Colorado State students from El Centro celebrate Dia de los Muertos for dead loved ones

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Oct 312011
Authors: Erin Udell and Allison Sylte

Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday every Nov. 1 and 2, is meant to be a celebration of life, not a mourning of death ­­­— something that cultural groups on campus are trying to make happen.

“It’s a time to remember those who passed away,” said Karla Lerma Banda, a peer resource leader at El Centro, CSU’s Hispanic culture center. “It’s not a time to be sad, it’s a time to be happy.”

For the first time in El Centro history, the center is providing an altar for community members to pay homage to their deceased loved ones. Sigma Lamdba Beta, a multicultural fraternity on campus, is also honoring Dias de los Muertos with a slam poetry night.

“It’s a pretty unique holiday to be able to celebrate your ancestors from the past while celebrating their contributions,” said El Centro staff member Reese Orozco.

The roots of Dias de los Muertos can be traced back 2,500 to 3,000 years in Mexico, where indigenous tribes used skulls as symbols of death and rebirth.

Today, people go to cemeteries with trinkets for their loved ones, believing that Dia de Los Muertos is a chance to reunite with the souls of the dead. Many build altars containing the favorite foods and beverages of their dead relatives, and decorate their loved one’s graves with offerings, which often include orange Mexican marigolds.

For some members of CSU’s Latino community, while Dia de los Muertos is a celebration, it’s nevertheless bittersweet.

Guadalupe Salazar, the director El Centro, spends Dia de Los Muertos honoring her parents, who she said are buried in a beautiful cemetery near a tree.

She spends the day on a blanket near their graves, recalling fond memories of the times they spent together.

“When death does occur, there are memories,” she said. “Always memories. It’s hard to believe they’re gone.”

Oscar Rodriguez, a sophomore computer science major, remembers that when he was five or six and still living in Mexico, his family spent Dia de Los Muertos honoring his grandfather.

“We went to the cemetery and to my grandfather’s grave and talked about him,” Rodriguez said.

“Afterwards, we made his favorite food. It really was a celebration.”

Content Managing Editor Allison Sylte and News Editor Erin Udell can be reached at

 Posted by at 5:28 pm

RamRide return program sees low numbers for first weekend

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Oct 312011
Authors: Jason Pohl

Students waking up dazed, confused and without transportation had another option to get back to their stranded car last weekend.

And while only a little more than three dozen people used the new RamRide Return program, which gives students a free ride back to their vehicle, program directors are still encouraged.

Kirk Easton, the director of nightly operations for the Associated Students of CSU program, said the weekend went as planned with plenty of student input and involvement.

“It was successful,” he said.

Easton said a lot of the promotion will come as the program grows and people see the advertisements and hear about it from friends.

ASCSU President Eric Berlinberg agreed, saying that a gradual rise in usage is expected throughout the rest of the semester. He urged the objective is to do more than simply increase use among students.

“It is our goal to continue to provide an additional service to CSU students in an effort to keep them safe and have transportation options,” Berlinberg said.

The new program is a spin-off of CSU’s popular RamRide program, where volunteers give students a ride to their home or dorm, free of charge. Since it began, the weekend operation has serviced nearly 150,000 trips from downtown bars and house parties around the city.

And while the original service is popular among students, not everyone is convinced that RamRide Return will share the same success just yet.

Chloe Goodwin, a sophomore animal science major, said she could see how the program would be worth it if it gets enough use, but also added that many people walk to parties and may not need help to their cars.

“If it’s executed right, it could be really good,” she said. “It’s definitely possible. It will grow.”

Berlinberg said the new operation would continue as survey results are analyzed. Once the data is collected, an announcement will be made regarding the potential changes to the program.

Senior Reporter Jason Pohl can be reached at

First weekend

  • 37 people driven
  • 13 volunteers
  • Average wait time: three minutes
  • Operates between 8 a.m. and noon.
  • Contact RamRide at (970) 491-3333.
 Posted by at 5:19 pm

Penny Flats fire residents remember blaze days later

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Oct 312011
Authors: Sarah Fenton

It was around 3:30 a.m. on Monday Oct. 24 when junior journalism major Kathleen Ory awoke to a crisp, cracking noise and the smell of smoke. After several seconds of sleepy confusion, Ory realized she needed to act quickly — as far as she could see, the buildings around her were “engulfed by flames.”

