The Second Amendment Preservation Act was introduced to the Arizona Senate on Feb. 3 of 2014 and did not meet its deadline for total Senate approval during the 2014 state legislative session, but it “will likely be reintroduced in the next session,” according to Arizona Sen. Kelli Ward. The act would prohibit state officials from enforcing any federal laws pertaining to personal firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition within the limits of the state, and force any who knowingly fail to comply out of office permanently. It would also prohibit the distribution of any state funds to enforcement of federal gun laws. SB1294 and similar acts have been introduced in 20 states so far, Arizona included. Of the 20 states, three have enacted their versions of it, including Alaska, Idaho, and Kansas.
The 2015 state legislative session is scheduled to begin Jan. 12, when Ward plans to reintroduce the bill. “We believe in our Second Amendment right to bear arms. The bill would allow that to continue in Arizona without federal overreach. To me the Second Amendment means freedom and liberty. We have constitutional carry in Arizona and it is safer because of this. States and cities with gun restrictions are less safe. The majority of the mass shootings in the U.S. have been in ‘gun free zones,’” Ward said.
For SB1294 to pass, it would require grassroots action and support. “This bill doesn’t have a hired lobbyist. We the people must lobby for it to pass,” she said. The bill went as far as being approved by the senate judiciary committee. It reached 25 percent sanction during the 2014 session. Levi Unzeitig is a range officer currently employed by Caswells Shooting range in Mesa. He stated: “I don’t know if the Second Amendment Preservation Act will really affect gun owners that much, but reading about the 150,000 vets that have had their gun rights revoked, obviously that hit a soft spot with me because I am a veteran.”
Steven Lopez, an army veteran and frequent patron of Caswells Shooting Range, believes the Second Amendment should be preserved. “The state of Arizona, in my mind, has always been a state where its citizens have enjoyed the freedoms of the constitution and in particular the Second Amendment. Arizona has low crime, and low gun related crime in particular. When you take out the illegal aspect, it has a low gun crime rate, and I think Arizonans recognize that for what it is,” said Lopez. If SB1294 should pass, it would be put into effect 91 days after the 2015 session ends on April 24.
Some question whether mainstream western medicine can incorporate alternative medical practices such as therapeutic massage, guided meditation, utilizing supplements and herbal medicine, and others into a holistic approach of taking care of people and dealing with situations on an individual basis. There are those who see the value in a holistic approach as the best of both worlds.
Mesa Community College resident faculty member in the clinical nursing department, Elizabeth Allen, is a registered nurse and instructor.Allen chose nursing as a career path because it’s challenging and keeps her busy; she also likes being of service and helping people. Her approach consists of the science aspect of medicine along with the knowledge and understanding of how certain herbs and supplements interact with pharmaceuticals.
“There are diseases that alternative medicine can’t cure but there is a place for different modalities and each serve different needs,” Allen said. Allen took an elective holistic nursing class in college and believes it gave her a broader and more rounded view of healthcare. “Being in a healing profession takes a special person because it is both a gift and a learned talent,” Allen said.
Pam Field is a registered nurse and licensed massage therapist. She currently works at the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe as a massage therapy instructor. Field also has her own therapeutic massage practice and considers herself a bridge between mainstream medical doctors and holistic practices.
Having the credentials and certification as a registered nurse allows Field to be a health educator and interpret what the doctor is saying in a language the patient can understand. She also has training and experience in massage therapy which gives her an opportunity to weave the two systems together.
“I believe the biggest obstacle to medical doctors working in harmony with holistic practitioners is that medical doctors feel threatened. They are afraid that if people choose alternative healing practices that it will take away from their slice of the pie,” Field said. The approach she uses is to be a support system for the doctor and the patient filling in the blanks of touch, time, and listening. “These three key elements are what doctors don’t have time to offer and what people who aren’t feeling well need,” she said.
