In Honor of Women’s History Month, We are honored to present a video by Jelena Estrada, founder of the FRCC Westminster organization, “The Broadened Narratives Book Club”.
With spring break quickly approaching, many FRCC Westminster students may be dreaming of long days filled with sleep and Netflix shows. But for those of us who can’t afford a trip to warmer tropical destinations yet still dream of some fun activities to fill our days off, I present to you a list filled with the wacky, weird and wonderful things in our own backyard here in Colorado.
The time estimates that appear next to the towns are given in reference to a starting point from the FRCC Westminster campus, but all can be found with a quick google search to chart your own routes. Make the most of our week off and take some friends to make some new memories!
Paint Mines Interpretive Park – Calhan (2-hour drive)
This is a perfect road trip for people who like the great outdoors and going someplace off the beaten path. Located in a very much middle of nowhere town, which is about 45 minutes outside of Colorado Springs, you cannot even see the amazing landscape from the road or parking lot. A short hike in will reveal amazing views and over three miles of trail to follow that can easily fill an afternoon. This attraction is amazing due to the variation of the rocks that have eroded away, leaving behind the bands of color left behind by different sediments over thousands of years.
Baldpate Inn (Seven Keys Lodge)- Estes Park (1 & ½ hour drive)
Another spot that can’t be seen from the road is this inn that sits just outside of Estes across the street from a beautiful lake with trails to walk around. When you walk in, just say that you are there for “the keys,” and you will be directed to a room filled with keys of all shapes, sizes, and origins from all over the world. It is free to enter, but stick around for a while and read up on the history of why the keys are collected. It’s also a great place to grab some homemade lunch that truly is the definition of mountain deliciousness.
Swetsville Zoo (sculpture garden)- Fort Collins (1-hour drive)
Want something even a little stranger to fill your time? Check out this amazing sculpture garden created just outside of downtown Fort Collins. The sculptor, Bill Swets, loves to transform old metal into living creatures, and the property is filled with so many sculptures to explore it will make for a great afternoon activity. Afterward, head into town and walk around and try some of the great restaurants, maybe even check out the local art galleries while you’re there.
The Wild Animal Sanctuary- Keensburg (1-hour drive)
Though this spot is a bit on the pricey side compared to the other destinations to fill your spring break with, it is definitely one worth the trip if you have never been. The tickets for an adult are $50, but that money does go to the operations of the sanctuary, which rescues animals like lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!) but is also home to camels, wolves, bobcats, and so much more. Not only are they doing so much to help protect and save these animals from horrible living environments, but they are giving them a place to roam free. The sanctuary has acres upon acres of property out in this rural farm town and visitors get to view the animals from a mile-long suspended walkway above their habitats. A fun little fact: many of the tigers rescued from the zoo that Joe Exotic owned ended up going to this sanctuary.
UFO Watchtower, Gator Farm, The Great Sand Dunes National Park (4-hour drive)
These three are all lumped together for a bit of a longer road trip experience, but they are all in the same area and on the way to The Sand Dunes. The UFO Watchtower is an…eccentric stop to say the least. This little igloo-looking hut is surrounded by a bit of a shrine or as they call it a portal that is filled with all the weird wonders that people decided to leave behind for outer space visitors to discover. It’s a great stop to look at the stars at night from the upper deck and maybe even see something out of this world.
The second stop is another strange attraction of course! A gator farm in the middle of nowhere in Colorado may sound a little strange, but these chompy little dudes were brought in to help control tilapia populations at a fish hatchery nearby and came to stay. Visitors even have the opportunity to hold smaller gators for a picture if they are brave enough before walking through to see the bigger gators, lizards, turtles, and other reptiles on the property.
The Sand Dunes are always a great stop if you are eager for outdoor activities. From sandboarding (think snowboarding but on sand) to hiking the dunes, this natural wonder is a great place to see at least once in your life. Fair warning, be prepared for warm and cold temps, pack sunscreen, and if you are unlucky to be there on a windy day just know that having your legs sandblasted is pretty painful.
Hope this list provides you with some great starting points for your spring break adventures and let us know here at the newspaper what you thought!
