Food options for athletes to consider


Everyone knows how important food is to college students, and especially to athletes.

What many people don’t know, however, are some of the options that all students at Alma have when eating in the dining hall.

“Part of the issue we have is that maybe not everybody knows what their options are,” said Burt McAtee, general manager of Sodexo Dining Services at Alma.

This raises the question of what it is that students want.

“I have thought that the food situation has been difficult to navigate,” said Erin Goggins (‘19).

Bri Zimmer (‘19), a student-athlete at Alma for four years, said she felt like there are not enough options for healthy foods.

“One of the main issues regarding the food here at Alma is the selection,” said Zimmer.

“I think the food is pretty average in that you are limited to what you can eat if the main line or grill options don’t work out,” said Chase Krueger (‘20).

“I would like to see the MyZone include a possible increase in its selection of available meats,” said Krueger.

While options may appear limited, McAtee urges students to see how that is not true.

There are countless options if something in the main line or grill does not appeal to you.

“Students don’t know that they can take items from anywhere in the dining hall and bring them to either the stir fry station or the pasta station and have them cooked,” said McAtee.

“At the MyZone, you can get a chicken breast cooked for you,” said McAtee.

“You can get anything you want cooked for you if it is allergen free,” said McAtee.

Another issue that is brought up among athletes is meal times.

“For most student athletes in season, it is difficult to get to Saga following practice for dinner due to the times they are open,” said Zimmer.

“Practice times and meal times don’t always match, making it difficult to get a meal that is both healthy and not just a salad with what is available to us at Joe’s,” said Goggins.

“The problem with meal times is that nobody made us aware of the schedule changes for classes,” said McAtee, who wants students to know that the dining hall is open and serving food until 7:30 p.m. each night during the week.

If making it to a meal time is an issue, there are ways around that to ensure you get a good meal.

“We have a boxed breakfast, bag lunch and to-go options available,” said McAtee.

Students have the opportunity to make it work, even with a busy athletic schedule.

Most importantly, the dining service staff on campus wants our voices to be heard.

“One thing that would be cool would be to talk with all of the coaches so that they can spread information to teams,” said McAtee.

“We have recently discussed options to improve this in our SAAC [Student Athletic Advisory Council] meetings,” said Zimmer.

“All athletes feel this way and we have now brought it to the attention of higher management,” said Zimmer.

“If there is something that we are missing or that athletes want, let us know,” said McAtee. “We not only want athletes to be happily fed, but we want all students happy.”

Migrant Caravan approaches border


As a nation known for being the melting pot or the salad bowl that prides itself on being made up of immigrants, the general antiimmigrant stance that is so popular in the United States seems highly hypocritical. While we preach about how brave our ancestors were for immigrating to an unknown land, we condemn others for doing the same thing.

Currently, thousands of migrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are pressing on in their trek toward U.S. border. The caravan began the journey on Oct. 12, when just over one hundred migrants who had been planning their journey for over a month met at a bus terminal to begin traveling to escape violence, poverty and persecution in their home countries.

Historically, migrant caravans are typically much smaller, numbering only a few hundred; but when a former politician posted about this caravan on Facebook, the news quickly spread and new members joined rapidly.

Since migrants are highly vulnerable to getting kidnapped or trafficked trying to make the journey to the U.S. border, traveling in a large group like this one provides numerous safety advantages.

At its height, the migrant caravan grew to about 5,000 people, but has since fractured into a few smaller groups as some lag behind, settle in Mexico or seek alternate transportation such as hitchhiking.

Along the way, members of the caravan face dehydration, exhaustion, illness and injury along with a lack of food and shelter. It is unclear at this point in time how many people from the caravan will complete the journey to the U.S. border, as they are still over 600 miles away.

What happens when the caravan reaches the United States? Experts still are not sure. When they do arrive, they will meet 7,000 active duty U.S. troops and 2,000 more National Guard personnel accompanying the thousands of border patrol agents and customs officers at the border.

The Trump administration has made it clear that it does not want the migrant caravan crossing over into the United States since such a large influx of migrants at one time can quickly become a national security issue. Trump stated that up to 15,000 troops could be sent to the U.S.-Mexico border, which is more than the number of troops stationed in Afghanistan. Trump also made threats to suspend all aid to these Central American countries unless they stop the outflow of their citizens into the U.S.