After Field researched the benefits of time, touch, and listening, she discovered studies that showed that if a doctor touches the patient’s hand while they are talking to them or spends an extra 5 minutes listening to what is going on, the incidents of malpractice suits are reduced. “When I offered this fact in a lecture to first-year medical students it spoke to something they could relate to,” Field said. For some, spiritual belief systems play a role in healing and are considered alternative medicine.
Kathleen Gould owns her own business called Southwest Herb in downtown Mesa. She began researching plant medicine when her son was young and diagnosed with ADHD. The school he was in wouldn’t allow him to attend without taking Ritalin because his symptoms were so disruptive. When Gould gave her son Ritalin, he was always tired and didn’t behave like a happy, active child. She knew there had to be a healthier alternative without side effects.
After research and trial and error, she found herbal remedies relieved her son’s symptoms and get him through his school years. That was the beginning of a 30-year business that has grown into a community where people can learn how to harvest plants with respect and use them for healing, make tinctures and salves and find herbs for animals and children.
Mesa Community College student, Cumorah Masters, was introduced to healing herbs and oils by her mother when she was a child. “When I was little and had an upset stomach or a headache my mom would rub oils on my head or give me an herbal tea and it always made me feel better,” Masters said. “Using plants and herbs as medicine works and it fills a need. I don’t think doctors are open to it because they are funded by the pharmaceutical companies,” Gould said. At Southwest Herb, herbal remedy classes are offered. One of those classes is Plant Spirit Medicine that is based on the Mayan teaching that plants’ karmic purpose is to heal. “There is one universal energy and plant energy is a healing art,” Gould said.
Administrative assistant Trina Hillery in Mesa Community Colleges Psychology department was diagnosed with a nerve disorder. After having surgery and radiation treatments to alleviate her symptoms, she was still in pain. That is when Hillary turned to alternative treatments. “I tried acupuncture and dirt that was blessed by Native American Indians that I carried with me and rubbed on painful spots,” Hillery said.
John Sanders is a massage therapist and instructor at The Arizona School of Massage Therapy in Tempe. His first career path was as a computer programmer. Sanders said he would get bored at work and walk around and interact with the other users. “I am a touchy kind of person and I would rub my co-workers shoulders as they sat hunched over their computers working. A lot of my co-workers recommended that I go to school to learn to be a professional massage therapist and that’s just what I did. I love working in this field and have never looked back,” Sanders said.
Sanders believes that massage can be utilized as an alternative medicine tool. Sanders said he has a chronic illness that requires him to take Prednisone. He also incorporates massage therapy, herbal remedies and homeopathic treatments to stay healthy. “I think the reason physicians dismiss the benefits of massage is because they don’t have first hand experience with it,” Sanders said.
From a different standpoint, a sampling of Mesa Community College students showed that the majority would prefer a therapeutic massage or herbal supplement as opposed to a shot or a pharmaceutical prescription with their accompanying side effects. While most students said that taking vitamins, exercising and trying to get enough rest between work, school and other responsibilities is the best way to stay healthy, all agreed that it was good to know a doctor or hospital is available should the need arise.
Mesa Community College is now 50 years old. Ever since this college was founded, it has been known for service learning, and getting involved in the community. No group represents these values more than MCC’s Phi Theta Kappa Omicron Beta Chapter. Before the school year started, members of Honors in Action got together to choose their project for the upcoming semester. Choosing a topic and narrowing it down was the hardest part of the whole process.
Honors in Action first had to choose a general topic from the Honors Study Guide (Frontiers and the Spirit of Exploration). The group ended up deciding on topic no. seven: “Health and Medicine as Frontiers” after several research presentations and debates. Then the group had to narrow that general topic down to a specific cause. The group eventually picked Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
According to Christian Franco, the program specialist for the Center for Community & Civic Engagement, multiple things factored into their decision, including Robin Williams’ suicide in August of that year. “After listening to a Ted Talk on mental health, hearing of Robin Williams’ suicide, and reading an article in the Arizona Republic on how locally Arizona lost 226 Veterans due to mental health related issues ….” Franco said.
