Smith named head coach of volleyball


On Friday, Jan. 18, director of athletics Steven Rackley announced that Alma College alumni Madison Smith would take over the volleyball program as head coach.

Smith, who graduated in 2017, was a four-year member of the volleyball team, and spent the past two years as an assistant coach at Tufts University.

“She was part of a great program at Tufts, learned a lot and I feel she can help us continue our ascension to become one of the best programs in the MIAA,” said Rackley.

“She coached at a very successful program and I believe that her knowledge of the game will keep pushing us forward,” said Ashtyn Snyder (‘20).

Although she spent time away, Smith is now back home. “I’m very excited to get Coach Smith back on campus,” said Rackley.

“She understands Alma, our culture and what we’re trying to do.” Rackley is not the only one who is excited to have Smith back on campus. “Being that she is a recent alumni, she knows the team and she knows our dynamic,” said Snyder. “It is nice that she already understands what Alma’s mission is coming into this position,” said Haley Novak (‘21).

“I had the privilege to play with her for a year and I know her passion for the game will continue to be inspirational to us all,” said Snyder.

As far as the hiring process for this position, it was all about getting Smith back to Alma. “We phone interviewed five candidates, then brought in three. Coach Smith came out on top,” said Rackley.

“We run all of our searches in basically the same way,” said Rackley, “We advertise nationally both on the NCAA website, then we usually advertise on the website of the particular coaches association that we’re trying to hire.”

From this point on, Smith will be taking over the program she was once a competitor for, and the team could not be more excited for the future. “We are looking forward for spring season and getting to know her,” said Novak. “The main goal is to prepare for an even more successful outcome than last fall, and I know Coach Smith will help get us there.”

“We had a very successful season this past fall and we want to continue to build off that momentum,” said Snyder. “We have high expectations of ourselves and for the team and having Coach Smith lead the way will allow us to keep pushing towards our greatest potential as a program.”

The “nerdy” side of campus


Alma College offers many opportunities for students to get “nerdy” on campus.

On campus, students interested in being a part of a gaming club can join any of the many organizations, which are ACOG, Highland Smash and ACGG. Each organization brings something different to campus. Alma College Otaku and Gamers (ACOG) is proud to be deemed one of the “nerd” clubs around Alma.

“While there are other clubs that are focused on one thing, such as exclusively video games, we are everything combined into one so we have a little of everything for everyone,” said Saige Captor(’21), the Secretary of ACOG.

From card and board games to anime, ACOG has something for everyone to use to take a break from the college stress. It provides students with an escape from reality, where they can indulge in their favorite video games.

“ACOG’s role on campus is to be a generally laid-back club to go to at the end of the day and relax with your friends,” said Jordan Ginder (’20), the Alumni Liaison for ACOG.

It is all about creating a safe place for students to partake in games they love and make new friends.

“Joining ACOG could also lead you to find someone who shares your interests. We have people who enjoy a wide array of gaming: Nintendo, Playstation, PC, XBOX, etc,” said Ginder.

ACOG also hosts multiple events throughout the year for students to mingle and get their game on, such as Almacon and various themed events.

ACOG recently had an event last Friday, January 25 and its theme was “Horror Night.” “The purpose of the Horror Event specifically is to have a place to show off some of your favorite things and discuss with people who share that interest,” said Captor.

While ACOG centers around any form of gaming, Highland Smash focuses on combat fighting games, specifically Super Smash Bros.

Although this club has not been registered through Alma yet, it still exists as a way for students to get together and play video games.

“Highland Smash is great for people who want to go hard against other people who love the game [Super Smash Bros.]. It is a very inclusive and friendly environment,” said Brandon Nicholson(’21).

Highland Smash revolves around playing tournaments of Super Smash Bros. every Saturday from 7:30-10:00p.m. for anyone interested in competing or trying the game. Monthly competitions are also held for the less competitive players.

“Anyone can come to Highland Smash, skilled or not skilled. We have a wide range of regulars with a very diverse skill set from beginners to seasoned veterans,” said Nicholson.

