Escrow causes Greek Life debate


The Alma College administration has been working on budget cuts to avoid the rising cost of tuition, and one of those cuts was to get rid of escrow funds for fraternities and sororities. The Interfraternity council on campus—IFC—has had many meeting concerning these decisions.

In previous years, escrow funds were given to each sorority and fraternity house in order to keep up with house maintenance concerns. Administration was expected to keep the house up to city codes and replacing a furnace or broken stairs while escrow would be used to fix holes in the wall or a broken microwave. Some organizations saved any extra money they had in a separate account, but other organizations did not. Many organizations are having money issues this fall since the decision to remove escrow.

“These budget discussions began 2 and a half years ago with the strategic allocations committee, so this wasn’t a spur of the moment decision on the part of the administration,” said Dr. Karl Rishe, Vice President of Student Affairs. “They held reviews of all departments in order to find a million dollar budget to support new programs and combat the rising cost of college.”

Rishe has been the main contact considering these changes to Greek Life funds. Rishe, along with the president’s board, met with two different national consultants concerning how to improve Greek life on campus.

“Even with the 5-6 thousand dollars in escrow and the building of brand new houses, our male Greek life membership has gone down for the past 4 years,” said Rishe.

Rishe said that the decision to cut escrow was talked about and supported by alumni, members of the board of trustees, and other consultants.

“The national consultants were clear that our system lacks accountability. Many chapters have dues that have not been paid by individual members for years. Also, the giving of funds to a Greek chapter in this form is not practiced at any colleges with similar Greek Life communities across the nation.”

Rishe added that we have seen growth in our sorority membership, service and GPA.

Greek chapters on campus have been discussing how they were informed of the changes to the policy. “I was originally notified of these changes three weeks into the semester, after Zeta Sigma had already approved our budget, so we had to do budget adjustments and reduce our expenses for the year,” said Nathaniel Fryer (’19).

Rishe added that other small housing associated with student groups such as the environmental house, the Model UN house, and several others do not receive funding for house maintenance.

Fraternity members on campus received different communication about the issue. “We do feel this decision has been made behind closed doors and no matter the reason, [it] was unfair that we had no say,” said Josh Stepke (’20).

Some students sought meetings with President Jeff Abernathy concerning these issues. “I’m not sure when it will be, but Abernathy suggested that interested members come to his house in order for there to be a discussion on these issues in hopes that some sort of solution can be made,” said Stepke.

“Abernathy is committed to Greek life as a whole, so these meetings will engage in topics outside of escrow and include all Greek chapters,” said Rishe. “Since President Abernathy was not a sole decision maker, a meeting of this sort will be a line of communication but won’t result in change that the students are looking for.”

Despite this discrepancy, there are some ways for people to get involved and try to promote change if they are unhappy with the new policy. Rishe recommended contacting Student Congress to help promote change in a productive way.

“Greek life chapters have the ability to ask for funding from Student Congress just like any other social organization on campus,” said Rishe.

Rishe added that this month all small houses, including Greek life, will have 4-year deferred maintenance plans created.

“The plans will be drafted by the student affairs department in conjunction with each small house manager and facilities,” said Rishe. “The plans will be public and serve as a way to hold each party accountable where house maintenance is concerned.”

Telling my clothesline story


I was assaulted when I was 13 years old, every day in 8th grade on my way to gym class. I had no option but to pass my abuser to get to class. He was popular. He was a football player. He was just trying to flirt. I should be lucky that he was showing me attention. These were the statements that ran through my head for years so that I would not face what was actually happening. Until one day, it hit me like a truck. At 17 years old while sitting in class, it finally clicked.

It took me four years. Four years passed before I was able to say, “This is not okay. I was assaulted.” But I still had to see him every school day until we graduated. Now that I am a junior in college, I have been able to leave him behind. I have not seen him since the day I saw him walk across the stage, accept his diploma and go off into the world.

I could not protect others from him. I was too scared. I never reported. There was no proof. I would be viewed as the girl who tried to ruin a popular football player’s life. I would be seen as a liar. It is one mistake that he made when he was young, why should it impact his life? Even though I would forever remember what had happened to me. It was a he said, she said situation and what we know in this world is that what he says holds more weight than what she says. If you do not believe me, look at Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh. Two men that have been accused of assault but still were approved and now hold two of the most important jobs in the nation.

