Cheer and stunt sweeps tournament


On Sunday the 10th, the cheer and STUNT team took a trip to Michigan State University to compete against three big competitors: University of Michigan, Michigan State Universtity and Grand Valley State University.

The team had dominating victories over all three teams.

“It was a great event. Michigan State and Alma were the first teams in Michigan to participate in STUNT, so there is a ton of tradition in our rivalry,” said Michelle Sabourin, head coach of the cheer and STUNT team.

“Our team played very well and did exactly what we asked of them, which is to improve every time we take the mat,” said Sabourin.

The team beat the University of Michigan 21-0, Grand Valley State University 20-10 and the host MSU 15-12.

“It is nice to win games, especially against really talented competitors, and that’s ultimately what factors into advancing the team to nationals,” said Bre Ramos (‘19).

“We go into STUNT games trying to beat our best routines from practice,” said Ramos.

“We try to compete against ourselves, and when we do that is when we’ve found the most success.”

“Every season, each team gets stronger and the competition gets harder,” said Gabby Saum (‘20).

The team’s mentality this season has been to compete not only against other teams but to beat themselves in order to improve as a team.

But simply getting better is not the only goal of the team.

“This year we are focused on doing our job to qualify for STUNT nationals for the 6th straight year,” said Sabourin.

“We want to take the season as a marathon, and work to peak at the national tournament,” said Sabourin.

“Hopefully we can continue to keep growing stronger, bonding and becoming a well rounded team,” said Saum.

The team also wants to keep enjoying their competitive spirit and atmosphere with themselves and other teams.

“We’ve been practicing to prepare for pressure and perform our best routines,” said Ramos.

“Our goal is to continue progressing and be where we want to be when May comes around,” said Ramos.

The team has events coming up both at home and away, with goals of continuing its hot win streak.

Student travels to Italy to pursue music


Back in June, Marisa Romano (‘19) traveled to Italy with Central Michigan University’s Music Department. She had the opportunity to study in a small town named Urbania up in the mountains in the Marche region. In addition to playing music, she also learned how to speak some Italian and experience the country of Italy. “I spent four weeks studying in a very small town in the mountains of the Marche region called Urbania, then another week visiting Florence, Venice, Rome and a few other tourist-y cities,” said Romano.

The culture that Romano experienced was much different compared to the United States.

“I noticed a lot of differences between the United States, Urbania and the larger cities. In Urbania, recycling was a huge deal. In our apartment, all of the buildings and on the streets there were several bins for recycling different types of materials. In our house we had glass, plastic and paper recycling. Pretty much the only thing that was thrown away was food.” Romano reflects on her time traveling within Italy.

“After spending four weeks in the pleasant small town of Urbania, traveling in the larger cities was a bit of a culture shock. I had to be a lot more wary of pickpockets, scams and being overcharged. The food was also not always as good as I had experienced in Urbania. The larger cities were dirtier than I was expecting after spending time in Urbania, and they were very crowded. The people in Urbania were more friendly than in the larger cities as well.”

This is not to say that the large cities were not a good experience.

“They were extremely beautiful and some of the most breathtaking places I’ve ever been,” said Romano. As you may have noticed from previous articles, every country’s cuisine is different. The food in Italy follows this trend.

“Everybody raves about the food in Italy. I really can’t stress that enough. In the United States, I have to stay away from gluten and dairy as much as I can, so I was worried about being in a country known for their bread, pasta and cheese. However, I did not experience any of my normal symptoms while I was there. I still daydream about the pizza and gelato that I had in Urbania. It was some of the best food I’ve ever eaten in my life.”

When asked about the wine, Romano said, “And of course, the wine! The first thing we learned in our Italian language classes was how to order wine. Our teacher said it was essential to our survival while in Italy.”

Romano recalls her favorite memory from Italy.

“While studying in Urbania, my class took a day trip to Florence. My roommates and I were looking for a place to get gelato and sit down for a few minutes. We were looking through the window at flavors when a man from the restaurant next door asked us if we’d like to go up to the roof. We had no idea what was on the roof, but we said yes. We found ourselves in the cutest rooftop bar, with mismatched seat cushions and long flowing curtains. It was like a scene from a movie. We were a couple blocks away from the Duomo and had the most breathtaking view of Florence.”

