Halloween nightmare in Chicago


Graphic by MEREK ALAM

Halloween in typically a time for children to get into costume and to go around their neighborhoods trick-or-treating for a sweet treat. However, in Chicago this year terror was unleashed.

The block of 26 – west has been terrorized by gang violence for years, so another shooting is nothing new to those who live there. However, this year the violence occurred on Halloween night as children were trick-or-treating, and the victim of the shooting was a child.

A seven year old girl, named Gisele Zamago, was dressed in red and black while out with her farther in search of some candy on Halloween. Then, a man stepped out of an alley, yelled a Latin King insult and then fired seven rounds into a crowd of children and hit this little girl in the chest and neck. Everyone sprang into action.

Zamago’s father started to scream for help as he held pressure on his daughter’s wounds to stop the bleeding. Then a shop keep by the name of Lali Lara helped to bring the wounded child inside her store until police and an ambulance could arrive.

Lara helped to hold pressure until on the girl’s chest until help could arrive. “She was holding my hand for three minutes and then she let me go. I have kids – I would go crazy if something happened to them” said Lara in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.

Zamago was taken to the hospital in critical condition where she was stabilized and is now doing well. Officers have a suspect, who is also a child. The suspect is a 15 year old boy who they believe was aimed at a 32 year old man who happened to be near the child who fell victim to the shooting.

The older man was later found with a bullet graze on his hand in an alley, but he refused to answer any questions by police. He is believed to have been part of the rival gang this attack was aimed at, as has a criminal record of his own.

Students feel that the whole incident hits just a little too close to home. “I’m kind of at a point where I expect bad things around me but remain separate from things I find familiar,” said Grier Marquis (’23). “When something happens so close to home, it’s kind of shocking, gut wrenching for me, even though there have been multiple incidents like this in different places.”

Many citizens of Chicago feel that there is not enough involvement from the police on busy nights such as Halloween. One shop owner said “There needs to be a change with police, they need to walk the streets when there are so many children around,” said Anahy Olivera in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.

The 15 year old has since been arrested and was charged with two counts of first-degree attempted murder and two counts of aggravated battery. Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson said “Those involved do not deserve to be in our city. I am disgusted, but committed to doing everything we can to find the cowards that would engage in a gun battle during the early evening hours while children are trick-or-treating.”

Students worry about how to react and what they will have to worry about in the future. “It is just so crazy to think,” said Ellie Woertz (’20). “It makes me worry for the safety of the children that just want to have fun on a holiday. How are children supposed to enjoy themselves if parents are only worried about whether or not their child may suffer from violence?”

Gisele’s family has set up a GoFundMe to help cover the costs of the surgeries she will need in the next few weeks. Her aunt, Sanjuana Zamago, posted an update on Gisele’s condition to the GoFundMe, saying “she is awake and watching ‘Finding Dory.’ She has yet to say much but could give small responses to nurses and doctors about how she was feeling.”

Phi Mu Alpha hosts 10th annual Spaghetti Dinner



The Alpha Iota chapter of Phi Mu Alpha hosted their tenth annual Spaghetti Dinner on Saturday Nov. 9. The event was held in Eddy Music Center and featured a dinner with various musical performances. Proceeds raised through the dinner benefited one of their philanthropies.

“Spaghetti dinner is the annual fundraiser for our philanthropy ‘Music Unites,’ which is an organization that helps bring music education to children who can’t afford it otherwise,” said Zach Everly (’21)

Music Unites is one of the various charities that Phi Mu Alpha aims to support.

“They help to provide instruments and musical training to underprivileged children who wouldn’t have these experiences,” said Sam Seiffert (’20)

As Phi Mu Alpha is focused in the musical and preforming arts, this charity fits their goals and mission. “One of our core values is to advance music in America, and this philanthropy helps to directly impact these individuals,” said Everly. 

A portion of the proceeds also goes to benefit other charity work the brothers are active in. “Spaghetti dinner is the main monetary philanthropy for Phi Mu Alpha,” said Colin Englehart (’20). Many of our other philanthropies take the form of concerts that we put on for the community. This affects people outside of the closer Alma community.”

Other philanthropic events include singing at the Masonic Home before the holidays as well as other concerts throughout the year. 

Not only does this event benefit the charities involved, it also helps to develop skills within the brothers of Phi Mu Alpha.  “Philanthropy is a rewarding part of being in a fraternity and developing the brothers into better and more empathetic members of society,” said Englehart. 

Skill development through this event comes in various forms. “Planning this event takes organizational skills and leadership skills. The coordination between brothers builds trust and a sense of accomplishment,” said Englehart.  Everly added, “it’s good for our brothers to come together to work on a project.” 

Phi Mu Alpha hosts various events throughout the year, however most of them are casual friendship building gatherings.

“(Spaghetti dinner) is far fancier, and we get catered food for dinner and have great performances, all very professional,” said Brendan Murdie (’22). 

Several changes were made to the event this year to try to make the dinner fit the needs of the brothers and their philanthropy.This is the 10th annual, it was designed in a time that Music Unites was not our philanthropy, and we have only helped them for 5 years now,” said Everly. 

This year, performances include various campus groups, both vocal and instrumental. “Our Iota Alpha Men’s Ensemble, Off Kilter, various instrumental groups and soloists will all be performing, myself included” said Murdie. 

While many of the performances include Alpha Iota brothers, this year the privilege of sharing talents at this event was extended to include more musicians. “Some of the changes this year are that you don’t have to be a brother to preform, you just need to be a supporter of the fraternity,” said Everly. 

Part of the rationale for including non-brothers in the event was to enhance the event musically.  “We want to make it a more enjoyable experience for the brothers and the community,” said Everly. 

