of a strong country. Time is ticking.

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Fassler is a social justice advocate. She believes promoting equality for everyone is good for the country. Everybody wins.

 

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From the Editor: Newsroom becomes our family

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By JAMIE VERWYS

For many of us, family is a high pillar of life. It stands right next to other basic needs like food, water, home, work and socialization.

There are dozens of analogies and phrases based on the value of the family unit and what really defines a family member. “Home is where the heart is.” “You can’t choose your family.”

In some ways, that’s correct. We can’t choose our family but throughout our grand adventure of self-discovery and community, family members we never knew existed come to us in the form of friends.

My father once told me, about falling in love, that you will just know when you meet that special person. I told him that sounds terrifying. I can’t seriously believe that one day a magical and overpowering sense of love will just overtake me.

Apply that “love at first sight” theory to friends, however, and I have felt that knowing sense quite often.

There are many words that could describe the reporters and editors of the Aztec Press. Eclectic, zany, driven, opinionated or special could all cover it. But family is the word that best describes us as a group.

Some of us have grown up together over a few semesters, like siblings teaching each other about the world. Just like I promise to protect and care for my parents, I vow that to my colleagues in the newsroom.

We are an interesting mix of people, different personalities that might have never become a family had it not been for this student newspaper experience.

I can’t directly speak for any of our talented writers, but I can say with full sincerity that my life would not be the same if they hadn’t come into my heart.

I didn’t choose this family, but we all made the choice to open our hearts and lives to one another. The forming of love happened fast, and it’s a nurturing, teaching and welcoming space.

I have felt that comradery from the very beginning, but one of our students really made me think about its importance.

Four of us recently spoke to a Journalism 101 class about why the students should consider signing up for Aztec Press. One of our first-semester reporters, Kit Fassler, stepped forward and talked about how she once sat right where they were sitting now.

She smiled, looked back at us and said, “They are my family now. We would love you to be part of our family.”

Don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there to your peers. The friends you make at Pima Community College could change your life.

Enjoy the issue. Consider it one of our many family albums that we have to share with you because we love it so much.

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Road Running pizza fresh, made to order

Road Running pizza fresh, made to order

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By ALEX FRUECHTENICHT

When you crave pizza, you usually think to call up the closest Pizza Hut or Papa Johns. After eating at Road Running Wood Fired Pizza, you won’t be doing that again.

Each order starts with choosing your toppings, or a specialty pizza, like the Chicken Pesto or Hawaiian pizza.

Your order is made fresh right in front of you as the dough for your pizza is flattened out, topped with your cheese, meats and veggies and thrown right into the back of the mobile wood fired pizza oven.

After a few minutes of baking, the cheese has just begun to bubble into a sticky glue to hold your generous toppings onto the thin-crust pizza. It is pulled out, slapped on a plate and handed to you.

I ordered a pizza with ham and pineapple and they did not skimp on the toppings. The pineapple chunks were fresh and juicy, while the ham was cut in long strips that lined the full diameter of the pizza.

The personal pizzas range from $7 to $10 and are a little bigger than a paper plate, so you really get your money’s worth out of this mobile pizzeria.

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Owner Chip Augello slices and dices a fresh pizza, right out of the portable wood fired oven. (Alex Fruechtenicht/ Aztec Press)

 

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The writer behind Writing 101

The writer behind Writing 101

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By JACK KEERS

He sits in a darkened room, fingers hovering over a keyboard while sweat drips down shadowed cheeks, concentration enhanced by gentle Italian techno music. Shell shocked and numb, he realizes his book is finished.

Writing 101 instructor Andrew Foster, 34, has worked part time at Pima Community College for eight years. He said teaching writing helps keep his mind fresh when it comes to his own writing.

“Last week I finished a memoir I’ve been working on for several years,” he said. “Proud but sad my baby’s all grown up and gone.”

Foster has drawn up a dream list of 20 agents and has started the process of querying them. “I need to find an agent that has had memoirs and biographies published before,” he said.