They ate desserts and took in the view from the location. “It’s one of my favorite memories from my time in Italy. It was so beautiful and relaxing.” We have all seen photos and paintings from countries abroad. How accurate are these representations of other countries? Romano gives us her ‘two cents.’

“The scenery was definitely my favorite part. People tend to romanticize foreign countries, especially Italy, and I was worried that my expectations were too high and I would be let down. But the country really exceeded my expectations. Everything I saw looked like a painting – rolling hills covered in soft grass and poppy flowers, lanterns lit along the edges of the mountains lighting up in the evening, cobblestone streets with mosaic street signs… everything was so gorgeous.”

Romano gave us some advice on Italy if one were to travel there. “If you have the option, go to the small towns in Italy. It will give you a much more authentic experience and the small towns really show what the country has to offer. The small towns have the best food, the best views, the kindest people, the most relaxed environment. It was cool to see the tourist spots and monuments, but I felt a lot more inspired by the small towns I visited. But if you go to Urbino, bring good walking shoes. The roads can get very steep!”

Media and politics intersect


Media and art serve as a platform for political opinions to be expressed and voices to be heard.

Joy Villa made headlines and turned heads at this year’s Grammy Awards by adorning a dress plastered with wall references. The dress, which was silver and had the words “Build the Wall” on the back of it, caused more conversation— and all over controversy— than most of the choices for awards themselves.

Villa is known for attending award shows styled in controversial dresses that raise discussion about various political debates and movements. Two years ago, Villa’s outfit brought the topic of abortion to the forefront of the red carpet. Media and art in general tend to be a hub of debate.

“This Is America,” by Childish Gambino, made history at this year’s awards by being the first rap song to win the Grammy for Song of the Year. The song, which discusses the problematic state our country is currently in, is paired with a controversial music video that sheds light on gun violence and overall chaos in the United States. The music video is difficult to watch, but a prevalent form of media. It portrays events that people may not realize happen every single day—not only in the world in general, but also right here at home—but do.

Camila Cabello opened this year’s Grammy Awards with the support from Ricky Martin, Young Thug, J Balvin and Cuban-American jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval. During their performance, Balvin held up a newspaper prop that read, “Build Bridges, Not Walls” to speak out about the border wall dispute being officiated by President Trump.

Media is a place where people feel as though they can exercise their right to speak their mind and express concern. With that, media acts like a spring board to accelerate opinions that get communicated outward and whether you want it to or not, the entire world has access to your words.

Media can be seen as a negative outlet, but it also has the opportunity to create ripples in a society when it arguably needs it most. Last fall at New York Fashion Week for example, designer Chloe Gosselin debuted her Spring 2019 shoe collection that was based on the theme, “I am a voter.” During her shoe campaign, Gosselin played various speeches by women in politics as background noise while models walked the runway sporting shirts that said the tagline of the campaign, “I am a voter.” Hilary Clinton’s “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” speech was a prevalent speech of the campaign, along with speeches from Malala Yousafzai and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Another major aspect of the campaign was the star of the show, Leyna Bloom, who is a transgender model.

Women in media are portrayed in a specific way, especially regarding politics. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district, is ridiculed for her looks and appearance, rather than her abilities. OcasioCortez—better known by her initials AOC—is portrayed as a woman that is too pretty for politics. She is even quoted saying, “Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office.”

Political and worldly opinions are present in the media constantly in today’s society. Even though politics are one of the topics you aren’t meant to discuss at the dinner table, they are one of the most popular topics universally.

Alma College theatre presents Eurydice


Strosacker Theatre here at Alma College has hosted a plethora of plays. From Draculato to The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, the theatre program has done it all. To kick off the semester, guest director Stephen Harrick brought Eurydice to the table.

