Alma’s thoughts on the outside world: Freedom of speech and democracy


Due to the nature of journalistic writing, the Almanian was unable to publish a formal stance last week on the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This column accompanies the news story covering the murder that was printed last week.

The Almanian stands in solidarity with journalists everywhere who fight to preserve the freedom of speech that is central to a democracy. The Almanian operates without censorship and firmly believes in the power of a newspaper. As we advance further into the digital age, the newspaper and print media will continue to withstand the test of time because of its key importance to democracy and freedom. An attack on one journalist is an attack on all of us.

As stated previously, Khashoggi was murdered on Oct. 2 inside the Saudi consulate for his writing that included critical dissenting opinions of the Saudi Arabian government.

Initially, the Saudi Arabian government tried to cover up the incident and denied having any knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate. Soon after, the Saudi Arabian government claimed first that Khashoggi died in an apparent fist fight inside the consulate and then that he died in a “botched” interrogation attempt.

Since then, audio recordings documenting Khashoggi’s final moments inside the consulate have been released to foreign governments. The recordings verified that he was tortured, dismembered and killed. It is unclear at this point whether he was dismembered before or after he was killed and his body has not been found. There are currently 18 suspects and his case is still being investigated.

Khashoggi’s case represents something greater than an isolated incident; it represents a threat to the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech as we know it.

We have seen this time and time again; powerful regimes rule their countries on the premise of fear and silence anyone who dares to dissent. As a result, Khashoggi has joined the list the ever-growing list of martyrs of free speech not long after 12 journalists were gunned down in the Charlie Hebdo shooting in 2015 in France for the satirical pieces that they published.

President Trump still has not issued a formal stance on the matter, but he did claim that it would be “foolish” for the United States to cancel its arms deal with Saudi Arabia because the life of one journalist is not worth as much as the profit from the arms deal. Find the rest of this article on

Student services celebrate students


The staff at the Student Service Center celebrated Halloween with the students on Alma College’s campus by handing out candy and prizes and playing games. The workers at the Student Service Center wanted to thank the students at Alma for visiting and seeking help during their office hours.

The event was held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. under Hamilton. The Student Service Center was decorated with the festivities of Halloween and the staff wore their best costumes to greet incoming students.

“This is one of my favorite days. It’s a fun day where we can see new students,” said Chloe Sova, a Financial Aid Advisor.

“This entire day is devoted to the students and in a lighthearted way, we look forward to this day every year,” said Sova. The purpose of the event is to connect with the students on campus and help them feel welcome to visit the Student Service Center.

Students who attended this celebration played games, enjoyed prizes and were given a large variety of Halloween candy.

“All of us volunteered to bring baked goods and provide a relaxing environment for the students,” said Sova.

A multitude of games were set up as a way for the students and the staff to bond and reminded students that they can stop by at any time. The games provided were a fun and interactive way for students to win prizes. “Students have the opportunity to win gift cards and prizes. These games allow for more interaction between us and the students than we typically see,” said Sova.

Planning the event involved the entire staff at the Student Service Center and their contributions reflected the appreciation that they have for the students on Alma College campus. “I would credit most of the shopping and decorating to Megan Bahlke,” said Sova.

The relationships built between the staff and the students on campus have strengthened every year from this event. “We have been celebrating this event since 2012 and every year gets better,” said Megan Bahlke, a Financial Aid Advisor that has worked at the Student Service Center for three years and enjoyed taking the time to put on this event.

The time that is taken to get to know the students on campus and help them through their journey through college is a major bonus for the workers at the Student Service Center. “I love working with the students on Alma’s campus. It’s the positive interactions that motivate me in this line of work,” said Bahlke.

“The students on Alma’s campus are very responsible. I appreciate working with students that are responsible because it makes my job better,” said Bahlke. Students on campus are appreciated and the staff enjoys their presence.

The Student Service Center has tried to improve their perspective on higher education every year.

“Here in the office we can have fun and reach out to students in a way they can be comfortable coming to us for guidance,” said Bahlke.