Beyond getting herself, her cat and her car away from the Penny Flats fire, Ory said there wasn’t much to do but watch the flames with her neighbors from a safe distance away.

“After a few hours sitting there thinking how scary something like that is, it started hitting me,” Ory said. “It was pretty hard to see.”

It was in October of last year that Ory’s parents closed on the apartment and, according to her, it was only a few weeks before the fire that they were able to pay for the condo in full.

Although Penny Flats residents come from all walks of life, and have diverse personalities and interests, according to Ory, this fire brought them closer together.

And after a week of uncertainty and waiting, the group was able to assemble together Monday afternoon at the Penny Flats complex in order to retrieve some of the items they were forced to leave behind.

Sporting yellow and white construction helmets for safety, residents worked quickly to bring their belongings out from inside the building to the refuge of their cars.

However, because their apartment was on the fourth floor, Ory and her roommate Saira Taylor were only allowed to describe their items to professionals who could safely go up to the top floor to get them.

It wasn’t only residents of Penny Flats who banded together to support one another either. Community members who knew the displaced pitched in to support them.

Both Ory and Taylor are members of the CSU chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma and as such, according to sorority president Mary Butterfield, the entire Greek community has reached out to provide supplies like clothing, toiletries and food.

After finding out about the fire at around 8 a.m. Monday morning, the women of Kappa Kappa Gamma headed to the Foothills mall to purchase clothing and supplies to set up rooms for both Taylor and Ory.

“It was a whole Greek community support system that came through for them,” Butterfield said.

In addition to the Greek effort, seven local boutiques are holding an event to support the fire victims, in which proceeds from this week will go directly to the Penny Flats victims.

According to Avriel Agnello, local boutique owner, the fire affected both her customers and her friends, so holding this event for Penny Flats residents was her first instinct.

Collegian writer Sarah Fenton can be reached at

 Posted by at 5:17 pm

Occupy movement is largely secular

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Oct 312011
Authors: Mitchell Landsberg McClatchy-Tribune

LOS ANGELES — On a bright and raucous afternoon outside Los Angeles City Hall, Cornel West was revving up a crowd at Occupy L.A. As he often does, the prominent philosopher and activist peppered his speech with religious phrases, at one point calling for recognition of “our prophetic Mormon brothers and sisters,” as well as Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and “black Baptists like myself.”

The crowd gamely applauded. But the biggest roars came when West called out “the progressive agnostic and atheistic brothers and sisters” — a response that seemed to illuminate the largely secular underpinnings of the Occupy Wall Street movement and a challenge now facing the religious left.

There have been flashes of religious activism, even deeply religious moments, in the protest movement that has spread across the country this past month. Some have suggested that the Occupy camps themselves have some hallmarks of a religious movement, with their all-embracing idealism, daily rituals, focus on something larger than the self.

But as the recent incident involving West suggests, the movement also has served to point out not just the gulf between haves and have-nots in modern America, but between the religious right and not-so-religious left.

Through much of American history, religious forces have been at the forefront of progressive social movements, tugging at the nation’s conscience to end slavery, fight poverty and injustice, extend civil rights to African-Americans and end the war in Vietnam.

For more than 30 years, though, the energy in faith-based political activism has been mainly on the right, as conservative evangelicals and others have coalesced around opposition to abortion and to same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, more liberal religious denominations have experienced a loss of membership and what some see as the lack of a coherent social message.

“The problem is — and this is true of the religious left in more general terms — it’s so disorganized right now,” said Laura Olson, a political science professor at Clemson University who studies religious involvement in politics. “They have a difficult time articulating a message that’s as clear and bounded and digestible as what the religious right offers.”

Said Randall Balmer, a Columbia University professor who writes widely about evangelical conservatives: “I think part of it is the whole drift of the culture toward a more conservative direction. But I also think the religious left has lost its voice, has lost its nerve, is no longer articulating the principles in the New Testament.”

Some left-leaning religious groups see a golden opportunity in the Occupy movement, whose central message of greater economic equality resonates deeply among faith-based progressives.
“Our tradition and our scriptures are so clear that we’re supposed to take care of the poor, the widow, the orphan. … I think that is a rallying cry for faith communities that will unite us even when we have disagreements over other social issues,” said Jennifer Butler, executive director of Faith in Public Life, a progressive multifaith organization.

