Letters to the Editor
April marked the launch of the Aspen Mentorship and Community Networking Program. At our kickoff event we formed more than 35 mentor/mentee relationships. We formed the program based on feedback from young Aspen area residents that they wanted professional mentors.
It is time to grow this program! Our second event will be at the Limelight Hotel from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. We welcome existing program members and encourage others, mentors and mentees, who are interested to attend as well.Learn more »
I read your Vietnam commentary (“Getting perspective in Vietnam,” Nov. 20). I recently traveled to Vietnam, which changed my perspective on the Vietnam War forever.Learn more »
A caring community
On Friday, Nov. 22, I was involved in an accident on Maroon Creek bridge. I would like to thank the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus driver for doing all that he could to protect the other drivers and myself. Without his quick and responsive maneuvering there would certainly have been more injuries.Learn more »
A lose-lose situation?
In the 10-plus year history of snow polo in Aspen, the event has proven the following:Learn more »
People deserve say in Thompson Divide
I’m writing in response to the recent articles in the Glenwood Post and Aspen Times about drilling in the Thompson Divide.Learn more »
A survey for more than $24,000 to find out how Aspen feels about Aspen?
Here’s an idea: Spend a lot less, serve free beer at Little Annie’s, and see who shows up to give you a piece of their mind. Wait till offseason and after working hours. Believe me — you’ll see a whole different demographic from the sitzers in the council chamber.Learn more »
I wanted to publicly thank the Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District for its exemplary approach to traversing a right of way over our property at 81 Herron Hollow.
Apparently, a clogged sanitation line required the use of heavy equipment to travel back and forth over a 75-yard finished and well-manicured portion of our property to repair the blockage. The Sanitation District had hired Western Slope Utilities, which in turn had hired Aspen Digger to do the actual work. I met John Sprauer, of Western Slope, and Franz Stone and Jeff Mosbarger, from Aspen Digger, along with their helpers.Learn more »
In response to the letter “Have more compassion for polo ponies” (The Aspen Times, Nov. 25):
I am the attending veterinarian for the Aspen Valley Polo Club and will be in attendance for the snow-polo event this year. My responsibilities at the event will include pre-game health and soundness exams and post-game health and soundness exams, and in the event of an equine emergency, I will be fieldside to organize, diagnose and treat any injury suffered by the polo ponies. A treatment tent will be available in case any polo pony requires treatment on the field prior to transport.Learn more »
This Thanksgiving, I am 2,000 miles away from my family and friends, but I am extremely thankful to be spending the holiday in Colorado. I moved from Connecticut to Denver just over two weeks ago, a college graduate in search of adventure and in search of a connection with the environmental presence in this thriving city. Not only did I hope to find a job, but also I hoped to explore national forests and parks that I never before had access to. The White River National Forest, Mesa Verde National Park and Dinosaur National Monument all existed to me previously only in photographs, and I am thankful that at this time in my life I have the chance to explore them. I know, however, that these amazing places are at risk of being fracked. Coloradans have reason to be so proud of their unique landscape, a landscape that beckons people from all over America to come experience. Locals and travelers alike need to know that wild places are out there waiting for them, forever free of views of oil- and gas-drilling rigs, roads and well pads. Colorado’s national parks and forests provide countless tourism and recreation opportunities, nourish rivers and streams that provide drinking water, and protect native wildlife. These are places where fracking does not belong, and we need to urge Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall to pressure the federal government to protect our national parks and forests permanently from drilling. Permanent protection of these places will provide peace of mind that all of Colorado will be thankful for every day of the year.
Kristen StearnsLearn more »
In reference to Andy Stone’s commentary of Nov. 27 (“Drug and animal abuse”), anyone wishing to know how my father, Stuart Mace, felt about and treated his huskies, please log on to my website at www.toklatgallery.com and click on the “Mace family legacy” page. You will find three streaming videos, one of which is a 1974 episode of “Bill Moyers Journal,” “Living Free in the Rockies.” There is also a book titled “Soldiers and Sled Dogs,” written by Charles Dean and published by University of Nebraska Press in 2004. It has details about my father and the Canine Corps Air Search and Rescue missions during World War II.