Last month, the Tennessee board of education decided to pull the book ‘Maus’ from their eighth grade curriculum, citing concerns about the violence, nudity, and strong language that the book contains. The board promised to replace the book with another, more age-appropriate book about The Holocaust, but the decision still sparked much discussion online and within academic circles. Many people are concerned that this decision represents a ‘white washing’ of history, and that students ought to know about the horrors of the past, while others worry that the book is too extreme for young kids. Given the controversy, it would seem valuable to examine how FRCC treats controversial books, as well as examine how students and staff feel about the issue.
Marcus Elmore, a librarian at FRCC Westminster said that,
“academic libraries, including FRCC, generally do not respond to challenges to materials, except insofar as the challenge is rooted in issues of academic inquiry. We might, for instance, consider removing a book from the collection because it represents outdated or superseded scholarship” he said.
Marcus also said, “All decisions about the library collection are made by librarians, in consultation with teaching faculty, and are guided by relevant statements issued by professional organizations”
He also cited the libraries official position on the Support of Intellectual freedom, which reads: “The FRCC library adheres to the principles of intellectual freedom outlined in the American Library Association’s “Library Bill of Rights”, the Association of American Colleges’ and the American Association of University Professors’ “1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure”, and the Association of College & Research Libraries’ “Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights” and “Standards for Libraries in Higher Education.”
Marcus also provided me with links to the standards that FRCC libraries follow, those being the American Library Associations “Library Bill of Rights”, the American Association of University Professors’ “1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure”, as well as the Association of College & Research Libraries’ “Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries” and “Standards for Libraries in Higher Education”.
The library does also have a formal process for dealing with academic challenges that are made to library materials. Any student or staff member can challenge materials in the collection, after which the library director will convene a committee to review the case. The decision to remove the material is ultimately left up to the library director.
Marcus also provided his personal opinion on the subject, saying “I, personally, find the removal of materials like Maus a travesty, an insult to the library professionals who develop collections for student and public use, and a dangerous provocation.” He said, “Given that the folks pushing this agenda do not see eye to eye with me and my colleagues on issues of intellectual freedom, I doubt there can be much in the way of reasoned discussion, but I hope that parents, students, and the general public will voice support for individuals’ right to read as they see fit.”
I also talked to Victoria West-Paul, the library director. She told me that “We are not going to ban books just because someone finds a book like Maus offensive.” She provided a quote from the American Library Association’s code of ethics:
She told me that she even keeps a copy of the ethics code in her wallet. It seems, then, rather unsurprisingly perhaps, that the library is rather unified against the removal of books from curricula, and certainly will not be removing controversial books from the library any time soon.
I wanted to get the perspective of students on this issue, so I spoke to Amelia Palmer, a student at FRCC Westminster, who said, “I think it is very Ray Bradbury esque, it is reminiscent of nazi book burnings which is horiffically ironic considering it’s the kind of shit the banned book is warning us about!”
Another student, who preferred not to be named, told me, “[schools] should not go around traumatizing five year olds, but kids shouldn’t be shielded from this either, because it happened” she she said, “I could see how, since it’s illustrated, it might not be good for kids” … “but since [the students] are teens, I still think it’s age appropriate” … ”I think that it’s very important to learn about things like the Holocaust more than ever, since there’s been some scary neo-nazi stuff popping up lately”
It seems as though much of the student and faculty at FRCC takes issue with the removal of Maus from the curriculum in Tennessee, and that nothing similar will be happening at FRCC any time soon. While some of the people I spoke to share concerns about whether or not the book is age appropriate, ultimately they all believe that challenging material that might make some students uncomfortable is an important part of teaching kids history.
Last week, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) proposed a new type of sanction: kicking Russian students out of American universities. “I think closing their embassy in the United States, kicking every Russian student out of the United States—those should all be on the table,” he told a group of panelists on CNN. The United States is host to approximately 5,000 Russian students, including at FRCC Westminster. The comment has been widely criticized by many people across the political spectrum as heartless, or ineffective. But what’s so bad about the idea, and what could we do instead?
