The early retirement plan explained


Recently, Alma College announced that they would be offering select staff an early retirement plan. It is a voluntary opportunity that involves a cash incentive to retire earlier than they might have been able to otherwise.

The personnel affected includes staff, meaning the employees that are not faculty (those that teach various courses), but people who work in areas such as maintenance and administration. This group included people from “all areas of the college—from senior leadership to hourly employees” said Ann Hall, vice president for planning and chief of staff.

To be eligible to participate, they had to meet certain criteria to receive the offer. First, they could not be temporary employees and have to work at least half time. Additionally, the staff member has to have been at Alma College for at least ten years with “a combined years of service and age equal to at least 65 as of Apr. 1, 2019” according to Hall. This affects 57 members of the Alma College staff.

These cuts are coming after an increase of expenses at the college. There is no single cause of the rising expenditures, but rather, there are many, such as the rapidly rising price of health care. Hall also mentioned that they hired more staff recently which added to the costs.

At the moment, the college is “financially healthy,” but there is a need to cut the current costs to keep it strong, according to Hall. This, along with other cost-cutting measures, could potentially cut the college’s expense by four percent.

Staffing has not been the only attempt at cutting costs, “all cost areas have been under review,” stated Hall. Outside contracts have been reduced recently, which saved the school about $1 million, and there have been “energy efficient features” installed with new construction to lower that expense.

There have been a variety of reactions to this new opportunity. Some of the eligible staff have been accepting and see it as a beneficial experience. There are also others who do not necessarily see it in the same light and are not ready to consider their retirement. Hall says that “a voluntary retirement offer is considered the fairest, least impactful way to reduce staffing expenses.”

The college has been trying to ease the decision by providing different services to those that are considering the option because they recognize the impact it could have on their lives. There have been large group discussions, as well as individual ones, to provide the staff with more information so they can make the decision that best suits their life. Their main goal is to be able to answer the questions so they can make the most informed decision possible.

This is not the first time the college has offered this as an option to their personnel. The most recent happened in 2012 for faculty. Prior to that, the last offer was about 20 years ago for staff.

A similar early retirement plan could be offered to faculty, coming as early as after the next academic year. The goal is to keep the budget balanced and limit the effect that students experience.

Hall commented, “the outlook for Alma College is strong. Alma has operated balanced budgets for decades. While the emerging higher education landscape presents new challenges, we are confident that making there types of decision now ill better align with out strategic goals and puts us in an even stronger position moving forward.”

The goal behind Alma’s admissions


At Alma College, students can rest assure that their admission into the college is a fair and equal process; a process that is built off the college’s mission of integrity and fairness.

In light of the 50 recent charges for using bribery to enroll unqualified students into college institutions, it is important to understand the admissions process and impact of these admissions scandals on other college campuses.

At Alma College, the admissions process not only set up to embody the qualities of fairness but created so the privilege of families does not play a role. A student’s socioeconomic status is not taken into consideration.

“We do need-blind admissions, and we do not consider your families need to fund it at all. We are need-blind, which is important as to who we are as an institution,” said Amanda Slenski, Alma College’s Vice President of Admissions.

Being a need-blind institution allows students applying to know that their family’s economic status has no impact on their experience.

Their acceptance into Alma is solely based off of their submitted transcript along with their test scores and essays from their SAT or ACT.

“We already don’t have an application fee to remove that barrier for students to have more choices,” said Charles Cotton, Alma College’s Senior Director of Admissions.

Students do not have to worry about the financial costs of applying. If they wish to apply and can provide the needed documents, anyone is welcome to attend Alma.

Alma takes pride in their transparency when it comes to being open and upfront with all students–enrolled and applying.

“We are committed to students coming to Alma no matter their financial ability. We very much want to ensure that all students attend Alma,” said Jeff Abernathy, Alma College’s President.

On top of this, Alma also takes pride in building close-knit relationships with every student and family. The admissions process is centered around trust between the student applying and Admissions.

“We value the relationship of the student, and we put trust in the student that what they put on the application is truthful. The trust would be violated in an institution that allowed [bribery or cheating] to happen,” said Slenski.

Allowing misconduct in the admissions process and giving students access to things they may not have the credentials for would not only reflect poorly on admissions but on the institute as a whole.

The credibility would be put to question, which is why Alma stresses transparency within the admissions process.