Lynne Pfrimmer MaceLearn more »
A book sale at the Basalt Library is set for Dec. 6 through 8. Please join us. All funds go to the library and to the Basalt Summer Concert Series, Youth Services, Outreach and Tech Services (where you can learn stuff like how to download audio books). Last year the Friends of the Basalt Library raised more than $10,000 just from selling used books for 50 cents to $2 at the library bookstore and book sale.
We have gift certificates for any amount at the bookstore for sale now and at the book sale. They make great stocking stuffers. There will be fun to be had. Please join us for a painless way (great books cheap) to support your Basalt Library. Friday and Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday hours are 12 to 5 p.m.Learn more »
Letter: The truth about Woody Creek post officeNovember 28, 2013 —
I am writing in response to the opinion piece penned by Margaret Reckling and published in The Aspen Times (“Woody Creek’s character is at stake,” Nov. 14). Needless to say, we were surprised and dismayed by the lack of fact regarding the comments Reckling shared about the local Woody Creek post office.
None of the claims is accurate, and Reckling fanned quite a bit of fear in the community about the future of its post office based on faulty or nonexistent fact-gathering.
Here’s the truth:
We are not shutting down the post office.
The ZIP code is not being discontinued.
Customers will not have to go to Basalt to pick up their mail.
The postmaster is not being pressured to transfer to Snowmass.
We are in the process of adjusting the hours at about 13,000 post offices across the country. Many small offices — like Woody Creek — don’t have enough revenue, mail or work to justify an eight-hour retail presence. Yet we still are committed to these towns and will continue our presence there, just at reduced hours.
Specifically for Woody Creek, we haven’t started the process. So there are no specified hour proposals, implementation dates or other information, and this information won’t likely be available until late next year. At that point, we’ll fully inform and involve the public in any potential changes.
We are grateful for our customers and our fine employees who deliver superior services to offices large and small throughout the area.
U.S. Postal Service
Letter: Museum doesn’t fitNovember 28, 2013 —
Editor’s note: The following letter originally was sent to Denver Post fine arts critic Ray Mark Rinaldi in reference to his article “Architecture: Across the U.S., the box is back in museum design” from the Nov. 17 edition of The Denver Post.
Your article concerning architecture was informative and interesting.
It is disappointing that you do not understand from an architectural perspective the community I have lived in since 1972. In reference to the Aspen Art Museum, you state that it “fits with its urban streetscape.”
To say that your statement is far from the truth is an understatement. The new Aspen Art Museum is out of context, out of character with the community, offensive and outrageous.
I hope you have the opportunity to visit Aspen in the future and come to understand the true character of our town.
Letter: The Good SamaritanNovember 26, 2013 —
Her name is Ruth Hostetler, administrative assistant for Pitkin County’s Senior Services Department at Whitcomb Terrace.
She called to tell us she had picked up the black cloth bag I had inadvertently kicked out the door of the passenger side late yesterday afternoon outside a local bank. We got together at the Terrace for me to thank her abundantly.
You may first ask why I kicked a bag out of the car which contained our just picked up mail at the post office? When you’re 82, as I am, you may understand that you, too, may become bewitched, bothered and befuddled, as my wonderful wife describes me.
I realized when we returned home what I had done. Calls to the police department, a credit card company, the local bank and Carl’s, where we had gone next, were fruitless. Everyone was friendly and understanding. I was anxious, going to bed and waking up.
Hopefully, I’ll find a way to pass forward, as we now say, the caring and kindness Ruth showed to us. When I hung up the phone with Ruth, my wife said, “that’s why we live here.”
