The environment cries for help


Graphic by MEREK ALAM

There has been a lot of talk about the climate in the news lately, and there have been protests across the world; however, without large changes across the globe, I don’t think there will be much headway. People have been organizing climate strikes around the world, and they have brought a lot of attention to the climate change issue. People have been using less plastic and have found better ways to reuse items before throwing them away.

People have posted videos of them changing things they would normally throw away into useful items, and life-hack videos are all over the internet.

These are all great ways for people to alter the amount of waste they produce, and I think most of them are really good ideas. That being said, there are only a few people that actually use these hacks to reduce waste. There will always be people that will do everything in their power to try and lessen the impact their waste has on the environment, but individuals shouldn’t be the only ones trying to help the environment.

Large corporations need to realize that they have a much larger impact on the environment that individuals, and they need to be trying to help the environment more.

For example, the Nestle conglomerate has been pumping a lot of groundwater from Michigan, and it’s hurting the environment. Residents in Osceola Township have noticed that water levels are continuing to decrease the longer that Nestle drains water from below ground. The wellhead Nestle is pumping water from runs directly into two Muskegon river tributaries. Trout populations in the area are beginning to decrease.

This affects more than just people. Food webs and food chains are being impacted, and that is going to change the entire environment. Animals feed on other animals, and when one animal population becomes exceedingly small, other animals suffer as a consequence. There are thousands of populations being affected by large corporations, and there’s little that individuals can do by themselves. I’m not saying that people should stop their efforts to help the environment; I’m saying that their efforts are small and pale in comparison to what larger groups could be doing.

Besides corporations harming the environment by drawing resources to make money, companies are harming the environment by what they leave behind.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 700,000 tons of fishing gear is left in the ocean every year. We’ve all heard that fishing nets in the ocean are much more harmful than using plastic straws and cups. While people mainly think of pollution as plastic bottles and containers floating on the surface of water, there is plastic that sinks in the ocean and causes harm too.

There are pieces of plastic that sink in bodies of water and hurt organisms like crustaceans and corals. In the past, there has been talk about the Great Coral Reef off the coast of Australia dying, and talk of this tragedy has not been talked about in the media lately. Coral is one of the biggest types of organisms on the ocean floor, and it is a very large portion of the ocean’s ecosystem.

There are many ways that people are trying to help the ecosystem. From reusable straws to eating less meat, people are doing what they can to keep the world from collapsing upon itself. Personally, I try to buy products that seem to be made using more reusable material than others, but there’s only so much that I can do by myself. Corporations need to be more cognizant of what they’re doing to the environment, and they need to think about what they’re doing to the planet. We all live here. We all need to save our home.

Our press isn’t free


Graphic by MEREK ALAM

On December 15th, 1791, The United States of America ratified the first 10 amendments to our constitution. The first amendment enshrined a right to a free press, one that could not be threatened or controlled by the government. What 18th century America couldn’t have foreseen were the threats that profiteering and corporate control also posed to a free press. Now both are having devastating effects on our democracy.

The problem is simple enough to identify: Profit-driven media is more loyal to advertisers and shareholders than they are to the public good. The advertisers are the real money makers for the company, and thus the news media only needs to remain legitimate enough for there to be viewers watching these ads. Unfortunately, over the last couple decades, media conglomerates have been merged together until everything we watch and read is now being controlled by a handful of corporations with this profit-motive written into their very DNA.

You simply have to tune into one of these channels to watch this in action. Candidates like Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders get routinely overlooked by news networks because their policies would require heavy taxes on the wealthy, which includes the controlling shareholders of these very same news networks. They get their health care plans smeared by debate moderators because the commercial break slots for these debates are filled with lobbyist ads from the very health insurance companies Warren and Sanders are trying to abolish. The truth is something that can be disregarded if there’s money on the line.

