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Life on a Lonely Hill: paying for a degree that is missing the college experience at CSU-Pueblo

Part of our feature on the college experience at Colorado State University – Pueblo, Nick Jurney writes about life on the hill and how CSU-P can offer students more.  

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Perched atop a hill overlooking a small section of the over 3,000 mile-long Highway 50 sits the campus of Colorado State University-Pueblo. Since starting as a small, three-classroom junior college in vacant rooms of the Pueblo County Courthouse, the higher education institution of Pueblo has evolved into a 275-acre university campus with 17 buildings and state-of-the-art athletic facilities.

Throughout the years, the university has undergone a number of both subtle and dramatic changes. It has transformed from Southern Colorado Junior College to University of Southern Colorado to a member of the Colorado State University System, with a couple additional name changes peppered in between.

The university has had a strong impact on the community of Pueblo, both economically and spiritually. Students obviously bring revenue to the economy of the city and contribute as members of the society through the workforce and community involvement.

The city was unified in 2008 with the revival of the wrestling, women’s track and football programs. The football squad has progressed to be one of the most successful programs in the nation, which gives cause to rally around for students, alumni and community members alike.  

On the surface, CSU-Pueblo has all the makings of a premier university: success in athletics, quality higher education, and a supportive community. What is it about the school, though, that leads to just a 63 percent retention rate?

Of all the students that were accepted to and attended CSU-Pueblo last year, 37 percent did not return. That number is alarmingly high, especially when considering the millions of dollars that the university has doled out in recent years to improve the campus.

Herein lies the problem: the university is spending money to improve the campus, but it is not spending money or time to improve the highly sought after “college experience.”

Why is the retention of students so difficult? Several factors create fundamental challenges for the university to retain and attract students such as campus offerings, location, and overall atmosphere of the school.

Location is one, if not the main detractor of the appeal of CSU-Pueblo. Take for example the on-campus residents living in the dorms or the campus apartments. If they wanted to travel off campus to do something, they would either have to drive, take a bus, or more than likely find a ride to get to the nearest attraction, such as the mall or a restaurant. Especially in the colder months of the year, there is nothing within reasonable walking distance of the isolated campus.

Having previously attended other colleges, I know that being able to get off campus, however brief, is an integral part in maintaining the “free” mentality that comes with setting out on your own and going to college.

That freedom can be experienced by simply taking a walk to a nearby eatery, a shopping center or grocery store, or even a bar to momentarily escape. Save the restaurant and bar at the Walking Stick golf course, the lack of anything of the sort within a five- or ten-minute walk that doesn’t involve traveling by foot along a major highway really hurts the stock of the university.

Many on-campus residents may have a car to solve such problems, but many also do not. That makes it particularly tough when the campus has a limited amount to offer both within its grounds and in the nearby vicinity.

Even a campus like Adams State, in the town of Alamosa with arguably much less to do than in Pueblo, has more surrounding it within walking distance, including fast food, diners, a bowling alley and a bar.

As for the CSU-Pueblo campus, its offerings are limited. Making the trip on foot to Jerry Murphy Blvd. is discouraging at best, and walking further into the Belmont district is a straight shot, but treacherous. Navigating to the main hubs (Dillon, Eagleridge) are all but impossible without a vehicle.

The amenities on the campus itself are also found to be few and far between. Sure, each dorm building has a lounge/recreation room, but unless you are a resident of the dorms you’re virtually not welcome, as it takes a key to get in.

The Occhiato University Center, which is scheduled to double in size with new renovations in the coming years, offers the bookstore, campus dining services, and a dungeon. Did I say dungeon? I meant basement/OUC underground, where some under-publicized events take place and where “The Cantina” dining area is hidden away.

Essentially, that is the extent of what the campus has to offer its students. There is no Student Union center that makes other colleges and universities so tightly knit. There is no “bar row” for the kids who want to have a “college experience” every night. There are relatively close “box stores” but in Pueblo these are meant for passersby on the interstate not for students to spend money and waste time. The lack of services like these is what really hurts the campus of CSU-Pueblo.

A lot of these things are not the fault of the university itself;  everyone has to work with the land that exists. And, there is also an inevitable argument that producing amenities like these will cost more money, and thus raise tuition and student fees. I don’t think I’m alone in the thought process, though, that the university could benefit from adding these types of things, increasing cost, and becoming more selective than the 98 percent acceptance rate that is in place right now. Essentially, as a college student, you will be willing to pay for a higher quality institution and a higher quality experience. More services and things to do equal a higher cost which equals a higher will to pay for a higher quality of  college life.