Students from Honors in Action also attended a Phoenix Town Hall Meeting for Veterans to speak out about the Veteran Affairs department’s lack of care, and that just motivated them even more. “There were many angry veterans and community members who voiced their opinions, concerns and objections about the lack of care they were receiving from the VA,” Honors in Action member Leigh Ann Counseller said. So the group started to do research, and they came up with some goals, and what kind of impact they wanted the project to have.
According to Sean West, the Vice President of the Southern and Dobson Chapter, and one of the leaders of this project, says making the community aware about this important issue was one of the main goals. “First and foremost, our project was to impact the community by making them aware of the mental disorder, called PTSD,” West said. Additionally, the project evolved into allowing the community to make those with PTSD aware of their support by participating in creating “Peace Quilts.”
The Peace Quilt squares were the first idea for this project, and they might have had the biggest impact. The group started to create squares with messages to veterans to show that everybody is thinking about them, and the idea was to create a quilt for one veteran suffering from PTSD. “The peace quilts came to be after wanting to make a statement across the community that we will stand together in supporting our veterans with PTSD and others who have been through traumatic experiences ….”
When the group talked to veterans, it helped the group realize that most veterans just want to know that someone cares, and it changed the way the group thought about PTSD. This was the inspiration that the group needed to work with Power Paws, a charitable group that provides highly-skilled assistance dogs to adults and children with disabilities.
After doing more research, Honors in Action found that a service animal can have a huge impact on veterans suffering from PTSD, and so they wanted to raise money to give a dog to a veteran. “When we started looking into the effects a service animal has on a person suffering from a traumatic event, we watched YouTube videos first. There are so many and for every scenario imaginable. Each result was the same; the care and comfort of the animal towards the victim resulted in a positive response such as a sigh, a deep breath, an affirmation that the victim as coming back, so to speak, from their dark place,” Counseller said.
In order to raise money to fund the cost of the dog, students involved in the project participated in the Night Envy Neon Run, which raised over $500 for veteran scholarship funds. “PTSD affects so many people such as human-trafficking survivors, cancer survivors, children of abused parents, people with severe anxiety or even a mental illness such as Asperger’s or autism,” Counseller said.
One of the major events that the group participated in to spread awareness about PTSD was the NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) walk. Counseller talked about the impact of this event: “The NAMI walk was amazing! 300 plus people walking, running, and participating to bring awareness…” Counseller said. “It was remarkable to be a part of the success we had with our booth. Our booth was set up so that everyone who passed us could stop and draw on or write on a quilt square. People who stopped, and their children too, were moved at the purpose of our booth. The feedback we got from the participants was overwhelming, supportive and positive! We collected nearly 300 quilt squares. At the same time we were able to educate at least 1,000 participants about PTSD.”
Next, the group decided to plant a healing tree on both the Southern and Dobson campus, and the Red Mountain campus. The overall goal of this event was to make students and faculty more aware of PTSD, and it was a great success. “Planting a healing tree on the Mesa Community College Campus allowed us to leave an impact on the campus and in honor of our veterans and those with PTSD that there is hope and healing available to them,” West said. This was another way for them to make an impact in the community, and spread awareness. Students also participated in Human Trafficking Awarness Day on MCC’s campus, and the Health Fair at C.A.R.E Partnership.
This project is still ongoing and will continue to have a huge impact. This project has enabled more people to understand what veterans and others that suffer from this disease go through everyday. That is what this project set out to do, and that is what this project has accomplished. Phi Theta Kappa is comfortable facing large issues. They’re having an impact on campus, and in the community.
Editor’s note: The reporter works as a campus events officer for Phi Theta Kappa.
Another cancer diagnosis, another expiration date given, another choice must be made; to wait out their days in hospitals or go peacefully by choice. Dying with dignity, by definition, is the philosophical concept that a terminally ill client should be allowed to die naturally and comfortably, rather than experience a comatose, vegetative life prolonged by mechanical support systems.