So far, though, Occupy is a predominantly secular undertaking.

“Where are the mainline Protestants? Where are the Quakers?” wondered John Green, director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron in Ohio and a longtime scholar of religion and politics. Although individuals from those groups are participating in the Occupy protests, “there’s been relatively little denominational involvement,” Green said.

That appears especially so in Los Angeles, where the primary signs of spirituality at the protest site have been a meditation tent and a sukkah, a temporary structure observant Jews use for dining during the harvest

 Posted by at 5:13 pm

Ram Talk 11/01/11

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Oct 312011
Authors: compiled by Greg Mees

To RamsHorn, you need to figure out your automatic sliding doors if it allowed a squirrel to get into the dining hall.

I can’t tell if some people are dressed in Halloween costumes, or if that is how they look everyday.

Batman just walked into my class late. The professor asked him if the batmobile wouldn’t start. He said yeah that jet engine doesnt like this cold.

You know you aren’t quite ready to face the day when you step into the shower with your socks on.

 Posted by at 5:12 pm

Pres. Obama acts alone with election looming

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Oct 312011
Authors: Lesley Clark McClatchy-Tribune

WASHINGTON — Declaring that Republicans in Congress will block almost every initiative that has his name on it, President Barack Obama is going around them.

Under the banner of “We Can’t Wait,” the president on Monday rolled out his latest solo act: directing the Food and Drug Administration to beef up efforts to prevent prescription drug shortages, an issue that lawmakers have been debating but haven’t resolved.

“It is the belief of this administration … that we can’t wait for action on the Hill,” Obama said from the Oval Office as he signed an executive order that calls on the FDA to work with the Justice Department to determine whether there’s been price gouging or stockpiling of medication. “We’ve got to go ahead and move forward.”

The executive order is the latest in a series of measures that the president has championed in the past week, including easing repayment terms for student loans, incentives to encourage jobs for veterans and help for mortgage holders who owe more than their homes are now worth.

Administration officials say they expect more: Obama himself told a crowd last week at the University of Colorado in Denver that his administration will “look every single day to figure out what we can do, without Congress.”

“We can’t wait for Congress to do its job, so where they won’t act, I will.”

Strategists said the moves, which come as the president’s $447 billion jobs package remains stalled in Congress, gave the chief executive the opportunity to present himself as the executive in charge. He wants to be seen as working to improve the economy, despite an obstinate Congress.

Republicans say he’d be better off working with them, and they accuse him of giving up on talks about ways to improve the economy to take to the campaign field instead and bash the opposition.

“If the president’s serious, he ought to be up here working with us to find common ground to solve issues that the American people want us to solve,” House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said in an interview last week with conservative radio commentator Laura Ingraham, noting that “this idea that you are just going to go around the Congress is almost laughable.”

Boehner noted that Obama can take some steps without congressional authorization but added,
“We’re keeping a very close eye on the administration to make sure they are following the law and following the Constitution.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney called the criticism misplaced, saying the president is acting “well within his constitutional authority.”

“These are all measures he can take administratively, and he will continue to take them,” Carney said, suggesting that if Boehner is concerned, he can take up Obama’s job package.

The president isn’t abandoning the jobs plan. He’s scheduled to deliver remarks Wednesday before a bridge in Washington that the White House says needs repairs and could benefit from a provision in the measure that calls for putting construction workers back to work by spending on public works projects.

Analysts say that without Congress, which has the primary power over taxes and spending, there’s little Obama can do unilaterally to move the needle on job creation. But he can work on his image.

 Posted by at 5:11 pm

Saving options for your children's future education in high-debt times

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Oct 312011
Authors: Claudia Buck McClatchy-Tribune

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With three school-age daughters, Rob Lindgren, a stay-at-home dad whose wife is a Sacramento State University professor, is sure that all his kids will attend college someday.

But how to pay for it? That’s not quite so clear.

A decade ago, the couple opened an investment account for their oldest daughter, Bonnie, who’s now 15, but it got beat up by the stock market’s slump in 2000-01. They still have the account, but “when things went south, it was pretty discouraging.”

The Lindgrens are now motivated to get going again. “Tuition and fees are rapidly increasing, loan rates are increasing. … We need to set aside some money to address those future costs,” said Lindgren.

That’s what officials at California’s ScholarShare program like to hear. As the state’s official 529 college savings plan, a ScholarShare investment account offers tax-free savings, as long as the money is spent on higher education costs.