How do I get out all these feelings? How do I find people who would know how it felt to be taken advantage of? I was led to the Counseling and Wellness Clothesline project.

This is a clothesline that is hung outside of the Counseling and Wellness Center in October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This line is a place where people can display their story in a creative way of decorated shirts. They are using their trauma and expressing it in a way that other people can observe and appreciate.

I have a shirt on this line. I sat in a room with many other survivors and created my shirt. I was finally able to express how I felt without being judged by others for being naive enough to let this happen. We were able to share our stories with each other. I was showed that this was not my fault. I am not a victim, I am a survivor of a messed up and traumatic situation. A situation that I should not have to face ever but especially not every day at the age of 13.

To display my shirt on the line and to have my story being able to be seen by the whole campus was a freeing experience. I did not have to feel shame for what had happened to me. I was in good company. I was with strong men and women who could tell their stories and not let it destroy them.

Unfortunately, the clothesline only was up for one day. You cannot see all the stories that people have told.

My recommendation is if you have faced a trauma such as mine, do not keep it to yourself. Tell someone. Tell the world. We have a great staff at The Wellness Center on campus that are willing to talk to you. There is also many places to report what has happened. You are not alone and it is not your fault. This was done to you against your will. No matter what the circumstances were, you did not deserve this. You are not someone else’s victim. You survived.

If someone is willing to tell you their story, listen and do not judge them. They trust you and they feel safe with you.

Fall break brings service projects


The first half of the semester is over and students are back from Fall Break. Fall Break, a four-day long event, happened during the seventh week of the term and marked when classes held midterm exams. While many students went home during Fall Break, others went on an Alternative Break.

Alternative Break is an opportunity to do volunteer work and travel during Fall, Winter, and Spring Breaks and offer different service opportunities each time. This year, students went to Lansing, Howell and Beulah, as well as several other places.

Elizabeth Gallagher (‘21) went on the Alternative Break to Beulah. “We went to see a Rwandan pastor there and hear him preach,” she said. “It was a really fun experience.”

While Fall 2018 Alternative Breaks were confined to central Michigan with a theme of “Keeping it in the Mitten,” several trips a year go to another state, offering quick travel opportunities for students wishing to do service outside of Michigan. “Last year, I went to Maryland to a border collie rescue shelter,” said Gallagher.

Despite the fact that Alternative Breaks are offered, many students choose to not go on one, preferring instead to go home or stay on campus and study for any midterm exams, though many exams occur before break, calling into question the necessity of a fall break.

Gallagher argued Fall Break is needed on campus. “I think we definitely need to keep Fall Break, we need it because everyone is burnt out at this point in the semester and we need a break,” said Gallagher. “Also, if we didn’t have Fall Break, there’d be less opportunities to go on an Alternative Break.”

As a participant on multiple Alternative Breaks, Gallagher said that she would like more diversified and an increased amount of Alternative Breaks. “It would be nice to see an Alternative Break that includes international travel. It would also be nice to see some mission-style trips offered,” said Gallagher.

By going out into other communities, students got to experience the local culture as well as learn about social issues, such as homelessness or food instability. “When I was in Maryland last year, I learned a lot about what it takes to run a rescue shelter for dogs, as well as a lot about border collies themselves,” said Gallagher.

Winter Break options for Alternative Breaks are open; offerings include Indiana, Tennessee, and Florida. Students can submit an application on the Alma College website.

Elevator speech promotes change


At the beginning of fall term, Professor Henry Balfanz’s Selling/Sales Management class was given an assignment called an Elevator Speech and was instructed to write about problems in Alma’s campus community. These speeches were then presented to Alan Gatlin, chief operating officer (COO) and senior vice president for finance and administration.

“An elevator speech is called that because you run into somebody, and maybe you have 60 to 90 seconds to say something about yourself. You’ll either be running into a client, a possible client, or you’re running into your boss, and [you’ll] be able to make an appointment with that person to be able to talk in more detail [about yourself and your job],” said Balfanz.

Balfanz has assigned the elevator speeches every year so students within the class would get to know each other better. “People have come up over the years with different missions they are on, like more parking, better lockers, better equipment for the athletes, a new in-field for the baseball stadium, better lunches in Hamilton. Just all sorts of things,” said Balfanz.