“Here, we enjoy providing a great atmosphere for families and students on campus to ask questions.”

Every year the staff at the Student Service Center works to improve and build upon the Halloween event.

“This is the first year we’ve dressed up for Halloween in the office and it’s our way of getting into the spirit of October and creating a fun space for students to come in,” said Sova.

What we wish we knew about campus


There are a lot of unknown features around campus that both freshman and upperclassmen might not know about. Two of these are how to use green boxes and how to use the resources at the library.

Green boxes are used around campus to transport food from the dining locations to other places. Green boxes can be bought at Joe’s Place for $5. They can either be purchased with cash, card or Munch Money. Once a Green Box has been purchased, it belongs to whomever bought it, and he or she can use it for the rest of his or her time at Alma College.

“The green boxes were advertised around campus last year when I got here, and upperclassmen told me about them,” said Mia Arkles (’21).

Once students are done with their Green Box, they can hand the Green Box back to a worker at either SAGA (Hamilton Commons) or at Joe’s Place. Once returned, the worker will hand a green clip back to the student.

When a student would like to get food in a Green Box again, they can go to Joe’s Place and order their food and ask that it be put in a Green Box. The worker will put food in the Green Box and the student can proceed to pay for their food. When checking out, the student gives the green clip to the Joe’s worker behind the counter.

Another option is to return the green clip to a worker at SAGA to fill the Green Box with food from the dining options at that time.

This semester, SAGA has invested in a new type of Green Box. This Green Bowl is smaller and is used specifically for soup. The process of obtaining one of these smaller Green Bowls is the same as purchasing a regular Green Box, but an additional $5 must be paid to acquire the smaller Green Bowl.

Emma Grossbauer (’22) said that she did not know that Saga started using Green Bowls because she rarely goes to Saga to eat anymore.

Filling a Green Bowl with soup at Saga will count as a meal swipe, but if a student comes in with a regular Green Box as well, then the student can fill the Green Box and the Green Bowl for a singular meal swipe. When returning the Green Bowl to Saga, a smaller green clip will be handed to the student. The smaller green clips are different from the Green Box green clips.

Along with unknowns about Green Boxes on campus, there are also some unknown things about the library. To check out book from the library, a student needs to find the book he or she is looking for and bring it to the front desk. A library worker will scan the student’s ID card, and the worker will tell the student how long he or she can have the book out for.

If students do not know where to find what book to look for, there is an online catalog of all the books in Alma’s library. Simply go online to and search the library for books using key words. After searching for the desired book, students can find the book he or she is looking for and can also ask a library worker for further assistance locating it.

Another hidden feature inside the library is the document scanner. The scanner is located on the right side of the library after entering through the McIntyre Mall entrance. The scanner can be used to scan book pages, documents or pictures. Scanned documents can be printed after scanning or emailed to someone from the scanning menu.

“I didn’t know that there was a document scanner in the library,” said Ellie Woertz (’20). “If I had known that the library had had a scanner, I would have used it so many times.”

Another thing that some students may not know about printing at Alma is the price comparison between printing in color and printing in grayscale. Students begin each semester with $15 in print credit, and printing in grayscale costs less money than printing in color. When printing documents, the Papercut website will tell students how much money each print job will cost. After printing, the cost of the print job will be taken out of the print credit balance.

iGEM eyes synthetic biology


A new competitive team has arrived on Alma’s campus, but they don’t compete in regular athletic competitions. iGEM, which stands for International Genetically Engineered Machines, is a team on Alma’s campus that uses synthetic biology to propose a solution to a real-life problem in an annual competition.

Synthetic biology is a combination of engineering and biology that, broadly speaking, creates or redesigns biological pathways. Students participating in iGEM spend their summers creating a solution to issues faced around the world and present their work in the fall at the organization’s Jamboree, where our own team headed from 24 October to 28 October.

Alma’s iGEM coordinator, Professor Devin Camenares, is eager about the newlyminted team on campus.

