Students take part in alternative breaks

DLYLAN COUR
STAFF WRITER

Photo by DYLAN COUR

For many students, fall break is an opportunity to go home and take time away from school. For others, however, it is a chance to give back to the community and get some volunteer experience. Alternative Breaks are ways for students to give back to the community either locally or nationally. The theme for this fall break was “Keeping it in the Mitten,” more specifically, Gratiot County.

Alternative Breaks initially came to fruition in 2003 where there was a single trip and about 20 students were involved. Today there are over 100 participants in the alternative break program each academic year. These breaks teach students about social issues impacting a region and allows them to experience the culture of a community in their specified location.

The breaks that took place this past fall break range from working in non-profit locations to working with the parks and recreation department of Gratiot County. Some students worked with the Wilcox Nonprofit Center, which took place in Alma.  Others worked with The Community Compassion Food Kitchen in Mt. Pleasant or Forest Hill Nature Area that is part of the Gratiot County parks system.

Some breaks were able to provide students with new information about the location they were helping. “Alternative Break at the Wilcox Center actually provided me with so much information about all the nonprofits located in the single building. It was definitely eye opening to hear how much goes on in the community and how many nonprofits there are dedicated to helping Gratiot County,” said Morgan Gust (’21).

On top of the direction from the school, students are in charge of creating the time frame and schedule. “As a site leader you have to pre plan the entire trip. You are in charge of connecting with the community planners, creating an itinerary, creating a budget and getting the students interested. If anyone has questions they come to you, and while you have a staff member, they are only around during the trip and are there to make sure you are following the rules of Alma College,” said Jessica Araway (’21).

Not just anyone can be a site leader however. There is an application process all must go through who are interested in becoming site leaders. “In order to be a site leader, you have to go on an alternative break as a student and the site leader of that trip then recommends you to the other site leaders as a potential new site leader, and then you get invited to an informational meeting where you get to decide,” said Araway.

Students who have attended alternative breaks recommend that other students also utilize this program that has been created. “I would absolutely recommend alternative breaks to other students and I’m a big advocate for them in the Transition Assistance Program that I’m apart of here at Alma,” said Raquel Smith (’21). “It’s a great way to get to know more students as well as give back to our community or other communities as well.”

Many students use alternative breaks as a way to explore opportunities outside of their major and outside of the campus life. This break was not a part of my major, I took it because it gave me a sense of what the Alma Community is going through and gave me a different perspective from the Alma College bubble many of us live in,” said Marissa Quiroz (’21).

In addition to the 3 experiences offered during the fall break, alternative breaks will be run during winter break as well as spring break in the second semester. Exact details for those trips have yet to come out, but information can be found on the Alma College website or by going to the CSO and speaking with Carla Jensen, Assistant Director of Venture Program and Off-Campus Studies.

Alma College Theatre Presents: The Music Man

COURTNEY SMITH
STAFF WRITER

Photo by HANNAH GIBBS

Last Thursday, The Music Man debuted on the Alma College campus. The Music Man is a 1957 musical written by Meredith Wilson.

This was the first show of the year hosted by the Alma College theatrical department, under the direction of Dr. Scott Mackenzie, who is a life-long fan of the show.

“I’ve loved this show since I was a kid. I used to listen to the album all the time growing up so just hearing the music each night just makes me smile. I’m a hopeless romantic so I love some of the songs in the second act, like ‘Till There Was You.” said Dr. Scott Mackenzie, chair of the theater department.

For many, this production of The Music Man brought new opportunities to fill roles bigger than ever before in past productions hosted by Alma College. 

“It’s absolutely crazy. Ever since high school, it’s been a dream for me to play the lead in a musical. I’ve been a lead in many plays, but always in a show with multiple leads. Musicals have always been my favorite type of production, and being the leading man in one of the biggest shows Alma has ever done is the craziest concept.” said Conner Garma (‘20), who played Harold Hill.

Even the director found himself feeling jealous of a few of the roles in this production of The Music Man.

“I’d be up there directing something and I’d think ‘Argh, I really wanna play this part!’ I never got to play Harold Hill, but Conner got to and he did a really good job.” said Mackenzie.

