Pence’s Mackinac Island motorcade



Last Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence rode from an airport on Mackinac Island to the Grand Hotel using an eight-car caravan, breaking a century old tradition.

Mackinac Island has not allowed cars, except for emergency vehicles, to be driven on the island for over a century to keep the old-time and rustic feel of the quaint town alive.

This past Saturday, however, the tradition changed. Vice President Mike Pence was set to speak at the Grand Hotel, to which he was transported via an eight-car motorcade.

While Pence is the first sitting Vice President to visit the island during his term, many other presidents have visited–and none have travelled around the island in vehicles.

The Grand Hotel, a staple of Mackinac Island, was less than a mile from the airport Pence landed in.

“The idea that he needed the eight-car caravan proves that people in government tend to have elitist ideas about themselves; that they’re better than everyone else,” said Julia Neuvirth (‘21).

Many people are outraged by this occurrence, feeling as though Pence has disrespected a century-old tradition.

“It’s a place where you ride horses or bike everywhere and that has been going on for centuries. He came in and destroyed that legacy,” said Neuvirth.

Some have argued that Pence’s motorcade was necessary, as the safety of our Vice President is important and vital.

The ferry company that transported Pence’s vehicles to the island, Shepler’s Ferry, defended the actions in a tweet posted on Saturday. Others, though, feel as though the measures were a bit much.

“Just because he’s the Vice President doesn’t mean he should be given special allowances for things like that. I don’t see why he needed that much security,” said Elizabeth Shaffer (‘21).

Alma College students and Mackinac Island residents are not the only people expressing their concerns over this event.

Rashida Tlaib, Michigan’s 13th district U.S. Representative, turned to Twitter to share her views on the issue. “Disgusting. I am in such disbelief that this was allowed to happen. This Administration doesn’t care about the law (you know, the U.S. Constitution), so it shouldn’t surprise me so much that they don’t care about our history or traditions,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

Mackinac Island is a place that has prided itself on being traditional, somewhere that takes you back in time. Many believe that Pence’s actions ruin this facade and has hurled the quaint island straight into the 21st century.

“Mackinac Island is beautiful, cultural, rich. I think it’s a unique place to go. I think the whole experience there is centered around old-fashioned [life],” said Mia Arkles (‘21).

There has been a huge outpouring of negativity from various channels within the news, as some reporters claim that there was no need for such a motorcade to ensure Pence’s safety.

Some Alma College students agree.

“It’s not that I think his safety shouldn’t override this tradition, but I think there were other ways of going about his safety that could have been done without ruining a legacy,” said Neuvirth.

Many individuals feel as though the tradition that made Mackinac Island such a unique place will no longer be as special.

Alma advocates for suicide



As we move into the future, more awareness is being brought toward mental health. This advocacy for mental health not only includes Mental Health Awareness month in May, but also Suicide Prevention Week.

While National Suicide Prevention Week was the week prior, this past week the campus of Alma College was flooded with events and other various activities to bring awareness during Suicide Prevention Week.

On Monday, Sept. 23, Alma College’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) hosted motivational speaker and expert on mental health awareness, Jeff Yalden. This event was sponsored by Mid-State Health Network, Alma College, Child Advocacy, Gratiot County Substance Abuse Coalition, Gratiot Integrated Health Network, MidMichigan Health and Gratiot Isabella RESD.

According to his biography on the Premier Speakers Bureau’s website, Jeff Yalden has become the most in-demand youth motivational speaker in North America, due to his personal experiences with mental illness. Yalden has spoken to over 4,000 youth-dominated audiences.

Yalden’s speech focused on mental health awareness, but highlighted several different points, including learning from your mistakes and hardships, valuing your life and focusing on your own wellness.

“His points related back to campus by informing us on how to be supportive and understanding of others around us,” said Austin Popp (‘21).

Yalden also spoke on how personal decision making can affect those around you, about abolishing the stigma around mental health and “to seek help with mental health, as there is nothing wrong with making sure you are okay,” said Popp.