Run by the California Treasurer’s Office, ScholarShare is one of 117 state-sponsored 529 plans nationwide.

“It’s like a 401(k) for college savings,” said Brian Aguilar, a staff analyst in the California Treasurer’s Office, who recently discussed 529s with families at the downtown Sacramento Public Library.
“There’s no tax on the interest earned, so you could have a sizable pot of money when your child is ready to go to college,” he noted.

In most cases, you don’t have to be a resident to purchase that state’s plan. And it doesn’t matter where you live or where your student goes to college. You can live in California, have a 529 plan in Colorado and apply it to your kid’s college in Connecticut.

You don’t have to be a parent or grandparent, either. You can open a 529 for a friend’s child or a niece or nephew, or even for yourself.

You choose the type of investments for your contributions. Some, for instance, are “age-based” funds based on how many years until your child turns 18 and starts college. In younger years, the funds are more heavily weighted in stocks. They shift to more conservative investments as a child nears college age.

Accounts are managed by investment funds like Fidelity, Schwab, TIAACREF and Vanguard. As with any investment, there are no guaranteed rates of return. According to, the five-year returns for 529 plans averaged 3.3 percent.

California’s ScholarShare program wants to boost participation beyond its current 277,000 accouwnt holders. To that end, it recently announced several changes. As of Nov. 7, it’s switching fund managers from Fidelity to TIAACREF, part of a routine five-year contract evaluation. All existing accounts will be seamlessly transferred, says ScholarShare, which anticipates more investment options, a bigger marketing budget and larger returns under its new manager.

California also is dropping its second, but considerably smaller, 529 plan, which was sold only through brokers and financial advisers.

John Chan, a retired Sacramento County employee, opened separate 529 plans several years ago for each of his four grandchildren, now ages 8 to 16. He and his wife were motivated by the escalating cost of college tuition.

“If we can help our grandchildren bypass having to take out (college loans), it’ll be so much easier for them — and their parents,” said Chan.

In the past decade, tuition and fees at four-year public universities increased by an average of 5.6 percent a year, according to College Board statistics.

Financial planners say 529s can be a terrific tool for college savings. Cynthia Meyers, a certified financial planner in Sacramento, says the key is selecting a plan “with a good variety of diversified investment choices … and one with consistently low expense ratios.”

Under ScholarShare’s new TIAACREF manager, fees are projected to range between 0.18 and 0.62 percent, considerably lower than now.

And 529 plans have some advantages over other types of college savings vehicles, Meyers said.

Unlike a Uniform Gift to Minors (UGMA) account, where a child has access to the money at age 18 or 21, a 529 stays in the account holder’s name and control. And if your child doesn’t attend college and you want to take the money back, the penalties and taxes apply only to the earnings, not the full amount withdrawn.

Because 529s are held in a parent’s or adult’s name, not the student’s, they also have less impact on financial aid eligibility, according to, the nonprofit clearinghouse on college savings.

On federal financial aid forms, a parent’s asset, such as a 529, is assessed at a far lower rate than those in a child’s name. That gives 529s an advantage over other types of college savings, including UGMAs.

You can compare 529 plans at websites such as and

 Posted by at 5:09 pm

Herman Cain refutes sexual harassment allegations

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Oct 312011
Authors: David Goldstein McClatchy-Tribune

WASHINGTON — Suddenly beset by allegations of sexual harassment, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain on Monday labeled the accusations a “witch hunt” and insisted that they were “totally false.”

“In all my over 40 years of business experience, I have never sexually harassed anyone,” Cain said during a speech at the National Press Club in Washington.

The story of the allegations surfaced Sunday night in Politico, a Capitol Hill newspaper, and underscored the topsy-turvy nature of the campaign.

Just the day before, a new poll in Iowa, site of the first Republican caucus on Jan. 3, put the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO atop the presidential field with 23 percent of the vote. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney followed at 22 percent.

But the latest story threatened to possibly slow Cain’s momentum. According to Politico, in the 1990s, while Cain was chief executive officer of the National Restaurant Association, two women accused him of sexually aggressive behavior.

Politico said that the women left the association after reaching financial settlements with the group. The association, a trade group for the restaurant industry, has refused to discuss the issue.

