Athletes celebrate homecoming


Photo by Dylan Cour

Homecoming at Alma College is a special time of year for Alma students. It is a time for celebrating the Alma pride and recognizing the legacy of the college.

Alumni from all over the country, and each graduating class, come back to support the college that shaped their early years and put them on their career path.

Homecoming allows alumni to interact with current students and share their support for the college, especially past athletes.

Many athletic alumni return during Homecoming as a chance to reunite with old teammates and meet the new players of their beloved sport.

“Homecoming is a very special time. Before I came back to Alma as a coach, I used to love coming to Homecoming to see past teammates and friends. Now, as a coach, I see the same excitement in alums of multiple generations,” said Jason Couch, football coach and Alma alum.

Most returning athlete alumni return to reunite with old teammates and bond over the four years they spent together on and off the field. They reminisce the wins, the losses, and the bond they created while on campus.

They even attend sporting events happening that weekend, such as cheering on the soccer teams or attending the football game.

“It is very common for football alums to use this Homecoming game for their return to campus, whether it is a formal or impromptu reunion,” said Couch. Alumni use sporting events to not only connect with old friends, but to be a part of the new generation of athletes. It allows them to interact with players who now fill positions and roles they used to carry on their team.

Homecoming even helps the current athletes put their athletic career into perspective.

“One homecoming tradition that I look forward to is the pre-game speech given by a prestigious Alma alum. These speeches are always a little more special and intense than for other games,” said senior captain of the football team, Steven Sowa (’20).

Alumni not only come back to cheer on their former team, but they come back to inspire them as well. Those that come back look to thank and support the team that once supported them for four years, even if that means cheering them on from the sidelines – literally.

The Alma College cheer team also has a lot of alumni who come back and support their old team by attending their Homecoming events or cheering with them on the sideline.

“We perform a routine on the morning of Homecoming for family, friends, and alumni to showcase our new team. This is the first public performance for the team, so it has a lot of significance as their debut for the new season. We also invite alumni to cheer with us on the sidelines for the first half of the football game!” said Michelle Sabourin, Cheer and STUNT coach.

Close interaction between the alumni and Alma students is what makes the Homecoming experience. It is what keeps alumni returning every Homecoming. Why? Because it is a never-ending cycle that everyone involved in benefits from.

Every year, generations after generations of alumni come to support the current athletes, who will come back to support the future athletes of their current team.


Students strike for climate change awareness


Photo by Isaac Tessman

Climate change awareness has been growing in the news due to several reports detailing the effects of climate change and how long Earth will be habitable because of its effects. An international climate change strike occurred on September 20th to bring awareness about the effects of climate change to government and businesses in hopes of causing action. The strikes were timed to begin a week of activism at the United Nations, culminating in a UN Climate Action Summit.

Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old climate activist from Sweden, first called for a strike to protest adults who others say are ignoring the destruction of the planet. Thunberg became the face of climate change activism when she began skipping school on Fridays to protest inaction on climate change outside the Swedish parliament. The purpose of these strikes is to stand up to governments and businesses and force them into action.

Many of these strikes are led by students and young adults. Multiple Alma College students and faculty – coordinated by Leaders for Environmental Awareness, Protection and Sustainability – attended the climate change strike in Lansing on Friday. “The idea is for children and adults of all ages to walk out of their schools, jobs, and everyday routines in order to disrupt business as usual, just as climate change is doing in countries all over the world,” said Hunter Wilson (‘20).

The global climate strikes are said to be one of the largest international protests in history, with millions around the globe participating in their local strikes. Multiple school districts in Michigan, such as Ann Arbor and Detroit, excused absences for the day for students going to a climate strike. By excusing absences, more students were able to attend strikes and lend their voice to the growing cause.

Students and young adults make up a majority of those fighting for awareness about the effects of climate change. As they are the generation that will primarily deal with the long-term effects of climate change, they want measures put in place now to reduce the harmful effects of climate change in the future.

