Music department hosts faculty recital


Graphic by MEREK ALAM

On Sunday, Oct. 6, the Alma College music department hosted a faculty recital. The program held a variety of performances from different faculty members both full and part-time.

“There is a wide variety of instruments and styles, ranging from Baroque to modern, with some jazz thrown in as well,” said Murray Gross, Charles A. Dana professor of music.

In addition to the more known pieces of music, some have arranged their own works that were performed.

“The first pieces are from my new ballet CD that was released at the beginning of the summer. It involves a number of Alma Faculty in performances of compositions that had their genesis in the ballet classes that I play for at Alma,” said Tony Patterson, collaborative pianist.

Students were excited to see that a faculty recital would be taking place this semester.

“I was excited to see Mr. Zerbe and Dave Fair perform. They are both amazing musicians, and it is really exciting. I think that it helps me establish a love for the art and credibility to the people here who are teaching us,” said Natasha Netzley (‘21).

Students were also glad to see their professors taking part in the same activity they do each semester.

“I feel like this will help form a stronger bond between faculty and students as were able to see them practice what they preach, for that reason I think it would be great for the faculty to do recitals like this more often,” said Brad Skellenger (’22).

Some professors are even using the event as an educational experience for students.

“Hearing their teachers perform is a great model for music students – we don’t have enough high quality live music performances at Alma as it is, so students should take advantage of the opportunity at hand. Some of my students in my FYS course will be attending and writing concert review essays as a way to connect,” said Gross.

The program has no strict theme, and a variety of styles were conveyed at the performance. The show opened with several original pieces and was followed by several more classic style pieces with a little bit of jazz and a little bit of comedy. But the close to the concert was something different.

“The final piece is a medley comprised of seven decades of TV themes. My goal was to get as many themes as possible in six minutes. In the end, I got 23,” said Patterson.

This is the first time in several years that this recital will be taking place.

“From my recollection, Dr. Gross started the faculty recitals years ago and at least initially they functioned as a fundraising opportunity for student scholarships. The recitals took place for several years and then stopped and this is the first one in a while,” said Vicki Walker, visiting professor of voice.

Even students outside of the music department can get some useful information out of the recital.

“This recital has been beneficial as a non-music major to see how a music education can be implemented after graduating from an undergraduate program,” said Ellie Woertz (’20).

Preparing for winter on campus


Winter is well on its way and people around campus have already started to adjust for the coming cold. However, a lot more goes on behind the scenes than most people realize. Preparing the campus for winter is an arduous task and the Facilities Department at Alma works around the clock to make sure it’s ready.

“Our grounds crew regularly starts work at 6 a.m. However… we may arrive on-site as early as 4 a.m. as needed to make sure sidewalks and parking lots are cleared by 8 a.m.,” said Douglas E. Dice, head of facilities and services at Alma.

The facilities department stays busy even when there isn’t snow. As the weather changes, the department is responsible for more than just clearing the sidewalks. According to Dice, they’re already working on firing up the “sixteen large boilers and around 90 other heating units across campus.”

If something goes awry with any of those heating units, just use the new digital work order system and the facilities department will handle it. “As soon as we are made aware of any heating, cooling, plumbing or other malfunction, we assign a technician to the task,” said Dice.

But before you do, he asks that you take a look around the room first to see if the problem can be easily fixed.

“We get a number of calls each year about cold dorm rooms and find that blankets or clothing have blocked the heater vents,” said Dice.

Students are also making preparations in their dorms. Keeping snow out of the dorms proved to be a challenge on stormy days in past years.

“Last year we just left our shoes out in the hallway. At one point I looked in the hall and there were like 40 pairs of shoes,” said Joshua Gross (‘21).

In anticipation of the snow this year, Gross and his roommate have devised a new solution: a plastic tray in their dorm to hold their shoes when they get wet.

Some of the effects of winter aren’t as obvious as icy sidewalks or wet shoes, but they can be just as challenging. One major obstacle winter brings with it is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

“Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression,” said Linda W. Faust, LMSW at the Alma Counseling Center. “Due to a lack of sunshine, one’s body produces less Vitamin D, which can lead to feelings of sadness and a lack of motivation. Also, due to the colder weather, people often get less exercise, which can exaggerate symptoms of depression and anxiety.”

SAD affects about 5% of the population, and it is more common in women.

“The symptoms usually occur during the fall and winter months… and improve with the arrival of spring. The most difficult months… tend to be January and February,” said Faust. “…and those affected report that ‘they have symptoms about 40% of a calendar year.”

Even if you don’t suffer from SAD, the busy workload that winter brings is the source of a lot of students’ stress.

“The counseling center tends to be the busiest in October, but we believe that is not seasonally associated but rather based on midterms approaching and students becoming busier with classes,” said Faust.

Winter doesn’t mean doom and gloom to everyone though. In fact, some students are excited about it.

“I personally love winter,” said Gross. “When I’m home, I go snowmobiling, sledding, ice fishing—all of that.”

And for some students, being cooped up indoors doesn’t sound all that bad.

“I’m honestly looking forward to having a good excuse to stay in,” said Megan Jenkins (‘23).