In addition to the musical bringing exciting new roles for actors, the musical was hosted in Presbyterian Hall, as opposed to the usual theatre department’s location in Strosacker. This brought new possibilities for the set designers to build bigger than ever before.

“One of the joys is the chance to be able to design here in Presbyterian Hall in a space that is much larger than what we do over in Strosacker. The ability for the students to get a chance to work on unit pieces that are much larger than what they usually get to work on I think has been one of the most exciting parts of it.” said Terry Jachimiak, professor of theater.

There is a lot of work put into a production that the audience never sees. The design and technical departments pour a lot of work into each production with little recognition.

“They see the actors and they appreciate the actors, as they should, but a lot of people don’t realize the amount of work we put in, because there’s not a lot of students who are willing to be behind the scenes, to put in the hours, to do the work, and really not get any credit for it.” said Jachimiak.

As with any production, the theater department faced many challenges in putting on The Music Man. The cast and crew worked under time constraints, forcing them to work long hours to ensure that The Music Man was ready for showtime.

“This is definitely the biggest show since I’ve been here, and was produced in the shortest amount of time.” said Mackenzie.

In addition to time-constraints, the cast and crew were also short-handed, which demanded that all members of the theater department have an all-hands-on-deck approach.

“The greatest challenge has been not having enough time. Any theater person will tell you that they always wish they had an extra week to finish a show, but this is one of those shows where it’s not just needing the extra week, it’s needing the extra people” said Jachimiak.

The theater department worked their hardest for weeks straight to ensure The Music Man was as entertaining as possible, but their hard work would be in vain with no audience to support the show.

“All of the students in the cast and crew put their hearts and souls into this show. Everyone has worked themselves to the bone to make this show happen, so thank you to those who came to support us!” said Garma.   

Marcia Miller 30 year-anniversary letter

30 years ago, when I just started working, I was told I worked the most overtime in the history of food service workers.

I was a single parent, mother of three preteens. I worked basically whenever I was asked to, and after one year I became full time. While working in Van Dusen, we had five catering halls and did a lot of wedding receptions.

I worked both Joes and catering and loved it. After five years my manager said we were going to try a new program called meal advantage, and we might have 10-20 students. It was for students who could not get to meal times because of their class schedules. The first lunch came and we had students lined up all the way to Gelston! I went to the back to get the manager and said, “We need your help meal advantage exploded!” Thus began meal advantage and it is still a campus program.

As I continued working in Joes I had a fourth child, we called her the ‘campus baby’. My mom would bring her to Joes to have me nurse her.

I would often carry her in Joes, and so many students were amazed at how tiny her hands, feet and body were. I was amazed that some had not seen or held a baby before!

After ten years in Van Dusen I moved to Hamilton, where I have been for 20 years now. After 30 years of serving campus staff, students, and faculty I have learned so much and grown right along with all of them.

Through the years I have had several students stay in my home. My own adult children have grown up and have jobs and careers of their own, as well as families of their own! Empty nest? Not me! I have filled my nest with others who are in need of a room. I am only a mile from campus and it is a beautiful walk by the river both ways.

I have served under several presidents and each has had their own path of education and research that I have been enlightened with.

I always say I am the parents when your parents aren’t here. If you need a listening ear, hug, or just want to talk I am here. A couple of students have told me they will miss me, and I tell them that when they are missing me just to reach up, and I’ll have a hug there waiting for you.

My brother lives in Indiana and says that he was attending a class and talking to some of the students and some of them had attended Alma College. He asked if they knew Macia Miller, and of course they said that everyone knows Marcia!

I really do feel as though all of the students, staff, and faculty I have served through the years are my extended family.

I pray for and care about all of you and would like you to know it is truly my pleasure to serve you all.

Thank you, here’s to many more years of service with you all!

Love,

Marcia Miller

Both sides of the table

ATULYA DORA-LASKEY
STAFF WRITER

Graphic by MEREK ALAM

At the Democratic Debate last Tuesday, candidates faced a simple final question. Instead of devoting time to hearing the candidates plans to address the world melting or perhaps asking how they plan on housing millions of homeless people across the country, CNN anchor and debate moderator Anderson Cooper decided to focus on another story entirely: Ellen DeGeneres hanging out at a football game with former President George W. Bush.