This was the case with 29-year-old Brittany Maynard. She and her husband of just over a year were trying to start a family when they discovered she had a brain tumor. Doctors removed the tumor, which later grew back stronger and more aggressive in April. Doctors said the only way for Maynard to survive was if she had full brain radiation which would have caused loss of hair and permanent burns on her scalp.
Maynard declined treatment and she and her family decided that she would live her last six months living her life instead of being probed with needles in a sterile, cold hospital room. She made the choice to end her life before her horrific cancer took it from her.
Maynard and her family uprooted their life in California to move to Oregon which is one of only five states in the United States that has the dying with dignity act. The other four states with this law are Connecticut, Montana,Washington and Vermont.When Maynard made the decision, she became an advocate for the act, promoting its legislation all across America.
The United States is not the only country with a dying with dignity act; Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg have a similar act which allows those who are terminally ill to have the choice to die. These acts all have the same basic premise of saving civilians from the pain and suffering of death.
Many religious groups are against dying with dignity because they believe the body should take the natural course of life which means going through all the pain and agony of an inevitable death. The process of dying with dignity is not considered euthanasia, or assisted suicide like many argue it is.
Meyer said that this act is very important to hospice workers since their whole goal is to make those who are nearing the end to be as comfortable as possible in their final days. Elderly couples especially are known for actions similar to this so as to always be with their soul mates. Advocates and supporters of being able to choose when it is your time to leave this earth clash with those who feel death is something that must come naturally.
Mesa Community College psychology teacher, Mia Palmer, feels “Nothing is certain.” Palmer said life is “Full of precious moments … Everyone is robbed of precious moments, the deceased and the living.” Mesa Community College student and Political Science major, Karen Gomez, said, “Yeah the family is totally the ones who suffer but it is her choice and her life. She should be able to control how and when it ends.”
The great debate as to whether or not this should be legal everywhere or just in select states will continue to grow and grow till middle ground is found. The debate remains one where parties are split. Those adhering to an ideology down the middle of the line are nearly nonexistent.
There are advocacy groups all around the country that advocate for both sides of the coin and more information about the difference between assisted suicide and death by choice can be found on the Death with Dignity National Center. Their website is accessible at deathwithdignity.org.
Most college students have limited amount of money and time. So choosing the right major fresh out of high school is important. Switching majors most likely means wasted time in classes that are not needed and wasted money on books for those classes. Therefore students need to utilize all the tools at their disposal to find the major that fits best.
Elizabeth Calderon, an adviser at Mesa Community College, also tries to help students choose what major is right for them. “When a student says they are struggling to choose a major I ask them what they would enjoy as a profession,” Calderon said. “Then I look at their placement test results and transcript from other classes they have taken in college if they have taken any, and we go from there and try to decide what would fit them best.”
Students most of the time have their majors figured out by the time they see the advisers. “I usually deal with kids switching to universities and needing help moving their transcript or I help create their class schedule,” Calderon said. When students finally do ask the advisers for help it usually is because they are switching majors. “When a student is switching their major, but are not sure what they want to switch to I try to talk the solution out of them and make them come to their own conclusion,” Calderon said. The testing center is where students can test out of certain classes and see what they excel at.
Peggy Bonar is a staff member at the testing center. One reason why students would be required to take a course placement test, is to give them perspective on their strengths. The placement test does not exactly help a student decide what major to take, but it does show what the student both excels and struggles at. “Students get to take the course placement two times for free and 24 hours between takes,” Bonar said.
Mostly new students to college come to take the test, but every now and again someone who has been enrolled in college for a year or so on will come try and test out of a class. “Most people are shocked at how hard the tests are, or they say how they have not seen certain material in years,” Bonar said. “Students never ask me for advice on their majors, but they do ask what their test results mean or show and that is when I let them know what they are good at and what they need to work on.”
Students who come to the testing center most of the time are required to take the test, so they are not enthusiastic while taking the test. “In my experience students typically come take these tests because they are required to, not because they are trying to decide what their major should be,” Bonar said.