So, what exactly is wrong with Swalwell’s proposal? It is true that American universities and educational institutions are a great asset to the country. Many of the greatest schools in the world are in the United States, and people come from all over the world to study here. So why not use that leverage against Russia? First, it’s probably just immoral on its face. The Russian students studying here had nothing to do with the invasion, and they have no leverage over Putin and his cronies. This is an issue with all sanctions- the economic devastation they cause is targeted disproportionately at average people, while oligarchs and dictators remain mostly unaffected. The hope is that, at some point, pressure from average people gets so high that the people at the top are forced to change course. There is disagreement on how effective economic sanctions are, but what’s certain is that this would not work. As mentioned earlier, there are only about 5,000 Russian students in the United States, nowhere near enough to apply any meaningful pressure to the Kremlin. So not only would they be devastating to those people studying in our country, it would be very unlikely to work.
There is also the issue of finances. International students pay far more than U.S. citizens for their education, effectively subsidizing our Universities. Here at FRCC, international students can expect to pay well over 2.5x more than resident students, and that’s before COF and other state subsidies that international students don’t qualify for. That means that by kicking out international students, we’d effectively be shortchanging U.S. universities millions of dollars, and American citizens would have to pick up the bill one way or another. Given that the policy is unlikely to even work, and would cost Americans millions, why would we ever do it?
Given the response that Swalwell got from his idea, we probably will not be doing it, but what can we do instead? I’ll answer that question with another question: If someone comes to the United States to get their education here, is there really any reason they shouldn’t be allowed to stay? After all, every Russian who goes to work back home is going to be working on SU-57s, Tu-243s, and other Russian military hardware. Why? When they could be working on F-35s, or a new generation of American MANPADS? Highly capable & intelligent people are an asset- not a burden, and instead of kicking Russian students out of the country, we should be inviting them to stay.
Why stop there, though? Why limit ourselves to only welcoming Russian students from American universities? Any Russian who got a degree in any university should be allowed to come to the United States. Frankly, that’s even better. They get educated at the expense of the Russian government, leave, and then contribute to our technological advancement. Why even stop with just Russians? China is beginning to catch up to the United States in technological achievement, but technology doesn’t come from nowhere. It comes from smart, educated people researching, and making breakthroughs in laboratories. So, why not offer the smart, educated people in Chinese laboratories a ticket to the new world?
The United States is, for the most part, a nation of immigrants. One of the only countries in the world whose nationality is not defined by race, religion, or even language- but instead a common set of values and beliefs. An immigrant who moves to Norway will be hard-pressed to ever be able to call themselves Norwegian- but an immigrant who moves to the United States? I’m not sure about you, but I’d almost be offended if they don’t call themselves an American. That’s one thing that sets us apart from the rest of the world – anyone can be an American, and there are plenty of people in line. We just need to let them in.
Andy Rodriguez is a twenty-something student at FRCC Westminster who has found a fondness for art. He truly is a bit of a Renaissance man when it comes to his passion. There has never been a second that I have known him when he does not have a sketchpad and pencil within a few feet. Even now, as I sit down to talk to him about his time at FRCC Westminster in Dot’s Diner in Boulder, he is scribbling away, capturing the other patrons as they eat their greasy breakfast.
My first question to him was what made him get into art, and after looking a little stumped and chuckling he replied,
“This is hard….”
An answer that is very much signature Andy. Being the humble guy he is, he took a second to think. He told me about how he was on track to be a lawyer, but then he started reading comics around 17 or 18, which really ignited a passion.
“I have a whole list of artists and comic books that started my interest in art. When it came to comics, I love people like Gary Frank, James Jean, and John Buscema and I would later come to admire earlier illustrators like Charles Dana Gibson and Frank Frazetta, and to go even further back I like Caravaggio. He has to be favorite at the moment, so much spirit in his compositions.” he said.
He told me how, when he started reading comic books, he would dig more into the history of the artists and authors of the books which really intrigued him.
“I could probably talk about anything having to do with comic art, the Golden Age Illustration, or even fine art because of that time in my life that I just wanted to learn more,” he told me.
“So then what is your favorite style of art to do?” I asked.
This led me to ask about his coming to FRCC Westminster and how he feels he has grown as an artist since starting at the school. He told me about how he was able to gain a lot of training and go at his own pace, with teachers providing resources for his personal development.