Management major Katie Howd (’20) wrote hers about the lack of handicap-accessible seating at Bahlke Field. Her speech, along with the rest of the class’, were presented to Gatlin during the second week of classes. After hearing Howd’s speech, Gatlin set to work on getting new stands ordered for handicap accessibility. “It was the first year that that [one of the speeches resulting in positive changes for the campus community] happened,” said Balfanz.

Howd was both surprised and happy about the outcome of her speech. “I thought it was pretty cool. It’s not very often that you voice your opinion on campus and what you say is actually used,” said Howd. “It’s not just an Alma College thing [needing more handicap accessible seating], it’s a community thing too.”

Gatlin, who has been at Alma for a year and a half, has endeavored to make positive changes for the campus that also save money for students and faculty. Howd’s speech truly caught his attention. “That was the one I felt the most concerned about [and] that I felt that I could have the quickest impact on,” said Gatlin.

On September 6, he placed an order for new portable stands for the handicapped and disabled. These stands took two weeks to deliver, but were on Bahlke field for the Homecoming football game. They can also be wheeled over to the Tennis Courts for seating during matches, providing seating where there used to be none.

“It was the first discussion I had had about the stadium,” said Gatlin. “It’s an older facility, and it was built before the [Americans with Disabilities Act] standards. There’s not an easy way to make it compliant.”

Gatlin explained that because the current stands are built on a hill, there would be no way to change them and still meet the ADA regulations without removing the hill itself. “There’s no major funding to build and new football stadium [and] to bring Bahlke field up to code would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Gatlin.

The new handicap stands are located in the end zone closest to the Hogan Center. The reasons for this location are to provide seating where one doesn’t have to go up a hill while also helping to control that area of the end zone, as Gatlin said was a goal of Steven Rackley, Athletic Director.

The stands themselves can be shifted anywhere the campus needs, which Gatlin said is a goal achieved for both himself and President Jeff Abernathy in making the campus more handicap accessible, and more changes like this are in the plans to come.

College welcomes new provost


Dr. Kathleen Dougherty is Alma College’s new Provost, filling the position previously held by Dr. Michael Selmon for fifteen years. Dougherty took over the position on July 1st.

“I spent [many] years as a faculty member before I moved on to administration, so I spent a lot of time teaching,” said Dougherty.

Dougherty’s background is in philosophy. She achieved an undergraduate and a PhD degree in the field.

“I attended St. Olaf College in Minnesota for undergrad, which is a small liberal arts college much like Alma. Then I moved on to The University of Oklahoma for my masters and my PhD. I went from the very cold [weather of Minnesota] to the very hot [weather of Oklahoma],” Dougherty said.

Dougherty grew up in the town of Ashland, Ohio, which is about an hour south of Cleveland.

“My parents still live there, and when I go home to visit, I actually stay in the same bedroom I grew up in,” said Dougherty.

Family is important to Dougherty. She has a daughter who just started her freshman year of college. She recalled how her daughter’s senior year of high school and her job search lined up.

“[My daughter] had to make her college decision within days of me accepting this job, so it was all a very whirlwind sort of decision,” said Dougherty.

When asked about pets, Dougherty labeled herself a cat person, and discussed her cats, as well as the story behind their names.

“It was the Fourth of July in Washington, D.C. when I adopted them, so they are Martha and Betsy,” said Dougherty.

Though she is quite busy, Dougherty enjoys reading in her spare time.

“I love to read all kinds of books,” she said.

“I read a lot for work, and I’m a philosopher by training, so I still like to read philosophy, but I like to read all kinds of books. I love the ballet, so I read a lot about the ballet.”

Dougherty’s love for the ballet is a major passion of hers.

“Other people like to go to beaches, I like to go to places I can see the ballet,” said Dougherty.

“I love Alma a lot, but the only major challenge I am having is that we are not close to any major ballet company,” she said.

“Part of what brought me to Alma is that it felt like the right fit. I love the people that I work with here.”

Though she does not get to interact with students as much as she would like, Dougherty wants students to know they can come see her.

“It’s really easy to be that person in the back office that a lot of students don’t have contact with, but students really are allowed to come in, the door really is opened. We’re happy to see you,” said Dougherty.