It’s a surprising friendship to some, as DeGeneres is openly liberal, and George Bush is fiercely conservative. “So, in that spirit,” Cooper began asking the Democratic field, “we’d like you to tell us about a friendship that you’ve had that would surprise us and what impacts it’s had on your beliefs.”

The friendship was previously addressed on The Ellen Show, where DeGeneres defended it and displayed a tweet reading, “Ellen and George Bush together makes me have faith in America again” to obedient studio applause. DeGeneres, with the same energy as that sorority alum who comes over to the house too often, says that she is friends with a lot of people who have different opinions then her. She concludes on a moral message, preaching that, “We’re all different, and I think we’ve forgotten that that’s okay.” The sentiment is a laudable one, but disgustingly inapplicable to the situation DeGeneres used it for.

President George Bush isn’t merely your politically incorrect but harmless grandfather. President George Bush is the war criminal who used the power of the Oval Office to start a war in Iraq under false pretenses which killed 5,000+ American soldiers and 600,000+ Iraqi civilians, as well as starting a war in Afghanistan that this nation continues to send its children to die in. His poor (and arguably racist) handling of Hurricane Katrina left hundreds of his countrymen dead and permanently destroyed black communities.

Ellen ignores this to enthusiastically brings former President Bush on her show anyway. If everything Bush did was merely a difference of opinion, then it seems hypocritical of her to go on record to never allow President Trump on her show because she believes that, “He’s against everything I stand for.” It seems even more hypocritical for Ellen to have previously gifted the Trump family an incredibly expensive golden carriage when Trump’s racism was no longer secret, having already been sued by the Department of Justice for housing discrimination against black people. There are numerous “unlikely friendships” like this between those that exploit us and those that legitimize that exploitation. None of them are as inspiring or wholesome as Anderson Cooper believes they are.

Joe Biden holds himself up as a civil rights hero yet gave a loving eulogy at the funeral of segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond, a man who began the longest continuous filibuster in U.S. history in his attempt to oppose the Civil Rights Act. Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a close friendship with fellow Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, despite her knowing more than most that his decisions often make life worse for millions of people. The Clinton and Trump family are held up as ideological opposites of each other but are photographed laughing together at Trump’s wedding and while Trump generously funded their political campaigns with hundreds of thousands of dollars. More recently, it was revealed that Hillary Clinton threatened to cancel an interview with journalist and author Ronan Farrow because of his investigation in Harvey Weinstein. And of course, the numerous close relationships that sex trafficker Jeff Epstein held among rich and respected people like Bill Gates and most notably (once again) to the 42nd and 45th presidents.

These are just some of the powerful people actively ruining the world and eroding our faith in American institutions and values that never hold them accountable. Faith that we’re then somehow supposed to gain back as they either have “surprising friendships,” theatrically hate each other for the cameras, or both. There’s nothing surprising or inspiring about a system that tramples us, and it is time we stop looking up and smiling when the people doing it occasionally hold hands.

Student Organization: something for everyone

BAILEY LANGBO
STAFF WRITER

Photo by RAUL RIVERA

It’s no secret that our college boasts a wide array of clubs and organizations. If you can think of it, chances are, we have it—we’ve got Greek life, religious organizations, political organizations, service-oriented organizations, music groups, academic groups and special interest groups, among others, with the option of even creating your own organizations if your interests aren’t represented.

In total, Alma College hosts almost 100 student clubs and organizations. But on such a small campus, what’s the point? Rumors have allegedly been going around that some students think there are too many clubs and organizations on campus that do basically the same thing. But here’s the deal: everyone is interested in something different. And if they want to express their interests through clubs, organizations or even through other ways, who are we to stop them? However, there are some problems with having as many organizations as we do. “I feel like there are pros and cons to having so many clubs and organizations.” said Ally Boulware (’20). “On one hand, it can allow nearly every student to find at least one thing to get involved in and enjoy. On the other hand, there are only so many students on campus, so organizations may find themselves struggling with membership.

“Also, on that note, with so many organizations being recognized by Student Congress, funding will always be a major issue.” Boulware is the president of Alpha Gamma Delta, involved with Sigma Tau Delta, See Spot Run, Pi Delta Chi and the Climbing Club.