“All of these things allowed me to be more expressive with my artwork and skills.” He continued.
“So then what class did you most enjoy or find most challenging?” I asked.
“You’re really challenging me with these questions,” Andy replied as he sketched some more and thought a bit.
He told me that his most fun class was figure drawing, because it is his favorite subject to draw, and he got to have real people modeling for him in class. The most challenging he said was the 3-D art class that he is currently enrolled in because it is a new media for him and a new experience. He talked about how he really appreciates that the teacher in the class pushes his students to do better from project to project.
“So, what are your future goals or plans for your art?” I asked as we wrapped our working breakfast.
“I guess I want to start selling pieces.” Andy reflected, “I am starting to sell originals online right now, but I plan to do prints in the future, too. I am also trying to create more brand awareness by growing my online presence. I guess I’d really like to go into illustrating comics one day.”
“What would you say to students at FRCC Westminster, or anywhere really, that want to pursue art?” I asked Andy, as we paid our bill and started walking toward the door.
“Just do it!” he replied, in a very aggressive Shia LaBeouf impression. “Just kidding haha, but really, they should just go for it.”
I think that is pretty good advice considering it comes from the guy that I could never see him being a lawyer, but I know he is bound for great things in his art career. In his last remarks, he said that if people are interested in seeing his work, they should check him out by googling, “Andy B. Rodriguez Art.” and in his words,
By FRCC (Westminster) Sociology Club members and FRCC Students: Tiana Haussler, Janessa Gourdin, Miranda Lester, Garrett Spellman, and Maddie Stallman
The incorporation of Black History Month originated with a call to bring awareness and celebrate Black culture in 1926 by way of Carter G. Woods on the “father of Black history.” Kent State University in 1970 officially observed Black History month due to the diligent work by students, along with faculty and staff.
Recognizing the importance of student voices, it seems appropriate to offer up a conversation with two FRCC Black women students who reflect on what this month represents to them.
Black history is far more than just Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks, but often it can come across as the only Black people who matter—at least in U.S. curricula and public view. That sentiment is one shared by both Tiana and Janessa. Being Black women attending Front Range as non-traditional students, they explain how common it is for them to feel unseen on campus and in the Westminster area, and how that’s not much different during Black History Month.
To start off, Tiana shares concerns about who gets represented during Black History month, “You know Martin Luther King, and you learn about his speech, but you don’t really learn about all of his other struggles. Similar with Rosa Parks. You don’t learn that she was an activist, you just hear about the bus scenario. You don’t learn about, you know, anything prior to that. You have to do that research on your own. So I feel like that was missing the most for me, and I do kind of have this feeling that you get bits and pieces: you get those talking points, but you don’t get the rest, because it’s just taught very briefly during February. It’s not taught, you know, year round.”
Tiana brings up the need for a more complex understanding of Black history that goes beyond a specific monthly recognition. Simultaneously, there is a need to also shift the focus of whose voices get heard. Janessa highlights the centrality of men of color, “I feel like there is more recognition of men still during this time of the month. I feel like there are major women of color, especially Rosa Parks, or Harriet Tubman that we hear about, but I feel like it’s more men’s faces, which is, you know, men were considered more of a human being—moreso than women were, you know.” Both Tiana and Janessa bring forth the need and the internal struggle that exists in wanting “to be recognized as a woman of color during Black History Month.”
One of the most important goals within the education system is for Black people to have accurate and year-round representation in all aspects of life. Janessa describes a recent conversation with her son, “My son is seven, and in second grade, and he came home and started talking about Martin Luther King… the fact that it only is occurring during this month is really upsetting, because that is a part of who he is; a part of who we are 24/7. So I don’t understand why we don’t have more representation.” Tiana follows up with a story about her son, “my son is in high school, and he told me, there are 27 Black students at his school. there are 1000s of other students, but there are only 27 Black students. So it’s important for those 27 students to feel seen every day, instead of it just being that 28 days in the month that you’re acknowledged. It’s nice for those 28 days, but wouldn’t it feel really nice for them to be visible every day, to see people that look like them all the time?” Janessa follows up by sharing that she would have benefited from a more representative education, “I feel like as an adult, it took a lot of work within myself
to accept myself as being a black woman of color, being just a woman of color in general, because I mean, we’re the minority, especially in Northglenn and Westminster. I feel like having representation at a younger age creates the ability for others not to struggle as I did personally as an adult.”