Getting involved on campus is important for students who want to help fight climate change. “At some point, every student on this campus will experience an adverse impact from climate change,” said Wilson. “Climate change is already hurting millions of people; if we don’t initiate change, the injustice of the crisis will only get worse.”

College students can support the climate strikes by allying themselves with climate activists and other young people fighting for change. “If you know of a child or teen striking, let them know that you support them. Talk to your family about climate change, and relay the information they need to reduce their carbon footprint,” said Wilson.

Reducing one’s environmental footprint can also help fight climate change. Buying and consuming less meat, forgoing fast fashion, driving less, using reusable water bottles or straws and unplugging cords when not in use are all ways college students can lower their carbon footprint and contribute less to climate change.

Contacting local businesses and government and voicing your concerns is another way to fight climate change. Big businesses and governments have the power to reduce their footprint on a much larger scale than a single person, so by forcing them to bend to social pressure and reduce their footprint, much larger steps can be taken to fight climate change.

Sharing your travel: Ghana


Ghana, a country located on the coast of West Africa, has twenty nationally recognized languages. “Ghana” in Soninke, an African language, means “Warrior King.” This name dates back to the Medieval period where Ghana was an empire that stretched north into what is present-day Guinea.

Garett Heaney (’20) visited Ghana and reflected on a very positive and welcoming country.

“There was an event at one of the schools we visited where they put a cloth around our waists and taught us Ghanaian dances for what felt like forever. The music and dances were great,” said Heaney. “Afterward, they did a religious ceremony and welcomed us into their village. The food they provided was wonderful! This village went above and beyond for their celebration in thanking us for our help in their school.”

The most popular forms of music are Ghanaian jazz and its oldest form of secular music called “highlife.” A popular genre created by the youth of Ghana that rose up in the 90’s is called “hiplife,” which combines hip-hop and “highlife.” Instruments used in Ghana can consist of talking drums, log xylophones and akan drums.

“Ghanaian cuisine is starch and protein-based. Soups are widely made and many signature dishes, such as Banku and Fufu, are staples of their diet. They also have LARGE portion sizes,” said Heaney. “Also, if you stay with a host family, they will most likely cook you French fries if they want to make you an ‘American’ meal.”

Travel in Ghana sounds similar to that of a more rural area in the United States.

“Dirt roads encompass the country of Ghana with many being unfinished. Travel is long but manageable. Hiring a driver would be your best course of action,” Heaney said.

Every culture has different social norms. Heaney reflects on just one that he noticed.

“A social difference I noticed was that everyone says good morning/afternoon/ evening whenever they meet you. Unlike here in The United States, it is rude in Ghana to start a conversation without saying one of those three phrases depending on the time of day,” said Heaney.

During the 13th century, Ghanaians developed their unique art of adinkra printing. Hand-printed and hand-embroidered adinkra clothes were made and used exclusively by the then Ghanaian royalty for devotional ceremonies. Each of the motifs that make up the corpus of adinkra symbolism has a name and meaning derived from a proverb, a historical event, human attitude, ethology, plant lifeform or shapes of inanimate and human-made objects.

Heaney traveled to Ghana on a P-Global Scholarship.

“I went to Ghana with the P-Global scholarship through a student-run non-profit organization called The Five North Project. The Five North Project’s purpose is to supply students in the Volta Region of Ghana with technology, such as desktop computers, projectors and printers for educational enhancement,” said Heaney. “We traveled to over 20 schools and delivered and installed over 550 computers throughout the 3 and a half weeks in Ghana.”

Heaney said, “My favorite part about visiting Ghana would be the people. I’ll never forget the interactions I had with the chieftains and their community members. They welcomed us and the volunteers, and they would throw festivals for us after we helped their school(s). The people loved when we showed interest in their culture and would teach us about their history and country.”

Heaney gives some final advice for anyone thinking about traveling to the beautiful country of Ghana.