“Though this is the first production I’ve been involved in at Alma College, I am thrilled to have this opportunity and to work with such a terrific cast and crew,” said Dr. Stephen Harrick, guest director. Harrick brought a fresh, new perspective to Strosacker Theatre.

“The way [Dr. Harrick] does things, we’re not used to it and so it’s been a learning experience. It’s going really well, though. He asks us questions about our characters and doesn’t tell us what he wants, he lets us find it for ourselves,” said Lexy Mass (‘22), who played one of the three stones in Eurydice.

This play has more than just actors and a director, though. For each production hosted by Alma College comes with hard work from students and faculty. Costume design, crafting the set and lighting are all hidden aspects of the theatre.

Although a sad and somewhat quirky play, the cast members were able to relate to their characters.

“I’m playing a stone and they’re sort of like the overseers of the underworld. They help lead Eurydice into the afterlife. I think of leadership. It’s easier to think of them as helpers rather than thinking of them as being maniacal or mean,” said Rachel Blome (‘20), another of the three stones. Not every actor connects to their character in the same way, though.

“It’s really hard to connect to this character because my character is a stone. I try to think about when I’m angry and I don’t want to talk to anyone. I’m myself but angry,” said Maas.

Be it on stage or off, the actors and crew members on this production worked hard all throughout production.

“For performers [production] hasn’t really been all that bad, the most challenging part is figuring out how people feel when they’re dead. Once the set came in, everything began to click a lot more,” said Jimmy Ewald (‘19), a senior actor who took on the role as Eurydice’s father.

Alma College’s theatre program means so much to many of those involved in it, especially those who are seniors reminiscing on their time here.

“It’s been a really wild ride. I’ve really enjoyed a lot of what Scott and Terry have both taught me, and I really hope it translates well into the professional world. On the other side of that, I realize just how much risk and stuff that they can’t even prepare us for here exists out there,” said Ewald.

A tragedy with a notso-happy ending, along with some allusions that may be lost on the audience, doesn’t seem like a play that would be very popular, especially near Valentine’s Day.

“Eurydice is a play that I have been passionate about ever since I first read it many years ago. It was serendipitous that this opportunity came along. I almost jumped out of my skin. I was so excited about the possibility of directing this play,” said Harrick.

Eurydice is a play that is meant to evoke emotions, particularly sadness. “It’s okay to feel sad. This show does not make you feel good, but there’s a certain goodness that comes with that,” Ewald said.

Be it whatever reason within an audience member, Eurydice is a play that brings forth powerful emotions.

“This is a play I was passionate about directing for several reasons. It took on a different tone when I accessed the mourning within myself after having lost my father a couple of years ago,” said Harrick.

Opioid epidemic in America


Ever since the late 1990s, the United States has been dealing with an opioid crisis, causing an increase in opioid overdoses and deaths. Due to the rapid increase in the usage of prescription drugs – mostly painkillers –the opioid crisis has proved to be a constant thorn in the side of healthcare systems and government treatment programs.

Studies focused on opioid use and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse have shown that approximately 6% of those who are prescribed opioids for trauma or surgery continue to use them past their doctor’s prescription. Prescribed opioids include codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, and methadone.

Opioids are a class of medications primarily prescribed for post-surgery or pain management use, which is how most opioid users had their first interaction with the drugs. Opioid drugs bind to opioid receptors located in the brain and spinal cord and block pain signals coming from those receptors. In this way, they tell the body it is not experiencing pain.

As they block pain, opioids are a highly abused drug whose use can quickly become addictive, causing the need for treatment programs for opioid addiction to be established.

The opioid epidemic has been described as a uniquely American problem. Due to the structure of the healthcare system in the United States, it favors prescribing drugs over expensive therapies that many people can only use due to their private insurance.

When compared to other countries such as Canada or Germany, prescription rates for opioids are 40 percent higher in the United States. While the prescription rate for opioids are falling due to the high risk of abuse, there were still around 58 opioid prescriptions per every 100 Americans in 2017.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 130 people die from opioid overdoses in the United States every day. This epidemic has caused the need for treatment programs to be established, particularly in communities where opioids are heavily prevalent.