Student Congress plays a large part in keeping our school’s clubs and organizations up and running. “Historically, the number of student organizations has fluctuated, and it is the job of Student Congress to manage expectations and funding for these groups. If students want to be involved in groups, it’s important for them to be able to find their place on campus.” said Bridget Flanery (’20). “Just because you or I don’t want to be in every single campus group doesn’t mean that it isn’t important to another student.”

“It’s important for us to respect these differences and see the value that other organizations bring to campus, no matter how wide the reach.” said Flanery.

Participation in student clubs and organizations can easily influence the four years we have at Alma College for the better. It is often noted how participation in these groups can help open up leadership opportunities, chances to make new friends that maybe you wouldn’t have met otherwise and dedicate yourself to something bigger than just you; now you’re a part of a whole.

“I remember coming into Alma my freshman year and I didn’t know how to approach all these new faces as I was relatively shy.” said Alexia Miller (’20). “I rushed Alpha Gamma Delta and was an active part of various clubs on campus. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I actually came out of my shell.”

“If you told me four years ago that I would be the president of the Gender and Sexuality Diversity Club my senior year, I would [have] look[ed] at you like you were insane. Being an active member of the anime and gaming club helped me find a passion playing Magic the Gathering, and it was through that game that I made a lot of really strong connections with people.” said Miller.

Alma College has been and will continue to be positively impacted by its many clubs and organizations through leadership opportunities, campus involvement, new connections, and development of creativity.

If you’re interested in becoming a part of any of our many students clubs or organizations, take a look at the Clubs & Organizations link under the Life at Alma tab at www.alma.edu for more information.

Does a liberal arts title matter? New ranking on US news

KARA DENIKE
STAFF WRITER

For the past one hundred and thirty-three years, Alma College has continuously been considered a liberal arts college. Three weeks ago, an emergency faculty meeting was called in regard to the school’s new title with the newest release of this new US News College Ranking. Concerns were raised in regard to the perception of this new title by prospective students and others.

Alma College has recently been listed as number eight on the Regional Colleges Midwest list for US News Best Colleges. Alma College prides and markets itself on being a liberal arts college–it offers a wide array of disciplines while ensuring that students take other courses to broaden their knowledge of the world. However, over recent years, the school has seen a rise in non-humanities majors, including integrative physiology and health science, nursing and business.

The five most popular majors for 2018 graduates were health professions at nineteen percent, business at sixteen percent, education at twelve percent, social sciences at nine percent and biological and biomedical studies at eight percent.

Humanities courses include art, communication, dance, English, music, philosophy, religion and theater. Although the college requires students of every major to take at least one humanities class, it is the types of majors themselves that count for the ranking.

The school has a large draw on students interested in the sciences due to being one of only a few Division III institutions with a gross anatomy laboratory which allows students to perform on full-body cadavers. The college also draws students in with its internationally renowned Model United Nations team, its highly traveled Alma College Choir and its Cheer and Stunt team, which has won second or better in the last five years at the National Cheerleading Association College Nationals.

The difference between a liberal arts college and a small midwestern college is minimal to none. The school’s new ranking does not have as much of an impact as some may think it does. These campus organizations will continue to bring in new students. Alma College can and most likely will pursue the ideals of a liberal arts college no matter its title elsewhere.

To continue pursuing these ideals, the college can make an effort to update not only the Dow Science Center, but also Swanson Academic Center and specifically the roofs of the Heritage Center and Eddy Music Building. Over the four years I have been here, every year has been the same in the music and theater buildings on rainy days: ceiling tiles are set aside, and buckets are placed beneath where water otherwise drips onto the floor. Over the course of one summer though, Dow was renovated with new technology, and there are new and extravagant plans for renovation of the library.

Despite Alma College’s new ranking and title, classes will remain as they have been. There have been no public comments made from the college about the change in ranking.

Football takes feud from twitter to the end zone

ALYSSA GALL
SPORTS WRITER

On Saturday October 5th, Alma’s football team started off their conference season with a bang by defeating their rival, Albion, in a close 32-28 win.

Alma, who had been trailing Albion for most of the game, made a huge comeback in the final quarter of the game.

“Collin Smith’s interception in the 4th was a momentum spark. We had quick drives resulting in TD’s and the defense played great in the fourth quarter, forcing three and out possessions for the Brits,” said Head Coach Jason Couch.