Mental Health is a touchy subject for all, but students were heavily impacted by what Yalden had to say. “Being so personal and intimate with an entire audience must be hard, so I have a lot of respect for him for that. It’s not easy talking about mental health,” said Popp.

Another organization advocating publicly for Suicide Prevention Week was Active Minds. Active Minds is an organization that advocates to change the conversation about mental health.

“We advocate for the normalization of mental health. Mental health should be as easy to talk about as physical health,” said Mackenzie Hemmer (‘20), president of Active Minds.

Active Minds put together the Field of Flags, where 1,100 yellow flags were placed between the library and Clack to represent the number of college students that commit suicide every year.

“These events brought awareness to mental health on campus because of the impact that many students feel from it and the thoughts that it provokes,” said Hemmer.

Students that are passionate about mental health and about removing the stigma around it are encouraged to take action on campus.

“Students can get involved with Active Minds in a few different ways,” said Hemmer. “First, come to the meetings if you can! We meet biweekly on Tuesday’s at 8pm in SAC 104.”

Mental health advocacy is an important part of any college campus, and Alma College Provides several resources to help students that are struggling.

Contact information for the Counseling and Wellness Center can be found on both the college’s website and on the back of the Student Identification cards.

College unveils $120 million campaign



Earlier this month, Alma College unveiled the “Our Time is Now” fundraising campaign. This project has a goal of raising 120 million dollars to fund various projects such as renovating the Dunning Memorial Chapel and transforming the Kerhl Library into a Learning Commons.

While the campaign was only recently made public however, there has already been over 100 million dollars raised while the campaign was being developed. These funds have already been in use to facilitate renovations on campus.

“All of the projects completed thus far in the campaign are already in operation,” said Dr. Matt Vandenberg, Vice President of Advancement. Some of these projects include the renovations to north campus halls, the Opera House and three Fraternity Scholar Houses.

Future renovation projects will serve to repurpose the current Kerhl Library into a Learning Commons that will serve the needs of the 21st century. Vandenberg described it as a “versatile new hub of learning and activity.”

Modernizing the library aims to give the space a new life. The project description cites that the current building has a “confusing entry sequence, and interior spaces are difficult for students, faculty, and staff to navigate and fully utilize.”

Students are excited about the future changes, “I think that the project is a great thing for Alma College. There are definitely a lot of areas of campus that need repairs or renovations at the current time,” said Brooke Fornetti (’21).

“I think that these projects will change the college slightly by opening up more possible spaces for events and maybe attracting more people to come to the library or chapel,” said Fornetti.

Updating the college is one of the main goals of the campaign, and a focal point for students. “I also think it will make the college look more ‘up-to-date’ and modern, which may help bring in more potential students,” said Fornetti.

Vandenberg has similar views on the intent of the campaign. “Every project we undertake aims to enhance the overall experience of current and future students,” he said.

However, there is some concerns on campus that much needed renovations are being overlooked at this time. “While I agree that the library and chapel do need work, one thing that I really think that needs it is South Campus dorms, particularly Brazell/ Nisbet and Bonbright/ Carey Halls,” said Fornetti.

Almost every other housing option has been more recently updated than these four South Campus halls. “With all of the renovations that have been completed on all of the North Campus dorms, you would think that the next logical thing to do would be to also renovate South as well” said Fornetti.

Vandenberg noted that the success of the campaign was reliant on the willingness of donors to help better the college, “Donor support has an enormously positive influence on students, yet the benefits of philanthropy are not necessarily always immediately visible or obvious.”

He explained that every facility on Alma’s campus was either built or improved by the help of donors. However, that is not the extent of their impact on campus, “Donors also provide student scholarships, fortify our endowment, and enrich a wide array of athletic teams and student organizations” said Vandenberg.