If the school wants to continue to expand and go where it wants to go, it must absolutely think about expanding and making the campus into more than just the buildings in which classes are held. It must turn into a community with traditions and with places to learn how to live outside of the classroom.

It works for other schools, why not this one?

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Denver’s Wes Watkins dynamic new future-funk EP is from another planet

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Future-Funk Party Starter | Wes Watkins

Dreams Out from Denver’s best kept secret Wes Watkins wears so many musical hats it needs a rack; downtempo G-Funk homage and sweltering nee-Soul / Rn’B are all over this release, all covered with a thicc pop glaze and a penchant for electronic-sonic experimentation that keep every song fascinatingly adventurous while maintaining a danceability and groove that easily, easily warrants multiple listens. Don’t sleep on this one.


Lo-Fuzz Folkie | Hoi Ann

The beauty of Hoi Ann’s Tangenier lies in both what you can hear and what it may want you to not hear. Lo-fi folk and bedroom-pop are easily tangible on its surface, but the buzzy electronic tones that sparingly flourish the 5 songs of this release lie low and create a unique aural atmosphere for listeners, like hidden secrets for your ears only.


Indie-Punk Sweeties | Gestalt

The pop-punk shred-bois in Gestalt are back at it again; The irresistible combo of the Get Up Kids earnest midwestern-emo and smart pop-punk wit of the Wonder Years is strong on the tracks that encompass LongBoix, as is an acute fondness and growing appreciation for the finer indie rock of yesteryear. Well I guess this is growing up.


Psych-Rock Screamcore | Gone Full Heathen

On their criminally good self titled EP, Fort Collins heavies Gone Full Heathen friggin dare you to try and trap them in a single genre. Nice try, but they’ll just chew right through your puny ropes using a gnashing blend of crushing stoner-rock laced hardcore punk and overdriven psych-rock / post-metal induced bite like the righteous rock and roll wolves that they are.


All releases available for purchase now thru Bandcamp. Go Local!

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The Haze Craze for Lazy Days

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There are many different styles of beer. Ranging from light lagers (think Bud Light) and ales to sours, stouts, and IPAs.

Within those styles, however, are varying styles.

For example, one would think a sour beer is a sour beer, right? Wrong. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, which defines every style of beer, there are six recognized European sour styles.

For IPAs, there are seven. American beers have four; stouts have three… You get the point.

Even with viewing the list of recognized styles, it’s not a complete list.

Take New England IPAs (NE IPA), as a prime example. Many breweries are currently mass producing this style of beer, and it’s selling like crazy.

You may have heard one of your annoying beer loving friends talk about drinking a “juice bomb,” or a requesting a “hazy IPA” at the pub, and shrugged it off. It turns out, they (sometimes) know what they are talking about.

What makes NE IPAs so popular when compared to a more traditional, West Coast IPA? NE IPAs have all of the hop flavors, without an overabundance of bitterness.

Instead of constantly adding hops throughout the boil to achieve a fruity flavor balanced by bitterness, the NE IPA has a small hop addition at the begging, and then nothing else until after the boil has finished.

That translates into a beer with very little bitterness, and plenty of hop aroma and flavor. Hops like Citra, Mosaic, Mosaic, Galaxy, and El Dorado are most common in NE IPAs, according to the Homebrewers Association. Those hops tend to impart a fruity, and dare I say, juicy flavor profile.

Between the juicy flavor and the seemingly natural haziness to NE IPAs, it’s not far fetched for an NE IPA to look like a tall glass of orange or grapefruit juice, only carbonated and full of alcohol.

NE IPAs are starting to gain momentum here in Colorado, with breweries turning their focus to the haze craze. Specifically, Odd13, WeldWerks, and Epic Brewing coming to mind.

Odd13 is based in Lafayette, Colo. and has a long list of NE-inspired IPAs constantly rotating through the tap room and distributed throughout the state. Codename: Super fan and Noob are two beers that are found in cans, and both offer a different approach to the haze craze.

WeldWerks is based in Greeley, Colo. and has accumulated a cult-like following in just a few short years for its Juicy Bits NE IPA. The brewery just started self-distributing locally, so you’ll have to make the trip to the brewery and pick up a crowler or four. Be sure to check the WeldWerks Facebook page for availability and limits. Yes, they have to place per person limits on how much you can purchase.