“I think that transparency is very important because Admissions are often seen as gatekeepers because it seems as though [Admissions] is seen as some sort of barrier to entry, but I hope we are able to be more transparent and that our goal is to just see if our values align with your values,” said Cotton.

Alma College is currently in the process of discussing other options for the admissions process, such as going test optional and allowing students to apply through a nontraditional way. This would allow Alma to broaden its application form and welcome more future students to the campus.

However, setting the application process aside, it is all about finding the right fit for students. A student’s admission to a college should not only be based on the student’s credentials and interest to attend the school but the student’s values as well.

The student’s values need to be aligned with the Institution’s values in order for the student to grow and enjoy their experience at college.

Bribing a student’s way into a college would only hinder them from success and possibly put them in a situation where they may be over their heads. It is crucial for the student to build a strong relationship with the college they choose to be enrolled in.

“Relationship is so critical because then you become a student and an alum. Once you pick your college, you are connected for a life time. There is a lot of emotion and connection put into that decision, and it is one that needs to be respected,” said Slenski.

Responses to New Zealand Shooting


On Friday, March 15, a gunman opened fire in two Christchurch, New Zealand mosques and killed 50 people, with at least 50 injured.

The alleged gunman, 28 year old Australian man Brenton Tarrant, also posted a long manifesto on social media before carrying out the deadly act. In it, he expressed far right, white nationalist views, and targeted Muslims and immigrants.

In the manifesto, Tarrant praised the work of other mass shooters, such as white supremacist Dylann Roof, the killer in charge of the Charleston church shooting where nine black congregation members were killed, and Anders Breivik, who killed dozens of young people at a summer camp for Norway’s left-leaning political party.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, called the mass murder a terrorist attack, and also mentioned that the killer held extremist views that have no place in New Zealand.

Ardern was quoted saying, “Many of those affected may be migrants, may be refugees … They are us … The perpetrator is not.”

Before funerals could finish being planned for victims, the country was already banning military – style semi automatic weapons, and holding stricter laws on the purchasing of other firearms.

“On [the day of March 15], our history changed forever. Now, our laws will, too,” said Ardern.

Every semi automatic weapon used in this terror attack is now banned from their country. These weapons include ones still legal to buy and own in the U.S., and ones that were used in mass shootings, such as those in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and teachers died while at school, and Las Vegas, where 58 people died attending a concert.

“Personally, I think that making gun laws stricter will help the situation greatly, and New Zealand has already taken those measures,” said Martin Betancourt (‘21).

“No matter how you lean on gun control, you have to admit that the government taking some kind of action to at least try to make a change instead of simply sending their thoughts and prayers is something that we need to see more of all around the world, including here in the United States,” added Nathan Fetter (‘22).

New Zealand is predominantly a farming country, and many farmers use guns for pest control, as well as to hunt their food. The government recognizes that, so exceptions were made for .22-caliber rifles and for shotguns commonly used for duck and rabbit hunting. However, these guns can have magazines that hold no more than 10 rounds. Exceptions were also made for law enforcement officers.

Fetter suggests the U.S. listen to what New Zealand’s government has done regarding gun laws and regulations.

“At the best of times, some of our politicians seem as if they believe that they are above us and don’t need to listen because they are under the impressions that they know more than we do. It’s time that the voices of Americans crying out to push for some real change in our country be heard, when speaking about gun reform or any kind of action.”

But this issue is not only about guns. The killer that carried out this attack was avid about being against immigrants, and attacked two Muslim mosques.

“It stems from hatred and discrimination toward people of color and people of different religions,” said Betancourt.

“I’d like for the world to be more accepting, but it’s not that easy; I don’t have any solutions for long term hatred.”

Ladd and Cooper win All-American


To cap off their team’s stunning season, two wrestlers represented the scots at the national level. Brendan Ladd (’20) and Zach Cooper (’20) both achieved status as All-Americans while at the competition in Roanoke, Virginia.

While this was a fantastic way for the two athletes to end their season, it was a long road in order to get there.

“After another great season of lifting, wrestling and grinding with my teammates; I knew my coaches, the best in DIII, had me prepared,” said Ladd.

“I finished 38-3 tying the Alma college record for most wins in a season after finishing 5th at the division three nationals,” said Cooper.

“I think besides hard work and dedication, having fun was the most important ingredient to my success,” said Cooper.

While Ladd and Cooper were two individuals who excelled at the end of their season, the whole team had a lot of work to put in all year as well.