Front Range has made some effort to represent Black people this month, but it is still not enough. For example, there are several posters depicting Black people who have made significant contributions to history. However, the majority of them are men. Tiana points out, “I saw Nelson Mandela, I saw Martin Luther King, but we’ve heard their stories before. can it be different, can there be other people that we put up there and highlight, because a lot of times we put those same people up over and over instead of showcasing new people.” Janessa elaborates, “It’s based on comfort. It is a comfort thing. People don’t want to hear what makes them uncomfortable. There are so many other things that happened in Black history, but we’re not taught about them at all. The only people that we know are the ones getting continuously recycled, because their story is comfortable enough to be able to be shared. Martin Luther King is thought of as representing peace. In reality, Martin Luther King was a man that did more than just that. He didn’t just sit there and say that you need to be peaceful in order to make change. That’s where his story is utilized to change and invalidate the feelings and emotions that it is to be a person of color in society.” Tiana follows up with a point about long-term representation for all, “what will happen in March when it’s Women’s History Month? Will we see women of color showcased then during Women’s History Month?”
Along with expanding representation within schools, Janessa and Tiana also share the need to provide a more nuanced and comprehensive view of Blacks in mainstream media because as Tiana states, “I feel like there’s the pull yourself up by the bootstraps idea. A lot of people use [white] people in Hollywood to further the idea of if they can do it, then we [Black people] can do it too.” Yet, “we’re not the same. And our struggles aren’t the same, and our path isn’t the same. So we shouldn’t be compared. Everybody has their own struggles and their own identities. It’s nice to see that more [Black] creators are getting exposure, but it’s not indicative of what everyone goes through.”
What Tiana and Janessa are highlighting is the complicated relationship between a serious need for representation from everywhere in society and the challenges that come from that representation being short-lived or inaccurate. They underline posters up on campus are a great first step, but we must expand and add more representation of Black folks including women, queer, people with disabilities, and more. Everyone deserves to have a voice at all times. We must come to the realization that much of the representation that exists is tokenistic and can easily fade away in time. Representation should always be there, as Tiana explains in relation to the media, “where was this in January? Where was this in December? It goes back to the idea of, we see it, but for how long will we see it after Black History Month is over and the media is no longer pursuing an accolade and can therefore take away the token?”
Representation of any specific group should not be reserved for what Tiana refers to as “call on holidays” it must take place for everyone every day so that all people know the full stories of others like them, not just what a dominant group can cram into a brief designated time slot. After all, when there’s only a month dedicated to Black history, which is very much U.S. history, it’s
as if the contributions of African Americans are of little importance. Without their stories being taught, it is impossible to know America’s full history. Changing that takes giving a voice to those who otherwise might not be given one. There are steps the FRCC community can take to make this happen. To start, that means teaching Black history throughout the year, having people of color available as professors, and providing a student union where students of color feel comfortable, heard, and validated with others who share similar experiences. This would help others avoid situations like one Janessa experiences, “I have felt as though my words did not hold weight to that of my male counterparts, especially white males, so I just ended up not saying anything for some of the class. Sometimes that’s frustrating, because we have voices to share.”
Individuals have the responsibility to educate themselves; to learn on their own rather than relying on members of marginalized groups to teach. To that end, here are some places you can go to find out more about Black History.
Black Educational Websites:
https://www.thehistorymakers.org/ https://naacp.org/ http://blackpast.org/ https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=X9ou6MvycZU&help=1 https://www.aapf.org/blacklight https://blacklivesmatter.com/ https://www.npr.org/series/1075788889/black-history-month https://artsandculture.google.com/project/black-history-and-culture https://nmaahc.si.edu/ https://www.historycolorado.org/black-history-heritage https://afrotriangledesigns.com/ (Adri Norris’ art)
Black History/Education tiktoks:
By Seth Ciancio
The Soviet Union was infamous for its bread lines. But whether or not you realize it, the United States has breadlines too, and every time you’re stuck in traffic, you’re in one.