Michigan is included, as it has the 11th highest number of opioid-related deaths in the United States. Michigan had 1,762 opioid related deaths in 2016 – a rate of 18.5 opioid-related deaths to 100,000 people. Compared to the national average for opioid-related deaths, 13.3 deaths per 100,00 people, Michigan has a clear need for opioid awareness and treatment programs.

Opioid treatment programs, referred to as OTPs, are defined as a program engaged in opioid treatment of individuals with an opioid agonist medication. Effective treatment options given to those engaging in OTPs include medications such as methadone and buprenorphine and behavioral counseling.

Studies undertaken by the National Institute on Drug Abuse show that Medication Assisted Treatment, referred to as MAP, decreases opioid use, and it increases social functioning and retention while in treatment.

Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a frequently used medication in opioid treatment programs. It is designed to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose by countering its effects. Narcan is also an opioid agonist, meaning that it binds to opioid receptors located in the body’s brain and spinal cord and can reverse the effects of other opioids.

By binding to those opioid receptors, Narcan prevents opioids from binding and thus stops their effects on the body. While it is not meant to fully treat an opioid addiction, Narcan can help individuals recover from an overdose and begin the first steps into an opioid treatment program.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an opioid addiction, call the American Addiction Center at 1-866-703-4247 to receive help and information about treatment options and current programs.

Revolution erupts in Venezuela


The Venezuelan Government – a once prospering economy of South America –hangs in the balance as more protests erupt across the nation. Over the past four years, their economy has crumbled due to the massive rise of inflation and their GDP has fallen, making essential items like food and medicine inaccessible for many people living in Venezuela. With more people rising, the situation in Venezuela is becoming tenser as the weeks go by.

The first Presidential leader to take the nation of Venezuela in the direction towards a socialist government was Hugo Chávez. Chávez led Venezuela from 1999 to 2013 and was responsible for the implementation of many social-welfare subsidies to secure his popularity among the lower-class citizens of Venezuela.

“Hugo Chávez was the strong man from 1999 to 2013. As a youth, Chávez was in Castro’s camps, acting like a disciple. Castro was responsible for recruiting much Latin American youth to venture out to Cuba,” said Keith Wise, Professor of History and Religion.

Chávez returned to Venezuela and implanted many structures of government that he initially witnessed in Cuba.

“In the 1990s, Venezuela’s economy –its GDP –was wealthy when compared to all the Latin American countries combined because of its oil production,” said Wise.

Venezuela was once the wealthiest country in South America because of its massive oil reserves. The funding for these social welfare systems came from the economy around exporting Venezuelan oil. Thus, the foundation of oil prices became the foundation for Chávez’s socialist programs.

In 2014 – when Chávez handed over power to Nicolás Maduro – the price of oil dropped and the county could no longer afford to sustain the implemented systems of welfare that were set up by Chávez.

“When Nicolás Maduro took power, he brought his interrogators to help secure his power,” said Wise.

“When Chávez took power and when power transferred to Maduro, the low-income sector still liked him, but now they are living out medicine, access to food or medicine,” said Jessica Araway (‘21).

With the future of Venezuelan leadership hanging in the balance, the Russian Federation and China both support Maduro, while the United States and the more significant majority of the European Union overwhelming support the democratic leader, Juan Gaido.

An overwhelming majority of the population of Venezuela want Maduro out of office as many are starving and actively fleeing the collapsing government.

“A good friend of mine [Sergio Castillo] is from Venezuela, so he agreed to share his thoughts on the situation in Venezuela,” said Araway.

“Maduro is not a political leader. He’s a dictator, and he violated the Venezuelan constitution,” Sergio Castillo, a former citizen of Venezuela.

As the violence and unrest continue, more Venezuelan citizens are escaping into nonbordering Latin American countries like Equator, Columbia, and Argentina. Many have also escaped into Spain, as well.

“More than five million people have escaped the country because of lack of necessities, such as food and medicine,” said Castillo.

“People are leaving. There are people in Columbia, Equator and Argentina. Many people – including Castillo – have made their way to Spain,” said Araway.

