ALICIA ESSENMACHER
CLASS OF ’07

If you wish to submit something to The Almanian, please do so at editor. almanian@gmail.com.

This morning I went to put on my Alma College Alumni sweatshirt and couldn’t bring myself to wear it. The soft, gray, cozy sweatshirt is typically my favorite, but not today. I will never look at the Alma College tartan the same.

The news of my Alma Mater choosing to push 57 hard working staff to retire early has me feeling devastated. 57 dedicated, loyal, and faithful staff members do not know if they’ll have a position in the near future if they don’t take the offer. Some of these individuals have been employed by the college for over 30 years. They are a major part of the “Alma Experience.” These staff members are the backbone of the college. They are the MOST dedicated individuals I’ve met. Ultimately, they are the reason “Plaid Works.” And they want to WORK.

As an Alumni, I stand with the 57 individuals who deserve to be treated with respect. They deserve to be honored for their MANY years of service to a great college and community. One of the many reasons I love Alma College was because of the small, close knit, and “family like” atmosphere. The Alma College family looks out for one another, takes care of one another, and fights for one another…

What has transpired this week is NOT the Alma College family I once knew. Shame on you Alma College. Shame on you.

In Alma College’s mission statement, it says, “to prepare graduates who think critically, serve generously, lead purposefully and live responsibly as stewards of the world they bequeath to future generations.”

I can confidently say that I left Alma College with these key life tools and many more in my back pocket; however, where is the critical thinking component in the decision to push 57 staff members to retire early? Is this the only and best creative plan? Where’s the generosity in this circumstance? The purposeful leadership? The responsibility? Alma College, your mission statement does NOT match your actions.

Alma College, you can do better. Alma College, be better… love better, please.

Alma College, don’t forget your core values. Especially, the last value titled, “Ethical Integrity, Aesthetic Appreciation, Spiritual Sensitivity.” In that value you state that “with knowledge comes obligation. To live a complete life that withstands the scrutiny of self and others, individuals must exhibit personal integrity, respect for the value of all humanity, and sensitivity to the spiritual and material beauty of one’s existence. We expect these principles to be modeled in the educational programs, work, and daily interactions of all members of the college community and for graduates to practice them in their lives beyond Alma.”

In light of this week’s events, this is obviously you’re biggest “need for improvement,” area Alma College. Where’s your ethical integrity, obligation, and respect for these 57 individuals? Is this how you “value” the staff members on your campus? Alma College, are YOU honestly modeling this core value? I think not.

Alma College always says, “we don’t just embrace our Scottish heritage — we live it every day, out loud and in plaid.” The heartbeat of Alma College is in it’s deep Scottish heritage, plaid, bagpipes, and traditions. But the heartbeat is also in the people… EVERY person. I smile when I reflect on ALL of the PEOPLE who made my Alma College journey a great one.

The majority of them were staff members who went ABOVE and BEYOND to answer my every question, guide me, believe in me, learn my name (YES, my name… such an amazing feeling to walk into an office on campus and be called by your first name by a staff member who barely knows you), and who simply cared. A heritage is about more than how we value objects but it’s about how we value one another… what is and has been passed down from generations. Is this the beginning of the new “Alma College Heritage?” I hope not.

And although it would be easy to allow the negative decision of a few to soil my many years of amazing memories at Alma College, I’ve decided not to allow that for long. I’ll always be a Scot.

To every one of the 57 staff members, I want to personally say, “thank you.” Many of you made my “Alma Experience,” especially wonderful.

Thank you for your dedication, loyalty, and for truly loving the Alma College students, staff, and community. You all deserve to hear, “thank you.” As an Alumni of Alma College, I grief with you ALL as this is a loss that will be felt for many years to come. I truly believe God will bless and give you favor as you step into this next season. He will take care of your every need. Although your faith is being tested, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4.

You all are in my prayers as you face so many unknowns. Stay steadfast.