Political stress in Saudi Arabia and Iran


Photo by Grace Grelak

On Sept. 14, there was a drone attack on Saudi Aramco’s Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia. Half of the country’s oil supply was compromised, the equivalent of five percent of the world’s supply.

Following the attack, the prices of crude oil increased in response to the shortage. Costs enlarged by up to 20 percent, hitting a peak at $72 a barrel. However, most of the production has since been restored. This occurred much faster than most experts predicted.

Currently, Iran is denying any responsibility for the attack on the Saudi Arabian oil field.

“The critics of the Trump administration are arguing that in many ways Trump has created an environment in which this type of reaction, if it was in fact by the Iranians, was prompted by the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement,” said Derick Hulme, professor of Political Science.

In 2015, the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council— China, United States, France, United Kingdom, and Russia—as well as German, made an agreement with Iran that was to curb their production of missiles. In return, they agreed that other countries would remove economic sanctions on Iran.

In May 2018, President Trump made the decision to pull of the deal with Iran. Recently, this has led to Iran violating the agreement and the United States pressuring other countries to impose sanctions on Iran again.

France, Britain and Germany have been calling for a new agreement to be made; however, it is highly unlikely given how difficult it was to reach the previous agreement.

“It was multilateral diplomacy at its most complicated and ultimately most successful and there was a clear quid quo pro,” said Hulme in regard to the previous agreement. “The idea that Iran will come back to the table is highly unlikely.”

On Sept. 20, Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense, announced that the U.S. would be sending troops to Saudi Arabia to enhance their defense. On Sept. 26, Esper included the addition of two patriot missiles and a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense—THAAD—system.

THAAD is a defense system designed to target incoming missies and intercept them before reaching their target. “Any kind of enhanced assistance to the Saudis comes with significant regional implications,” said Hulme.

“It’s likely that many people don’t know about the situation because it isn’t being as thoroughly reported on and distributed like the impeachment proceedings,” said Destiny Herbers (‘21). She is fairly unfamiliar with the situation occurring abroad knowing not much more than Trump approving more troops to aid Saudi Arabia.

Elizabeth Flatoff (‘21) says she knows what happens but does not know all the details. She hears people talking about it but questions the reliability of their comments.

“I understand in a broad sense we help our allies,” said Flatoff. “Do I think we need to immediately send in troops? No.”

Flatoff said it is important for the Untied States to help their allies but there are other things the country can be doing to also aid in preventing future incidents.

“I think we should be helping Saudi Arabia to a degree because they are our ally and we use their oil, but I do also think we should be denouncing the acts which we are to an extent but not enough,” said Flatoff.

“I don’t think it currently affects me as a student but it could,” said Flatoff.

“I think that students should be aware of it as international conflicts have the potential to impact our lives,” said Herbers.

Alma Dominates Homecoming



Homecoming weekend was action packed with Alma athletics. Alumni and fans from all over the state and even the country were in attendance. Football, cross country and women’s soccer all competed over the annual homecoming weekend.

The football team had a dominant 51-16 win over their opponent, Rockford University. Alma wasted no time in the first half, scoring on all 6 of their possessions.

“I was very happy with the way the team played. They came out of the gates strong,” said Head Football Coach Jason Couch.

Austin Spratling (‘20) led the team with 108 yards on 14 carries and scored a touchdown in the process. Quarterback Ryan Stevens (‘20) had two diffrent rushing plays that both led to touchdowns and Dustin Soloman (‘23) and Nathan Goralski (’22) also had one rushing touchdown each.

“It was a fantastic environment between the atmosphere inside of Bhalke and also at the tailgate outside of the fence,” said Couch.

A 25-yard touchdown pass was caught by Joseph Schaefer (‘22) and a 31-yard reception was caught by Chase Hinkle (’20) for a touchdown. These were 2 of Stevens’ 8 total passes of the game.

“The ’94 football team gave the team a pre-game pep talk, which emphasized playing for your teammates, which the scoreboard indicated,” said Couch.