As the present situation continues to unfold in Venezuela, many more people continue to leave the county or starve under the oppressive weight of the government controlled by Maduro.

“What I found is that the people will always eventually win,” said Wise.

When the people are oppressed, their opportunity to find a better alternative is to fight or to starve. The people are a great pendulum that eventually swings itself back into equilibrium, leaving behind the past dangers of socialism and their tyrannical leaders.

Chaplin tends faith on and off campus


On Feb. 12, Gretchen Whitmer gave her State of the State address. Prior to that, however, Alma College’s very own Reverend Dr. Andrew Pomerville delivered the opening invocation.

“It was an honor to be invited by Governor Whitmer to deliver the invocation prior to her historic first State of the State address. The Governor and I have known each other for nearly a decade from my time as the senior pastor at The Peoples Church of East Lansing,” said Pomerville.

Dr. Pomerville spoke to the house and senate in a joint meeting and called them to remember their call to leadership. He led the Michigan Legislature in a prayer where he tiedin many of the elements that Whitmer planned to touch on in her state of the state address.

Pomerville may have only spoke for three minutes, but his prayer moved legislators and reminded them why they were there in the first place. While Pomerville gets to partake in these opportunities off campus, he also leads several groups on campus.

The chapel sponsors eight separate events and clubs each week. The Hillel Jewish student organization, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Tea-Time with God, Interfaith Service, Catholic Student Organization (CSO), Muslim Student Association (MSA), Night of Worship and Chapel Service take place each and every week.

Night of worship is an event that takes place on Friday nights in the chapel. “The whole premise of the worship is to be more laid back and chill. It allows those who want more of a community with their service to have a relaxed setting,” said Chris Nolan (’19).

Chapel is every Sunday at 7 p.m. and is open to anyone associated with Alma College. FCA takes place on Tuesday evenings, Tea-Time is for women only and takes place on Wednesday nights at 8:30 and Interfaith services take place on Thursdays during the day.

“We have our Interfaith Service held every Thursday from 11:20-11:45, and it includes guests from a number of religious traditions, including Christian clergy, Jewish rabbis, Zen Buddhist teachers and special leaders from our community talking about their faith. It is an incredible opportunity to demonstrate our love for our neighbors as we get to know all our sisters and brothers,” said Pomerville.

The CSO meets each week and carpools to Catholic mass as well as other events centralized in Catholicism, and Hillel, a part of the national Jewish Students Organization, offers workshops for both Jewish and non-Jewish students.

Pomerville has been able to see these things grow since his time as a student at Alma College himself. After graduating in ’01, he traveled to Alaska to work in the environmental field before returning to work as a youth minister. From there his passion for ministry only grew.

“I went to Princeton Theological Seminary for my Masters of Divinity and ordination in the Presbyterian Church. I completed my Doctor of Ministry degree in Reformed Theology in 2018 through a joint program of study between University of Aberdeen, UK and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. All of these experiences have prepared me for my favorite and most memorable calling to be the Chaplain here for Alma College. This really is a dream come true!” said Pomerville.

And through all of that, Alma has added PreMinistry to their list of majors. “I am delighted to see the Pre-Ministry program revitalized here, and I’m happy to be directing the program. Like other preprofessional programs, it encourages more than just specific coursework. Our pre-ministry students are provided with internships, mentors, field experience, graduate school visits and opportunities for scholarships and grants,” said Pomerville.

“Harry Potter” & the deathly status quo


In the wake of the 2016 election, confused and angry liberals reached around for the most allegorical piece of literature they could use to orient themselves to these new and scary times, and landed on J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Lines were drawn, and comparisons were made. Donald Trump was Voldemort. Mike Pence was Quirinus Quirrell. His supporters were Death Eaters. Betsy Devos was Dolores Umbridge. John McCain was Snape. The #Resistance was Dumbledore’s Army.

