Accessibility on campus

BY MADDIE LEUBKE
CAMPUS EDITOR

In the past 10 years, Alma has renovated many campus buildings in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and plans to update more of the larger campus buildings, despite student concerns about the current state of smaller living facilities.

ADA requires buildings built or updated following 1985 —the year that ADA went into effect — to adhere to certain accessibility standards, such as the inclusion of ramps and ensuring hallways and doors are a certain width.

According to Head of Facilities Doug Dice, updating buildings to meet ADA standards is a long and challenging process, and usually requires major changes to the building design. “Many students don’t realize how long it takes to make these sorts of upgrades. The plans for North Campus dorm renovations have been in place for over a year, and it takes a long time before plans get approval and funding is in place.”

Accessibility complaints from students included the removal of a handicap ramp from the Theta Chi fraternity house over the summer, which according to Dice was removed due to its unsafe condition. “I’m not upset about it being taken away, but there was no communication and no planning to replace it,” said John Stefanek (’19). “We just want a permanent solution. Our organization has alumni that are handicapped, and when they come back for homecoming the ramp makes their experience back in Alma better.”

Accessible South Campus housing proves rare with only three of six fraternities and one of six sororities with ramps. Themed housing has a similar number of accessible buildings.

“We would like to make all of the small housing spaces comply with ADA, but many of those upgrades would require major construction. The college has to prioritize public spaces and dorm buildings that contain more people,” said Dice.

Though some living spaces lack accessibility, Dice pointed out the advancements made thus far. “We have made upgrades to a majority of buildings on campus since I began working at Alma, including the Swanson Academic Center and Eddy Music Building.”

However, some students feel like the changes already made to those buildings still could use some improvements, like adding more handicap buttons to doors.

“It is really frustrating because it makes me not want to use my mobility device as often,” said Chapin Kartsounes (’21). “It quickly becomes more work to use my device than to walk. I don’t think handicap buttons are that hard to install, and it makes riding on my scooter so much easier.”

Although the plans are in beginning stages, an upcoming project is focused on making the Chapel more handicap friendly, with planned upgrades like moveable seating, an elevator, wider hallways and a more permanent ramp.

Houses that would like to have a ramp available for guests during events on campus can request temporary ramps through Alma College Facilities.

Mixed reviews on campus health care

BY JORDYN BRADLEY
CAMPUS EDITOR

Wilcox Medical Center,—also known as the “Med-Shed,” is your reliable location for many of your health needs while being at Alma. Whether it’s for immunizations, routine check-ups, sports physicals or just to stock up on condoms, Wilcox has you covered.

Wilcox’s mission on the Alma College website states: “We welcome the opportunity to consult with students wishing to take personal responsibility for their own health and wellness.”

Mandy Wolever, the on-staff Medical Assistant, discussed how many students visiting the Med Shed are first time visitors of a medical center without their parents.

“I will help them with paperwork if they need it, because many students come in for the first time without their parents,” said Wolever. “We try to be as helpful and welcoming as possible, plus everything is confidential, so students do not have to worry about their information being leaked to anyone else.”

Naomi Mason (’20) recalled, “I never saw very many students in [The Wilcox Medical Center] so I guess from me, I would say don’t be afraid to go because it’s better than you think! I think some people might have the misinterpretation that it’s just for STDs and things [of the sort] but it’s not.”

In fact, the Medical Center treats a variety of different things. Brianna Fitzpatrick (’19) commented on her experience with Wilcox throughout the last year. “Last October I had something come up medically that I never would have thought to

happen, the med-shed properly diagnosed what I had and gave me the right steps to follow to help. Without them, I could have been a lot worse off. Recently I’ve been having to go there a lot because of the same medical issue and they’ve been wonderful in helping me get through this long process.”

Jarrett Buikema (’21) had a different review to give of the Medical Center. “[My friend and I] walked into Wilcox and two other guys were sitting waiting for routine check-ups. My friend walked up to the front desk to talk to the lady about being seen and she told him she was busy. He told her he was bleeding and that he would appreciate if she could just tell him if he needs stitches or not, yet she would not help him right away. The wait was so long and they wouldn’t see him, so we left and I took him to the hospital instead.”

Alexia Miller (’20) said, “in general the people are super nice over there, but I had an injury last year and they told me it was fine. Later I found out it wasn’t actually fine, but was infected causing permanent scarring.”An anonymous student said, “Unless it is something you basically know the symptoms are pointing towards, I wouldn’t go there.”