It turns out that the truth isn’t profitable at all. The President of CNN, Jeffrey Zucker, has been incredibly open about using CNN, not for seeking the truth, but as an entertainment venture. “The idea that politics is sport is undeniable, and we understood that and approached it that way,” said Zucker to The New York Times in 2017. Instead of spending their millions of dollars on longform journalism or serious investigation, CNN spends their time and money platforming talking-heads who scream falsehoods at each other from their respective boxes in gladiatorial-style combat between sponsored breaks where pharmaceutical companies try to sell you heart medication.

It might be tempting to write this off as a problem the progressive younger generation will solve when they get into journalistic positions, but getting these jobs in the first place is increasingly difficult. Undergrad journalists require internships in order to get gigs later on, but very few of these internships are paid. Undergrads also quickly realize that publishing enough articles online to make up this monetary difference is unrealistic. This causes a selfselecting cycle where the type of students who make it into high-level journalistic positions come from wealthier families who have cash to burn through. This means that members of the younger generation who fill these positions often still leans towards reinforcing these profit-driven operations instead of dismantling them.

This also assumes that there will be any journalistic positions left. Another cost of monopolizing media corporations is the bankruptcy or cooptation of important local newspapers and news stations, with more than 1 in 5 local newspapers closing since 2004. A college graduate trying to make a difference in their community may be faced with no job at all or a job under a corporation like Sinclair Broadcasting (who own 193 channels, enough to reach 39% of all American homes), which forces local news anchors to repeat conservative viewpoints verbatim from a script.

Even if your main worry continues to be the government instead of the corporations exerting increasing control and surveillance into our lives, what happens when the interests of the government and these mass media corporations align? What happens when CNN begins merging with a private military company whose best interests are starting a new war? What happens when the MSNBC board decides that tax-cuts would actually be beneficial to them? What happens when Jeff Bezos owns both the Washington Post and Amazon sponsored labor camps funded by contracts through the government?

All we have now is a promise from these media conglomerates that these scenarios won’t happen. Promises that news outlets are completely independent of its legal owners. Promises that these media companies have the American people’s best interests in mind. As long as these corporations are run explicitly for profit, these are promises that we can’t believe. Any quality news story that comes out is a miracle of a corrupt system, and these miracles are getting rarer and rarer. We must strive for the truly independent media this nation set out for, not controlled by the government or these money hungry corporations. We need a news media funded by the American people and for the American people.

Colt stops manufacturing AR-15s


Graphic by MEREK ALAM

Gun control has been on the forefront of minds across the country ever since shootings and other massacres have seen a rise in frequency.

Many companies have limited sales of high powered guns and rifles. Walmart will no longer sell handguns and certain types of ammunition that can be used in assault style weapons, and Dick’s Sporting Goods has released a statement saying that they are considering no longer selling guns altogether.

Colt, a company based in Connecticut, is no different. The manufacturer has stated that they will stop selling AR-15 rifles for consumer use for the time being as demand for the specific rifle goes down. In a statement released to the press, the president of the company reaffirmed their support for the 2nd Amendment despite the halt in production.

The 2nd Amendment has long been debated. Some believe that the Amendment means the same thing it has since its creation; others believe that it should change with time.

“I think [that] the 2nd Amendment was necessary when it was originally written,” said Taylor-Nicole Kissel (’20), “but is no longer needed.”

“I have complicated feelings with the 2nd Amendment,” said Katie Bailey (’22). “On one hand, I respect the freedom it ensures. However, I have a problem with certain groups of people who lately have been, in my opinion, abusing it. I don’t think it should be completely nullified from the Bill of Rights, just edited.”

In the past, AR-15 rifles have been involved in multiple mass shootings, including incidents at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the concert in Las Vegas and the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. Many people have expressed relief at the halt in production of AR-15s, including students on Alma’s campus.

“I felt such a sense of relief when the news broke,” said Bailey. “Even though I’ve personally never experienced gun violence firsthand, I know [that] with this suspension, our society [is] one step closer to a sense of safety by keeping AR15s out of dangerous hands.

“I believe if not banned, AR-15s should be very heavily regulated. I feel like unless adequate reason is presented (i.e. a police officer or soldier needs one), nobody should be able to purchase them.” continued Bailey.