This comeback win helped Alma not only charge past Albion, but placed them as 1-0 to start off the MIAA conference.

“We were very excited to be back on the field after our bye week.  On top of that, to play a conference rival and start MIAA play made it more exciting. We thought it would be a hard-fought game and it proved to be that,” said Couch.

However, the intense game was not just fueled by the conference rivalry between the two teams. The “battle” between the two began before the game even started.

For as long as the two teams have existed, they have always been major rivals. This rivalry impacts everything from the way they prepare, practice and even dress.

“They consider us as the ‘little brother’ which of course plays a part in how we prep. No purple at practice, no purple to be worn the week of the game to class. Anything Albion goes,” said Lawrence Mikowski (’22).

This played into the team’s mentality when it came to preparing. Alma did not have the winning record out of the two. Hence, the stakes to beat them were higher this year.

“We’ve lost to Albion the past few years and last year was especially hard since we were so close in double overtime. If there was a year to beat them and ‘shut them up’ it was this year,” said Mikowski.

The hunger for a win against Albion was not the only fuel this year.

During the week leading up to the game, a feud occurred with Albion’s retired Football Coach, Craig Rundle, commenting on one of Alma’s football player’s tweet.

Rundle instigated the argument when he commented on a current player’s picture of Coach Couch and referred to him as the player’s mom. This remark sparked an abundance of responses and support from the Alma community and past players.

“I felt obligated [to say something] because I have a lot of respect for Coach Couch and what was said didn’t sit right with me,” said Brenden Newvine(’19), a former Alma College football player.

Many athletes like Newvine stepped in to respond to Rundle’s remarks out of shock and respect for the program and coaching staff. The responses to Rundle focused on how unnecessary his comments were and how no coach at Alma would go out of their way to degrade another team like Rundle did.

Mikowski, who responded to Rundle about his character, said, “As soon as Coach Couch saw my tweet, he sent a full team text out just reminding everyone to stay off social media and not get involved. Once again, since I’m not technically on the team, it wasn’t really giving the program a bad look. I was just a student standing up for his school.”

Mikowski and Newvine’s responses were met with Rundle’s taunts of his Championship rings and trophies from his time as a Coach at Albion. However, for every taunt, there was an equal amount of responses about character and integrity from the Alma Community.

There was so much backlash towards Rundle that he even deleted his Twitter following the feud.

“I was proud of our guys.  None of the current players responded at all to his tweet.  Some past players did and he attempted to degrade them as well.  Once again, I am proud of the Scots for taking the higher road. Albion’s AD and current coach reached out to apologize for Mr. Rundle’s remarks,” said Couch.

Despite Rundle’s attempt to degrade and distract the team, the football team stayed focused on the task at hand – winning Saturday’s game. The feud became another incentive for the team to use when prepping for the game.

Coach Couch also used it as a learning opportunity for not only the team, but himself as a Coach.

“Just focus on what you can control.  I can’t control what someone, so distant from our program says or does.  One of his goals may have been to distract us…when you have a task to complete, you can’t let distractions get in the way of your preparations.  I love this team and love how our men showed maturity and focus,” said Couch.

Inclement weather starts new soccer tradition

BRETT JENKINS
STAFF WRITER

Michigan is known to have unpredictable and extreme weather, especially in the fall. To student-athletes on campus, it’s just a part of life. They can’t control the weather, and they can’t always cancel a game just because it’s raining. However, rain can cause more issues than just discomfort.

Two weeks ago the women’s soccer team had to play their game on the artificial turf on the Bahlke field instead of Scotland Yard where they usually play. The rain had flooded the field and it was deemed unfit for a game of soccer.

“We would have torn [the field] up,” said Sarah Dehring, Associate Athletics Director at Alma College, “The men’s soccer team had played on it the Saturday and Sunday before that so we just wanted to let it recover.”

The soccer teams weren’t the only ones affected by the inclement weather. It rained so much that there was standing water on fields all throughout Gratiot County.

“We even hosted the St. Louis homecoming football game on the turf (…) because their football field was underwater,” said Dehring.