Alyssa Mohr (’19) added, “When it is flu shot week, they can’t even take walk-ins. When I was dying of an ear infection and sinus infection, I walked in [the center] basically on the brink of death and they said, ‘no we aren’t making appointments this week because it’s flu shot week!’I had to go all the way home and miss school because I was so sick and they wouldn’t treat me.”

Klair Loper (’20) said, “They will accept walk-ins, but if they are busy then you are obviously going to have to wait, like a regular doctor’s office. You do not have to try and find a doctor in Alma while living here, and it is cheaper than the emergency room.”Wolever touched on the pricing difference of the Med-Shed versus going elsewhere for attention. “We try to keep prices lower for the students. Also, we don’t ask for co-pay up front, so [students] do not have to worry about paying something as soon as they come in.”Loper added, “It is right on campus, you do not have to have a driver’s license or a car.”

Millennium Fellowship awards student

BY MADDIE LUEBKE
CAMPUS EDITOR

A group of students dedicated to bringing fresh produce to campus has been awarded the competitive Millenium Fellowship. The Millennium Fellowship is a leadership development program developed by the Millennium Campus Netowrk (MCN) and United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI). The Big Box Farm group was selected as one of only 30 student groups to particpate from an applicant pool of 285 campuses across 57 different countries.

The group will install an aquaponics unit to produce fresh vegetables and raise fish on campus. The purpose of running this unit is to do research on sustainable agricultural production methods and gather information for scaling up to a full-size, indoor growing operation known as an urban farm.

They presented at Michigan State University on Sept. 6 at the Regional Economic Innovation Summit, where they were the youngest group of presenters at the conference.

At this event, many Alma students spoke and presented their idea. Their presentation covered how they became a non-profit organization–Highland 365, Inc.–after receiving a grant from MSU to start the project.

The Millennium Fellowship will provide this group of students on campus with the leadership training and skills that they need to turn the Big Box Farm vision into a tangible community organization.

“Our large-scale plan is to introduce a year -round fresh produce organization on campus,” said Maliena Boone (’19).

“This is a goal that will take a while to plan, so momentarily we are setting up a trial run aquaponics system [in] which we [will] plant our own veggies this semester.”

The group branded themselves as Big Box Farm because part of the goal is to house these sustainable farming operations in empty, closed-down warehouse style buildings, such as the abandoned K-Mart building downtown.

They are currently working directly with the UNAI and MCN to get this project off the ground.

“The U.N. is giving us leadership training and potential networks to help us continue to move forward with the project,” said Jaycee Wise (’19).

Many faculty members have been helping this group of students with the project, including: Edward Lorenz, former professor of History and Director of the Public Affaris Institute; Murray Borrello, professor of environmental studies; Sarah Neumann, professor of Biology; and Janie Diels, professor of Communication and New Media Studies.

“Our main advisor is Dr. Lorenz,” explained Boone. “He has helped tremendously with organizing, event management, and getting us in contact with the right people. We are grateful for how much his knowledge of the Alma community has helped us progress.”

By the end of fall semester, they plan to have completed comprehensive research on aquaponics methods compared to traditional farming methods and the foundation of public health research related to nutrition outside of campus and in the greater Alma Community.

The Big Box Farm can be located online on Facebook or at their webpage– bigboxfarm.wixsite.com/bigboxfarm

Mitski delivers best

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BY ZAC CAHILL
COPY EDITOR

Mitski’s near-meteoric rise from “pretty big on bandcamp” to critical indie darling has been no accident. Since her first album “Lush,” she has been steadily cultivating both a distinct, exciting sound and a sizable, devoted fanbase.

My introduction to Mitski came after the release of her third album, 2014’s “Bury Me At Makeout Creek,” a record that I listened to front to back more times than I would care to admit. This album, taken with its follow-up (2016’s “Puberty 2”), turned me into a pretty big Mitski fan.

Despite my love for both albums, I was a little anxious regarding Mitski’s next release. The guitar-heavy, fuzzed out aesthetic of her last two records was brilliant, but I was definitely hoping for her to push the envelope a little further, explore different soundscapes.

Luckily, on “Be the Cowboy,” Mitski has pulled off a successful shift in sound without compromising her signature songwriting style.

The most obvious change made is the (partial, it’s not like this album is a sea change for her artistically) shift away from guitar-driven songs back to the piano that dominated much of her first two albums. This is not to say that her sound has devolved, however, as much of “Be the Cowboy” feels like new, at times poppier ground for her.

Many of the songs are short, vignette-sized bits of indie pop and sad ballads (only two songs run for over three minutes, four are less than two). When I first saw the song lengths, I assumed the worst. I worried about half-baked song ideas, about songs losing steam or (a worse fate) ending before they were able to build up any. Luckily, none of the songs on “Be the Cowboy” suffer from these issues.