Thousands of protest signs read with references like “When Voldemort is President, we need a nation of Hermiones,” “ICE=Dementors,” and “What Would Dumbledore Do?” Author J.K. Rowling took frequent shots at Trump on Twitter saying, “Voldemort was nowhere as bad.” Real life Harry Potter fan clubs dedicated to fighting Trump popped up on the internet, calling themselves “Dumbledore’s Army.”

Perhaps the comparison isn’t that surprising. Harry Potter is one of the best-selling books in the entire world (second only to the Bible), and the books tells a cautionary tale of how authoritarian powers can be used to manipulate existing institutions in order to push their agenda, and Hermione serves as a wonderful role model for young girls in contrast to Trump’s frequent misogynistic comments.

Despite that, the implications in its comparisons to real world politics are clear and unfortunate. Harry Potter is not a flattering allegory for the liberal resistance, no matter how much liberals believe it to be, but it is an accurate one.

If you’ve read Harry Potter, you might come away with the notion that Voldemort was an anomaly. The wizard world was pretty much magical and perfect before Voldemort arrived on the scene. As a result, the sole goal for Dumbledore’s Army is defeating Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Dumbledore’s Army fights for a return to the status quo and nothing beyond that.

If you’re a liberal, you might come away with the notion that Donald Trump is an anomaly. America was doing fine before Trump got elected. As a result, the sole goal for liberals becomes defeating Donald Trump and his supporters. They celebrate Nancy Pelosi for sarcastically clapping, the small amount of Republicans who superficially disavow his crudeness, or SNL for making fun of Trump’s frequent misspellings. Liberals have been overwhelmingly reduced to fighting for a status quo as they reminisce over a time when Obama was President and things were “good.”

Consider, instead, that the wizard world of Harry Potter isn’t a status quo worth returning to. The “magical and perfect” wizard world is based on class, racism and segregation. In a society where magic can magically fix and duplicate things, somehow there are still wizard families living in poverty. The protagonist fights against the enslavement of Dobby and shows disdain for the house-elf system, but doesn’t pursue any real institutional change beyond joining Hermione’s S.P.E.W. club (which is played as a ridiculous joke and completely left out in the movies). The protagonist fights against Voldemort’s persecution of half-bloods, but never has any problem with the strictly enforced apartheid between muggles and wizards.

Consider, also, that the PreTrump world of America isn’t a status quo worth returning to either. The “good” Obama refused to prosecute anyone from Wall Street after their systemic fraud caused the 2008 financial crisis, used I.C.E. to deport 2.5 million people (more than any other president in history), ran a warrantless NSA program that invaded the privacy of millions of Americas, aggressively fought to silence whistleblowers and conducted an unaccountable drone program that left thousands of civilians dead throughout his time in office.

Obviously, Voldemort is worse for the wizard world, but he’s also a product of it. An apartheid society where no one questions the “supremacy” of magical beings over muggles is a society that will eventually yield a fanatic like Voldemort who believes in the persecution and extermination of those who are “inferior.” The return to the status quo at the end of the seventh book isn’t a victory; it’s a tragedy that shows that all the hero’s efforts were in vain. The epilogue in the final film shows an unchanged society that is basically a ticking time bomb, counting down until the rise of the next evil wizard who will once again try to follow this segregated society to its logical next step by oppressing muggles.

Similarly, Trump has far more flagrantly abused his power than Obama and dramatically expanded the deportation and drone program, but he didn’t get here by himself. The election of Trump isn’t an anomaly; it’s the logical conclusion of a society that refuses to hold the rich accountable and is comfortable with the use of a racist deportation systems. The problem is no more emblematic than when liberals celebrate Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats for resisting Trump, but they are overwhelmingly quiet when Pelosi and the Democrats block progressive advancements that could solve the issues that got us here in the first place.

The allegory of Harry Potter to liberal resistance shares one more fatal flaw: the idea of the chosen one. In J.K. Rowling’s series, there is a strong resistance built up against Voldemort, but no matter how big or united this resistance gets, all their hopes hinge on Harry. Only Harry Potter is the one who is fated to deliver the fatal blow to Voldemort, everyone else is just there to support him as he collects all the Horcruxes. Liberals share this same fascination with a singular person: Robert Mueller.

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