For those that are looking for something other than video games, Alma also has the Alma College Game Guild club(ACGG), which was recently created last year for students to have a stressfree environment to play board games. While other clubs focus on video games, the ACGG focuses on playing primarily classic board games.

“All students at Alma college are eligible to become members as long as they attend three meetings within three months, and anyone whether they are student, faculty, or not enrolled are free to come by and play some games,” said Jared Anderson (’20).

Whether it is competing in a sport or playing video games, there are plenty of opportunities for students to be involved on campus. There is a little bit of everything for everyone.

“If we want Alma to remain a happy and healthy campus, we need a variety of organizations so everyone has something they want and need, and that includes the ‘nerdier’ clubs,” said Captor.

CSO welcomes Dr. Blake


Dr. Donnesha A. Blake–the new director of diversity and inclusion on campus–began her career in the Center of Student Opportunity this Winter Semester.

She has received a positive response from those on campus, and her plans as the new director of diversity and inclusion will be an improvement for the Alma College community.

Dr. Blake graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a Ph.D. in Women’s Studies.

Her plans, regarding her new position in the CSO will be focused on promoting diversity in education.

“I came to Alma because I want to be a part of the College’s journey to increase diversity and inclusion and to promote diversity education,” said Blake.

The main priority for Blake is to be present on campus and effectively prioritize the community on campus. “My main priority is understanding the needs of staff, faculty, and students on campus. I am here to listen,” said Blake.

As her time in the CSO continues, Blake plans to address and progress solutions for the needs of students on Alma’s campus.

“Moving forward, I will be thinking critically about how to address the needs of our campus as it relates to diversity and inclusion. I also plan to work collaboratively with other staff, faculty and students on campus to address the needs of the campus community,” said Blake.

The encouragement of diversity will involve reaching out to other groups on campus, creating a network to aid and promote the environment for equal learning opportunities.

“I intend to find ways to support the diversity and inclusion efforts already taking place at Alma. I also want to continue building coalitions between groups who are doing similar work on campus,” said Blake.

Blake’s experience on campus has been producing these past three weeks. During her time here, she planned out several events for the Martin Luther King celebration week.

“I have had a pretty busy couple of weeks with the planning of our MLK Week keynote speaker, Joshua DuBois,” said Blake.

Blake reached out to DuBois and planned for the speech that took place at the Remick Heritage Center, Presbyterian Hall. All students, faculty, and the local community were welcome to attend that evening.

“DuBois spoke to students, faculty, and staff about Dr. King’s legacy and the future of minority male leadership,” said Blake.

DuBois – previous head of the WhiteHouse Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships under President Obama focused on the significance of faith-based organizations partnering with community aid to encourage positive change.

“I enjoyed hearing him respond to faculty, staff, and students who, in different ways, wanted to know how we increase cultural awareness on campus and in our community. It was a wonderful start to my year and job,” said Blake.

Blake has also enjoyed the opportunities to work with students who have received the Campbell Scholarship. This scholarship is one that is awarded to students from Detroit, Michigan who promote academic excellence. She also worked with students from the King Chavez-Parks Mentor Program as well during these past weeks.

Blake’s beginning at Alma has been a useful improvement in the CSO and for the community of Alma College. academic environment.

Bangladeshi workers go on strike


For over two weeks now, 50,000 Bangladeshi garment workers have been striking against a multi-billion-dollar fashion industry. The protests turned violent when Bangladeshi police opened fire on garment workers using rubber bullets; killing one worker and injuring 50 others. Since then, undeterred garment workers have been burning tires, blocking roads, and shutting down over 140 factories. Police have responded with an increased use of water cannons, tear gas and batons.