“Students learn a lot through participating in an iGEM project on a breadth of different subjects,” he says.

“Students will also learn how to think beyond the science, and consider the impact of their project on a broader community.”

By thinking outside of the science, students will see how their work affects people in a bigger sense, which is precisely the point of iGEM.

Team member Nathaniel Haut (‘20) feels the same way. “Students participating in iGEM of course will learn a lot about synthetic biology, but they will also become more aware of the types of problems that are out in the world, and how synthetic biology can be used as a tool to solve them,” he says.

iGEM isn’t just restricted to science majors. Anyone who is interested in participating can join the Alma iGEM team. Because iGEM draws from multiple different fields of work, such as science, engineering, math and the humanities, anyone’s background of study is useful and can provide a new insight to their team’s project.

Haut feels iGEM can be relevant to all majors at Alma. “Even if a student isn’t involved in the sciences at Alma, getting involved with the IGEM team will educate them on real current event issues, such as environmental issues, GMO’s, medical technologies, and more,” he says.

Camenares hopes students will learn beyond their field of study while participating in iGEM. “They will see how different disciplines can be integrated together, all in the service of identifying and solving a real-world problem,” he says. “This is the crux of iGEM and resonates with the spirit of the liberal arts education offered at Alma, in which different perspectives and fields intersect together.”

By integrating multiple different fields of knowledge, a more complex and thoughtful solution can be created to fix any real-life problem the students come across.

Solving real-life problems is one of Haut’s favorite parts of participating in iGEM. “My favorite part of iGEM is that it aims to tackle real world problems, so by participating in iGEM, I am helping to better the future in some way,” he says. These solutions can even turn into large-scale businesses, as teams develop their ideas in greater detail and start their project with their own money.

“One key example of this [idea development] is the Ginkgo Bioworks company, which started as an iGEM team and now is worth over $1 billion,” explains Haut.

There are several plans in motion to integrate iGEM into classes at Alma, including multiple Biochemistry courses and Biotechnology Journal Club. There will also be an iGEM Spring Term held this year. Students interested in participating in iGEM can contact Camenares through his email (camenaresd@alma. edu) for more information.

Greek life adds to Title IX organization


Greek organizations throughout campus have joined the discussion about Title IX and its importance, and are hoping to make an impact in the Alma community.

“Title IX comes from the ‘Title IX of the Education Amendments’ of 1972. It was passed at that time because there were a lot of issues surrounding sex and gender discrimination,” said Kevin Carmody, Alma’s Civil Rights and Title IX Coordinator.

“What Title IX says is that any institution of education–whether that is K-12 or higher education- -that accepts any federal funding of any form, cannot discriminate because of sex.

That includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, and also things like stalking, dating and domestic violence,” said Carmody.

There has been active discussion about Title IX, including on our campus. Carmody explained that since 2011, there has been a flurry of attention around the issue, as well as a lot more guidance over what is supposed to happen in specific situations.

Another important topic he discussed is the importance of responding to the word of an incident quickly and effectively to eliminate the incident from happening again, and to remedy the ill effects.

“The remedy comes in when we try and prevent anything from happening again, and what we are doing with Greek Life is very important to help this situation,” said Carmody.

“The [Title IX training with Greek Life] is really based on organizational values, because that roots the issue in something. We wanted to do individual organizations because every chapter is at a different level of understanding of Title IX and sexual assault,” said Panhellenic President, Kaydee Hall (‘18).

Carmody touched on stereotypes within Greek Life and how to stomp them down.

“It is no secret that Greek Life does not always get the best reputation surrounding things such as sexual assault, so we are putting all our cards on the table and asking what needs to be done to change that.”

He continued, “The idea behind the Greek Life training is that we know that the members of sororities and fraternities are leaders here on campus, and they have an incredible opportunity to engage in the culture of the institution. We are really trying to partner with them to talk about these issues.

”The majority of the training with each organization has been strictly conversational.”

Carmody is meeting with each chapter individually to cater the training to their specific needs.