“I already feel safe on campus, but this definitely makes me less worried about potential shootings on other campuses, as well as our own,” said Kissel. However, there are some that disagree with the action as well.

“The AR-15 is becoming an increasingly popular platform, and Colt’s cease of production means huge losses of revenue on their end,” said Ethan Zalac (’22). “Many think it to be a ‘weapon of war,’ but the simple truth is that there is no military in the world that uses it as a standard issue rifle due to its diminished battle capabilities despite media outrage.

“On top of this, gun bans only disarm law-abiding citizens and do not remove the capability of criminals to commit their crimes. The fewer lawful citizens owning guns, the less safe I feel.”

The AR-15 was first manufactured in the 1950s for the military and was developed in response to the AK-47 making its rounds through the Soviet Union. AR-15s and other similar semi-automatic weapons were banned from the country in 1994 and lasted until 2004, when the prohibition expired.

It is unclear whether or not this ban helped to reduce gun violence, as exemptions were included in the law. Copycat weapons were allowed to be sold.

“Joker” laughs at society


Graphic by MEREK ALAM

“Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?” said Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) in one of his opening lines of Joker. The relatability doesn’t end there, the residents of 1980’s Gotham must also grapple with class inequality, slashed social services, a millionaire running for public office and collectively having a crush on Zazie Beetz. In record time, this turmoil from a fictional society spilled over into our (unfortunately) very real society.

The current controversy revolves around the idea that the very plot of Joker––a lonely white guy who devolves into committing murder after experiencing rejection and perceived societal injustice––was too close to the biographies of actual mass shooters. Therefore, a sympathetic portrayal of this kind of person would inspire more potential mass shootings. Phoenix defended the movie, saying that, “I think it’s really good…when movies make us uncomfortable or challenge us or make us think differently.” Others, to put it mildly, disagreed.

Families of the Aurora theater shootings victims protested Warner Brothers. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued warnings about the possibility of violence. The NYPD deployed undercover officers and many other law enforcement officials stepped up their patrols around theaters during the premiere. I myself had my ID checked two times before I even got to my designated Joker theater.

I got settled in my seat just in time for that routine Chevy ad where “real people” on the screen fake enthusiasm for a mediocre car and seemingly like each other. Meanwhile, all the actual real people in the theater begin to get vaguely terrified of their temporary neighbors. In between counting the minutes of the presumed bathroom break the guy next to us took, we all might be inclined to wonder: why is our society like this?

After every shooting one side immediately gets embarrassingly stonewalled trying to legislate guns out of the hands of everyone who’s not a cop and the other side calls on the nation to turn every single public-school teacher into John Wick. If there’s any societal analysis of the shooters at all, it’s when we briefly look at their profile to confirm that it is the fault of the other side so we can wash our hands of it. None of this addresses a more fundamental issue.

Mass killers are still unforgivably bad people who have made evil decisions that they alone are responsible for. Yet, by the very nature of their thoughts and actions, they were still failed every step of the way by the society around them. All across the country you have millions of people stewing in their own hate and isolation without any kind of help or outreach. Partially limiting their access to a particular type of weapon or training Mr. Wilson to go beast mode at the sound of microwave popcorn is to be intervening at the last possible second of the last possible hour and only addressing the tip of the iceberg.

These mass shooters do not have to be inevitable in the first place, every one of them that seemingly appears out of the blue is actually the fault of each and every one of us for not doing something sooner. We shouldn’t be so terrified about media that tries to understand these issues better or makes one of the horrifying evils in our society seem more “human.”

I wish I could say that Joker is the film that provides all the answers we are yearning for, but the film itself is just “okay” in the strongest possible sense of the word. Interesting ideas like a visually overworked social worker, social alienation and the demonization of mental illness get bogged down by a weirdly unnecessary girlfriend plot, a quest to find the protagonist’s dad and The Joker himself going off against PC culture like an aging comedian on Netflix. We all probably would have forgotten the movie a week after it came out and watched Taxi Driver or The King of Comedy instead were it not for the film’s attachment to the Batman mythos.