Epic Brewing recently announced its NE IPA, which will rotate between four different flavor profiles throughout the year. The cans will look the same but will be different colors as a quick way to tell identify which version you have.

So the next time you walk into a brewery or liquor store, it’s OK to ask for a hazy or juicy IPA. It’s a thing, and, frankly, they are damn good.

On Tap: By the time this hits newsstands, ThunderZone Pizza & Taphouse will have opened on the CSU-P campus. Located at 2270 Rawlings Blvd., the ThunderZone features 32 taps, a carefully curated tap list, and is locally owned.

At the opening, the tap list includes tasty brews from the likes of Florence Brewing and Lost Highway.

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Senators upend GOP health care bill in true Trump style… Twitter

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WASHINGTON — When Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran decided they were in ready to disrupt the GOP rewrite of the health care law, they chose President Donald Trump’s favorite medium.

They could not support Senate Republicans’ plan, the somewhat unlikely pair of conservatives tweeted at 8:30 p.m. Monday night, giving no heads up to the White House or Senate leaders before pressing send.

The story behind the statement reveals two senators willing to be branded as bill killers and seemingly unconcerned with trying to soften the blow with party leaders.

The announcement, coming after some 10 days of conversations between the men, stunned official Washington and left Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at least two votes short in the closely divided Senate from being able to move forward with the GOP bill, effectively sinking the measure. It landed shortly after Trump dined with a group of senators to discuss strategy – unwittingly plotting a plan that would immediately become outdated.

Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican leader, found out about Lee’s defection after the White House dinner of rosemary-grilled rib eye and summer vegetable succotash. He “had no idea it was coming,” Cornyn said.

Another Republican, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, found out from TV news.

Moran, a second-term lawmaker from Kansas who isn’t known for making waves, and Lee, a two-term senator from Utah who has clashed with Trump, have been talking over the past 10 days about the health care legislation and agreed the GOP bill did not go far enough to repeal Obamacare or address rising health-care costs. They decided to announce their position to make the bill’s fate clear and allow senators to move on, Moran said.

“It could have been prolonged for days or weeks while no one said anything,” Moran said in an interview.

Moran, who oversaw the Senate Republicans’ 2014 election campaigns, concluded last week he wouldn’t vote for the latest version of the bill but “gave myself a weekend in Kansas to think about it,” he said.

Lee had helped draft an amendment, along with fellow conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that would allow insurers to sell skimpy plans alongside more robust ones to lower costs. Cruz agreed to some changes in wording by GOP leaders, but Lee thought the new language allowed too many Obama-era regulations to remain in place.

After talking again, Moran and Lee agreed Monday night on a statement drafted earlier in the day. They issued their statement shortly after a White House dinner attended by seven GOP senators – all likely yes votes on the health care bill. Neither Lee nor Moran attended.

A Lee spokesman said the statement – and its timing – “had nothing to do with the White House dinner. It was not a reaction in any way.”

The statement was made public as soon as it was ready, the spokesman said.

Neither Trump nor McConnell received advance warning about the statement, although it’s likely that neither the president nor the Senate leader was completely surprised.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spent the weekend calling lawmakers, including Lee and at least seven other GOP senators, according to the administration. Trump talked politics, while Pence discussed policy.

Trump called Lee on Saturday, and Lee told the president he was leaning against the bill, for the reasons he later made public.

Lee told Utah’s KSL Newsradio that he had a great conversation with Trump, when he told the president his “consumer freedom” amendment had been weakened and that he wasn’t sure that he could support the bill.

“He was encouraging to me and said, you know, ‘Just see what changes you can make to it,’ ” Lee said.

Lee and McConnell did not talk over the weekend, but Lee spoke twice to Cornyn, R-Texas, the majority whip.

Trump, who frequently takes to Twitter to announce proposals or denounce opponents, was blindsided by, of all things, a tweet.

He told reporters Tuesday he was “very surprised when the two folks came out last night, because we thought they were in fairly good shape. But they did. And, you know, everybody has their own reason.”

Moran said while he remained committed to repealing the health care law, Congress needs to make a “fresh start” on writing a replacement bill in an “open legislative process.”

“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” he said, in a statement that followed the tweet.

In his own statement, Lee said the GOP bill does not repeal all the Obamacare tax increases and “doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations.”

Both explanations were issued on social media.

“Twitter is a nice medium to get your message out,” Lee’s spokesman said.

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