Hugh S. Glickstein
Letter: No new taxes?November 26, 2013 —
This has always been popular rhetoric with taxpayers, no matter where they reside. We recently voted “no” to new taxes to benefit our children in the public school system. We OK’d taxes on pot, taxes that we figured only the fringe element of society would be impacted by and would benefit our children in the public schools. The majority of us voted “no” on a tax measure that covers the cost for fire and emergency services in the Carbondale Fire District. Now I must admit the measure was perhaps presented poorly to the public, and it may have had a better chance of passing had it included a sunset clause like the one presented and passed two years ago. I propose to the roughly 40 percent of the voting public that was in favor of the tax assessment to rise to the occasion and pay the tax voluntarily. I realize this is not how we generally operate when it comes to taxes, but it is legal. We can still deduct our “contribution” the same as other itemized deductions.
The fire district is in a precarious situation, having to create a budget with significantly reduced revenue. The proposed recommendation does not eliminate these problems for the fire district. It will not be able to account for these pledges, it will not be able to send friendly reminders to the public and it will be able to include the money in the budget only after it is received.
We who recognize the value of this public service can show our support proactively by contributing our portion of the tax.
Hopefully by the next election cycle the public will be better informed about the services provided by the fire district and the impact of revenue loss, and a better proposition will be presented that is more sensitive to the public’s concern for additional taxes.
Instead of just sitting back and enjoying no increase on our tax bill, we have the opportunity to think about what is best for the community. We have the freedom to support a public service we all depend upon.
Thomas J. Flynn
Letter: As good as they’re going to getNovember 26, 2013 —
Isn’t it about time for America to wake up, get together and remove the entrenched political professionals who have reached the Peter Principle stage of their careers?
It is way past time to remove these career politicians at every level of government!
Letter: Clamoring for cheap laborNovember 25, 2013 —
Clamoring for cheap labor
I read where industry reps are howling for immigration reform. Translation: The fat cats can’t get enough cheap scab labor. The greed buckets don’t really give a damn about human rights; they want to put more money in their pockets by screwing legal, American workers.
They blather about what is “right for America,” and all they care about is increasing profits. Upvalley gets cheap scab labor, and downvalley gets the cost of educating their anchor babies.
All those industry reps & Aspen fat cats are so transparently hypocritical and self-serving, it’s sickening.
Letter: A great dinner for new arrivalsNovember 25, 2013 —
A great dinner for new arrivals
I am writing to express my gratitude to the Aspen Education Foundation for providing the funds for Aspen High School’s English Language Learner Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov. 20. The purpose of the event was to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for students who have recently arrived in the United States. Aspen is very fortunate to have an organization like the Aspen Education Foundation to enrich our community. A special thank-you to everyone who made this event a success and to all those who have donated and continue to donate to this amazing organization!
English Language Learner teacher, Aspen High School
Letter: Have more compassion for polo poniesNovember 25, 2013 —
A few years ago I attended the annual polo event in Aspen. It was the first time I had ever attended a polo match, and I was not impressed. The experience led me to write to your paper at that time. I witnessed a serious accident with one of the horses, resulting in appalling pain and distress to that animal. It was forced to its feet and goaded into a horse trailer falling repeatedly in the process. The still-stumbling horse within the trailer then left the venue with what was presumably a broken leg. We were led to believe that it was later put down. The point of my letter was to complain that there was apparently no veterinary surgeon on duty. The claim was not denied in the response to my letter. I vowed never again to attend a polo event.
For the benefit of those who do wish to support this well-advertised, forthcoming event, would the organizers please assure us that there will be a veterinary surgeon on hand throughout the tournament who, with the aid of a tent that can be quickly erected around any stricken animal, can euthanize it immediately on the field, if appropriate, putting the poor creature out of its misery?
Letter: Set rules for grow operationsNovember 25, 2013 —
Editor’s note: This letter originally was sent to the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners.
First, thank you for the apparent thoroughness of your research prior to making a decision regarding the Radtke application for a variance from the allowed 5,000 square feet of greenhouse to 19,000 in Phase 1, with an additional 19,000 square feet that may be requested in the future.
The size of this project is really quite stunning for our peaceful little Snowmass Canyon neighborhood. When the four-laning of Highway 82 was in the works, three alternatives were on the table. One was to move all four lanes to this side of the river, desirable because the sun is over here longer in the winter. What saved us? The wildlife, the bikers and the decision by the then-county commissioners to retain the bucolic nature of this small valley for wildlife, bikers and the rest of us.