To its credit, Joker and the controversy surrounding it does an excellent job revealing how deeply afraid our society is of mass shootings, to the point of believing that straying from a list of pre-approved partisan talking points means accidentally summoning a mass shooting Beetlejuice-style. If we begin addressing our deeper issues, that is not a society we have to live in.

I got the blues for piercings and tattoos



Tattoos and piercings are very popular in today’s society, especially with college students. When walking around campus, I can guarantee that you walk past plenty of people who are supporting a unique tattoo or piercing. The thing many people forget about though is, what is going to happen when applying for jobs?

How tattoos and piercings were perceived in the past and how they are today is luckily very different. For decades people have had a negative perceptions of tattoos and piercings. Many people relate their negativity towards their religion, just thinking they are trashy and unattractive and some even bring up the common question of “what will you do when you are old and wrinkly?”

As an avid lover of tattoos and piercings for the purpose of self-expression, I always try and make sure that there is a meaning behind what I am getting if I am getting a tattoo. Piercings are fun to experiment with because there’s multiple piercings you can get. I am currently still playing with the ways I express myself which led me to two tattoos and eight piercings at the moment.

I often get asked what I am going to do when I graduate and begin applying for jobs because of my tattoos and piercings. In today’s society, tattoos and piercings are becoming more widely accepted.

Most employers nowadays have tattoos themselves, which helps many people who have a passion for self-expression. Employers do have a right to have a dress code that requires you to take out any piercings or cover up tattoos. It is getting to a point that employers do not mind simple tattoos and piercings as long as they are not offensive or inappropriate.

Perceptions can impact reality, especially when you have a tattoo or out of the ordinary piercing. If you have an offensive or inappropriate tattoo in a visible place then that will impact your possibility of getting a job, but most do not. If I remember correctly, one in five people have a tattoo and piercings depend on what type it is.

Tattoos and piercings should be acceptable no matter what the job is and shouldn’t change the perception of the person doing the job. But to many people it does still change their perception to a point that some people still refuse service from people with tattoos and piercings.

Many people have heard the saying, “my body is not my resume,” which is entirely true. This is why many people are beginning not to mind hiring people with tattoos or piercings. You can have a tattoo or piercing and be highly qualified for a job, so why should that impact your chances for the job compared to someone with no tattoos with hardly any experience for the same job?

Recently, a lot of people in well-known careers such as nurses, doctors, firefighters, professors and teachers have been able to let their ink and metal be on display. Piercings are still more common than tattoos and overall more accepted in society to this day. Tattoos continue to gain a better following.

Self-expression is something that helps define a person, especially in college and in their career. Tattoos and piercings both help with self-expression and it is up to the person with the tattoos and piercings what they want to mark their bodies with, not anyone else’s.

Academic services on campus



Alma College has a plethora of academic services, yet many students may not utilize them. As classes near their midterms, students at Alma may begin to feel as though they need a little extra support to stay ahead of the curb.

From the CSO, or the Center for Student Opportunity, to the writing center, Alma offers a myriad of different options depending on a students’ specific needs, be it tutoring, writing help and so much more.

The CSO is a place some students utilize, but others feel as though there are many students who are unaware of the help available.

“You can go to the CSO and discuss what you need. If you need more time to take tests, disability services or a wide-range of things. There’s also tutoring, and it’s free on campus,” said Kimber Buzzard (‘21).

The CSO can be found right next to Joe’s in Gelston Hall here on campus.

Students can pick up tutoring forms in the CSO, and they’ll be matched with a tutor, free of charge.

The Writing Center is another academic service found here on campus, located in the library.

“The Writing Center in the library is a great place [to go] if you’re struggling to write a paper. That’s a really cool resource that I think a lot of students don’t utilize. Everything’s free because [Alma College] doesn’t want students to not have these opportunities,” said Buzzard.