According to international law, the U.S. is required to hear claims of asylum from migrants who are fleeing violence. For those fleeing serious persecution, they would be considered refugees.

However, for those trying to escape poverty or obtain a better quality of life, they are not considered refugees so they do not get the same protections under international law as the other migrants.

As the caravan gets closer to the border, some fear that violence may break out if a large amount of the caravan tries to enter the U.S. by force. Of those stationed at the border, an operation ironically named “Faithful Patriot,” some units are indeed armed.

However, the 2,000 National Guard personnel are not supposed to make arrests or carry weapons and the active duty forces face restrictions from the Posse Comitatus Act that limits troops’ ability to carry out law enforcement duties on U.S. soil.

All three proposals pass in MI


Proposal 1, the Marijuana Legalization Initiative, passed last week by a 56- 44 percent margin, making Michigan the first state in the Midwest to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. However, recreational marijuana is not technically legal until 10 days after the election and marijuana will not be widely commercially available until 2020. The use of recreational marijuana is only legal on private property for individuals over the age of 21. Marijuana is not legal for anyone on campus and other restrictions are still being set in place.

Proposal 2, the Independent Redistricting Initiative, passed with a 61.1-38.9 percent margin to end gerrymandering in Michigan. This proposal takes the power to draw the lines for congressional districts out of the hands of state lawmakers and gives the power to an independent redistricting committee. The committee will consist of four Republicans, four Democrats and five people who do not identify with either party.

Proposal 3, the Voting Policies in State Constitution Initiative, passed with a 66.8-33.2 percent margin to make voting in Michigan significantly easier. This allows same-day voter registration, increases auditing for election results, automatically registers citizens to vote at the Secretary of State’s office unless a citizen declines, provides residents the option to vote straight party and ensures that military service members overseas can obtain ballots. Several other states already provide some of these options.

Pipe band dominates competition


In the first weekend of November, the Alma College Pipe Band competed at the Charleston Highland Games held on Boone Hall Plantation in South Carolina. They took first in their division— known as Grade 4—as well as challenging and placing first in Grade 3.

Piping is divided into divisions known as Grades 1 through 5 based on skill level. Alma College Pipe Band is part of the Midwest Pipe Association and typically competes in Grade 4. However, due to their performance in Grade 4 events, they were accepted to challenge up one level higher to Grade 3.

During competition there are two judges for piping, a judge for drumming, and a judge for total ensemble performance. All of these scores add to a total score against other bands in the same grade.

“This was our strongest performance as a band and we were rewarded heavily with two 1sts in piping, 1st in ensemble, and 2nd in drumming out of 3 other very good bands,” said Laureano Thomas-Sanchez (’20).

Although bagpipes are the first thing people think of when they hear pipe band, pipe drumming is very important to the success of the Alma College Pipe Band. There are three different kinds of drums used in pipe bands: snare drums, tenor drums and a bass drum. The tenors are similar to a small bass drum and are worn at the hip, making them very different from the tenor drums used in marching bands.

“While there are many differences between concert percussion and pipe band drumming, the biggest one would probably be the role that percussion plays in each group,” said Anna Dobyns (’20).

“Pipe band drummers are much more responsible for keeping the beat than a concert band percussionist would be.”

The Alma College Pipe Band is led by Andrew Duncan and David Zerbe, with Duncan focusing on the pipers and Zerbe focusing on the drumming portion.

Pipe bands play traditional Scottish music at their competitions, and much of this repertoire is standardized among pipe bands worldwide.

“Bagpipes originated as a folk instrument, so most of our songs are fast, dance-like pieces,” said Dobyns. “We play styles like jigs, marches, reels, and strathspeys.”

Thomas-Sanchez — along with many other Alma College pipers — competes individually at solo bagpiping competitions whenever they aren’t competing with the full band. The grades are organized in a similar fashion to the band competitions, but there is an extra Open Grade above Grade 1. This grade is reserved for pipers that have reached a professional level and Thomas-Sanchez was bumped up to this level in January of this year.

“In 2017, I competed in 33 solo events and won 29 while taking second in the remaining four events,” said ThomasSanchez. “I also received 18 AGL (Above Grade Level) markings which means the judge believed I was playing at a [professional] level.”

