Why are so many college students enthralled by Bernie Sander’s push towards a socialist economy?

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The American flag waves in the wind at the University of Denver [Photo by Palmer McGraw]

Denver, CO– November 8, 2016, will mark the 58th quadrennial U.S. presidential election which will determine who will be the 45th president of the United States. Currently Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are running neck and neck to win the Democratic nomination. However, unlike candidates in the past, Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist, a political ideology frightening to some and appealing to others.

Currently Sanders has been deemed a popular candidate especially amongst Millennials, and a recent poll found that 58% of young people would choose socialism over capitalism. However, it is unclear if Millennials, who did not live through the Cold War and witness the collapse of Soviet Russia, truly understand what Socialism is and the potential implications it could have on America’s capitalist economy.

The United States is a representative democracy, which grants the people the right to elect representatives to speak for the interests of the voters. Two major parties dominate the United States; those being the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, and both parties hold differing beliefs on tax policies, social issues, health care, labor and free trade, education, and capital punishment. Republicans are known for being capitalists, wanting less government and free trade without strict regulation; while Democrats are known as being more toward the socialist end of the spectrum, due to wanting more government control and further regulations on trade.

Capitalism as a form of government advocates for free market and free trade. On the other end of the spectrum is socialism, which is a system where all property is controlled by a small group of individuals, in this case the government. They determine what the common good will is. Democratic socialism on the other hand is more in line with the political systems seen in Europe, in countries such as Scandinavia where there is more governmental control in terms of creating financial equality, but there is a higher happiness index because their citizens are not competitively profit driven like they are in the U.S.

Sanders, a democratic socialist, has pushed for policies such as free college, single-payer health care, wealth redistribution, minimum wage increase, increased estate tax, expanding social security through tax increases, and curtailing free speech. After hearing some of these proposed policies, for a Millennial, it would be hard not to vote for Sanders, given the amount of student debt in our country. Even more distressing is the fact that many recent college graduates are knee deep in debt and finding it increasingly more difficult to find jobs. Tuition rates are getting higher and higher every year, and economists have noted the price tag is rising past the point of inflation.

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Kristy Bassuener’s experience as a public relations professional

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Kristy Bassuener, Director of Communication and Public Affairs at the Denver Art Museum, poses inside Mad Greens, directly across from the Hamilton wing of the Denver Art Museum [Photo by Palmer McGraw]

Denver, CO– Kristy Bassuener, born and raised in Naples Florida, moved to Colorado after graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in Comparative Literature and Environmental Policies. She then explored a multitude of various media fields such as newswriting for the Colorado Springs Gazette and PR for a Uranium Company. Currently, she serves as the Director of Communication and Public Affairs for the Denver Art Museum, where she has been working for the past nine years.

As Director of Communication Bassuener’s responsibilities include managing not only the public relations team but also the social media team. The director is responsible for maintaining and developing the organization’s reputation and ensuring that the organization is viewed as esteemed, satisfactory, and dependable. The director is also responsible for handling press releases, contacting media personal for interviews, developing brand initiatives, pitching announcements and strategies, featuring the organization on multiple media platforms, and launching marketing campaigns to the public. Bassuener represents the public image of the Denver Art Museum, and she explained how her role as PR and Communication Director is vital to business and growth.

PR agencies vary substantially in terms of company size, salaries offered, turnover rate, and experience requirements. The Denver Art Museum is a nonprofit organization, meaning that their payroll is substantially smaller than a for-profit PR agency or firm. Additionally, their team is much smaller, having only four employees. She explained that an entry-level PR job for a nonprofit typically pays low to mid $30,000 while an entry-level corporate job pays slightly higher in the low to mid $40,000. However she also touched on the importance of perspective, saying that employers understand that salary is negotiable to a certain extent.

“You have to demonstrate your value. No one owes you a job, and if you can demonstrate how you are the right person to get them where they need to be, you have the ability to try and negotiate, respectfully, a higher salary,” stated Bassuener.