Playing on the turf instead of grass is a pretty major change, and it isn’t always a welcome one. Many athletes, especially soccer players prefer to play on the grass. “I personally like playing on the grass better because I can actually slide tackle,” said Benjamin Briegal (23), a player on the men’s soccer team.

“A lot of players are afraid to slide tackle on turf because the turf burn hurts a lot,” said Briegal.

Whether or not the players enjoy it, playing on turf is a different experience—especially in the rain.

“Grass fields aren’t perfectly flat,” said Briegal, “The field floods a bit and there are puddles. If the ball gets into one of those puddles, it’ll just stop.”

The turf fields, on the other hand, have the opposite problem.

“It’s totally different. Especially when it rains, the ball skips really fast and it’s very predictable,” said Briegal.

In anticipation for those differences, soccer teams need to make a lot of preparations. The field needs to be painted with lines for a soccer field, and the soccer teams have to practice on a turf field to familiarize themselves with it.

“Anytime they’re scheduled to play on a field that they know has turf they’ll schedule some practices on the turf, and before [the women’s soccer team] played last Friday they practiced on the turf as well,” said Dehring.

Despite all the complications the women’s soccer team faced, the game on the turf was well received by the coaches and players. So well received that it might have started a new tradition for the women’s soccer team.

“Honestly it was a really great atmosphere out on the turf under the lights,” said Dehring, “It’s probably something we’ll look at doing once a year in the future.”

Heavy rain causes flooding in library

EMILY HENDERSON
STAFF WRITER

Photo by DYLAN COUR

Not too long ago the city of Alma was hit with quite the rainstorm, causing a pipe to burst beneath the library. A drain connected to the archival room in the basement was where the water came spewing out.

“A storm water drain pump from the city failed during the heavy rain, and so storm water backed up through a drain and into the archives area of the library; that’s how it flooded,” said Matthew Collins, the library director on campus.

The archival room, as well as the MacCurdy room at the library, is where the college’s collection of rare books can be found.

Alma College is home to quite the collection of rare books, all given to the college by donors with a love and passion for them.

“[Alma College] doesn’t actively buy rare books. Rare books tend to be quite expensive and we don’t collect books in any particular area. What we have was donated to us at some point,” said Collins.

This flooding caused concern for the rare books, as water is detrimental to the condition of a book.

Luckily none of the rare books were ruined due to the flood water.

“We really kind of lucked out that [the water] wasn’t higher, because if it had been a lot of books there would have been damaged. Really it was just some boxes,” said Collins.

Many students may remember seeing large dryers in the basement for quite some time, accompanied by a putrid odor.

“The carpet got wet and the [debris] in the water made the carpet really smell–it was gross. Ryan in facilities told me that they had to vacuum out almost 2,000 gallons of water from the basement,” said Collins.

While the water did bring a horrendous smell, there was no sewage among the debris. The carpet has been completely dried, and the decision is still being made as to whether or not the carpet will be pulled up and replaced.

Rare books do not come easily, and are extremely expensive. Not only do they cost a pretty penny, but they must be maintained in a climate controlled room, and have minimal contact in order to preserve them.

“If you’re going to [keep] books that are older than about the 1800s you would have to have special environmental conditions to keep them under, and you’d need to restrict access and we’re just not set up to do that here. It’s a little beyond us, and quite frankly most small colleges don’t collect rare books,” said Collins.

Due to these factors, many colleges like Alma are unable to properly store rare books, which in turn makes them not last as long. This is another reason why these books are hard to acquire.

“Alma College does not really have anyone who specializes in rare books and for that reason not much has been done with them. I worked with some books that are located in the MacCurdy room that had never been catalogued formally and hadn’t been touched since the ‘60s. It is not really the fault of the library staff that they haven’t been taken care of properly, there just isn’t anyone to do that job,” said Cassie Florian (‘20).

While the college may not have the best available space to maintain these works as best as they wish they could, the college is still home to many rare books. These books are important to have so that students with an interest in rare books have a place to go to get their fix.

“Rare books are important not only because of their monetary value, but also because they are great historical artifacts. They are also just really cool to look at,” said Florian.

Collins said that while none of these books are currently considered damaged, there is still the potential for mold to grow. Only time will tell how many of these rare books truly made it out of this flood unscathed. 

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