Impeachment 101: a student’s guide


Graphic by MEREK ALAM

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) announced last week that there would be a formal impeachment inquiry investigating any illegal actions taken by the Trump Administration after a whistleblower report was made public. Interest from curious Americans has led many to ask, how does the impeachment process work?

Impeachment stems from the constitutional principle of checks and balances, the power of branches of government to ensure that the others are not overstepping their power. It is not limited to only the Chief Executive; it can be used to hold any public official accountable for misconduct. The officer in question must have committed “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors” per the Constitution.

However, the framers may not have anticipated how this system may play out in today’s day and age.

“They didn’t foresee how intense partisan loyalty might undermine separation of powers and rule of law, especially in a highly polarized environment such as our own,” said William Gorton, professor of political science.

To be “impeached” is not necessarily to be removed from office. It is synonymous with being indicted for a crime. Just as within any fair trial, an inditement or impeachment is not automatically a guilty sentence. Several presidents have been impeached, however, no sitting president has been removed from office through this process.

The power of impeachment is explicitly given to congress in the constitution. “The main reason the framers of the constitution gave congress the power to remove a president is because they feared that the presidency could morph into a tyrannical power,” said Gorton.

The exact process, however, was given as a guideline, not as a rigid process. Historically, the House Judiciary Committee has first held an investigation, to ensure there was enough evidence to require further action. If they reached the conclusion that there was, they would recommend Articles of Impeachment to the full House of Representatives.

The House Judiciary Committee gathers this information from six other House committees including the House Intelligence Committee, which is where congress is at currently; if they determine there is sufficient evidence to impeach Mr. Trump, the process will move forward.

After the House Committee investigations are complete, the individual articles – or accusations – will be held to a vote. If even one article is passed, the president will be considered impeached, and the Senate will take over.

In the Constitution, the House is charged with compiling evidence and establishing the Articles of Impeachment. The Senate is then asked to hold a trial, to acquit or convict the official in question.

The Senate trial acts as a pseudo courtroom. “They are expected to hold a trial of some kind – which would normally entail hearing witness testimony and discussing evidence of wrongdoing by the president” said Gorton. However, he also explained, “they could conceivably just vote to dismiss the articles without holding a trial.”

Selected House members would serve as a ‘prosecution,’ the president selects his own defense lawyers and the entire Senate will act as the jury. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, presides.

Upon conclusion of the trial, the Senate will hold a vote in which two thirds of members would constitute as a majority. In the event the president is voted guilty, he would then be removed from office immediately and the vice president would take over. Unlike a typical trial, there is no appeal process.

A president – or any public official for that matter – can be impeached, however, to be fully removed, the approval of the Senate is required.

As far as an expected timeline, Gorton explained that given historical precedent – or lack thereof it is nearly impossible to predict how long the process may take. It is also important to note that this is the first time a sitting president has been threatened with impeachment while seeking reelection.

Impeachment inquiry: what to know


Graphic by MEREK ALAM

On Sept. 24, 2019, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, announced the start to the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

This comes in response to a whistleblower account of a phone call between Trump and the president of Ukraine, Vlodymyr Zelensky, back in July. In this conversation, there was a discussion about a deal in which the United States would receive information in exchange for aid. There was no direct transcript, only a memorandum that summarized the conversation.

There have only been three previous impeachment inquires in the history of the United States. The first being Andrew Johnson in 1868, then again in 1974 with Richard Nixon and most recently Bill Clinton in 1998.

“It’s very historic,” said Kristin Olbertson, a professor of history. “This is just not something the nation undergoes on any kind of regular basis.” There have been numerous calls for impeachment since the beginning of the presidency; however, none were ever acted upon and called before the house.

“I just think the whole thing is overhyped. They’ve been trying to push impeachment proceedings for months now with little to no success. It’s become the boy who cried wolf,” said Emily Thomas (’22).

Recently, there has been a second whistleblower to come forward and collaborate about the phone call. These people will retain certain rights for coming forward to discuss what they know.

“Federal whistleblower protections are there to protect individuals who have knowledge of law breaking or abusive behavior and wish to make that behavior known but are concerned about retaliation they might experience,” said Olbertson.

Additionally, there have been more complications in the process. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not provide subpoenaed paperwork by the house committee. In doing so, the process is being delayed.

This impeachment is coming near the end of Trump’s term and the start of the next election cycle which holds the potential to be affected.

“I think [the impeachment inquiry] does prompt questions into what comes next, and who really cares,” said Sam Nelson (‘21).

There are two possible outcomes to this process. If Trump is to be impeached and then removed by the Senate, he will not be eligible to run for re-election. If he is not impeached or not removed, he will still be able to run for presidency again.

The outcome is uncertain, and students have differing opinions. “If anything, it will strengthen GOP support of Trump and (assuming the impeachment fails like it has in the past) will only weaken the Dem’s connection with their moderates,” said Thomas.

“The short-term affect seems to be positive for the Democrats as a whole, but as we learned in 2016, we can’t be optimistic and ignore the electoral college,” said Nelson.

Both Nelson and Thomas said that it is important for students to follow the news regarding this and to stay informed. “Following what the president does and how their representatives react is critical as a citizen right now,” says Nelson.

“It’s highly important, and I do encourage everybody to pay attention to the process,” said Olbertson. “I do encourage people not to consume cable news and to go to the original sources for their information whenever they can.”

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