Piping can be very rewarding for those who are really invested, and can also give some travel experiences to students who compete at a high level.

“Back in August, I traveled to Perth, Scotland and competed in the C grade Piobaireachd event which I was very happy to win playing one of my favorite tunes, Corrienessan’s Salute,” said Thomas-Sanchez.

Voters still suppressed


THEN: The 15th Amendment, ratified shortly after the Civil War and abolition of slavery, reads as the following:

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

Optimistically, many Americans thought that the vote was now guaranteed for all men, regardless of race. When the 19th Amendment was passed, many more believed that this fundamental American right had now also been guaranteed to women. Unfortunately, the forces of racism and white supremacist politicians would persist.

Southern States immediately got to work on laws sneakily designed to disenfranchise black voters from voting, while not explicitly mentioning race. These laws included things like: literacy tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses. Governor of Mississippi, James Vardaman, admitted in 1890 that these laws had “…no other purpose than to eliminate the n***** from politics.”

These tactics worked; by 1940 only 3% of black Americans were registered to vote. The Civil Rights movement aimed to change that. Led by Martin Luther King Jr. and groups such as SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and CORE (Congress Of Racial Equality) made concerted efforts to fix this. Fighting racist laws and registering over 250,000 black voters. But when the law wasn’t enough to suppress black votes, white supremacists turned to extrajudicial violence.

In 1964, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner went missing in Neshoba County, Mississippi. The three were civil rights workers, working with the Freedom Summer campaign in order to register black voters. An FBI investigation revealed that Philadelphia, Mississippi Police Department had conspired with the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan to abduct the men and shoot them at point blank range, before burying them inside of a dam where their bodies were found two months later.

In 1965, Martin Luther King and the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Council) organized a march from Selma to Montgomery in order to protest voter suppression. The march was immediately halted at the Edmund Pettus bridge by Alabama State Troopers, who then cooperated with white supremacist organizations to beat and terrorize the protestors.

While these weren’t the only instances of violence (or even the last), the horror and high-profile nature of them were enough to convince Americans to support and pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Voting Rights Act banned the use of literacy tests, authorized the U.S. Attorney to investigate poll taxes, and most importantly: required states with a history of discrimination to get federal approval before changing their election laws.

Americans once again thought the vote would be guaranteed for all. Progress was being made until the Nixon Administration, in the midst of the Vietnam War, decided to use the War on Drugs as an excuse to lock up blacks. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people,” Former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman told Harper magazine, “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and the blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” Voter suppression once again began creeping back, as being a felon disenfranchises you from your right to vote.

NOW: In 2013, the Supreme Court heard Shelby County V. Holder. In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court declared that barring states from changing their election laws without federal approval (Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act) was unconstitutional. Justice John Roberts asserted that racial discrimination had long been over, and that this protection was no longer needed. Dissenting against this, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that this was “…like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

Immediately many states began to once again sneakily suppressing black people and those living in urban centers. States got rid of things like same day registration, purged voter rolls of registered voters, and began putting in place Voter ID laws. This was done in the name of fighting electoral fraud, but the Brennan Center for Justice found that the voter fraud incident rate is 0.0003 percent. The North Carolina Appeals Court struck down a strict Voter ID law after declaring that it was an effort to “…target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”

During the midterm, voter suppression was well and alive in the heart of America. In the controversial Georgia gubernatorial race, Brian Kemp ran against black candidate Stacey Abrams. Even though he was running for governor, Kemp refused to resign his position as Secretary of State. Because the Secretary of State oversees election, Kemp was able to carry out mass purges of voter rolls. Kemp also put 53,000 voter registrations on hold, 70% of which were for black voters. When asked to switch over to more reliable and secure paper ballots. Kemp refused. And when electronic voting booths crashed, died, or went missing in urban area (later found to be locked in closets), lines in urban areas went on for 2 hours or more. As of the time of this writing, Kemp is leading in the race by 85,000 votes, a razor thin margin where these underhanded tactics almost certainly made a difference. While the votes are still being counted, they are close enough that a recount may be triggered.