“Ghana is a beautiful country with friendly people. They embrace tourists and enjoy hosting people from abroad. Visit waterfalls and safaris as much as possible if you ever go!”

Contaminated soybeans raise a larger issue


Photo by Emma Grossbauer

Michigan grown soybeans have been ordered by state officials to be destroyed after discovering a portion of the crop had been grown on contaminated land. These beans were grown in an area that contained soils dredged from the Kalamazoo River Superfund site.

The Kalamazoo river has its own share of problems. “It has mostly dioxins from paper mills along the river and also PCBs,” said Professor Murray Borrello.

The land was not designated for farming, however in 2016 Golden Grain Farms located in Caledonia, harvested almost 150 bushels grown on the land.

The crop was bought by CHS, a farm cooperative based in Minnesota, but it never left the state, the beans have been locked up by order of the state while the situation was assessed.

More than 90,000 bushel of beans must be destroyed, even though only a small amount was contaminated. In their dry form the beans are indistinguishable and cannot effectively be separated.

Luckily, none of the soybeans were used to produce food, but this situation sparks a larger conversation. “I think this incident is another reminder about how quickly and unintentionally our food chain can become tainted with man-made pollutants,” said Tom Zimnicki, Agricultural Policy Director at Michigan Environmental Council.

Earlier this year a report was published examining the amount of Glyphosate – an ingredient found in chemical pesticide – contained within breakfast cereal. “That situation is a testament to how pervasive these compounds can be in our environment and also the growing interest/ concern from consumers about what is in their food” said Zimnicki.

Since the dawn of the industrial chemical age, humans have been using toxic substances in an effort to improve lives, while simultaneously endangering themselves and the environment. “We are no longer able to take for granted that we live in any way in an unspoiled environment,” said Borrello.

Borrello also raised the concern surrounding residents along the Tittabawassee River in Midland and Saginaw counties, in that they were irrigating their gardens with water contaminated with pollutants and therefore consuming them through plant uptake.

New on the scene is the chemical compound known as PFAS, a substance in which there is little information on due to the sudden realization of its presence. “We’re also starting to see growing concern pop up across the country and Michigan about PFAS contamination in agricultural products which is [PFAS] a relatively new contaminant on the public’s radar,” said Zimnicki.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has yet to release information concerning toxicity and exposure. Zimnicki also said, “For compounds like PFAS we are still waiting on federal guidance on the protocols and standards for PFAS exposure in food.”

With more contamination existing than any individual can comprehend, Borrello worries that “we have proliferated contamination to such a degree that we must always check and make sure that what we are doing on any property anywhere is not going to cause harm to humans and the environment.”

While cleanup efforts are strong from the USEPA, as well as state agencies, these forces may not be strong enough to fully protect residents. “Are we at such a point that our regulators are unable to protect us from simple exposure such as gardens behind our homes,” said Borrello.

This is not an isolated issue, Borrello suggests that educating yourself on the risks of pollution as well as understanding what substances are in your area is the key to remaining safe.

Borrello also said,”to get a better idea of how pervasive our environment is effected, anyone can go to and under ‘my community’ type in your zip code and look at the map. You will find information related to air, water and land pollution.”

Union and disunion


Graphic by Merek Alam

On Sept. 15th, nearly 50,00 General Motors employees left their stations in order to form a picket line outside of their factories. The union responsible for the strike is the United Automobile Workers (UAW), and they have a long history with Michigan.

“I would say that they are among the central drivers / themes of Michigan history in the 21st century,” explains Professor Benjamin Peterson, who grew up in a union family and worked with the labor movement during college. “It’s really the 1936 Flint Sit-Down strike that inaugurated a new era in labor history and social movements.”

General Motors has yet to answer the UAW’s calls for better job security, profit sharing, less reliance on underpaid temporary workers and better health benefits. The problem isn’t a lack of money.