The first chapter of his memoir was recently published in a Baltimore publication, Cobalt Magazine.

“This chapter was rejected at only three or four other magazines before Cobalt took it,” Foster said. “I feel pretty lucky on this one. My usual rate for acceptances is about one in every 100 submissions. If you want to be published, you have to get used to constant rejection.”

One of his first publications was a poem in the Colorado Review in early 2000. He has also been published in a Tucson literary journal, Spork.

Foster submitted a chapter of his memoir to this year’s Tucson Festival of Books writing contest. He was a runner-up for the grand prize and received a chance to participate in a literary workshop.

The workshop included talks led by several well known authors, including author and poet Ray Gonzalez of the University of Minnesota.

Foster enjoys reading both nonfiction and fiction.

He is currently reading “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” a novel by Zora Neale Hurston. Written in the ‘30s, it is a classic in African-American literature.

His favorite authors are William Shakespeare and James Joyce. He has the full collection of Joyce’s books, including “Ulysses,” “Finnegans Wake” and “Dubliners.”

Foster likes to teach by using multiple visuals in his Downtown Campus classroom and takes time to provide detailed explanations.

“He uses his personal time to help us with our assignments,” said Charity Brian, 21. “He makes it easier to understand the concepts of writing. He is a good communicator.”

Brian is in her first semester at PCC and is taking WRT 101 as part of the requirements for her major in law and criminology. She takes three other classes and is exhausted by the end of her day, but she looks forward to her writing class.

“He has opened my eyes to new creative writing techniques and ideas,” she said.

Foster has a family connection with words. His father, Michael Foster, studied languages and traveled to Canada to study Cayuga Indians.

Foster’s father met his mother, a native Canadian, and they married shortly after. Two years later, Foster was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

He was raised in Norwich, Vt., and in Philadelphia. While attending a boarding school in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Foster participated in the school newspaper and in creative writing workshops.

He knew he liked writing in elementary school and decided to become a professional writer during high school.

When not teaching or writing, Foster enjoys a game of chess.

“I’m a total beginner, but it’s fascinating,” he said. “It’s humbling.”

He is also a whiskey aficionado.

“It’s actually a much less expensive hobby than wine tasting,” he said. “A $50 bottle of wine will last you one night but a $50 bottle of single malt scotch can be slowly enjoyed over many months.”

Extending his passion for teaching outside of the traditional classroom, Foster recently taught a WRT 101 class for employees of Tucson Electric Power. TEP not only paid the tuition, but also paid the employees for each hour they spent in the classroom.

“WRT 101 was a required step in their process of becoming journeymen electricians,” Foster said.

What does writing mean to Foster?

“Writing is the secret life of the soul, encoded in this thing we call language, which was the first virtual reality that humans invented,” he said.

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Writing 101 instructor Andrew Foster answers his students’ questions. Foster, who just finished writing a memoir, says teaching writing keeps his mind fresh for his own work. (Aztec Press photos by Shana Rose)

 

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Instructor Andrew Foster explains the daily lesson to his Writing 101 class at Downtown Campus. (Aztec Press photos by Shana Rose)

 

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Fighting feelings of social inferiority

Fighting feelings of social inferiority

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BY ALYSSA RAMER

Social inferiority is something I struggle with all the time, and it affects my self-esteem.

This is partly because I experienced being a type of “social outcast” throughout my educational career.

There is a significant difference in bullying versus treating others as socially inferior. Bullying is teasing, physical abuse and peer pressure, whereas feelings of social inferiority come from being ignored or treated differently because of aspects of character. Sometimes bullying can cause it.

In fourth and fifth grade, a kid that I liked made fun of me in front of his friends.

Little comments by people I loved most made me feel so socially inferior. Something that sticks out in my memory is sitting on a sink in the girl’s locker room of a YMCA.