“I learn more everyday. I think what I love about it is that I am always learning something. There is always an opportunity for me to learn something more, and I always get to talk with people who want to engage with exciting ideas. There aren’t many people who get lucky enough to have jobs like that, and I feel incredibly lucky because I get to work with these remarkably dedicated people [every day].”

Austen lives in Northanger Abbey


On Thursday, October 25, Northanger Abbey opens at Strosacker Theatre. The production incorporates a cast of over 20 students, costumes in 1800s style and sets mimicking the era of Jane Austen, all of which help the novel come to life.

Scott Mackenzie, director of Northanger Abbey, also adapted the original Austen novel into the play. “[Austen] has sort of this ‘I’ve got the whole world figured out’ attitude and she’s a little snarky about things. If you read it, it makes you laugh out loud,” said Mackenzie.

The play itself centers around the life of 17-year-old Catherine Morland as she navigates the social realm of Bath, England. “It’s the story of a young woman who is coming into the world and leaving behind some of the childhood innocence as she negotiates the social world in Bath,” said Mackenzie. “[Catherine] finds out who her friends are, who seemed to be friends, who truly are friends [and] who are not friends at all.”

“It has a little something for everybody in it. It’s a romance, it’s a comedy, it’s got its dramatic moments, it’s got its spots of horror, and with that combination, you can find something you like for anyone,” said Elizabeth Pechota (‘22).

Catherine is portrayed by Pechota, who has participated in theatre from a young age. “I have been dreaming of a lead role,” said Pechota. “I’m very, very, very happy and I feel like my hard work has paid off.”

The cast, crew and tech members have spent the past two months preparing for the show. “We have a very short schedule and too much to do,” said props master Hannah Gibbs (‘21). “Normally I am in the shop for six hours a week, but the closer we get to tech [week], the longer I’m in the shop.”

To aid the cast with embodying people from the 1800s, Mackenzie brought in a woman from the Jane Austen Society. “She came and talked to us about the etiquette and the mannerisms of the time and it was just really fascinating to learn about how different everything is from the way it is now,” said Pechota.

A large part of the first act are ballroom dance scenes, which Rachel Blome (‘20) particularly enjoys. “It kind of gets us in the mood, I think, for the time period,” said Blome. “I haven’t done a show in this time period before, so it’s been interesting to learn the mannerisms and just see how they lived because it’s very different than how we are today.”

Difficulties with the play included learning the dialect and behavioral cues. “The play is written in kind of a Jane Austen-type language, and most of the words directly come from the novel itself,” said Pechota.

“So it’s more so learning how to speak in a different way and how you would interact with characters in a Jane Austen setting.”

After Northanger Abbey, Pechota plans to audition for future productions. She encouraged other students to also try acting. “A lot of people consider acting as playing pretend, but it’s a little bit more than that. It’s more stepping into someone else’s reality and really trying to see things through their eyes,” said Pechota.

Mackenzie asserted that theatre is not only about acting. “If you have any interest at all in an artistic outlet, there’s a place of theatre for you. Not just actors, not just technicians, but it’s all of us together.”

Blome was enthusiastic about opening the play. “I’m just really excited to put on this show. It’s a great period piece, we’ve all worked really hard on it, and everyone’s really excited to share our hard work.”

Tickets for Northanger Abbey are available at the Box Office.

Should we celebrate Columbus Day?


The annual celebration of Columbus Day, a nationally celebrated holiday since the mid-nineteenth century, is a topic of avid debate. Columbus Day–occuring on October 12th– conjures a complex story of America.

Columbus Day is a holiday that is celebrated in many countries in the Americas and commemorates Columbus’s first voyage to the Americas on October 12, 1492.

In the 19th century, many Italian-American immigrants began to celebrate the contributions of Columbus. In 1934, the Knights of Columbus lobbied for Columbus Day to become a nationally celebrated holiday. That year, Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed October 12th Columbus Day.

The controversy behind Columbus Day inspires many Americans to make changes to the holiday. Americans have begun to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day on October 12, replacing Columbus Day.

On Thursday October 11, a panel was held in SAC 110 to discuss Columbus Day from multiple points of view and provided an environment for the conversation of Columbus Day to be productive.

During this time, many students and faculty had the opportunity to give their thoughts on how Columbus Day defines a nation.