When General Motors went bankrupt in 2009, taxpayers footed a $50 billion bailout bill which the company claimed they were incapable of fully paying back, leading to the US government to declare an $11.2 billion loss on the endeavor. In 2018, General Motors received $104 million in tax rebates, then payed their CEO $22 million.

In the last three years alone, General Motors has made $35 billion in profit combined. While Americans have stood with the company, General Motors has turned its back on us. Yet, the problem may be larger than corporate greed. Unions themselves are in trouble.

Despite popular support for unions being at a record 50- year high, they have never been in more decline. In 2018, only 10.5% of Americans belonged to a union, the lowest rate of membership since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began collecting data on it in the early 1980s.

Many economists believe that this decline is at least partly responsible for the dramatic rise in income and wealth inequality.

Professor Peterson identifies that one of the issues that lead to union decline was a hostile political environment. Liberal support was eroded by the labor movement’s personal stumblings, some of which involved internal corruption.

“This left the labor movement without any strong defenders in the government, which has led to their inability to fight hostile legislation and, ultimately, to the weakness of American labor law,” said Professor Peterson.

This left unions wide open to attacks from an anti-labor and anti-government coalition that fought to overturn them using endless corporate money. “Under these conditions the labor movement simply could not compete in Washington or in the media and the center of the debate around work shifted definitively against them,” said Professor Peterson.

In addition, automation and globalization made it easier to outsource labor to robots or countries that allow more worker abuse. The Supreme Courts weakened unions even further with its Janus v AFSCME decision, which ruled that employees did not have to be part of unions to enjoy their benefits. This is all exacerbated with the forced adoption of the “gig economy” by younger generations, depriving us of ever obtaining a stable job in the first place.

Despite all this, there does seem to be a new labor movement brewing in the America.

Last February, teachers in 35,000 West Virginian schools organized a strike in order to protest the defunding and privatization of public schools. They shut down 680 schools for a total of nine days, yet students and parents were found standing next to the educators on the picket line.

This week, in addition to the UAW strikes, thousands of nurses in Chicago went on strike and millions of people across the country lined up to participate in a Climate Strike to protest climate denial and inaction from both corporations and governments.

Students can take action themselves. Professor Peterson suggested that students “…attend strikes and rallies, raise money to support the strikers and volunteer with the unions themselves.” He then adds that “…students should also view this strike as an opportunity to examine their own beliefs about work, the marketplace and the law. One of the things I love about studying labor is that it allows for endless discussions about collective action, democracy and how one should pursue a just society.”

More and more, people are refusing to go along with abusive conditions in order to generate money for a profit-hungry system that eats up both workers and the environment with equal disregard. In a machine that thrives on exploitation and destruction, non-cooperation and solidarity may be the perfect wrench in the gears.


Michigan government shut down


Michigan’s state budget has recently been cause for concern as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state lawmakers have continuously disagreed over the issue. Agreeing on the budget, which is supposed to be set in place on Oct. 1, would prevent the partial government shutdown and possibly stop roughly 30,000 state employees from being temporarily laid off.

The state government hasn’t been shut down since 2009, an incident lasting only a total of two hours. Before that, the state government shut down in 2007.

Both times, the cause was an inability to come to an agreement over the state budget, something that has proved somewhat difficult for both the Republican and Democrat parties to compromise on.

If Gov. Whitmer and state lawmakers fail to agree on the state budget and the government does partially shut down, any government functions not deemed necessary will be shut down as well.

Road construction will grind to a halt, welcome centers and rest areas will be closed, all branches of the Secretary of State will shut their doors, state lottery games will not be able to be played and state parks, campgrounds and historical sites will close as well.

In addition to these services, retailers will be unable to order products like alcohol and people will be unable to get hunting or fishing licenses, as hunting season is quickly approaching.

Despite these closures, other services such as prisons, juvenile detention centers, Child Protective Services (CPS), veterans homes, the Michigan State Police and the Mackinac, International and Blue Water bridges will remain open.