In North Dakota, a different tactic was tried during the Senate race. After Sen. Heidi Heitkamp won her race in 2012 with strong Native American support, new Voter IDs laws were put in place requiring voters to show they have a current residential address to vote. This prevented thousands of Native Americans from voting since many of them live on reservations, and use PO boxes instead of residential addresses.

Despite voter suppression measures being pushed all over the country, many reforms are also taking place. In Florida, 1.5 million former felons finally gained back the right to vote after the passing of a ballot proposal, in a rebuke to Nixon’s War on Drugs strategy. These former felons make up 10% of Florida population and 40% of black men. Unfortunately, these people were not able to vote in the last midterm election, where a black candidate also lost narrowly. Right here in Michigan, we were able to pass Ballot proposal 3, which automatically registers people to vote and offers same day registration.

These measures represent important steps in the fight to vote, but we must continue to be vigilant of insidious voter suppression tactics.

Students start nonprofit for education


A new non-profit organization on campus is helping people who don’t have access to technology both nationally and around the world. The Five North project aims to give students a chance to experience more hands-on learning in communities that don’t typically have access to these sort of experiences. The Five North Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity working on sending computers to communities that need them.

“Right now the organization is preparing for a shipment of 528 computers to the Volta Region of Ghana that will be shipped next year,” said Austin Barajas (’20). Barajas is one of the student leaders on campus heading this project.

Barajas and his team at Alma are working with a team at University of Michigan to help this campaign reach even further than what they could get to at Alma.

“We now have another University of Michigan student helping lead the project and multiple students from Alma College who are volunteering with us,” said Barajas. “We also recently entered the Optimize Challenge through the University of Michigan, which will help us gather support and advice from professionals and mentors.”

Many students working on the project have become really invested in the students they are working to help and much of this will be rewarded with a trip to the communities they are helping.

“One of the exciting factors of our project, is that members of the organization will have the opportunity to travel to Ghana to distribute computers and implement the project,” said Barajas. “We will be developing a small curriculum for workshops that we can implement in the schools which will include how to use the software installed on the computers, basic repair, basic use, and setup.”

A few other Alma students are cooperating with University of Michigan and Barajas to make this project a success.

“This was something I wanted to do because I’ve learned a lot about how education and access to technology can benefit students in developing countries, and this was a great opportunity to be directly involved in giving people that opportunity,” said Caroline Smerdon (’20). “We live in a digital world, and giving these students access to computers helps them to be a part of that world.”

This non-profit hopes to put more of an emphasis on learning technology in classrooms globally. They aim to close the divide between educational systems globally by providing international primary and secondary schools. This provides them with resources to foster a more handson learning environment.

“It took a few weeks to organize ourselves and determine what our project’s focus would be, but we eventually decided to focus on technological literacy and education,” said Barajas.

They realized many different complications with running this project, including getting these computers to where they need to go.

“We will most likely be using a 20 foot shipping container to send our supplies and resources, and we are working with local Ghanaian authorities and organizations to ensure the container arrives to the city of Ho, where our volunteer students will be working,” said Barajas.

Barajas realized that these complications are what stop college age students from making real progress in the world.

“A lot of students care what’s going on in the world, but we, as students, often fail to get past the talking stage of the issue,” said Barajas. “I think it is important to take that next step by becoming active. It is one thing to talk about an issue, but it is another to take action and make meaningful change on an issue.”

Alma College provides many opportunities for students to travel and volunteer, but the Five North Project takes it to the next level.

“Alma gives us so many opportunities to travel and learn about the challenges that people in other parts of the world face, but it’s incredible to be a part of a group of students who are passionate about those issues and take action to make a difference.” said Smerdon.

If students are interested in learning more about this project, reach out to Austin Barajas (barajas1a@ or www.

GSD promotes expression


The Gender, Sexuality and Diversity Club organized a Masquerade Ball as a post-Halloween hangout and PR Event.

The ball, which took place last Friday in Tyler Van Dusen, was a way for the Alma community to get to know more about GSD.

“GSD, or The Gender, Sexuality and Diversity Club, is–to date–the only campus group focused on adhering to the LGBT+ community,” said GSD President, David Parnell III (‘21).