After several early, arms-length attempts by Cain and his campaign to respond to the allegations, he confronted the issue head-on Monday, first in a morning television interview on Fox News Channel, and then at the press club.

 Posted by at 5:06 pm

Snow-damaged trees in Colorado State Oval expected to recover

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Oct 312011
Authors: Emily Horn

If you’ve gone to any of your classes in the past few days, you have probably had to dodge the mess of tree branches covering walkways after the Oct. 26 snowfall that took its toll on campus foliage.

And, while the damage has left some questions about the health of campus trees, most of them will recover.

“Broken branches usually don’t lead to problems for trees unless the open wounds allow some disease to get a foothold,” said Dan Binkley, a professor of forest ecology at CSU.

The future of the trees depends mostly on how many branches were lost and how old the trees are.

“If the tree has lost one or two small branches it will not affect the overall health of the tree,” said William Jacobi, a professor of tree pathology and extension specialist. “If the tree has lost over 50 percent of the branches, then the tree will be stressed and will struggle for a few years. But since we are irrigating most trees in Fort Collins, the trees should respond well over the next year or two.”

If larger limbs are broken from the tree, it will be more difficult for the tree to recover than if smaller branches are lost. The most hopeless case occurs when there is basically nothing left but the trunk. In these cases there is not enough foliage for the tree to make it through another growing season.

“The broken stub of the branch, if not pruned back to a major fork, will provide a great place for decay fungi to enter the tree and may cause structural weakness in the future,” Jacobi said. “So it is a great idea to prune the broken branches and have this done correctly.”

The grounds department of facilities management is in charge of cleaning up the trees and clearing the fallen branches, under the direction of a professional arborist.

Currently CSU has four arborist crews working around campus.

“Each crew has at least one ground worker and one aerial lift worker,” said assistant director of facilities management Fred Haberecht. “We have one crew from CSU, one from Jordan’s Tree Service, and two from Swingle.”

All of the fallen branches are temporarily being taken to the conference services building on Shields and Laurel Streets where they will be chipped and used as mulch around campus.

“Some of the trees on the Oval are over 100 years old and have gone through this sort of episode before,” Haberecht said, adding that the removal of branches is anticipated to take the entire month of November.

_Collegian writer Emily Horn can be reached at _

 Posted by at 5:05 pm

Safe Walk and RamRide programs help CSU students in the snow

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Oct 312011
Authors: Erik Carman

As temperatures decline and snow begins to fall, more Rams need rides, leading to an increase in calls to ASCSU’s sober drive program. But whether they are able to answer these calls, said RamRide’s deputy director of nightly operations Kirk Easton, is contingent on the weather.

“We keep an eye on it,” Easton said, adding that they regularly radio vehicles after each drop to monitor weather conditions.

If a single RamRide vehicle spins out, or if there is a white out, all 19 vehicles will be called back, Easton added.

“Our drivers are volunteers,” he said. “And we can’t risk putting their lives in danger.”

And, while RamRide’s operations are contingent on road safety, there is one transportation service on campus that will run no matter what — the CSUPD Safe Walk program.

Lt. Chris Wolf, a 20-year veteran of CSUPD, remembers when he oversaw Safe Walk during its inception in 1993.

“In the past 20 years we’ve only shut down Safe Walk services two or three times,” Wolf said.
However, unlike RamRide, if Safe Walk goes down, police officers will take up the task and help transport students through the hazardous conditions.

“We will do our best to accommodate the students,” Wolf stated “Whether that be with the CSO’s (campus service officer) or our police officers.”

This year, Safe Walk will be using a Jeep solely to help transport students in the evening.

According to Easton, RamRide’s vehicles have nearly doubled in the past couple years, so students needing transportation this winter season won’t need to wait more than an hour, granted the roads aren’t “too icy.”

Collegian writer Erik Carman can be reached at news@collegian.

Safe Walk/RamRide services

  • RamRide now has 19 vehicles, nearly double what they had three years ago.
  • Students can use RamRide from 10 p.m. – 2 a.m during the week, and until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
  • If RamRide shuts down due to weather conditions, students may call Safe Walk if they need transportation near campus.
  • Police officers can help transport students if weather becomes too harsh for CSO’s to drive in.
  • Safe Walk has stopped its services only a couple times in the past 20 years, in which case police officers were called.
  • RamRide monitors changing weather conditions and plans their services accordingly.
 Posted by at 5:01 pm