Lauren Skuda, a student at Arizona State University, enjoys her major. “Obviously school is difficult and stressful, but I like what I am doing and look forward to graduating and starting my career,” Skuda said. Skuda is a junior majoring in business and is in the W.P Carey business program at ASU. She thought about changing her major in the summer after her freshman year because of an economics and accounting class. “I heard that macroeconomics and accounting were tough classes and they are, but when I was considering other majors none of them looked more appealing and interesting than the business program, so I stuck with it and I am glad I did now,” Skuda said.
When she was choosing her major in high school she knew that she wanted to do something involving numbers because she is excellent at math. Skuda passed the math portion of the college placement test with flying colors. “The math part was easy for me to do and I tested out of one of the prerequisite math classes, so that saved a math class one semester and that was nice,” Skuda said. “I always figured I would major in business at college I just never thought I would be so happy with it as I am right now.”
But not every person in college has that nice of an experience with their major in college. Dylan Faggioni, a student at Mesa Community College, has changed his major twice. He started his freshman year majoring in business and after his first semester of his sophomore year, he switched his major to communications. After his sophomore year in college, he again switched his major to healthcare.
“Had I chosen healthcare as my first major I would already be at a university and I would have also saved a lot of money,” Faggioni said. His placement tests gave him no help or vision toward a major. “I tested average, I did not test out of any classes, but I also did not have to take any classes under the 100 levels,” Faggioni said.
When he was registering for classes in the summer before his freshman year, he figured that business would be the most useful major, so that is what he took. “Luckily the perquisites for business, communications and healthcare were for the most part all the same,” Faggioni said. “I had to take a couple of extra classes when I switched to healthcare, but it was not as much of an uphill climb as I expected it to be.”
The only regret he has is all the money he spent on books and classes that he did not need to take. “I am glad I took business and communications first because it helped me realize I did not want to pursue those professions,” Faggioni said. “Whereas if I took healthcare first I might have been tempted to switch to those majors down the road and that would not have been good.” He was unsure going into college what major to take and the testing center did not give much aid; the advisers asked him a couple of questions trying to help him decide, but in the end, he just chose to take business courses.
Heather Brelo, a student adviser at Pinnacle High School, helps students send out transcripts and apply to colleges. She also helps students pick what major they should study. “I help where I can when it comes to students picking what they are going to study in college,” Brelo said. “If a student wants my advice, I tend to look at their transcript and see what classes they thrived in and then ask them if that field interests them.”
Most students who see her and the other advisers at the high school have already decided on their majors and do not look for their help in that regard. “When students do ask me for help deciding, I am honored and I take it very seriously because this is the kid’s future and the fact that they ask me for guidance means they really care, so I do everything I can to help them,” Brelo said.
Pinnacle has a system where all seniors meet with their guidance counselors right after winter break and they take a survey and search for scholarships that are available to them. The survey is made up of questions that are designed to make students consider multiple majors.
Athletes pose a possible problem to the system. “The athletes that do end up getting scholarships to smaller colleges might not have the major that the student is interested in. Or the school has the field but it is lacking major credibility,” Brelo said.
Kassie Shank and Noah Hayden are both students at Pinnacle High School; Shank is a senior and plans to major in nursing at the University of Arizona. “I have wanted to major in nursing since the beginning of my senior year,” Shank said. Shank gets good grades on all subjects at school and has never thought about a second major. “I have not put any real thought in another major because I am sure I want to become a nurse,” Shank said. “If I do end up wanting to switch my major I will talk to my adviser at school and my parents to see what I should do.”
She has not yet taken the placement tests for college nor has she spoken to an adviser about other options. She is aware of the cost that switching her major would incur both financially and timetable wise. “It is important to me that I graduate on time, so that I can begin working in the field as soon as possible,” Shank said. “Also I want to graduate and walk with my friends because we have been through so much together.”
Hayden, who is also a senior, is undecided on his major. “I do not know what exactly I want to do yet,” he said. “But I will probably major in business at the University of Arizona. My older brother goes there and that is what he is studying, so I will probably end up doing that.” He also has not taken the college placement test nor met with a college adviser. He is aware that changing his major will slow down his graduation year, and cost more money.