“We start by talking about individual values, then organizational values, and then we move into talking about reputation and how we can better the campus community as Greeks and be leaders on this issue,” said Hall.

Carmody has hope for the training, and for campus leaders such as those in Greek Life.

“My hope is that the conversation does not end with me. My hope is that students carry on with the discussion, and that is our hope with this training with the Greek organizations.”

So we start by talking about individual values, then organizational values, and then we move into talking about reputation and how we can better the campus community as Greeks and be leaders on this issue.

ACUB outperforms the competition


From Oct 25 to 28, the Alma College Union Board participated in the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) Mid America Conference in Grand Rapids and won Program of the Year award for a budget under $75,000.“

During the conference, we are able to network with other campus activity boards, professionals, performers, and their agents,” said Molly McCranner (‘19), one of the Heads of Staff of ACUB.

The NACA Mid America Conference gives ACUB the opportunity to share ideas and information between similar organizations across campuses.

McCranner listed off several opportunities available to ACUB due to attending.

“We [went] to about 5 educational sessions to learn all about professional development, creating successful events, and diversity and inclusion.”

“We also [got] to spend a bit of time watching showcases of performers who we are able to book on spot to bring to campus. We [had] so much fun learning from other schools and booking performers,” she said.

ACUB won the Program of the Year award for a budget under $75,000 at the conference. They won this award for their Drag Show event earlier this year.

“The easy answer would be that we put on amazing programs year round, but I think that we won because our event was successful in terms of attendance as well as being progressive in a world that isn’t very understanding of all walks of life,” said Tikilah Turner (’19).

According to Turner, ACUB was distinct from the competition for that reason. “I think that ACUB really shined because we brought that dynamic to campus. It was something that students wanted and needed to experience as well.”

ACUB plans on keeping up the success and running for other awards in the future. “This is the first award we ever put ourselves in the running for and it was a success!” said McCranner. “We plan on holding our staff to high expectations and constantly doing our best to give the student body exactly what they want and a little variety for students to try new things.”

ACUB will also host bigger and better events. “We’re looking to do bigger events next semester,” said Turner. “[We’ll do] about double what we’ve done in the past which is really cool.”

Turner attributed this change to ideas and advice from fellow NACA attendees. “We had the unique opportunity to go to NACA and get some ideas on how to program effectively, but also cost efficiently,” she said. “So I think combining what we’ve learned with what we already have will make it a great semester.”

Some Heads of Staff commented on the NACA experience. “I’m always looking to improve myself as an individual,” said Turner. “This year I was really looking to bring that back to ACUB.”

“It was great to see all these different artists, spoken word poets, craft artists and singers,” she said. “We also had these really cool professional development workshops that talk about how not to burn out with such a stressful schedule and how to get the most out of your program.”

“The biggest benefit [of attending NACA was] that you’re learning so much, but you [had] so much fun you [didn’t] realize you [were] learning,” said Turner.

Ballot proposal breakdown


If you’re planning to vote on Tuesday, you will find several proposals on the back of the ballot. These are called “Ballot Proposals,” and all three have fought a long fight to get on to the ballot for this Tuesday. Here’s a quick run-down before you go to the polls:

Proposal 1: Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

Marijuana has been a hotly debated topic, and this proposal intends to settle it. Proposal would have the law treat marijuana in a similar way alcohol is.

Anyone over 21 years old would be legally allowed to purchase 2.5 ounces a day and keep 10 ounces at home. This also means anyone over 21 is now allowed to grow up to 21 pants for personal use. The sale of marijuana would be subject to a 6% state tax and an additional 10% tax.

Opponents of the proposal claim that marijuana is a gateway drug, and the legalization of it would lead to more people driving under the influence of marijuana. Proponents of the proposal say that the criminalization of marijuana is ineffective and the lockup of those using are particularly harmful to people of color (who are 3x more likely to be arrested than white people, despite similar usage rates).

Proposal 2: DeGerrymandering Michigan

As it is right now, whichever political party controls the state legislature gets to decide how the congressional boundaries are drawn across the state. This often leads to the outcome of gerrymandered districts: districts drawn in a way that gives one party an unfair advantage.