I hope that you current commissioners would see the wisdom of that somewhat emotional decision on their part back then. In fact, it has been a hallmark of Pitkin County for decades to not mar the Highway 82 corridor and to maintain our “green belt.” With the exception of the Aspen Business Center and the airport, this idea has been accomplished.
To now consider this monster-sized proposal would contradict everything that has been so carefully preserved over many decades. This new industry is coming at all of us fast and furiously. If a precedent is set by approving this variance for our small neighborhood, I believe you will have opened the proverbial Pandora’s box.
You are being watched. And the growers are lining up. Time to set the appropriate rules and zoning in place for these types of operations before all is torn asunder. Needless to say, I would like to see a permanent moratorium banning such operations from small neighborhoods such as ours. If growers are directed to commercially zoned areas, they could easily build their greenhouses and have the infrastructure and parking they require without intruding on others. All that’s needed is a guide. You are the ones to write and provide that guide.
Letter: New season for basketballNovember 25, 2013 —
On Saturday, the Skiers boys basketball teams kick off with all-day scrimmages starting at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The Skiers would love to see everyone there, so please come out and support your Aspen Skiers. Entry prices are $4 for students, $5 adults, $3 for senior citizens and free for Booster Club members. Please, no air horns or noisemakers of any sorts.
Go, Skiers! Hope to see everyone there.
Letter: Burden of the youthNovember 25, 2013 —
In the Op-Ed “An unfair burden for our young citizens” (The Aspen Times, Nov. 7), the writer offers the notion that “explosive growth of the federal government … is hurting the young.” The writer claims that the growth of government requires an increase in taxes and that it will be today’s young who will have to pay the bill. “It is morally wrong to saddle future generations with that burden.”
Unfortunately, the author has missed a number of significant trends. Partly due to the “sequestration” agreement now restraining federal expenditures, the federal budget is declining in many areas. Budgets have been decreased for Head Start that effectively prepares disadvantaged children to enter the school system. Children’s lunch subsidies have been reduced. Many children have insufficient food at home and count on meals at school. Food-stamp expenditures have been reduced, which means many families will have less food on the table. (Wal-Mart employees, due to their low wages, are some of the biggest users of food stamps.) In part, due to federal government policies that encourage outsourcing, millions of jobs have gone overseas. Where young people traditionally worked the fast-food restaurants, the trend is now to see their parents in these jobs. Due to cutbacks in funds for education, the quality of education in many areas of the country has declined. Kids are struggling to get the education they need. Those kids who do graduate are incurring massive debts to obtain higher education. The interest-rate caps on these debts were increased by federal actions.
In fact, the government is shrinking, in relative terms. The current annual federal budget deficit is lower as a percentage of our gross domestic product than it has been in several years. That change is happening in part because of policies that are actually hurting today’s children. Not getting a good start means having a very tough future. I’d say that is morally wrong. These children will not be paying the future tax “burden;” they won’t be making enough to pay income taxes.
Who will be paying taxes in the future are the offspring of today’s wealthy families. Of course, they would rather not.
Letter: First Thanksgiving set the exampleNovember 25, 2013 —
There is a moving story of inspiration, courage, treason and civil disobedience committed in the name of truth, friendship between cultures, a belief in humanity and a pervasive trust in a higher, loving power that lies at the core of the evolution of America. What is the American mind? The American spirit? Where did they come from, and where will we take them? What does the light held high by the Statue of Liberty promise to the world? What is the nature of true freedom? Throughout time, humanity has made choices that have created our history. What of our future? Our choices will lead us there.