Allegations of corruption surround the government’s response strike. Bangladeshi Prime Minister won a fourth term on December 30th in an election that caused thousands of arrests and violence that workers say have continued over to the strikes. Many activists say that the harsh police response is the result of The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association, which has significant political influence over the government. Association President Siddikur Rahman told reporters, “We may follow the ‘no work, no pay’ theory, according to the labour law,” and warned that all factories might shut down if the strike was not quickly put down. Mohammad Abdullah, a striking worker, said manufacturers had hired local musclemen to stop workers in other factories from joining protests.

Striking garment workers are demanding a higher wage, an end to bad faith trade deals and protections against sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace. In an attempt to compromise, the Bangladeshi government has announced a 50% rise in wages for mid-level factory workers, but many workers say $95 a month no longer reflects the rising cost of living.

Striking workers also say that there is a clear disconnect between the amount of money garment workers make from the fashion industry and the amount that the fashion industry makes from them.

Bangladesh was the second largest exporter of fabric and apparel after China. 4,500 textile and clothing factories shipped more than $30 billion worth of materials last year, supplying companies like H&M, Walmart, Tesco, Carrefour and Aldi. It’s clear that garment workers played a key role in making a developing nation into a worldwide manufacturing hub, but garment unions say that working conditions have not reflected this. Bangladesh plans to expand the garment sector into a $50 billion-a-year industry by 2023, but many workers think this will be untenable unless working conditions are improved.

Students experience Scotland


Scotland, Europe is the home to bagpipes, haggis and many people. Scotland, USA is a home to many of us. At Alma, we have taken pride in our Scottish heritage and traditions for many years. Let’s take a look at the culture and daily life of the citizens of Scotland.

Government in Scotland is ran by a monarch but also has a parliament. Queen Elizabeth II is the current queen with Nicola Sturgeon as the first minister. Scotland is also a member of the UK (United Kingdom) and the EU (European Union).

“Something I noticed about Scotland, especially in the smaller cities, was the amazing community feel. We had the opportunity to go and join a small community for a Scottish dancing party, and everyone was extremely friendly and close,” said Sam Lindeman (‘20).

Em Witteveen (‘19) had a different experience. “Everyone is so quiet there. Restaurants were like graveyards and even if we were whispering it still felt like we were the loudest ones in the place.”

Contrary to the rest of the United Kingdom, it is law in Scotland that all of its fifteen universities are totally funded by the parliament. Students will get full tuition for their undergraduate degrees, but any degree past that they will have to pay for. The “Open University”, which is online college, makes up for 40% of part-time undergraduate students studying at universities in Scotland. St. Andrews University is the oldest university being founded in 1413.

The most common ways of traveling in Scotland are by train or car. “In Scotland, we mostly drove around in a coach bus. In the larger cities, like Glasgow, the streets were always packed. But when we were driving from city to city, there weren’t many cars driving around the countryside,” said Lindeman.

Witteveen, again, had a another take. “Travel is wild. Driving on the wrong side of the road, even if I was never actually behind the wheel, is nerve-wracking. Every time we went the wrong way around a roundabout, I had a mini heart attack. Also, there are a bunch of giant camper vans and tiny roads. Most bridges are only wide enough for one vehicle at a time.”

The food in Scotland is quite different when compared to the United States. Scotland does have some other European influences but many of its traditional foods have been around for a long time. One interesting thing about the cuisine in Scotland is that they don’t use a lot of spices. This is because in the past spices were expensive so Scottish people rely on simple foods.

“When we first arrived, we ate a traditional Scottish breakfast including potato scones, roasted tomatoes, and haggis. It was absolutely delicious.” Said Lindeman. “Having Scottish heritage and being able to experience the culture through delicious food was such an awesome thing.”

Witteveen had quite an experience at Loch Ness. “I went swimming in Loch Ness. It was absolutely freezing, and all the locals thought we were nuts. It was about 48 degrees and there was a cryptozoologist parked on the beach in a Volkswagen van proudly displaying his newspaper clippings proving Nessie’s existence. It was an experience.”

In a final note, Lindeman said, “Being in Scotland and having the opportunity to hike and see some amazing historical sites was awesome. It’s such a beautiful country, and I hope I have the opportunity to visit again.”