Across the album I found myself focusing not on the scant running time of these tracks but on the sheer emotional weight they carry, and how, despite this, some of Mitski’s most catchy and entertaining songs appear here.

The opener, “Geyser,” builds out of some simple synths and piano chords into a massive, foot-stomping ballad, the mix getting busier and louder until it boils over and ends at under the two and a half minute mark. Lyrically, it also sets the tone for the subject which comes to dominate much of the album: love its innumerable complications.

“A Pearl” is my personal favorite track, a song about our tendency to romanticize failed relationships. She sings: “It’s just that I fell in love with a war/nobody told me it ended/and it left a pearl in my head/and I roll it around/every night, just to watch it glow,” following it up with a blistering guitar solo and blaring, staccato bass synths. The song runs just over two and a half minutes yet feels complete (I remember being shocked that she fit such a perfect bridge into such a short song).

“Pink in the Night” is sparse yet gorgeous, a wide-eyed and unapologetic love song about simply enjoying moments lying in bed with a significant other.

There are also tongue-in-cheek moments. “Lonesome Love” contains the brilliant line: “‘cause nobody butters me up like you/and nobody fucks me like me.” “Me and My Husband” is almost alt-country in its instrumental, lyrically jumping between sarcasm and earnestness as she details two people deciding to stick it out through a marriage that doesn’t seem to be working as well as it could be.

And then there’s the closer. “Two Slow Dancers” has to be one of the most heartbreaking songs Mitski has ever written (and that’s saying a lot). The story is not a new one: two people realizing that, despite their best intentions, they cannot make their love work. The piano is slow and echoing, the swells of orchestral instrumentation coupled with Mitski’s voice are downright chill-inducing.

Across “Be the Cowboy,” Mitski condenses song structures without sacrificing depth. Her writing has never been more exacting or clear; these songs, however short, do not lack in insight. It is an impressive album from one of the more exciting acts in the indie scene currently, and one of the best of 2018 thus far.

Living a zero waste lifestyle

BY BRITTANY PIERCE
HEAD EDITOR

Out of habit, we turn off the lights when we leave rooms, recycle when there are bins available, use reusable water bottles, and more. But are these small steps enough?

Using reusable water bottles might be saving plastic water bottles from landfills, but how much waste do people actually produce in a day? According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, “the average American produces about 7 pounds of trash per day.” This is more than throwing out packaging or wrappers, it involves food waste and energy waste as well.

7 pounds of trash per day may not sound like much, but multiply that by the entire population of the United States and it becomes apparent that we have an extreme waste issue.

As we become increasingly concerned about climate change and waste, one thing to consider is moving towards a zero waste lifestyle, which means living without sending anything to a landfill.

The purpose is to reuse what you can, reduce what you need, recycle what you can, and compost the rest.

But how can college students cut back on waste? Start with the small steps first. Alma College already does some work towards cutting back on waste, such as the Green Box program for reusable dining containers, installing motion-sensitive lighting, and implementing water bottle refill stations into the dorms and academic buildings.

According to Alex Karakuc (’21), who is working towards living a zero waste lifestyle, more can be done on campus to help lead these efforts.

Some of the improvements that Karakuc suggested include adding compost bins to Joes, Starbucks, and Highland Java. She also suggested posting informational signs about what can and cannot be composted as well as having a composting site on campus.

Other improvements include putting all of the to-go lunch options in Hamilton Commons in reusable containers rather than disposable ones, having reusable cups in Joes for the fountain drinks, and adding recycling bins in more spaces on campus.

Aside from small changes, a few large changes can be made as well.

“One last and bigger task the college could do is make the current aquaponics system that is currently being built in the greenhouse into something for large scale. Then incorporate growing fresh fruits and vegetables from it—and even harvest fish—for saga and joes. (Which there is already a [campus] project that is trying to start this called The Big Box Farm, ironically),” said Karakuc.

Although this would require time and investments, Karakuc argues that it would be worth it.

“It saves money in the long run and to be able to say something like ‘we are the most sustainable college in America’ would be very big. It would probably even bring more students in for just that reason. We want to be the model for other colleges. We want to show everyone else it’s possible and worth it,” said Karakuc.

For more information and help taking steps towards living a zero waste life, contact the Climate Change Action Network group on campus.

New shops open in Alma

BY KATE WESTPHAL
STAFF WRITER

Students are back on campus, which means Alma is bustling with new opportunities and places downtown. Two of the newest places, Highland Blush and Serendipity, are already proving to be popular places with students. Both of these businesses opened near the end of last semester, and have been growing a presence downtown ever since.