With most products and services, if there’s too much demand (the amount of a product or service that people want) relative to the supply (the amount that’s available), then the price goes up. The higher price drives people to buy less, reducing demand, until it meets the supply. But in the USSR, prices were set by the government, who set prices of essential goods as low as possible to avoid popular discontent. That might sound like a good thing, after all, who doesn’t want low prices? But the artificially low price meant that demand wasn’t controlled for, so people bought more of these essential goods than they needed, and had little reason to use them efficiently, resulting in shortages across the country. The Soviets didn’t want to risk sparking popular discontent by raising prices, but they still had to control demand somehow, so they came up with a novel solution to control demand: lines.
You might not realize it, but the same thing happens in the United States. Not for bread, but for highways. Most of our roads are what we call: “free at the point of use.” That means that, while tax revenue is collected to pay for the highways, drivers don’t pay when they actually use the road, and they don’t pay more based on when, or how much, they use the road. Essentially, the financial cost to use a highway is the same no matter the demand, leaving only one limiter on demand: congestion.
Despite functioning differently, and having a different name, this has the exact same economic effect as the artificially low bread prices of the USSR. Because our interstate highways are free to use, people use them more than they need to, and they have no incentive to use them efficiently, causing a shortage of road capacity. Ultimately, just as artificially low prices created bread lines up and down the city streets of Kyiv, artificially low prices create “bread lines” up and down the interstate highways of the United States.
There are only two ways that have been proposed to eliminate these “bread lines” on our highways. Some people suggest that we should just increase supply: spend hundreds of billions of dollars to build our highways bigger and bigger, until eventually everyone is driving on them, and there’s enough room for all of them. Or, as I suggest, we could charge people market rate to use the highway. The more people who want to use the highway, the more it costs to use it. Just like with any other product, the higher price would push people away. Either they will use another mode of transportation to get where they’re going, take their trip at a different time when there are not as many people using the road, or they might decide that they don’t want to make that trip at all. The price continues to rise until there’s enough highway to go around. This policy, charging market rate to use the freeway, is called “congestion pricing,” and no matter the road, a market-rate ‘congestion price’ would reduce traffic enough to eliminate congestion.
Why can’t we just meet the demand with more supply? The biggest issue is that demand is a lot higher than you think. Congestion – the American “bread line” – does reduce demand, it’s just a really inefficient way of doing it. So even though it might seem like just adding one lane would solve the issue, the reduced congestion is like a shorter bread line, it just attracts more people. So if we want to eliminate congestion by meeting demand, then we have to build a lot of highways. That’s not to mention the long-term problem issues regarding the new car-oriented developments that will spring up to take advantage of the freeway space. The end result of the ‘meet demand’ philosophy is an all-consuming highway that endlessly takes up more and more space, produces more and more pollution, and costs more and more money, all for the empty promise that, maybe one day, the lines will disappear.
It also doesn’t help that, while highways are static and unchanging, demand for highways is flexible. If we want to build our way out of the issue, then we have to build highways wide enough for rush hour traffic, and just accept that they’re going to be mostly empty for the rest of the day. However, if we change prices based on demand, then people will do what they can to avoid the rush-hour congestion charges. Students will schedule their classes for different times; workers will come in early, or if they have a flexible schedule they’ll come in late, and people running errands will reschedule. It could be as simple as eating breakfast after getting off the highway instead of before, in order to “get ahead” of the rush hour charges. However, they do it, flattening the daily demand curve allows us to move the same number of people with fewer roads.
What’s so bad about bread lines, anyways? While it is true that lines do work to reduce demand, it’s useful to keep in mind that not all uses of a good or service are equally valuable. If there’s a limited amount of highway capacity, and there is, it ought to be allocated to the most valuable trips, not just to the people who happen to get in line first. For example, a guy who’s using the highway to go to work probably ought to have priority over someone else who’s just taking a joyride. It would be impossible, and inadvisable, for the government to try and figure out exactly what every driver is doing and then weigh the value of all those uses against each other. So instead, we just ask drivers how much they themselves value it, by asking how much they’re willing to pay for it. Whoever’s willing to pay the most probably values the trip the most, so it makes sense for them to have priority. After all, if you’re not willing to pay two dollars to use the highway, was that trip ever really that important to you?