“I want to go into business, it is a major that can lead to great job opportunities right out of college and that is what I want,” Hayden said. “But I don’t know; maybe I will change my mind before I graduate.” He currently works at In-n-Out fast food restaurant. “I know that I do not want to work there forever so I need to get my degree in something,” Hayden said.
The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has unveiled a new program which – upon completion – awards students with a driver’s license, without requiring written or road tests. In the past, ADOT programs were in place for high school and private school students. Those who underwent the classes through the ADOT-certified high school or private school classes would receive their driver’s license upon completion. Now, however, ADOT has partnered with private-sector driving schools to enact a similar program.
The program was enacted on Jan. 12, and has been in the works since November, according to Ryan Harding, a public information officer for ADOT. “We wanted to offer another option for new drivers to get training … our top priority is safety,” Harding said. Traditionally, one would go to the Motor Vehicle Department and take a written test for their driver’s permit and a road test for the driver’s license. A passing score on both would result in the issue of their license.
The idea behind this new program, Harding said, is to ensure safety and safe driving practices are taught to students. “We want to encourage new drivers to get as much professional instruction as they can, if they choose to,” Harding said. Not having to take a written or road test provides a good incentive, according to Harding, for students to successfully complete driving school.
Moving into the future, the question of the new program’s popularity arises. Will this become something that is used as mainstream as the traditional method of obtaining a license? According to Harding, this program is not mandatory, and is only introduced as a new way for citizens to obtain their license. The program’s popularity and merit remain to be seen.
MCC student, Levi Castillo, said the written and road tests should remain mandatory. “I think they should keep the test, not just the road test, because it gives you more information.” Technical details are taught through the written test, he said. “Like, I didn’t know how far away to park from a fire hydrant.” Ultimately, Castillo said, the written and road tests arm the student with more knowledge before they hit the road.
Dobson High School, Red Mountain High School, and several other high schools in Mesa are participating in the existing high-school program, according to ADOT. The new partnership with private-sector driving schools has extended to 50 schools statewide, Harding said.
On Jan. 28, Mesa Community College held a meet-and-greet event honoring its three new governing board members. The event – held in a roundtable manner – took place in LB145 of the Paul A. Elsner Library. President Shouan Pan, as well as several other faculty members, were in attendance. Though the meeting was to introduce the new governing board members, Jean McGrath, Johanna Haver, and John Heep, faculty members spoke on MCC’s merits throughout the meeting.
Duane Oakes, faculty director for Center for Civic & Community Engagement, addressed those in attendance regarding MCC’s track record when it comes to serving the community. “We’ve now documented over one million hours of community service,” he said. The Center for Civic & Community Engagement helps students give back to the community. Many students have had to complete 50 hours of community service through the center in order to graduate with honors.
Indiana University Bloomington, Lumina Foundation, and the Center for Postsecondary Research all contribute to giving colleges with notable achievement the Carnegie classification. MCC is one of only 20 community colleges to receive this classification, Oakes said.
New governing board members come with the possibility of changes to the way the schools are run. MCC student, Austin Wyldr/Fierro, said he is not concerned about change with the new board members. “No I’m perfectly fine with how things are run,” he said.
Student loan debt stands at $1.2 trillion, and the effects aren’t just in American pocket books, but also weighing heavily on the minds of those in debt and chasing away prospective students. In a study released by the Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare written by Min Zhan, the dramatic rise in college costs, over the past decade has pushed more and more students into seeking loans.
The tuition rates have risen beyond what families and part-time jobs could cover, according to the study, so taking out loans to cover the costs has become normalized. The deregulation of some financial markets has also allowed younger people to move in and try to take advantage of the choices there to try and fund their education with private loans which are far more restrictive in its payment options than a government loan would be.