Resources here on campus are free to students, which can allow every student to have an equal opportunity to gain academic support. The Writing Center and tutoring are not the only academic services found here on campus.

“Students can go to the CSO for things such as career services, tutoring, help with their resume, graduate school applications, interview help,” said Kendall Bird (‘20).

Along with assistance on resumes and more, the college also offers academic help for those with disabilities.

“Students that have a diagnosed disability can get in contact with Rhonda Linn, and she can help with accommodation letters and what would be feasible for the college to do to help the student succeed in their classes,” said Cosette Coston (‘20).

Alma College allows students with certain disabilities have access to exams for more time, or even in different areas aside from a classroom setting, allowing each student the opportunity to turn in their best work.

“Some of the things the school can do are assisted note taking, so they’ll hire a student that is in a class to take notes and send their notes to the CSO. The process would be confidential, that way the students don’t know who is writing the notes and who the notes are going to. They can also help with reserving rooms to take exams,” said Coston.

If students require different help than what is offered in the CSO or Writing Center, there may still be options available for them.

“There’s a library research class, headed by Steven Richter. It’s a class that helps students find scholarly articles, aside from using Google Scholar,” said Martin Betancourt (‘21).

Not only can students find help with library research, but there are other courses available to help with other academic needs.

“There’s also academics 101, which is a study habits class that helps students that are struggling with their GPA; it helps college kids that don’t know how to study for their classes gain good study habits. Both classes meet once a week for a max of 45 minutes,” said Betancourt.

Academic services may come in a myriad of different forms, be it tutoring, writing help, resume building or even being taught better study habits. The college provides students with many different opportunities, and students are welcome and encouraged to utilize the academic resources here on campus.

Athletes improve in the off-season



In an athlete’s career, they have two types of mindsets: their in-season mindset and their off-season mindset.

The season is the time of the year where athletes get to shine and compete for what they have been training for all year. It is where they show off their skills and hard work.

However, skills and hard work do not just form overnight. The offseason is where athletes work on bettering themselves and their skills.

“The off-season is the most important time for an athlete and their team,” said softball player Kendall Bird (‘20). “This is the time when you can go and work on exactly what you need to be better for your team and the upcoming season ahead. This is the time to get into the best shape possible and be as strong as you can be.”

Most of an athlete’s career is spent out of season. Therefore, it is up to them to utilize their off-season time as much as they can.

Currently at Alma College, winter and spring sports, such as Softball, Women’s and Men’s Lacrosse, Women’s and Men’s basketball and a few others, are in their off-season until late November or January when their seasons start.

Most of these teams have limited action on the field or court due to regulations and have to rely on finding other ways to prepare themselves for their season.

One way is through weightlifting or extra training on their own. “During season our lifts are lighter, not as frequent and more focused on sustaining strength,” said Bird.

“During the off-season, our lifts are set toward building strength. We use three out of the four days in the weight room as strictly lifting weights and the fourth day we use as a cardio circuit day.”

Most teams, when out of season, go to the weight room four times a week to keep themselves active and prepped for season. They also partake in “Fall Ball,” which is fourteen days in the off-season where the team can meet with their coaches to practice as a team.

Besides “Fall Ball,” players like Bird take initiative to make sure to go and get a few hits in to fine tune their skills every week.

Athletes who wait until the season starts to get back into the swing of the sport, often fall behind or lack the skills and rhythm they need for season.

It is important for athletes to constantly be working on their skills and fitness in the off-season whether it is with their team or on their own. Some athletes even utilize their off-season by partaking in another sport.

“Our team always jokes saying that our off-season doesn’t exist because we are always training. We get about two weeks total strictly no running and just cross training and then we go all season from there,” said Madeline McDonnell (’20).

As a runner, McDonnell participates in cross country and indoor and outdoor track. Hence, her off-season is generally in prep for the next season.

While she is training for cross country season, she is in season for track and vice versa.

“Personally, I use the track season to train for cross country because I run the same event all year around,” said McDonnell.