Beyond greater efficiency, lines have a real cost. It’s not as obvious as a big toll sign, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real. Expert opinions vary, but some estimate that the U.S. economy loses as much as 179 billion dollars annually to congestion. You might not feel the hours of your life that are wasted away behind the wheel, or know the exact dollar cost of the meeting that you missed. If you don’t know them directly, you might not feel the impact of the hundreds of people who are killed a year in traffic accidents on Colorado highways, or the thousands more that are injured, but that cost is still real, and the fact that you don’t feel or notice it is the exact reason we need congestion pricing. If you pay to use the highway, you feel that cost. You feel it more than you feel the (much bigger) costs that you’re paying right now, and you (and everyone else) can actually take that into account when making decisions about how to get around, and how to live your life.
Can we actually make it happen? So the Soviet government set bread prices too low, artificially increasing demand, and creating bread lines. Why though, would an authoritarian, unelected government care one bit about the cost of essential goods? Look no further than Kazakhstan. Late last year, their government raised the ‘price cap’ for fuel, because the prices were so artificially low, that they had massive lines at gas stations and widespread shortages of fuel. While the price hike would have gone some way to alleviate the shortage, the people of Kazakhstan did not see it that way. All they saw was the price of fuel go up, and they, literally, rioted. If not for Russian intervention, they likely would’ve overthrown the government.
Luckily, democratic countries don’t usually have this issue. Politicians tend to get voted out of office long before the people throw the government. Still, it’s evident that the people tend to greatly prefer lines over higher prices, regardless of overall economic efficiency. The problem, really, is that the benefits are spread out. Voters don’t see the widespread economic benefits afforded by lower traffic, and they don’t feel the economic burden that congestion puts on the economy. They don’t see the prioritization of valuable trips, and the economic benefits that brings. They might not even associate the lower levels of congestion with the new policy. What we can guarantee, though, is that voters will notice the big sign on the freeway entrance that reads: “$0.12/mi,” and they’ll certainly notice the new bill they get in their mailbox every week. Ultimately, the problem with “free at the point of use” service is an economic one – the costs are too hidden and too dispersed for people to take them into account when making their decisions. The problem with congestion pricing, then, is the opposite: the costs are so much more obvious, and so much more pointed, that voters would never support it, even if it is more economically efficient.
By Seth Ciancio
This Friday, January 7th, marks the deadline for all FRCC students and staff to fill out the Vaccine Testing Form, so it’s worth answering some questions about the new policy. Initially, the Colorado Community College system did not mandate the vaccine for the 2021-2022 school year, because they wanted to avoid creating “barriers to educational pursuits, and serve all learners”, but on October 7th of 2021 the Chancellor of the Colorado Community College system, Joe Garcia, announced that, “Employees and students who work on campus, attend in-person classes, access support services, or participate in other activities at our colleges or system office will have the choice to provide results from regular COVID-19 testing or, alternatively, provide evidence that they are fully vaccinated.” He cited a desire to provide for the health and safety of FRCC students and staff as a top priority, and that the best way to do that while maintaining in-person classes was to mandate testing or vaccination. So what’s actually being mandated? There are three options for FRCC students. You can either provide proof of full vaccination, commit to getting tested weekly, or stay off-campus and take only remote/online courses. You must fill out the Vaccine/Testing Form by Friday, and commit to one of those three options, or you will be dropped from all classes. This applies to all students, even those only taking remote classes, and there is no medical or religious exemption available.
While FRCC is not committing to providing free testing, there is already free community testing in all communities which FRCC serves, and FRCC hopes to have free testing available at all campuses at some point. If you commit to getting tested but fail to do so, you will not be allowed to attend in-person classes at any FRCC campus until you can provide a negative test result. If you test positive, you must complete the COVID questionnaire, and the Dean of Student Affairs office will guide you through what to do next. Your first testing results must be submitted by January 13, 2022, and your tests must not be more than 72 hours old at the time of uploading. At-home tests will not be accepted, as there is no way to verify the date when they were taken. Instructors are not expected to make accommodations for students who miss class as a result of a failure to adhere to their testing agreement. Students who have already had COVID are exempt from the testing requirement for 90 days from their first positive test. This is based on CDC guidance and may change if the CDC guidance is updated.