Student loans are a large part of the money going into colleges now, with the average student in Arizona leaving college about $22,253 in debt according to a report released by The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS). Arizona students are in the low end of student loan debt, New Mexico has the lowest amount of loan debt at $18,656. The highest amount of debt rests with students in New Hampshire with nearly double of what Arizona students owe, about $32,795. The national average as of 2013 is $28,400. Student loan debt has outpaced not just credit card debt, but is quickly catching up to the largest form of consumer debt; home mortgages.
The report by the Institute for College Success mentioned that those are only the rates for public and private universities, because for-profit colleges such as Fullsail or the now defunct Corinthian do not disclose the amount of debt that its students graduate with. But another report showed that despite the amount for-profit college students owed being unknown, the amount of students with debt is, and it stands at 88 percent versus the 75 percent for private universities and the 65 percent for public colleges.
The report also acknowledged its limitations with data, since barely more than half of public and private universities reported the student debt their graduates leave with on average. It called for all universities and colleges, public or not, for-profit or nonprofit, to disclose their graduates debt, saying that the problem is too important to leave to self-reporting.
“The size of the debt is over 1 trillion, our entire GDP is 16 trillion, think about that,” said economics instructor Gregory Pratt. Students leave both in heavy loan debt and with $7,000 in credit card debt, according to Pratt, which continues to follow the debtor until they pay it off or die. After which, the debt from the student loan will likely pass off to a spouse or close relative.
“Students select majors less on cost and more on other factors,” Pratt said, citing the students interest in a given subject being one and how much work would be done in class for it. “There’s nothing wrong with that, but there might be difficulties with it afterwards. There are only so many applications certain degrees can be put through.” “Student debt is really increasing though, because of college costs increasing faster today than most can keep up with,” said Pratt.
Attending college provides a noticeable increase in future income, graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree making $46,000 a year versus those who only completed high school earning $30,000, according to the Department of Education. But that possible $46,000 a year might not be enough to pay off a student loan, especially as the size of debt continues to increase.
“When students start to see that the payoff for attending college, or the return of their investment, isn’t good you’ll see less and less students making that choice,” explained instructor Debra Henney. “If there is a decrease in demand of education, it would normally put a downward pressure on prices,” she continued. “But a lot of public universities have a fixed set of costs because they’re funded by taxpayers. They can’t get rid of faculty or buildings to reduce costs, so the students end up absorbing it. So the students have to take out even bigger loans to take on those increased costs that less students brings in. Which means even more potential students won’t come. So it, the loans and debt, increases.”
Another study from Ohio State University called Debt and Graduation from American Universities pointed out that part of the problem of rising college tuition follows after cuts to government grants, passing on the costs to students again. Many borrowers and debtors are from middle to lower income families. The price of going to college while funded by loans is not just the money that isn’t made while in class, it’s the debt and how it affects the economy and people as a whole.
“Because of the debt, because so much money is owed there are going to be less savings in people’s accounts. There’s much less spending power. They will have less to invest in the economy, meaning less economic growth in the long term. Which means our economy will lag behind more now,” Henney said.
According to the TICAS report, seven in 10 college graduates are leaving in debt. Recent graduates are also dealing with a tougher and more competitive job market, with an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent. The National Center of Education Statistics has shown a dip in income for students with associate degrees in higher, with graduates in 2000 earning more than their fellows in 2012.
“Since the economic crunch of 2007, most graduates can’t find those higher paying jobs with which to pay off their debt,” Professor Peter Crane said. “But suicide is a leading cause of death, with it being the second leading cause in the 25-30 year old age bracket,” Crane said, “a time when many are graduating with bachelors or higher degrees and moving into the market.”
“Your first job anchors your pay for the rest of your life, so even if you have a great degree from a great place, if you graduate and can’t find a good job and end up with a low paying one that follows you throughout your life even when you leave that job for a new one. So it’ll make paying off that debt within ten or so years even more difficult.”
“These people, depressed and in debt start going into despair and have suicidal thoughts,” Crane said. “They begin to think ‘If I was dead, everything would be better for everyone’, that they won’t be a burden anymore.” “The only way we can solve this is to figure out an overall solution for the student debt problem, but this problem will only get worse before it gets better.”