When asked about her typical hours, Bassuener explained, “It’s whenever you have to work. My job is to get the job done, and if I need to go to the doctor’s, I can do that, but I still have to finish the job. If I’m up at 4 a.m. doing work, that happens; if I’m here on-site for an event or work, that happens; or evening events, that happens. I mean, it all evens out, but it depends on who you work for. If working for a very super corporate 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. type of place or a government agency, you might have more normal hours; but when you’re doing a public facing institution, like the Art Museum, your hours are not concrete. Once you get to a point when you’re a leader, you have to lead no matter what time it is—you still have to get the job done.”

Unsure of what to do post-college, Bassuener moved to Aspen right after graduation and lived there for three years, skiing and hoping to become inspired by the mystique and appeal of Colorado. She also wanted to find a future career she was interested in. Eventually, she decided she wanted to become a reporter for the Aspen Times; however, since she did not have a degree in Journalism or Communication, she decided it would be in her best interest to pursue a Communication degree from CU Boulder. After passing her GRE, she went to work as a legislative news reporter for the Colorado Springs Gazette. During that time, working as a reporter, she found that, although news was interesting, she was far more intrigued by the PR realm of media communications, specifically a PR professional’s capability to influence how people think and make decisions about the world around them.

Following her time writing for the Gazette, she wrote for a local magazine but was laid off in 2008 due to the hard-hitting recession. However, Bassuener used this unfortunate occurrence to her advantage by grabbing the bull by the horns and delving into a new profession, PR. Such a career transition would allow her to implement and synthesize her Communication degree. She eventually found work at an agency that hired former news reporters, a strategic move for this agency. They knew news reporters understand not only the media but also the appropriate and effective ways to convince reporters and producers that their messages are attention-worthy. Such crucial and appealing skills landed Bassuener a job working five years for the small, local PR agency, but then a new opportunity was presented to her, an opening at the Denver Art Museum.

Bassuener studied art history for a semester in Florence and enjoyed art immensely; therefore, the opportunity to work at an art museum as a Communication and PR Director was appealing. Bassuener found that although her past PR experiences were monumental in shaping her as a PR professional, and despite loving the diverse work she was doing, it was at times challenging for her to separate her personal feelings from her work. For example, it was difficult when certain clients and their messages did not align with her beliefs. The opportunity to work at the Denver Art Museum was exciting as it offered her a place where she would never have a conflict of interest.

Having worked in PR/Communication for such a substantial amount of time, Bassuener had some interesting and valuable insight into important skills required of a prospective worker.

“Naturally, I am a big talker, but the longer I’ve been in PR and the more experience I have gotten have taught me that listening is the most valuable skill. For me it’s more of a learned skill, especially when you’re talking to a client, there is no way you can say the right things to them if you can’t really understand what they want, what they do, what their hopes and fears are, what their worst-case scenario is, and what we can do to ultimately succeed together,” said Bassuener.

Bassuener is optimistic about the future employment outlook for the field. She believes the general PR field will undoubtedly change and evolve to our technologically evolving world, and she has already noticed a substantial difference in the way people obtain information from when she initially started out in PR. She doesn’t believe the change is a bad thing. As long as prospective workers are aware and accustomed to developing trends and technology, there will always be a need for PR and Communication professionals.

Davide Papotti visits from Italy

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Dr. Davide Papotti speaks about the geographic and political state of Italy in Lindsay Auditorium, Sturm Hall [Photo by: Palmer McGraw]

Denver, C.O. – Dr. Davide Papotti visited the University of Denver Tuesday, May 10, 2016 to give a lecture on the history of Italy, negotiating historical heritage, and current political challenges.