I was 12, on a trip with friends. I was informed that I wasn’t the type of girl the guy I liked would date. There were lots of girls there apparently that he would date, but not me. For years after that I was just a side note, ignored as naive and childlike. This is just one example of many.

After the number of quotes about the heart, friendships, etc. posted on Facebook, it occurred to me that this instance bothered me more because it had to do with my heart.

Even in college I have experienced social inferiority, and though it’s not with the people I care about, it still hurts. I deal with judgments that I’m either too old, or young and naive. I believe that people should be treated equally even if we don’t agree on lifestyles.

What good does it do to act this way?

Anti-bullying policies are now in place in schools, and I can appreciate the change, but like others, I agree that it’s not all that is needed.

I have heard many times before about kids whose parents rely on the school system to teach their kids everything, including how to treat others, and that those parents should be more involved.

An argument has been made before that these policies are enough, and that fighting social inferiority itself at our time in life would be difficult if not impossible. I agree that in college it is hard to change people. We need to change ourselves when it comes to how we treat other people.

We need to analyze what we say and how we say it. This is obvious, but we don’t do it. I am reiterating what has been parsed out over and over, but I believe it to be true. We have to change ourselves to change others.

Pg06-Alyssa

Ramer understands that change is not easy, and readily admits that she is not perfect either.

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Afghanistan still needs U.S. troops

Afghanistan still needs U.S. troops

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BY PABLO ESPINOSA

There must be a permanent U.S. force in Afghanistan of at least 15,000 troops.

After 13 years of combat, the public is tired of war and politicians are unlikely to get elected if they support keeping troops in Afghanistan. However, withdrawing completely might force the U.S. to come back later.

The idea of keeping troops in Afghanistan indefinitely might seems silly to most but the idea that Afghanistan will be a peaceful democratic country without foreign military support is nothing short of comical.

In 1988, the Soviet Union left Afghanistan after an eight-year struggle to support the communist, pro-Soviet government — and an estimated 15,000 Russian deaths. Four years later, Muslim rebels took control of the country.

Fast forward to 2015. President Barack Obama had a meeting on March 24 with the newly elected president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani.

Ghani requested a slower drawdown of U.S. troops. Obama agreed to leave 9,800 troops in the country for the rest of the year. He had planned to leave 5,600 troops.

With the current campaign in Iraq against the Sunni militants who call themselves the Islamic State, Obama is understandably ready to leave troops for longer than expected to prevent a similar situation in Afghanistan.

The U.S. spent approximately $1 trillion on the Iraq war, with $25 billion of that money going to building the new Iraqi army. But the U.S. failed to understand that you can’t just throw money at a situation, then run away.

The former president of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, stepped down as one of the conditions for the U.S. to intervene against the Islamic State.

Maliki is a Shiite. When he took office, he started killing and oppressing minority Sunnis who had ruled the country under Saddam Hussein and were promised an active role in government by the Americans.

He fired top military commanders and gave their jobs to Shiite friends who had no military experience and wanted none.

When the Sunnis rose up, the $25 billion army the U.S. spent thousands of American lives trying to build simply collapsed. Today, the Islamic State is using captured U.S. military weapons in Iraq and Syria.

Afghanistan’s Gross Domestic Product was $2.4 billion before the U.S. invaded. By 2013, it had grown to 20.5 billion. The country has become financially dependent on the United States.

The U.S. may continue to financially support Afghanistan but without our troops to train and support the Afghan national army and police, history will repeat itself.

Afghanistan will again be controlled by Islamic extremists and become a base for terrorism.

Pg06-Pablo

Espinosa is an Afghan War veteran. He deployed as an infantryman with the 2nd Infantry Division to Kandahar province in 2012.

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Unleashing the power of words

Unleashing the power of words

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BY KIT B. FASSLER

One afternoon I was in an elevator at the University of Arizona and overheard a conversation between two professors. One was retiring that year.

“You are retiring, then what?” the other professor asked.

That question struck me. I was 64 at that time. I anticipated my retirement by taking a few classes at Pima Community College.