“There isn’t a secret formula for one team or one individual. I assess the student-athletes on a priority needs basis,” said Fletcher Roberts, Assistant wrestling coach and head athletic trainer, who helped the wrestling team get into peak performance shape in order to best succeed on the mat.

As for Ladd and Cooper, being All-Americans is nothing new.

“It felt great to finish as an All-American for a second time. I didn’t finish with the result I wanted, but there were returning All-Americans who did not place this year so I’m happy to still be one of the few,” said Ladd.

“This was actually the fourth time I have earned AllAmerican honors in college,” said Cooper, who previously competed for Muskegon Community College and Grand Valley State University.

“I am happy but not satisfied with my finish, my dream, my goal and my expectation was to be a national champion for Alma College,” said Cooper.

Now that their season is over, Ladd and Cooper have the whole off-season to get ready for next year.

“With less than 365 days left in my career, I look to make very little changes in my preparation for next year’s championships,” said Ladd.

“All I can do is stay the course, continue working hard day in and day out to achieve my goals,” said Ladd.

“Next season starts today, I will be weight lifting, running, wrestling and dreaming, not necessarily in that order,” said Cooper.

“I of course could not have been as successful without the meaningful efforts taken by my teachers, coaches, teammates, and TKE brothers who helped me accomplish my goals along the way,” said Cooper.

“We must continue to work hard on and off the mat as team. As a staff, we must continue to challenge our student-athletes so that they do not become satisfied,” said Roberts.

Alma students are scholarship ready


The Alma College difference is its ability to help and support students even after they graduate.

Alma College prides itself on being one of the top producing small liberal arts school in the country when it comes to preparing students to apply and win national scholarships. This program has been helping and prepping students for many years.

“It was created almost twenty years ago, as an effort to identify opportunities for students to compete for these scholarships and to work with students the minute they step on campus to be competitive because they don’t win these at the last minute,” said Derick Hulme, a professor of political science and the Nationally Competitive Scholarship advisor.

From the minute students set foot on campus, they are given opportunities to start preparing them for future scholarships concerning any major or study. Programs, such as P-Global and Model United Nations, create opportunities for students to grow in their field of interest.

“We created the opportunities and then work very closely with students through the application process,” said Hulme. Depending on the scholarship, students work through fifteen to twenty drafts at a time with professors as well as doing mock interviews.

Faculty and students work together diligently and learn as they go in order to provide students with not only the best chance of winning, but the ability to take away a valuable experience from applying. The odds are always against you in the application process, but that does not mean it is not worth trying.

“You come out of it feeling like you have grown and developed. It is about selling the process and the product,” said Hulme about the application process.

Alma College’s goal is to not only help students win scholarships, which it has produced a total of 51 winners, 36 finalists, 9 semi-finalists and 6 alternates since 1989 with an estimated value of scholarships won being around $2,426,000, but to create an experience that students can cherish and learn from for future endeavors.

“It is part of our mission to help students with it whether it is additional support in college or give them the resources to do things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. These successes enhance the reputation of the college, which is helpful for all students and alums,” said Hulme, who visited a conference in Alabama in order to learn how to better prepare students for scholarships and understand what scholarship applications truly want to see from students.

Thanks to efforts from professors like Hulme, not only are enrolled students successfully winning scholarships, but Alma College alums are as well. Most recently, Alma College alum Marianna Smith (’17) won the Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship scholarship, which is offered by the US Agency for International Development.

This is not the first scholarship Smith has won due to her winning the Gilman scholarship in 2015, but the Payne Fellowship scholarship put her on the right track for her career.

“The Fellowship provides up to $96,000 of support for graduate school. As a Fellow, I will also have two internships, one on Capitol Hill this summer and one at a USAID mission in another country next summer,” said Smith.

Following her graduation, Smith plans to serve for five years as a Foreign Service Officer, where she will have a job in Washington D.C, as well as work on development projects in different countries.

Before winning the Payne Fellowship scholarship, Smith graduated Alma with a degree in Communication and Spanish while being involved in multiple on-campus programs.

“I was involved in Model UN, Public Affairs, Amnesty International, Alternative Breaks, and the Hispanic Coalition. I participated in two Posey Globals, to Costa Rica and India, studied abroad in Chile and interned at the US Embassy in Bolivia with support of the Donald J. Yehle Internship Award,” said Smith.

Smith’s time at Alma not only helped her win scholarships, but allowed her to build lasting relationships with faculty, who are dedicated to students’ success whether they are currently enrolled or not.