This Thanksgiving, we can give thanks to the Mayflower Pilgrims, who made the choice to defy their king when they separated themselves from the Church of England and sow the seeds of democracy when they gathered privately to worship as they saw fit “whatsoever it should cost” (Covenant of 1606, Scrooby, England) This was a treasonous act. We can thank them for signing the Mayflower Compact to create “a civil body politic to enact just and equal laws for the general good.” We can thank the Massasoit Ousa Mequin, sachem of the Pokanoket Wampanoags, for coming forward with his people in peace — a peace that the Pilgrims and Native Americans maintained for 55 years. There was an intermingling of cultures that was to produce a uniquely American spirit, a new way of being and seeing that ultimately became articulated in the U.S. Constitution and our other freedom documents. We can thank all the brave folks who forged the foundation of a nation based on the highest aspirations of humanity — liberty, justice and abundance for all.
Now we have a choice. Do we sit back and let it all go? How do we extricate ourselves from the grips of the systems we’ve created that are now wildly out of balance? How did this happen, when we all intended to show up and gift our children all the gifts inherent in the ideals America stands for? How do we get the ship back on course? We suit up and show up — that’s how. We take a stand for the hearts and spirits of our children. We follow the lead of the Mayflower Pilgrims and act according to our deepest convictions and our highest vision. We use the example of openness and kindness that the Pilgrim and Native American leaders set for us and take it beyond just one day of feasting and giving thanks. We become inspired and let these models be a basis for our daily actions. It is in this way that we each will contribute to the ever-unfolding coming of peace on earth.
Connie Baxter Marlow
Kudos and KindnessNovember 23, 2013 —
Buddy Program thankful for support
On Nov. 16, while many in Aspen basked in their first turns of the season on Aspen Mountain, 18 middle and high school students in the Buddy Program’s Experiential Group Mentoring program refined their culinary skills through a four-hour cooking and nutrition workshop.
The day’s menu was Thanksgiving-inspired and included cornbread stuffed chicken, kale with candied walnuts, spiced roasted pumpkin, gravy and Mexican hot chocolate cookies for dessert. Students enjoyed dining on their creations together while discussing their families’ Thanksgiving traditions.
A huge thanks to Carbondale nonprofit YouthEntity for sharing its kitchen space, chef Paul Rose, of Plato’s Restaurant at the Aspen Meadows, for teaching and chef Kristin Boland and chef sssistants Cynthia Ayala (Roaring Fork High School) and Shion Reilly (Basalt High School) for volunteering.
As we head into Thanksgiving season, we at the Buddy Program continue to be thankful for our community’s generosity, which provides so much opportunity for our youth.
Experiential programs manager, the Buddy Program
Aspen supports its vets
Veterans Day 2013 was our day as veterans, and it was also your day in Aspen. It was a truly beautiful Colorado blue-bird day and a wonderful gathering of veterans.
When I speak of veterans, I include all those family members and friends, because you have been touched by a veteran somewhere, sometime in your life. All of us are veterans. Thank you for your service and support.
Flags on Main Street, nice! Thanks, Streets Department.
No traffic on Main Street. Thanks, community safety officers.
Pitkin County Courthouse crew: You guys are the best!
Rev. Brice, you are one of us!
Jeannie and Richard, perfect!
Roxanne Bank, thank you for sharing your stories.
Darryl Grob, thanks for remembering our fallen.
Paul Andersen, we welcome you and Huts for Vets into our family.
Matt Hazlett, sweet song and sweet music. Thank you.
Remembering the fallen — a heartfelt thanks to those guests who shared with us.
Adam McCabe, your heart is in the right place!
The fifth-grade class, simply wonderful. Thanks for the beautiful songs and the wreath ceremonies; Amy Grey and Debbie Kreutzer, you gals rock!
Elks Lodge No. 224, thank you for your unwavering support for veterans and to our community. A special thanks for a lovely meal.
Aspen, you did the veterans proud, and you did Aspen proud. Thanks to all the veterans and guest who attended our day. You made it a special day.
A caring community
Friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter would like to extend our deepest appreciation to Mike Goldman, Jesse Wey, Tom Slanga, Rob Leventhal, Cru Vin Dog Wines and the wonderful staff at Square Grouper for hosting a fun-filled evening benefit for our nonprofit’s spay-neuter and rescue campaign.