I knew I would be lonely, bored and stagnant if I didn’t exercise and maintain my brain.

A man in the registrar’s office asked why I chose classes. “Some retirees enjoy traveling, but you’re here going back to school,” he said.

“It’s a delight to be in the school environment,” I replied. “Retirees, middle-age and young students attend Pima.”

I’ve traveled far, and have pursued my interests in education and legal studies.

When I was growing up in the Philippines, I was always intrigued by journalism and the role of journalists in society.

My parents were voracious readers, and my brother and I loved to read as well.

I knew that in order to write, you have to read. In my youth, I contributed an article and was published in a college newspaper.

I also learned that when you defend freedom through writing, you put yourself in danger. I was an eyewitness when my country experienced unrest.

On Sept. 21, 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in the Philippines. It lasted for 21 years.

There was no freedom of the press. Journalists who opposed the regime were hunted. No one could talk against the military government.

It was terrifying. The unrest caused a brain drain, and many citizens left the country.

The world is constantly changing but journalists continue their mission. They put themselves in war zones, report politics and investigate crime. They put their lives in danger for the sake of democracy, to unravel the truth and to tell people what’s happening.

This year, I joined the Aztec Press staff. I am the only retiree in class.

Time management and mastery of correct spelling are my strengths. Old habits of writing style were hard to untangle. I learned that self-editing is crucial and beating deadline is a must.

When I saw my articles published, I knew I had finally found my real passion. It doesn’t matter if I’m a late bloomer in the field of journalism.

On the other hand, I’m impressed with the attitude of students and the quality of training in the press room.

We come in and take writing as a serious business. It’s a public service we can’t take for granted.

For my part, I will join with journalists in the world to carry the mission of bringing information, education, inspiration and knowledge to the masses.

Writing is the best tool to promote peace and justice to the world. The saying that a journalist is the watchdog of society remains true.

Pg06-Kit

Fassler likes to listen to stories from ordinary human beings, and let their extraordinary lives resonate to inspire others.

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Treat HIV/AIDS patients with more compassion

Treat HIV/AIDS patients with more compassion

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By KATIE VACIO

When it comes to the taboo subject of HIV/AIDS, people as a whole still react by dehumanizing the sick.

Instead of trying to understand the illness, people stay ignorant because of its history. HIV/AIDS carries a stigma because of its association with homosexuals or drug addicts.

“Patients who are infected are still treated with shame, stigma and hate,” says Robert Knight, a peer counselor/case manager with the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation.

Much of the reaction stems from lack of education and understanding, Knight adds.

“Too many still believe this is still a gay disease and that you can get it by touch and-or close proximity,” he says.

Cultural perception plays a role as well, says Vera Bowlby, the SAAF manager of case management services.

“It also depends on the culture background,” she says. “The Latin and Spanish communities have different reactions than here. The stigma is still there.”

The local AIDS foundation still deals with some stigma, Bowlby adds, but it is not as bad as it used to be. In the past five years, it has become much easier for clients to access services and treatments.

“When someone is newly diagnosed, it comes free of rejection and the shame because of how most people got infected with the virus,” Bowlby says.

Some people who are infected with HIV/AIDS rise above the obscene scrutiny.

Russell Collingwood, 46, who has the illness, says it doesn’t define who he is as a person.

“Most of my friends and all of my family know my status,” he says. “The two partners in the relationships I’ve been with since my diagnosis are both HIV negative.”

Collingwood doesn’t try to hide his situation.

“I think because I’m so open about my status and don’t let it define me or make me a victim, I don’t get treated any differently,” he says.

The more knowledge that people have of the disease, the less discrimination, hate and stigma will be felt by people with HIV/AIDS.

Anyone can get infected. Famous personalities include singer Freddie Mercury, actor Rock Hudson, basketball player Magic Johnson and hemophiliac patient Ryan White, who was expelled from middle school in 1984 after he contracted the disease through a blood transfusion.