Smith was able to use faculty, such as Dr. Hulme, to provide constant feedback on her personal statement and application, while also doing mock interviews with him.

“I also had my statement reviewed by an Alma alum who currently works at USAID, one of my closest friends from Alma, and a friend who is an English teacher,” said Smith.

Because of the connections Smith built while at Alma and Alma College’s dedication to providing students with the best opportunities, students like Smith are always welcome to turn to the college’s close-knit community for help.

Faculty are often willing to help students achieve their goals whether they are a current student or an Alum. “The Alma community is eager to help and students looking into these opportunities should take advantage of the support and guidance,” said Smith.

Smollett’s story under scrutiny


The Almanian covered a story last month regarding the alleged hate crime that occurred against the Empire actor, Jussie Smollett. Since then, a change in the story has been brought to the attention of the media.

Smollett told the police he was attacked by two white assailants wearing ski masks in Chicago, who beat him with their fists, feet and teeth, doused him in chemicals and tied a noose around his neck. He claimed these acts were an alleged hate crime against him; Smollett is not only an African American actor on a show with a cast of predominantly African American actors, but he is also a homosexual man.

Smollett also reportedly received a threatening letter prior to the supposed attack, where a stick figure was drawn and the letter read, “Smollett, Jussie. You will die.” The word “MAGA” was also written on it, as Smollett is quite vocal about being against the Trump Administration.

However, Chicago police say that there was no reasonable ground for believing that [the hate crime] had been committed against Smollett.

Two African American brothers even came forward and claimed that Smollett paid them to pretend to carry out these acts. These men worked as extras on the show, Empire, and were seen at a store buying ski masks and other supplies before the incident allegedly happened. The brothers also reportedly asked if the store carried MAGA hats.

With this new break in the case, Smollett is pleading not guilty of 16 felony counts of false reporting: 8 for the alleged false reports he gave to the police the night of the incident, and 8 for “lies” he later told the detective in the case.

Because The Almanian broke this story when it originally was in the media, the paper decided to touch base with those that were interviewed initially, and see if their outlook on the case has changed.

“I’ve been reading up on [the changes in the case] trying to find relatively unbiased information which is unsurprisingly pretty difficult with something this heated,” said Blake Jonassen (‘22).

Jonassen said he has been having a difficult time finding information on the case that does not swing one way or the other.

“I think it’s difficult to find a believable side to the story because most media sites these days all have a political side they believe over another or tend to be more critical than others,” said Jonassen.

Some broadcasting companies are known for wording their information to appeal specifically to the far left or the far right.

“[Because of this,] a lot of information is reported in different manners which causes some information to be misconstrued or ignored,” said Jonassen.

Many are not dismantling Smollett’s claims until anything is proven by more than heresay or he says so himself.

“It’s unsettling when there are so many other people being believed from the beginning,” said David Parnell (‘21).

Smollett’s case has been questioned since it first broke, and many have been quick to claim he made up the hoax in order to be paid the amount of money he may believe he deserves.

“The amount of energy put into disproving victims is kind of unsettling,” said Parnell.

“I am not going to be fully against Smollett until all of the information is presented,” said Jonassen, agreeing with Parnell’s claim.

The case is still being investigated, and Smollett is back in the courtrooms on April 17.

Cases like this are thought to be why hate crimes are only taken with a grain of salt, no matter how serious.

“I hope that his egregious act–if proven–doesn’t translate to people that they should not come out and seek repercussions for assaulters and abusers, because that act is disgusting,” said Parnell.

The contradictory Captain Marvel


At its core, Captain Marvel is a story of empowerment. The film’s protagonist, Carol Danvers, is both a strong yet nuanced woman, capable of tearing apart entire spacecrafts, yet she is also capable of showing a personal side when interacting with her best friend. It helps that the star of the movie, Brie Larson, is an incredibly outspoken feminist herself. This combination of factors led to Captain Marvel being the highest-grossing movie with a female lead of all time.

Captain Marvel chronicles the journey of a tenacious Air Force pilot who battles sexist expectations as she demolishes her (both human and alien) enemies. The film’s themes go further than feminist empowerment with it’s second act twist, which reveals that the Skrull aliens, that Captain Marvel had been hunting down the entire movie, are actually victims of the very Kree soldiers that she had been working with. The Skrull leader tells Danvers that they are forced to live in ruins of their former communities because of frequent bombings by the Kree, contrary to what the Kree had told her. In the climax of the film, the super heroine changes sides and helps the refugee Skrulls escape the oppressive Kree forces and quite literally catches bombs out of the sky in order to protect the innocent civilians below. Captain Marvel’s final lesson is that we should be empathetic of people, even if they look different than us.