“Whether it comes to open dialogue for what we as a community face and go through, or expanding on how to make campus interactions more viable for LGBT+ people, we discuss it, and it pertains to us,” continued Parnell.

The idea for the masquerade ball came during the Halloween season, and was a way for students to utilize their Halloween costumes one last time this year.

“The event [was] honestly an open to campus party if you will, still all about expressing yourself however you may come. Attire included costumes or dresses, however formal or informal guests felt like being,” said Parnell.

“The Gender, Sexuality and Diversity Club put on the Masquerade Ball because it allowed students to express themselves in whatever way they wanted to. It [provided] students an opportunity to dress up if they chose to, and students could even wear masks if they wished to help conceal their identity,” said Alexia Miller (‘20).

A large stressor about the event was that though it was a Masquerade Ball, those who decided to partake in events could wear what they wanted, but had the option to wear a mask. The event even had a craft station open so guests could make and decorate their own mask to wear and take home with them.

Miller said that the event was a place for students to feel safe. “I think it’s important because it’s an event where students can go and not have the fear of being judged. I love this event and the atmosphere of it. It’s a safe place to just be who you are and who you want to be while hanging out with people who will support you no matter what. A great night of dancing, talking, food, and just hanging out for a quick break from the stresses of school.”

The event also had a photobooth to take pictures in, as well as a costume contest with prizes for the first place and runner up costumes.

This is the first Masquerade Ball hosted by the Gender, Sexuality and Diversity club on campus, but the members hope to make the event an annual event.

The Gender, Sexuality and Diversity Club wanted to stress how welcoming the environment of the club is for anyone who may be considering being a part of the organization.

“In short, [GSD] is a home, honestly,” said Parnell.

Chaplain encourages inclusivity


Alma hired a new chaplain this year. Andrew Pomerville, an Alma graduate himself, brought with him a few changes to how the Chapel is run. One of those changes being the new Thursday service from 11:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

College staff and students pointed to the Chapel’s welcoming feeling no matter what event they participate in. “I try to attend every Thursday with Coach Cole,” said Coach Jason Couch.

“It is a great service that [has] allow[ed] me to escape whatever I’m doing throughout the day and center myself. My family and I also go to the Sunday service.”

“The Thursday interfaith service is meant to be a break in the middle of the day for students, staff, and faculty all together,” said Pomerville. “[It’s] interfaith so we have different voices and different faith perspectives that are on display each time.”

According to Pomerville, one of his goals is to make the Chapel an open place. “I’m hoping every student and faculty member will have the opportunity to engage with the Chapel or me as the chaplain while they’re here.”

He wished to establish personal connections with students and staff. “I’m here for some counseling and support as well.”

His new approach has also impacted their hiring policy. “We’ve added our interfaith approach to our student ministry coordinators. We used to hire students who were simply asked to run our Sunday night ecumenical Christian service. Now we hire students who are from a variety of faith backgrounds.”

“You may be of a different faith from the person next to you, but what does it look like to all be working towards one unified sense of ministry that we’re all trying to demonstrate here?” said Pomerville.

“I’m everyone’s chaplain whether they want me or not; That’s what I have always told people,” said Pomerville. “I’m chaplain to atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Protestants, Catholics. You name it I am your chaplain.”

He distinguished between the role of pastor and chaplain. A pastor is for a particular church, but a chaplain is for an organization.

“It’s not my place to pretend to be an imam or a rabbi, but I will help facilitate and find the right avenues and resources for people regardless of their faith,” said Pomerville. “Even if it’s one that I don’t know. It’s my job to try and figure it out.”

Pomerville also hosts a chapel service before every football game. “It [has been] a time for reflection and sanctuary before they go off,” said Pomerville. “It’s not just a club that meets in the basement of the Chapel. The idea of the chaplaincy being part of the campus everywhere [has been] a goal for the college.”

“I want students to feel that they are safe, that they’re able to ask as many questions as they have, [and] that they’re not feeling they’re being indoctrinated but they are certainly learning,” he said.

“I love his sense of inclusiveness, his positive attitude, and his welcoming posture,” said English Professor Dana Aspinall when asked about his experience when attending the Chapel’s events.

“I also like how he has involved students in his Sunday services,” said Aspinall. “You just [came] out of there feeling positive and that there are still people who care about each other.”

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