The virus can spread in different ways, from having unprotected sex to using the same needle as an infected person to an unfortunate accident.

Collingwood’s partner of 12 years died from the illness, and Collingwood became infected while caring for him.

“I was changing his IV, and he had a seizure,” Collingwood says. “Blood was backing up into the IV tube and the IV needle tore his vein. His arm swung around and hit my hand holding the IV needle and it ended up slicing the back of my hand open.”

Society also still thinks of HIV/AIDS as a death sentence, which fuels fear and ignorance.

“It’s really no different today living with HIV than it is living with diabetes,” Collingwood says.  “You have to take care of yourself, see your doctor and most importantly, take your meds every day.”

Collingwood wishes “happiness and love” for anyone living with HIV/AIDS.

The Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation has adopted a new focus and direction without losing its core mission and value, Knight says.

He believes the changes helped unite the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, questioning and allied communities.

“It is my hope that the legacy we leave behind is an organization that has dealt with this epidemic head on,” he says. “We have fostered a loving family environment of acceptance and tolerance.”

Pg07-Insight-Collingwood

Russell Collingwood, who has HIV, says he doesn’t hide his condition and won’t allow the disease to define who he is. (Photo courtesy of Russell Collingwood)

 

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Article contained numerous errors

Article contained numerous errors

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Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my concerns about the Issue 4 (March 12-25) article, “Waiting to exhale: Some student desks a tight fit.”

This fiscal year, the Downtown Campus was awarded a capital allocation for a much-needed project to replace classroom desks.

In mid-February, as part of the purchasing process, we arranged for a three-day “sit test” so students could evaluate and provide feedback on the models of classroom seating options that were under investigation.

More than 150 students participated in the “sit test,” ranked the seating options, and provided other comments and feedback.

This process was an endeavor by the Downtown Campus Cabinet to be as inclusive as possible in regards to a major purchasing decision that would have a direct impact on students and their classroom experience.

I was initially pleased when I learned an  Aztec Press reporter was interested in writing a story about our efforts. It is rare that someone takes an interest in behind-the-scenes processes such as purchasing, so I readily agreed to be interviewed for the article.

I was surprised when the article came out to find that I was quoted so extensively, and then disturbed to find that the words I was quoted as speaking were not my own.

During the interview, I did give an estimated figure of $1,200 in reference to one of the table/chair seating options. This was the highest cost option, which seats multiple students and included all available accessories.

In the course of the interview I also quoted much lower figures for estimates on other seating options that we were investigating, including single-seat desks. This context and content was not reported.

I am also troubled by being quoted as saying the desks we purchase need to “outlast the rough treatment they get from students.” This is not something that I did or would say.

I did reference durability during our discussion. When it comes to furniture, “durability” is an industry term. However, I did not characterize our students’ treatment of desks or other college property as rough or abusive in any way.

I also did not say, “There is a whole warehouse full of broken desks and chairs that are not useable.” No such warehouse exists.

At the Downtown Campus, we do have a small, open area where we store broken desks and try to fix the ones that can be repaired. This area, which encompasses approximately 25 square feet, currently contains nine desks that are not suitable for use in the classroom.

We did discuss issues with warranties, but the conversation did not occur as reported in the article.

While I realize the article was presented as an opinion piece, I believe it should still be well sourced and cited.

I have a major issue with being directly quoted as stating phrases that I never spoke, delivering facts that are inaccurate and expressing sentiments that are not characteristic of me in any way.

I am pleased to report that the project to purchase replacement classroom furniture for the Downtown Campus has moved forward.

Utilizing the feedback gained from students, we are currently executing a purchase order to refurnish 10 classrooms with more appropriate, accessible and comfortable seating in time for summer sessions. The price of each desk came in at $423.50 before tax.

I would also like to correct one last error in the article: I do not hold two positions at the Downtown Campus.  I was conflated with the campus president’s support coordinator, with whom I share a first name.

Andrew Plucker

Director of Administrative Services

Downtown Campus

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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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