We also would like to thank our wonderful community for coming out on a snowy night to sit outside under heat lamps and visit with the animal-shelter dogs. Everyone there enjoyed the delicious food served at Square Grouper, which was paired with wonderful Cru Vin Loyal Companion wines, while offering heartfelt support for the homeless animals of Aspen and Pitkin County.
Special recognition to Mike Goldman, who not only hosted the event but adopted his beloved pup, Bogie, from the Aspen Animal Shelter.
We are so fortunate to live in a community filled with caring, generous and compassionate people. Thank you for your support!
Seth Sachson, Anne Gurchick, Bland Nesbit and friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter board
Quite the production
Scientist and doctors tell us that laughter is a concrete and valid healing agent. Since that is true, the Roaring Fork Valley is healthier today than it was two weeks ago, before Aspen Community Theater’s performance of “The Producers” rocked the halls with laughter. It’s a struggle to find words — there are several points to make, and they don’t even fall in any order. They are all first and most important.
The talent. Simply amazing. Residents of our valley are unique in many ways — that’s one of the reasons it’s so easy to love life here. The depth of talent found in our schools, offices, restaurants and shops continues to stagger the imagination. We are blessed by gifted and enormously talented bosses, co-workers and friends.
The support. It’s inspiring. The Roaring Fork Valley has a huge heart. Individuals, programs and nonprofit agencies serve our population on every level.
The dedication of volunteers. As a Thrift Shop volunteer, I learned about hundreds of volunteer not-for-profit agencies that serve this valley and its residents. Thousands of volunteer hours are the infrastructure of our community, and here, Aspen Community Theater wins an Oscar. Unimaginable and untold hours/days/weeks/months of volunteer time go into creating the gift we, as the public, receive.
The directors and producers (thank you, Ritie!), the musicians, choreographers, set-costume-lighting-sound designers, prop crew, stage managers, and — ta-da! — the actors pour their hearts, souls and oh-so-much time into each Aspen Community Theatre performance. And, impossible as it seams, the bar seems to rise each year.
We thank you, and the community thanks you — each of you. We are all happier, lighter and deeply moved by the gift you give.
Nancy and Wolf Gensch
Great season on the gridiron
I’m Axel Quintanilla, a sixth-grade student at Aspen Middle School. This was my first year in football — I played for Aspen #1.
I would like to thank many people: the Aspen Elks Lodge No.224 for being our sponsor, Ron Morehead for organizing our teams and Carol Sams at Aspen High School for letting us use the fields. I would also like to thank our coaches. I hope I get to play football again next year. I had a great season.
Aspen Middle School
Letter: The right moveNovember 22, 2013 —
The right move
God bless CDOT. Thank you for the 45 mph speed limit headed downvalley right out of the roundabout. It’s about time. Now if we could only modify the bus lane to allow HOV and shuttles.
Letter: Bull’s-eyeNovember 22, 2013 —
Andy Stone’s column regarding subsidies was spot on (“Subsidy, subsidy. Who gets a subsidy?” Nov. 19, The Aspen Times). Thank you, Andy, for writing this informative piece.
Letter: Is a reboot in order?November 22, 2013 —
Is a reboot in order?
Hey, President 0bama, as I need to do with my computer sometimes when it doesn’t function properly, have you tried turning your 0bamacare computer off and then back on again?
Letter: Help skier realize Olympic dreamsNovember 21, 2013 —
Help skier realize Olympic dreams
I am currently a member of the U.S. Ski Team’s World Cup Speed Team. Mike Marolt and Montezuma Basin’s Productions will be hosting a reception, silent auction and screening of the Ski Channel film “Winter” at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Belly Up to help raise funds for my training and travel expenses. Last year I returned from injury to win the Europa Cup Downhill in Val d ’Isere France, and this season I am competing for selection to the Sochi Olympic team.
Unfortunately ski racing is a dangerous and expensive sport. The U.S. Ski Team does not provide travel funding for B, C, and D team athletes while racing and training throughout the year. As a World Cup Speed Team member, I am required to pay $25,000 to the U.S. Ski Team for lodging, food and travel over the winter season.