This can even mean one party winning more seats even if they don’t get the majority of the vote. If Proposal 2 passes, these responsibilities would instead be undertaken by an independent redistricting commission composed of citizens. Four of these citizens would be republicans, four would be democrats, and five would be independent voters.

Opponents of the proposal claim that this would mean the people in charge of drawing district lines would be people who have very little knowledge or experience of how to do it. Proponents say that Michigan is one of the most gerrymandered states in the entire country, and that politicians should not be able to choose who gets to vote for them.

Proposal 3: Make Voting Easier

This proposal takes several steps to ensure that voting is vastly easier than it is now. The measures included in this proposal include: automatically registering people to vote when they get their driver’s license, ending the registration deadline (allowing you to even register on election day), providing absentee ballots to soldiers overseas, allowing you to vote straight-ticket (automatically voting for all the candidates of the party you choose), and no longer requiring you to give a reason in order to obtain an absentee ballot.

Opponents of this proposal claim that it will increase the amount of vote fraud. Proponents believe that all of these measures eliminate common roadblocks that prevent people (especially young people) from voting, and that this will increase the amount of people who are able to get to the polls.

Laundry frustrates students


Having to do one’s laundry on campus is something a lot of students deal with, including having to wait for open washers and dryers. The students living in the newly-renovated Mitchell and Newberry Halls have nine washers and dryers, so these students do not have to wait for the machines as much,

Wright Hall has four of each machine that are in very nice condition, but the other south campus dorms are not so lucky. Nisbet/Brazell Hall and Carey/Bonbright Hall each have only two washers and dryers, and these machines are not in the greatest conditions.

One of the dryers in Carey/ Bonbright does not have the handle, and the door is bent so it does not properly close. On top of this, students living in these dorms constantly have to wait for open machines in order to have clean clothes.

As a student living in Carey/Bonbright, the weekly struggles of having to wait for an open machine build my frustration and annoyance. For me, the weekends are a time for homework, practicing music for band and other class assignments or projects, as there is limited time during the actual week to do these things while also attending classes.

Having to wait hours for machines, some of which sit with a students’ laundry in them for hours, is frustrating and annoying because it is inconsiderate to the other students that have to wait for the machines. This could all be resolved if we had more washer and dryers in the south campus dorms.

After the renovations were mostly completed in the dorm halls of Mitchell and Newberry, the amount of washers and dryers purchased and placed in them seems to be a bit much.

It is understandable that there would need to be extra washers and dryers for all the students, but to allow these halls so many and neglect the upperclassmen who were forced over to the south campus dorms is beyond frustrating.

The upperclassmen living in Wright Hall are lucky because they have four washers and dryers that are located in a nice room on the second floor rather than down in a creepy basement with a window that looks out into a closed off room that students cannot access.

In Wright Hall the laundry room has chairs and the room is big, open and bright. A student could sit there and do homework while waiting for their laundry to finish. In the other south campus dorms, there is little room for students to move around, let alone to sit there and work on homework.

It is always awkward to go down into the basement laundry room of Carey/Bonbright on the weekends because there are usually other students down there, and the tight space makes it so that students bump into each other while trying to access the machines.

The worst part is when students remove each other’s laundry from the machines, especially when their clothes aren’t done in the dryers. These actions only build more frustration, as well as impatience, among all the students.

Nothing could frustrate and annoy one more than when they go to get their laundry and find that someone pulled it from the dryer before it was done, causing it to have to go back into the dryer.

Apart from it being frustrating, it is also embarrassing knowing that someone else’s hands have touched your clothes, including your intimate pieces of clothing. Living in co-ed dorm buildings, such as south campus, making this all the more creepy and concerning.

Not having enough washers and dryers, let alone proper working ones, is an issue that should be resolved to better meet the needs of the students who are frustrated by the struggles of trying to time manage just so that they can have clean clothes and keep up with their education.

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