Mesa Community College students have also expressed their apprehension and even fear about student loans and debt. Jeanne DeMayo, who plans to move into marketing, said she worried about it. “I worry that if I don’t get the career I’m studying for soon I won’t be able to pay it off and it’ll affect my daughter’s future. Will it follow her too when she goes to college?”
Nathan Cleveland another student spoke about his concern as well, “debt is dangerous. A lot of it seems to be set up against students. I know guys in their middle ages who are struggling to pay off the money they owe to the government and banks.” “It’s freaking ridiculous. It piles on more expenses that will never be paid and it’ll hurt us going to find jobs too,” another student, Kassandra Mia Nunez-Waller, said. “It’s aggravating, but it’s also scary,” Franchessqa Navarro said. “What if it affects what kind of job I get?”
“It’s not fair to us at all; it takes away our future and even our possible family’s future. I’m going into accounting but even though it’s a well-paying job I’m not sure how long it’ll take for me to pay it all off. Like how long will I need to put my life on hold to pay off all these loans? I don’t even get why college has to be so expensive, especially now when we need a more educated work force, you know?” said Megan Power. “It feels kind of hopeless, sometimes.”
Arizona is the first state in the country requiring high school students to pass a civics test in order to get their diploma. The American Civics Act, legislation submitted to Gov. Ducey – and passed on Jan. 15 – requires high school students pass a civics test in order to graduate.
Brian Dille, a professor of political science at MCC, said the good of the legislation comes with the bad as well. “I have long advocated civic education at the K-12 level,” Dille said. “Every summer I work with the Arizona Legal Foundation to help with their ‘We The People’ curriculum, and so I meet with K-12 teachers and teach them how to teach the ‘We The People’ curriculum.” A society has a vested interest in making sure its children are educated properly, but the plan does not always work out in such a manner, according to Dille.
“Every other democracy before the United States failed,” Dille said. “One reason they failed is because the mob was easily swayed – in a moment of crisis – to give up their freedoms.” Having the test be mandatory provides schools with an incentive to perform well, as well as a standard to see how well their students are applying themselves, according to Dille.
The legislation, Dille said, is unfunded, placing a high burden on the school system. With such legislation, there is not much room for the private sector to help, either. “Now they’ve added an additional requirement, so it’s like, ‘We’re not going to pay you any more money, but here’s something else you have to do,’” Dille said. The state legislature often passes laws mandating what schools throughout Arizona can or can not do, as well as what they are required to do. This causes an issue for the education system, Dille said.
“Because it’s a requirement and a burden, it’s going to be done poorly,” Dille said. Though public schools garner a public interest, the legislature is often too eager to tell teachers how to do their job, he said. Additional requirements from the state legislature, according to Dille, limit the teacher’s freedom in the classroom.
“Even though I agree with what they’re doing, I don’t like the way they’re doing it,” he said. The test is based on 100 U.S. government and history questions, the legislation read. The test is administered by a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agent who reads up to 10 questions from the list. Students must get at least six out of the 10 questions right in order to receive a passing grade.
Alternatively, one provision of the legislation allows students answer 60 out of 100 questions correctly on an equivalent test. Students are allowed to retake the test until they pass. Though students are required to pass the test, it is made too easy, Dille said.
“The cynical answer for why 60 percent, is because if they put it at 80 percent, the vast majority of our students would not graduate, which would cause problems,” he said. Whether or not the 60-percent requirement is adequate remains to be seen. Dille believes the requirement is too low, giving students an easy way out of actually studying civics.
MCC student, Kristian Charboneau, however, said he thinks the requirement is fine. “I think it’s better they have to take it,” Charboneau said. He went on to say he believes it better to be aware of at least some civics and government, rather than not be required to learn any of it. At the college level, Charboneau said he believes incoming students will be more prepared than incoming students of previous classes. This requirement applies to district and charter schools, and will be go into effect in the 2016 – 2017 school year.