Although these effects may not seem like much with the possibility still looming in the near future, they will prove to become more drastic as time wears on, should Gov. Whitmer and state lawmakers fail to come to an agreement by midnight of Oct. 1.

“I think the shutdown is in line with what we have been seeing politically, a lack of consensus and a lack of willingness to work together,” said Libby Flatoff (‘21).

“Honestly, I do believe the shutdown will happen, because they are already preparing for it, warning employees about layoffs and warning the public about deficits.”

Not all people feel this way. “At this point, I think something will be figured out in time,” said Alexia Miller (’20).

“I feel like no matter what is going to happen, there is still going to be a good number of people upset. We all just need to put faith in the situation sometimes. We are human, after all.

“If the budget proposal turns out to be more positive than bad, then that’s great. If it turns out to be a nightmare, then fine. We fix it for the future.” said Miller.

There are some government officials who believe shutting down the government is the only way to come to an agreement. One of these is former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, who fought against state Legislature from 2003 to 2011, during a time period in which Michigan had the worst economy since the Great Depression on top of massive deficits. Granholm has gone on record saying that although it might be the only way to get things done, she believes that Gov. Whitmer will get the job done.

“Politics is no longer something to be discussed between politicians, as things like this are becoming more and more common, the public needs to get involved or things will only worsen,” said Flatoff.

Whether or not the state government will actually shut down remains to be seen, but in the meantime, state employees and the public wait to see the outcome and prepare for the worst. Gov. Whitmer and state lawmakers continue to work towards an agreement, and hopefully will do so before Oct. 1.

Nestle Extracts Water from Michigan


Photo by Emma Grossbauer

Nestle, the largest food and beverage food conglomeration in the United States, has been extracting groundwater from Michigan, and people are not happy about it.

In July of last year, there was a zoning dispute between Osceola Township and Nestle Waters North America. Nestle wanted to build a booster station (in Evart, Michigan) to pump water to their Ice Mountain bottling plant in Stanwood. Osceola Township denied Nestle’s request for a building permit due to environmental concerns.

Nestle proceeded to sue Osceola Township on the grounds that their request met zoning regulations. Osceola Township lost the lawsuit and was ordered to issue a zoning permit to Nestle.

“I had no idea this situation was happening, but I think that the people living in the town might know what’s best for the safety of the town,” said Katherine Maiville (’20).

Another issue surrounding Nestle involves their attempt to extract water from a wellhead in Osceola Township. Currently, Nestle extracts 250 gallons of water a minute from the wellhead, but they’re attempting to have that amount increased to 400 gallons a minute. Without the booster station, Nestle’s pipelines won’t be able to withstand the increased pumping.

There are negative effects on the environment with the current amount of water being extracted.

Due to the amount of water being extracted, there have been decreases in the trout population since Nestle has begun extracting water.

“[Large Corporations] tend to produce a ton of waste including wastewater, and large companies use millions of gallons of water in a short period of time,” said Hannah Flemming (’20). If Nestle continues to extract water from the wellhead in Osceola Township, the trout population will continue to decrease.

Despite the outrage from the Osceola Township population, the extraction was deemed legal by EGLE (The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy).

To combat trout populations decreasing, Nestle has submitted environmental monitoring plans at the wellhead. That being said, EGLE won’t allow the pumping capacity at the well to be increased until results from the monitoring plan have been analyzed. “Even though it is legal under the EGLE, I think that they need to test and see what some long-term causes are to be sure that it is 100% safe for the people and environment,” said Maiville.

Nestle has mentioned that they’re putting the water they’re pumping to good use. Nestle said that they have donated water to Flint during the water crisis, and “we are always prepared to provide assistance where and when it’s needed,” said Anderson-Vincent, a management spokeswoman for the Ice Mountain plant.