However, the film’s final message of peace strikes as inconsistent with its enthusiastic promotion of the Air Force.

The military has a long record of collaboration with Hollywood, working to maintain a positive image of its various branches by requesting changes to scripts, while in exchange letting movies use logos, props, and locations. From 1911 to 2017, more than 800 feature films received quid-pro-quo support from the Department of Defense.

One of the main reasons for collaboration is that movies can be a powerful recruiting tool for the military. The Air Force noted an uptick in sign-ups after the release of Top Gun and even set up recruiting tables inside theaters to catch people exiting the film. They now seem intent to recreate that success with the release of Captain Marvel, running ads for the Air Force before showings of the film in which a group of female fighter pilots narrate, “Every superhero has an origin story. We all got our start somewhere. For us: it was the U.S. Air Force.”

Todd Flemming, chief of the Community and Public Outreach Division at Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs, told military issues website Task & Purpose that, “Our partnership with ‘Capt Marvel’ helped ensure that the character’s time in the Air Force and backstory was presented accurately. It also highlighted the importance of the Air Force to our national defense.”

The Air Force provided advisement, training, shooting locations, and even promotions for the film. In exchange, Marvel had Brie Larson star in promotional material for the branch aimed at recruiting more young women, and let Air Force pilots give testimonials during the film’s red carpet premiere.

Unmentioned during these mutual promotions was the Air Force’s grim record of civilian causalities. A 2018 report by the United Nations found that there had been 8,050 civilian causalities in Afghanistan as a result of U.S. Air Force led bombings of the region in nine months alone. From 2004, up to 3,224 people have been killed by U.S. Air Force drones in Pakistan. Just earlier this month, President Trump signed an executive order revoking the requirement that U.S. intelligence officials publicly report the number of civilians killed in drone strikes.

Today, drone operators outnumber any other type of pilot in the Air Force. Which means that young women recruited into the Air Force by Captain Marvel promotional material will most likely end up in a drone program which unaccountably racks up a completely unknown civilian causality rate.

Young women will have been encouraged to enter this program by a movie that told them that indiscriminately bombing people is bad, while simultaneously encouraging them to join an institution that seems almost dedicated to indiscriminately bombing people. They will be put into a job that requires them to feel no empathy for different-looking people because of a movie that asked them to feel empathy for different-looking people. They will help drop bombs on innocent civilians because of a role model who stopped bombs from dropping on innocent civilians. That is the contradiction at the core of Captain Marvel.

Only Robert Mueller can deliver the fatal blow to Trump, and everyone else is just there to support him as he collects all the evidence. While it’s important to hold powerful people accountable, the hinging of all hope on a prosecutor to possibly catch the President violating a law is an ineffective and unsustainable way to lead a resistance against someone in power. Even if Mueller does catch Trump, and Republicans in the Senate somehow decide to impeach, that is simply a return to the status quo. Without significant societal changes, we return to an America that has simply just reset the ticking time-bomb of another person like Trump rising to power.

True resistance is more than just finding a way to go back to the status quo when conditions get bad. It’s about examining and fixing the inherent problems and assumptions in the status quo that allowed conditions to get bad in the first place. Harry Potter may have been unable to, but reality is often stranger than fiction.

Farewell to the Almanian


Thank you so much for the opportunity to work with all of you this past year. It has been incredible being able to work with all of you and to grow as a person, as well as a writer. I am so grateful to have been given the chance to be a part of something important to Alma’s campus, and I wish you all the best of luck for the future years to come. Being on the writing staff this past academic year has been such an amazing experience. I have been able to learn an entire new form of writing, journalistic style, and grow stronger as a writer in all aspects. Working for The Almanian has allowed me the chance to learn new views of the world and the society we live in, and for the most part, these changes have been good ones. I don’t believe I would have grown into the person I am now if it hadn’t been for the experience of being a part of such an amazing team of people. Being responsible for providing news from outside of our community has been a huge part of this growth. This experience has granted me new opportunities for my future after graduation, and I am thankful that you have all allowed me that chance. Thank you for having me as a member of your team and good luck in all your future endeavors, be they graduate school or continuing to work and study at Alma College. Thank you all, and enjoy your final years at Alma.

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