Highland Blush had a soft opening in April, and then a grand opening on May 21. Owner Damian Sanderson described it as a “performance lounge and espresso bar, or more of a fine arts community center that serves really great food.” The store also serves desserts from Carolyn’s Cake and Confectionary as well as gourmet coffee. Highland Blush offers consistent entertainment nights throughout the week, ranging from open mic nights and guest speakers to dance classes and live music.

Owning a business has always been on the back of Sanderson’s mind, and he wanted a relaxing, fun environment for students to hang out and feel as though Alma has something just for them. Noticing that Alma’s downtown didn’t have much entertainment, Sanderson chose to have a space that could host a wide variety of events, much like the ones listed above. Even though Highland Blush opened a few short months ago, some already say it has impacted downtown.

Lillian Windsor (‘22), student and employee at Highland Blush said that “since Highland Blush books many events with no specific genre, it accommodates for many different

people in the community.” Having an understanding of the community is huge for Sanderson. By offering such events like drag shows, the store aims to provide an all-inclusive community space for anyone to hang out. Highland Blush is devoted to charity and fostering a greater feeling of community feeling.

Windsor enjoys the atmosphere of Highland Blush most of all. “The second you walk in you instantly feel comfortable, whether it’s from being greeted by the barista or just seeing a familiar face, Blush just brings everyone together as an even closer community,” she said.

Lana Wood, owner of Serendipity Frozen Custard and Doughnuts, also feels this way about Alma. She says the best part of owning Serendipity is meeting and talking to the customers, especially the children. “I sell happiness,” Wood said.

After moving here seven years ago, she noticed that after Stucci’s closed, there was a void downtown. With the help of her daughter Brandi, Wood opened Serendipity. Serendipity had their grand opening on March 13, and Wood now calls it a “game changer” in town.

“Before Serendipity, no one had tables out [on the sidewalk], we have tables now. I stay open late, other people stay open late.” Wood has high standards for her custard, describing it as “the highest quality custard I can find, with no additives or preservatives.” As well as serving their regular array of custard and desserts, Serendipity offers themed weeks with themes such as superheroes and unicorns.

With the variety of events hosted by Serendipity and Highland Blush, ranging from themed weeks to family game nights, students won’t be bored going downtown. Highland Blush is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day except for Sundays, when they are open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Serendipity is open every weekday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and every weekend from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Friendships define the college experience

BY TREY NICHOLS
STAFF WRITER

There are many ways to make friends on campus. “One day I decided to make dinner for some people in one of my classes.” said Olivia Flemming (‘20). “We had a lot of fun we talked and laughed for hours. Within that week, my new friends gave me a coffee mug as a thank you for making dinner for them. To be honest I almost cried because I was not used to having people do things like that for me.”

Some students met some of their best friends on campus while having their most memorable moment on campus.

“One of my fondest memories while at Alma College was the night of Sorority Walk-Outs because I gained so many new friends that night.” said Lauren Sandtveit (’21). “I met some girls who are my best friends now, and I never would have met without recruitment.”

Students on campus interact with both friends and strangers on campus. “I would say that your classes are probably the easiest places to make friends.” said Kirstyn Cotton (’21).

“Small class sizes help to create close relationships with your classmates. Saga (Hamilton Commons) is also a decent place to make friends because with the campus being so small, that’s where most people are going to go for their meal,” said Cotton.

There are other places on campus where students can make new friends. Sandtveit said that she has met some of her best friends at social events, parties and clubs. Some students also connect better with certain groups. “If you are a freshman and have an FYS, it is awesome to make a friend that you will graduate with. Another good place to make friends is Chapel. Everyone there is very nice, considerate and welcoming,” said Flemming.

Sandtveit believes that others need to have an open mind when trying to make new friends, and she thinks that people should get out of their comfort zone a little bit. “For anyone having trouble making friends, I would tell them to reach out to someone in their classes. Maybe ask if they want to study together or even just walk to Starbucks or something,” said Cotton.

There’s nothing wrong with having many friends on campus. “I would recommend having a few very close friends because it feels like a little family,” said Flemming.

Cotton said that there’s nothing wrong with continuing to make friends, and that people can never have too many people in your life that help you, care for you, and enjoy spending time with you. Sandtveit said that its never a bad thing to make more friends, but people should always remember who their true friends are.

There are always ways on campus to make friends. “There is a lot to do on this campus, so go out and enjoy it; make the most out of the years that you are here,” said Flemming.

Sandtveit said that going to events on campus is one of the first steps toward making as many new friends on campus as possible, and once you start meeting new people, it gets easier to continue making new friends.

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