Global warming cools campus


Winter has finally arrived on Alma College’s campus, and in a frigid way. Temperatures dipped as low as -14° Fahrenheit during the week of 20 Jan. and are expected to stay low as we enter February. One large reason for the late and exceptionally cold winter is global warming and how it has impacted weather patterns.

What is often blamed for harsh winters is La Niña, the name for the periodic cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the central and east central Pacific Ocean near the equator. La Niña is the opposite of El Niño, which refers to the warming of ocean surface temperatures. According to the Climate Prediction Center (CPC), La Niña events happen around every 3 to 5 years but can happen several years in a row.

During a La Niña event, a drop in ocean surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean affects tropical rainfall in Indonesia and South America, which in turn affects weather patterns around the world. These effects are felt the strongest during the winter months, when the jet stream linking these places is over the United States. A strong jet stream leads to colder and harsher conditions in the Northern Hemisphere and warmer and less harsh conditions in the Southern Hemisphere.

What does the jet stream mean for the Midwest? Typically, during a strong jet stream, fall tends to be drier and warmer while winter tends to be wetter than normal. However, there are also other weather patterns that correlate to a colder winter for us. These weather patterns include the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).

The Arctic Oscillation refers to the changing atmospheric pressure patterns in the Arctic. When there is high pressure over the polar region and low pressure in the middle latitudes, the AO is said to be in a negative phase. Conversely to that, when there is low pressure over the polar region and high pressure in the middle latitudes, the AO is said to be in a positive phase. In a negative phase, cold air from the Arctic travels into the central and eastern United States, causing local temperatures to drop. In a positive phase, the cold air is confined to the polar regions by the low pressure and doesn’t travel down to the United States.

The North Atlantic Oscillation, abbreviated as NAO, is like the Arctic Oscillation, but measures the difference in atmospheric sea level pressure between the polar low and the subtropical high. A positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation indicates an increased pressure gradient while a negative phase indicates a weaker pressure gradient.

If either the Arctic Oscillation or North Atlantic Oscillation are positive for a long amount of time, their effects could lead to a milder winter in the continental United States. However, if they are negative for a long amount of time, it could lead to an unusually cold winter for the continental United States. Research has shown that the Arctic Oscillation and North Atlantic Oscillation have been negative for the past few winters and could stay in negative or positive phases for several years at a time.

These phases mean that weather could turn more extreme, and shift towards the ends of its scales. With the effects of global warming, warmer temperatures will increase, and colder temperatures will decrease, leading to a drastic change in seasons. Summers will become almost unbearably hot and winters will become immensely cold.

Currently, the Climate Prediction Center predicts an equal chance for normal, above or below normal temperatures as well as an increased chance for above normal precipitation in the Midwest. The best option to deal with the onslaught of cold weather? Bundle up, Scots. Winter isn’t over yet.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez makes waves


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the recently-elected democratic representative of the 14th congressional district of New York.

Ocasio-Cortez was elected into Congress on June 26, 2018. She was endorsed by several progressive and civil rights-based organizations and didn’t accept funding from major corporations.

Ocasio-Cortez is a self described democratic socialist. Her political positions include single-payer Medicare for All and enacting gun-control policies. OcasioCortez is very involved in all areas of politics.

“I am literally in love with her. Frankly, the United States is really behind in the health care and education departments. Every other developed country has some form of socialized health care,” said Preston Riegel (‘22).

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a freshman in congress. Being a freshman means that this is her first elected position in Congress and first year of official political association.

Ocasio-Cortez has said that the socialism she supports is not that of Cuba or Venezuela but mostly resembles that of which we see in the United Kingdom and other European countries.

“The Congress of the US is supposed to be representative of the people, including demographics, and I believe that she [AOC] represents the voice of the younger generation of Americans well,” said Nathan Fetter (‘22).

Along with her support of free public college and trade school, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also leads the effort on many proposals within the democratic community.