Athletes like McDonnell choose to use their “offseason” by being involved in other sports that help enhance and improve their skills for the next season.

It is similar to other sports’ “Fall Ball,” but involves the season mentality more than the off-season. However, this does not mean these athletes do not recognize the importance of their off-seasons.

“Having an off-season or a period of rest during training cycles are so important,” said McDonnell. “As athletes, we need to be able to trust our bodies and training levels so we know that we are capable of being where we are at physically as well as mentally.”

Besides training and weightlifting, athletes also have other ways to spend their off seasons. Many teams, such as the Women’s Lacrosse team, make volunteering a priority all year round, but especially in the off-season.

“The volunteer opportunities we participate in help our team become closer with each other and the community around us, which only positively affects our performance on the field,” said Courtney Hartnagle (’21).

Many teams use the off-season as a way to not only better themselves, but to better the community. It is a time for teams and athletes to give back to the people who support them in and out of season.

Controversy over Ukraine


Everyone has different opinions about President Donald Trump, on-campus and off. Lately, there has been a controversy going around involving President Trump and the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky.

“It’s important to remember Crimea, which is part of Ukraine which was given to them by Stalin which is populated by ethnic Russia,” said Britt Cartrite, professor of political science.

“They are relatively similar but do say they are [different compared to Ukrainians].” The differences between the two ethnicities are surely known in their culture and throughout the world.

There’s more to the story though, especially involving the United States and the two countries overseas. “Russia gave support to Crimean separatists which allowed Russians to leave Ukraine. Russia allowed and sent in paramilitary troops into Eastern Ukraine and demanded the right to vote on secession,” Cartrite said.

“Ukraine also sent in their military and fought back the paramilitary organizations [and were] able to hold onto Eastern Ukraine but not Crimea. All of this was a way of saying the United States under President Barack Obama was opposed to what Russia was doing so we started giving military aid to Ukraine.”

After Obama was done with his presidential run and Trump was elected, there was uncertainty in his relations with foreign countries, especially Russia. Trump has been in several situations where he tends to deny all questions raised about his actions.

“He’s handling it the way Trump has handled every other situation by calling it fake news,” said Brendon Forster (‘21).

President Trump made a phone call to President Zelensky on Jul. 25, but the phone call did not begin being questioned in the public until recently to most people’s understanding. Trump began the phone call by congratulating Zelensky on his victory on Ukraine’s Parliamentary Elections.

After Trump congratulated Zelensky on his win, he was quick to mention how much the United States does for Ukraine and then began hinting at wanting something back.

“So, he made a phone call saying that Ukraine needed to look into the corruption in their country, but specifically Joe Biden and his son, and he also mentioned the military aid. It’s like saying ‘oh by the way’ so if, in fact, there is a quid pro quo that is illegal, but we don’t have the official phone call,” Cartrite said.

“Normally when these phone calls are made they are put on the regular intelligence server, but this one was on the confidential server, but it is not clear that there was anything confidential in the phone call. It is not clear that a crime has been yet committed, but it is in question which is what brought on the whistleblower and possibility of impeachment.”

Few details have come out that we know are for certain. “The Ukrainian’s were due to have a specific amount of military and financial aid provided, and this aid was suspended prior to the phone call,” said Derick Hulme, professor of political science. “Any argument that there was not a quid pro quo is simply ignoring the entire context and intent of the phone call. If you give us dirt on Joe Biden and his son, we will release military aid, if you don’t, we won’t.”

Many people are unsure where they fall on the issue. However, students who are actively involved in politics on campus were quick to share their thoughts and opinions on the matter.

“Trump might have messed up big here, but I think it’s too soon to say anything is definitive yet, but he broke precedent,” said Forster. “President Trump is in the wrong in the situation whether it was a quid pro quo or not. You should not ask a foreign government to try and dig up dirt on your political enemy.”

President Trump has made several questionable decisions throughout his presidency so far and this is another on the list according to many. Only time will tell what will happen with the whistleblower lawsuit and the possibility of impeachment.

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