The women’s soccer team defeated Concordia University of Chicago on Saturday with a 2-1 score. The Saturday (Sep.21) afternoon game opened homecoming weekend for the Scots.

Meghan Pfile (‘22) scored her first goal of the season with an assist from Ashley Oldham (‘22). Paige Moore (‘23) also scored for the scots at the 70-minute mark with an assist from Lily Stephan (‘23).

“I think it’s been trending now, our second halves were much better than our first, I think we definitely could’ve kept our shut out, that goal against us came back to us not being as focused on our task as we should’ve been,” said Head Women’s Soccer Coach Megan Gorsuch.

The team gave the Scot’s more of a fight than they expected, but in the end Alma still pulled off the victory.

“I will be honest they showed better in real life than they did in our scout, in terms of their ability to possess the ball and work it through combination play, I don’t think we were expecting as much as they brought especially in the first half,” said Gorsuch. The women’s soccer team looks forward to starting conference play next Tuesday at Trine.

The cross-country team had a tenth-place finish overall at the Knight-Raider invitational on Friday (Sep. 20). The men’s team sent out 13 runners and the women followed with 12 overall competitors. For the second race in a row, Aubrey Hemstreet (’20) led for the Scots with a 12th place overall finish and a 6k time of 19:47.90. Corneilia Gotass (’22) and Haley Trickey (’21) were the next two scot finishers.

Gotass ran a 21:42.60 race time which put her in 56th place overall. Trickey finished with a time of 22:35.20.

The men’s team was led by Sean Pauley (’22) who placed 42nd overall and finished with an 8k time of 28:13.90. Nolan Rowland (’21) was the next finisher for the men’s team; he had a 49th place finish overall with a time of 28:44.50. There were 21 total teams at the meet.

Renovations move to progress campus



It seems that over the past few years Alma College has taken a lot of initiative when it comes to updating the infrastructure on campus. In the time the senior class has been at Alma, they have redone all the North Campus dorms, Dow lobby, and built the new Zeta Sigma House.

These renovations have done some serious updating to North Campus. I lived in Newberry and Mitchell Hall, pre-renovation. Now that I’m living in Mitchell again, these updates to the North Campus dorm buildings were truly beneficial.

Besides some minor complaints about shower drains, Alma College provided North Campus dorms with the best the college had to offer when they renovated. The changes to Mitchell Hall made it a truly different living experience than when I lived there Freshman Year.

The newly planned renovations to the chapel and Swanson Academic Center are next in line to be renovated and updated for the 21st century. The updates to these buildings were announced over Homecoming weekend and caused a lot of commotion.

I think these renovations are really going to be beneficial to a large majority of campus. An updated Library and Chapel allows the college to expand in a genuinely positive way, but I can’t help but think about if these renovations are the most urgent.

I lived on South Campus for two semesters while I’ve been at Alma College, and I can’t help but notice the deterioration on those buildings: whole tiles missing in bathrooms, semi-functioning heat and general signs of decay.

South campus housing has its perks. Suite style living appeals to a lot of students, and its location proves to be convenient; however, people can be reluctant to live there because of the overall deterioration of the dorms.

While I lived there, I experienced missing bathroom floor tiles, shower water that was tinted yellow and flooding in the laundry room—a laundry room that was already creepy and inconvenient. The college facilities department was on speed dial, and while they were not always expedient in fixing things, the job always got done.

South campus needs some serious updating from the college. What was done to Newberry and Mitchell last summer should come to the south campus dorms sooner rather than later.

Many students have had complaints that all of the underclassmen dorms have been renovated, while a solid majority of junior and senior students live in the oldest housing on campus. Some students—including myself— have found ways to keep living on North Campus even though they are an upperclassman.

Everyone can argue that what is important to them should be the first one to get renovated. Humans naturally put themselves ahead of others, so that’s what students are going to do when they think they are smarter than administration.

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