Over the summer months, I dryland train at the US Ski Team’s Center of Excellence gym in Park City, Utah. During the summer training block, nothing is covered by the ski team and all expenses fall to me. Medical expenses add to the burden.
To continue competing on the World Cup and for selection to the Sochi Olympic team, I ask the community to help support my development and Olympic dreams. A silent auction will feature an Aspen classic Hayes silversmith belt buckle, Oakley and Strafe products, as well as products and gift certificates generously donated by many Aspen shops and restaurants including Mezzaluna, L’Hosteria, Matsuhisa, Rustique, Jimmy’s, Big Wrap, Victoria’s, Kenichi, Red Onion and many others. Donations are greatly appreciated.
Please join me at the Belly Up at 5:30 p.m. on Friday.
Letter: Sexual abuse does not discriminateNovember 21, 2013 —
Sexual abuse does not discriminate
Tuesday’s Aspen Times article, “Five boys face charges for incident at school,” references an alleged incident that occurred at Basalt High School in which five boys sexually harassed and committed unlawful sexual contact on two female students.
As the parent of a Basalt school student and as an advocate for victims of sexual assault, I was happy to see that the school administration, local law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office are responding swiftly and appropriately. I do, however, want to make a few relevant points that will hopefully allow this event to be used to address sexual assault in a way that we can all learn from.
As much as we would all like to think of this incident as a shocking anomaly, the national statistics, as well as my experience locally, tell us just how prevalent sexual assault is. In fact, 29 percent of all sexual assault victims are between the ages of 12 and 17, and 25 percent of high school girls nationally report having been a victim of physical or sexual abuse. In other words, this is not a problem unique to Basalt High School or unique to any particular racial, cultural or socio-economic group.
While this particular incident occurred in a more overt fashion, thus allowing it to come to the attention of school officials, most sexual abuse occurs behind closed doors through more covert and subtle methods. Yet rest assured, just because you as a parent or teacher may never hear of it, girls everywhere are experiencing sexual violence at alarming rates.
Understandably, Basalt High School has asked “that any time a student or parent believes there is an unsafe situation at the school, they should bring it to the attention of the administration.” While this is ultimately desirable, I believe we must acknowledge the reality that most sexual-assault victims (in fact as many as 95 percent) do not report the abuse, and we must explore the reasons why they so often remain silent. This requires working diligently to address the roots of sexual violence on a foundational and systemic level, examining the commonly held beliefs of offenders, bystanders and victims.
It also means being proactive not just with intervention after an incident, but with comprehensive prevention education that is offered to all students involving honest and open conversations regarding the climate that might exist within a school, within a peer group, within a family, within a team, within a culture, or within a community in which such violence occurs.
For many years, both Aspen High School and Basalt High School have included RESPONSE in their violence prevention efforts, yet it is clear we have more work to do.
I encourage anyone in need of support regarding sexual assault to contact RESPONSE’s 24-hour hotline at 970-925-7233.
Program coordinator,Advocacy and Prevention, RESPONSE
Letter: On RFTA and physicsNovember 21, 2013 —
On RFTA and physics
We learned (Aspen Times, Nov. 16) that the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority will “look into” installing seat belts in its buses and that seat belts on local school buses are available but optional.
As a retired physicist, I find this shocking. The officials in charge should have learned at their mother’s knees, or at the latest in middle school, what Newton published more than 300 years ago: A body (for which read your own tender body or that of your beloved son or daughter) in motion will continue in motion until acted upon by an external force. When a bus is acted upon by an external force, as in a collision, it stops; but the bodies inside continue to move forward at their original speed (say, 50 mph) until they strike some part of the rigid interior of the bus, which delivers the force necessary to stop the body and likely delivers severe trauma. The restraint of a seat belt delivers the necessary force to bring the body to a stop, but does so much less severely.
There’s nothing magic about riding in a bus; buses have wrecks and the passengers need the protection of seat belts.
Chair, Aspen Science Center