“I believe that it’s vitally important to have this conversation about Columbus Day. The question that we should ask ourselves is what story do we want to tell about our past?,” said Dr. Laura von Wallmenich, an English Profesor who attended the panel discussion.

“The solution isn’t as easy as dissolving the holiday or leaving it alone. We should create a new story that better encompasses the truth of both sides of the encounter in a respective and productive manner,” she said.

The panels purpose is to find a possible solution to the Columbus Day question and to conduct constructive discussion. Many students and faculty have strong opinions on this topic and the range of solutions vary.

Christopher Columbus Day is contested widly, not only in the United States, but also encompasses all of the Americas.

“Spanish speakers have a mix of feelings towards the celebration of Columbus Day. Many indigenous tribes and cultures have disappeared because of that clash,” said Dr. Victor Argueta, a speaker at the panel and a Physics Professor from Mexico.

Other Spanish speaking countries don’t celebrate Christopher Columbus Day. “We don’t celebrate Columbus Day in America because Columbus never discovered America,” said Santiago Ribadeneira (‘21).

“Columbus’s historical significance is for all of the Americas. This topic of debate is more felt in Spanish speaking countries. North America has embraced him and used him to promote a national icon,” said von Wallmenich.

The solution might not be as simple as yes or no. “The question that we want to ask ourselves is what story do we want to tell?” said von Wallmenich.

The experiences of all Americans should be shown. Whenever we celebrate a figure like Christopher Columbus, we tend to make them larger than themselves, forgetting that they’re human and certainly not infallible.

“He was a person,” said Asiel Clark(20’), a student who attended the panel.

“The idea of Columbus is unrealistic and sends a message that he was either a good figure or a bad one. Public schools should teach the significance of our history as a complex one – from all angles of the cultural exchange.”

Glorifying a historical figure creates mixed feelings. To remedy the issue, an alternative solution is to dissolve Columbus Day “Columbus Day shouldn’t be celebrated in America. Columbus committed heinous acts toward the indigenous peoples,” said Joe Tighe (‘21).

Students on campus agree that a change should be made to the nationally celebrated holiday. “Columbus Day isn’t a holiday that people celebrate,” said Ciara Schutz (‘20). In an attempt to remedy the issue, an alternate solution is to dissolve Columbus Day.

“Some Latin American countries, like Uruguay and Belize, celebrate a ‘Day of the Americas’ instead of Columbus Day. Argentina has a ‘Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity.’ Something along these lines seems worth considering.” said Dr. Danny Wasserman, a History Professor who also attended the panel.

“It could be a more inclusive option than what we have now, allowing us to celebrate the many different peoples that make the Americas: indigenous, African, Asian, and European,” he said.

When tradition turns into hazing


Hazing can be defined in many ways. It is often related directly to Greek life on college campuses all over the world.

Hazing spreads to athletics as well, and can come in many forms.

Hazing is defined as any humiliating or strenuous act done usually as an initiation into some sort of program or group, and is particularly common in athletics.

The most common example of athletic hazing often has to do with first year athletes in both high school and college who are just starting out on their teams.

At all levels, there have been situations where hazing has ruined the athletic careers of many student athletes.

Some examples include the 1990 Western Illinois University Men’s Lacrosse team, where a young athlete died of alcohol poisoning because of a hazing initiation.

Another example is the 1998 New Orleans Saints, proving that this issue even takes place at the professional level. In this case, rookie players were beat up in the locker room to be ‘welcomed’ to the team.

A more recent example took place just last September, in which three players were kicked off the McMinnville High School soccer team in Oregon because of an incident with hazing.

The common denominator with each story, as well as countless others, is the line, “it was a tradition for years.”

Whether it is tradition or not, there is a definite line between having some fun, and hazing.

Traditions could include shaving heads, forcing athletes to do corrupt acts or even public humiliation in an on-campus dining hall. But at what point do these elements of fun become an issue for student athletes?

Hazing can ruin people’s lives or even end them, causing more problems than need be in athletics.

However, it is not uncommon that first year athletes may have different responsibilities on their team due to their lack of seniority.

Whether it be getting equipment out for practice or cleaning up after games, there is certainly a big difference between extra chores and ruining a person’s life.

An ideal athletic community would not have any issues with hazing, and is one that can be achieved if all athletes are on the same page.

So even if it is a long standing tradition, times change and things aren’t always going to be funny to everyone.

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