“I think people are forgetting to acknowledge the plans she has with Sen. Sanders for a Green New Deal. Although these aren’t coming to full fruition any time soon with the dynamic of congress, I’m looking forward to seeing material proposals in the near future,” said Bennett Dubois (‘19).

The Green New Deal involves the federal government investing in the construction of largescale green infrastructure. Ocasio-Cortez also sees climate change as the single biggest national security threat in the United States.

“While many of her policies are popular with the American people … most of her stances will most likely not be implemented during her first term,” said Fetter.

Before beating incumbent Joe Crowley in the 2018 democratic primary election, Ocasio-Cortez was given little airtime by major networks. She was also barely covered by any form of mass media before her win in the primary.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is also a very prominent figure in social media. Just recently, she called into a livestream with a well-knownYouTuber. Once live, she stayed on the call until said YouTube star met his goal of $200,000.

One of Ocasio-Cortez’s most controversial platforms is that she supports defunding the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. She would not completely disband the agency, but rather create a pathway to citizenship through decriminalization.

Ocasio-Cortez has also said that she would support the impeachment of President Donald Trump. She believes that we must hold everyone accountable, and that no one is above the law.

Dubois believes that the current political climate in the United States is not prepared for Ocasio-Cortez’s progressive views. While he wishes that the United States was ready for a leftward shift, he feels that the political establishment will resist her with the same methods that have worked for decades.

Students participate in Women’s March


On January 20, Alma students took part in the Women’s March in different cities to exercise their first amendment right to free speech. The McCurdy House assisted students in getting to Lansing for the march on Michigan State University’s campus.

Colleen Loftus (’21) and Eryn Corinth (’21)were leaders in helping set up the trip to Lansing. Eight people traveled together to join the march. While this was Loftus’s first, it was Corinth’s third march of this kind. The others who went had an assortment of experience marching for human rights in this way.

Even though the main march this year was being held in Detroit, there was interest expressed from the public to hold another march in the capitol city. The march was from the MSU Union building to the Hannah Administration building where there were speakers, including the new governor, Gretchen Whitmer.

“People are agreeing [with Whitmer]. There were cheers. There were chants. In the moment you are like,this is why I’m doing it because I’m not alone in this,” says Loftus when describing listening to Whitmer speak. Being around others with the same goal and wanting the same improvements was inspiring to many march-goers.

Women’s equality was not the only thing topic spoken about at the march. There was also mention about LGBTQ equality and rights, as well as the current government shut down. This showed the greater conscious of what is going on politically.

There was a large range of ages from younger women with their parents to college students and older. “It makes a point. People will hear about people meeting up in a large group and see why are… they are more willing to look into it and consider another side,”says Loftus. It opens the rest of the community’s eyes to what is going around them.

Students also participated in marches in other cities around the state. Chelsea Faber (’21) traveled to Traverse City to march for her first time. “So many individuals have worked towards this goal in the past century, and us, being the next voting age generation, need to continue this movement through advocacy and voting,” says Faber, acknowledging the importance of being involved.

The Women’s March brings people together about topics that they care about. Faber stated that her favorite part was seeing the number of people that gathered to advocate for what they care about, despite it being so cold.

There is still a call for improvements from the government. Corinth hopes that the government will be held responsible for their actions at that more women and minorities will be elected. Faber also hopes for the election of more women, but also to see more women in science related fields.

By advocating for rights and participating in protests, people’s voices can be heard and ask for change.In order for change to happen, people are recommending continuing action and advocacy in their communities. There has been a lot of progress, but people still are wishing for more in many areas, not just women’s rights.

“My biggest take away from the march was that we have made advances, but we still have more to go,” says Corinth. This sums up the general feeling that while the political system is improving with the election of more women into the government there is still room for improvement.

The first Women’s March was January 21, 2017 in Washington D.C., the day after President Trump was inaugurated. It was a way for people to come together and fight against the president’s comments as well as inequalities. It was the largest single day protest in United States history.

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