Dr. Papotti is a professor of geography in the Humanities School at the Universita Degli Studi di Parma located in Parma, Italy. His specific areas of study are Italian geography, the relationship of geography and literature, and the immigration and multiculturalism in Italy. Some of his impressive accomplishments include publishing 70 scientific articles and being part of the research group Projects of National Relevance funded by the Ministry of Education (PRIN). With PRIN he has researched Italian immigration, multiculturalism, and local development. Continue reading

Illenium hits the stage at Denver’s Gothic Theatre



Illenium preforming his set with the beams of colored lights and lasers at the Gothic Theatre [Photo by: Palmer McGraw]

Denver, C.O.– The fraternity Sigma Chi from the University of Denver hosted a concert Saturday, April 31, 2016 at the Gothic Theatre located on 3263 S. Broadway.

The headline performer, Nick Miller, otherwise known as Illenium, is a Denver-based music producer who remixes various electronic and dance music songs. Additionally, the show’s opener was Trevor Christensen, another Denver-based music producer with a similar style to Illenium. Christensen markets his music under the name “Said the Sky” and is currently touring with Miller.

The theme of the event was “Bright and Tight”, and it was open to all DU students. Upon entering the venue, the sea of vibrant, bright colors immediately overwhelmed me. I watched as the cheerful and excited audience members forcibly tried to make their way to the front of the stage, desiring a closer look at the talented DJ. Illenium stood at the center of the stage surrounded by fancy DJ equipment and a MacBook laptop. Behind him was a huge screen that synched his creations to changing laser beam colors and designs. The visuals had the appeal of an elaborate and complex screen saver, and the audience was transfixed. The mix between the music and the visual display created a sensational experience that was not only visually appealing but also tantalizing.

Michael Gooch, a senior at the University of Denver, had not heard of Illenium or Said the Sky prior to the concert. Gooch was obviously enjoying himself, for he had a big smile on his face and a T-shirt drenched in sweat from dancing.

Gooch stated, “ I really like Illenium’s songs. They are so unique and captivating! I am so surprised I have never heard of him before, but I’m definitely going to download “Fortress (Ft. Joni Fatora)” and “Don’t Let Me Down” when I get home.”

As the music progressed the crowd became more and more roused and mesmerized by the captivating music; however, several students took breaks from the show to get drinks from the bars. The Gothic Theater has two bars: one upstairs and another downstairs. The ground floor was standing room only, and the majority of the audience stood throughout the performance. The upstairs balcony offered some seats for attendees to use if they wanted to rest their tired legs. As I peered down from the top floor, I saw a sea of bright LED phone screens held up by eager audience members hoping to document their night and the unique performance.

The theatre, which has a capacity of just over 1,000 people, was crammed like a full Subway car during June’s sweltering heat in New York City. Denver was experiencing one of its freak spring snowstorms, so upon entering the theater from the winter scene outside, an audience member was met with a humid wall of Pabst Blue Ribbon scented air slightly tinged with body odor. When looking down from the balcony above, concertgoers moved like a human Tetris game, building toward Illenium.

Miller was dressed in a black short-sleeved shirt and wore a black flat-rimmed hat backwards. He began his set at 11:30 p.m., following Said the Sky’s performance. Miller created a trance-like ambiance via colored laser lights that danced from the stage into the crowd.

Illenium and Said the Sky are continuing their tour throughout the U.S. and will be back in Colorado on September 24, 2016 to preform at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Overall, I would recommend Illenium. If you missed the performance at the Gothic, definitely see Miller at Red Rocks in September. His melodic compositions and complex light show against the backdrop of the bold, red stones and natural environment can only work magic on concertgoers this fall.


Is Denver really the No. 1 city in the U.S.?



Recently U.S. News and World Report compared and scored U.S. cities in terms of job market, quality of life, affordability, and overall interest in the city as a residence. Denver, Colorado received a 7.8 out of 10 rating, making it 2016’s No. 1 city in the U.S. However this ranking is debated amongst Denver inhabitants.

The Forbes article “Best States for Business” published in 2015 recognized Denver as No. 5 in the United States. Denver’s work opportunities have grown immensely over the years as various companies and startups have originated and moved here due to the labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, and growth prospects. Continue reading