For those who are providing proof of vaccination, there are still a few things you might want to know. Like, what vaccines are accepted? Any vaccine officially approved for use by the WHO will be accepted by FRCC. For now, there are ten: Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Covaxin, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Covishield, and Covovax, are all approved for use by the WHO and are accepted by FRCC. For the Pfizer & Moderna vaccines which require two shots, you need to have both shots to stay enrolled in your classes, and you need to wait at least two weeks after your second shot to attend class. If you think FRCC might already have your vaccination data, check your email inbox. If you got an email asking for you to fill out the form, then they don’t have your information, and you need to fill it out. For now, there is no requirement to get the booster shot, although FRCC does recommend it. If you have a medical or religious exemption to vaccination, then you will either have to get tested weekly or agree to take only online/remote courses.
If you’re planning on taking remote or online courses, you still need to fill out the form. On the form, you will be asked what your registration status is for the spring semester. If you plan on taking only online or remote classes, select that option. This will keep you enrolled in your classes, and you will not be required to provide proof of vaccination or test weekly. If you don’t fill out the form by Friday, you will be dropped from all classes, even online ones.
There is a lot of controversy around vaccine or testing mandates, and if you have a complaint, you can take it up with the Dean of Student Affairs at whatever campus you attend. Who knows, maybe you’ll convince them to change the requirement. But for now, if you’re attending any school within the Colorado Community College System, there are only three options: testing, vaccination, or online classes. Regardless of which one you pick, you must fill out the Vaccine/Testing form by January 7th, or you’ll be dropped from all your classes. Hopefully, the policy will help to keep students and staff at FRCC safe by reducing the spread of COVID-19.
I feel very fortunate to have worked for The FRCC Front Page through the last year and a half. My time at Front Range has been full of surprises (I mean, there is the whole pandemic thing that started shortly before I began taking classes in summer of 2020…), some more fun than others. This work study position, first as staff writer then as managing editor, has been one of the fun surprises.
Thank you to Mindy, Jonathan, and my fellow student workers who made this job a fun one. I would recommend anyone interested in writing work for the student newspaper. It’s a great way to develop solid writing skills and form connections with like-minded people.
Good luck to everyone and have a great end of the semester/winter break.
Written by Ilya Kogan
Since the arrival of COVID-19, many people were forced to shift their daily routines into a more remote friendly setting. Not only has COVID-19 impacted businesses, but it has also impacted the local community, including the students of FRCC Westminster. With the mandatory shutdowns, educational institutions scrambled to find an optimal way to continue to educate their students. These institutions turned to Zoom and Discord to connect students to professors. With these changes come a new set of benefits and drawbacks.
For most students, one of the benefits of remote education was that it was flexible with their schedules. Many students have part time jobs which can sometimes make the commute difficult. These recent changes have helped students save a lot of time. The biggest drawback noticed was the lack of social interaction amongst students. Due to these remote classes, it made it hard for students to build relationships with each other making a lot of them feel isolated.
“I like remote classes, but it was hard for me to make friends. I could see the benefits of it, but I prefer going to class in person,” stated one FRCC student. “It’s just easier to network that way and make friends with other people. I also felt like the classes were a bit harder. The lack of office hours made it feel like I had to do a lot of self-learning to understand the topics.”
“With remote classes you could get a lot more work done, but I can also see how a lot of students miss out on the social aspect of going to college,” stated another FRCC student.
This last year and a half have been very difficult for many people, with COVID-19 forcing schools to shift to remote learning and the many changes that have taken place. These college students have been faced with never-before-seen challenges. While there are benefits to remote learning, many students are forced to face the drawbacks as well. Although schools are finally beginning to open their doors for in person classes, it is difficult to imagine remote classes becoming obsolete. With the direction the future of education is heading in, it will most likely consist of a combination of both.