Although Nestle has been giving its pumped water to people that need it, they’re still selling some of their bottled water with little profit being given to the state of Michigan. For each facility that extracts water, Nestle pays a $200 paperwork fee, but that price is small compared to the issues both Detroit and Flint are having with drinkable water.

“I think [giving water to Flint] is very thoughtful, how ever it does not dismiss the fact they Nestle uses a lot of resources,” said Flemming. “I am all for philanthropy and helping out, but maybe using more water from other places would help the environment in Osceola Township.”

The trout population has been decreasing due to the amount of water being extracted, and once Nestle drains too much water from the wellhead, the population may never recover. Other places in Michigan could be affected in the same way if Nestle continues to pump water from the environment in a similar way.

Schools address gun violence


Graphic by Merek Alam

Apr. 19, 2019 was the 20- year anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School. Since then there have been over 200 incidents national wide. With students returning to school, questions on gun control and safety in classrooms have been raised.

On Sept. 18, Sandy Hook Promise, a non-violence group with the purpose of educating others on knowing the signs of gun violence founded in 2012 by the parents of the Sandy Hook victims, released a back-to-school video.

The video begins with students showing off their newest supplies but then shows a boy running in his new shoes, a young girl using her jacket to hold a door closed and students armed with a pair of scissors and colored pencils near a door.

The video includes a warning regarding graphic content but was made to bring awareness to the situation in schools.

Fruitport Community Schools will be opening a new high school in the summer of 2021 designed to deter active shooters and enhance the safety of the students. This will be replacing their current high school built in the 1950s. The school received a grant for $404,707 from the Michigan State Police to build this school.

The school will have curved hallways to limit to distance an active shooter would be able to see. Concrete “wing walls,” which are slabs of concrete extruding from the wall into a walkway, will be built-in to provide a place for students to hide behind and be protected.

Additionally, the windows will be covered in impact resistant films with the purpose of slowing down anyone who tries to break it. There will also be doors with access control locks that administrators can use to compartmentalize the building to prevent a shooter from reaching other areas.

The design was chosen to minimalize the visual aspects while increasing the safety measures.

On Sept. 9, Addison Community Schools in southeast Michigan in had a public discussion about whether their employees should be allowed to carry guns on school property. It has been a topic for over a year.

The question to follow would be whether guns could be carried open or concealed. The idea is to counter to local police’s slower response times of up to 28 minutes and offer another form of protection for students.

Other measures have been put in place at the school including film over the windows and 60 additional security cameras with a grant from the Michigan State Police.

After the public forum, the school’s safety committee will meet to make a decision. It will then go the school board for a vote. Addison County would be the first district in the state to allow teachers to carry if approved. In July 2018, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled it was up to the district to make a decision on whether or not guns are allowed on the premises.

Alma College is taking their own measures to ensure students’ safety in the case of an emergency. Karl Rishe, Vice President of Student Affairs, became ALICE certified in 2018 to teach others. Staff and faculty have been trained through a 30-minute online course and then a hour in person training session.

Students will receive ALICE training through a seven-minute video the school will send out. It will outline the “Run, Hide, Fight” model.

ALICE is a nationally renown program used to educate people on how to respond in an emergency. It stands for “alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate” and is used to replace the traditional lockdown procedures.

Last spring, there was an active shooter drill for those trained without students to become familiar with the program. There will be a drill with students in the upcoming months working with Alma as well as Michigan State Police.

“ALICE is reactionary. [The] counseling center, all of our reach out, all of those things are precautionary,” said Rishe.

This is part of a two-year plan, with a grant from the Michigan State Police, for two local counties for all the schools ranging from Alma College to Alma High School and Bridge Port. Once the drill with students is completed the school will be a ALICE certified institution.

“ALICE training is really encompassing of almost anything we could want,” said Rishe. It includes safety kits in every classroom ranging from first aid and tourniquets to mechanisms to lock doors.

Up ↑