Brothers have fond memories of past events, they recalled spending time preparing with their friends, and the skills built through this experience.  “My favorite Spaghetti dinner memory is last year, after the dinner was over, some of the brothers went back to the house and actually ate spaghetti together,” said Englehart. 

Sigma Chi raises money for Huntsman Cancer Institute


Sigma Chi recently hosted their annual week-long philanthropy fundraiser, otherwise known as “Derby Days.” The fundraising events were held starting on Oct. 21 and ran through Oct. 25.  

Derby Days started in 1933 with Sigma Chi’s Alpha Beta chapter at the University of California Berkley as a series of skits done by active brothers. Since then, it has slowly been adopted nationally.  

Sigma Chi hosts Derby Days in support of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, which was adopted as their national philanthropy after being founded by Sigma Chi, Jon Huntsman. The fraternity currently holds a national pledge of $20 million to be donated to Huntsman towards women’s cancer research. 

“Personally, I think cancer is something that effects everyone, and it’s important to the Sigs at Alma to be the generation that ends cancer,” said Sam Lindeman (‘20).  

This year’s events included a hat decorating event for a local cancer research center. Students attended and decorated winter hats for cancer patients in anticipation of the colder season.  

The other events were a cornhole tournament, a trivia night at Highland Blush, a banquet, a mini golf tournament held across campus and a bowling event in Ithaca.  

There were also week-long individual fundraising incentives, such as Shave-a-Sig, where brothers set a personal fundraising goal and agreed to shave their head upon reaching that goal. Every night of the week, people that donated would gather at the Sigma Chi house to celebrate the brothers that had met their fundraising goals.  

Sigma Chi also had a trailer parked on the lawn of their house displaying cans that were donated to their annual can drive. 

Along with on-campus support, several local businesses offered support to Sigma Chi.

“[Sigma Chi’s Philanthropy] is extremely important to me because cancer has taken family members and friends, from not just me, but everyone,” said Connor Hart (‘21).  

The fraternity gives an incentive to their fundraiser by making it a competition between other Greek life organizations. The organizations receive points based on attendance at events, the penny wars held in Saga (Hamilton Commons) and other various tasks throughout the week.  

The organization that receives the most points wins a prize, varying from campus to campus. “For our campus, we have a rotating trophy that has the names of previous winning organizations, and this year we added a $150 prize to be donated to the winning organizations charity of choice,” said George Murphy (‘20).  

The organizations that participated in this year’s Derby Days were Kappa Iota, Alpha Xi Delta, Gamma Phi Beta, Alpha Phi Omega and Phi Sigma Sigma. This year’s winning organization was Kappa Iota.  

“We typically don’t participate in Derby Days, but we appreciated how much effort the brothers put in this year to revamp it,” said Rose Cyburt (‘20). “It was more inclusive, less competitive and just fun!” 

Kappa Iota donated their prize money to their philanthropy RISE, a women’s shelter located in Mount Pleasant.  

“I would like to add a special thanks to all organizations that participated,” said Murphy. “With their help, we raised over $2,700 for Huntsman Cancer Institute!”

Students or faculty interested in individually supporting Huntsman Cancer Institute can make donations over phone, by mail or on their website.

Wrestling makes a move for the new season



Coming off of a successful season last year, the Alma College’s Wrestling team is looking to keep that same momentum as their new season came to a start on Wednesday, October 7, against Davenport University.

The team finished 17 out of 74 teams in the NCAA Division III Championship last season as well as graduating only one senior and welcoming in six new freshmen.

Wrestling Coach Jeremiah Tobias said, “As a team, we are pre-season ranked 15th. Brendan Ladd and Zachary Cooper are both ranked top 8.”

Their season finish and pre-season ranking helps set the tone and expectations for this upcoming 2019-2020 season. It helps the team outline and emphasize what steps they need to take to better themselves.

Our conversation at the end of last year was about the process and what they need to be doing in the off season to have a better out come this year. There were many guys that came back in great shape and it was in a way like we didn’t skip a beat from last year to this year. The team this year is a little bigger, older and knows what the expectations are and how hard they will have to work in order to accomplish their goals,” said Tobias.

With these expectations and goals in mind, the team hopes to carry their hard work in the off season into their practices and matches. Preparation for this season began when their last season ended.

This includes preparation both physically and mentally.

Junior wrestler, Austin Popp (’21) said, “The team has prepared both mentally and physically in the preseason and the season so far. Pushing the pace in practice helps develop not only our physical stamina and strength, but also our mental fortitude.”

During the off-season, the wrestlers made sure to stay fit and healthy in order to be best prepared for when practices began and to be able to give maximum effort on and off the mat. This includes everything from weightlifting to eating healthy.

“A typical practice consists of: a discussion with the coaches, warm-up, drilling, “live” wrestling, conditioning, and a cool-down, followed by a 5 minute visualization time in which we visualize what went well and what we can improve on going into the next practice or competition,” said Popp.

This mentality and daily practice regime is all a part of the team’s necessary steps towards having a successful season. The hard work and effort they put into practice will reflect how they perform on the mat in a match.

With the goal being to score the highest amount of points or touch both of their opponent’s shoulder blades flat onto the mat for about one second.

“A typical match consists of 3 periods, the first being three minutes, and the second and third being two minutes each, with the possibility of overtime periods in the case of a tie score. There is a scoring system which rewards points to each wrestler in regards to the position they are in, and the position they end up in,” said Popp.

In Alma’s match against Davenport on Wednesday, the Scots put to work what they learned in their matches. This included two wrestlers winning by pin fall with one pin being the quickest match out of the competition at 56 seconds.

When it was time for the team to compete, they were not only relying on their work in the pre-season as well as the returners, but for the new wrestlers to step up and make a move.

Referring to the Davenport match on Wednesday, Coach Tobias said, “It is going to be a tough dual. We are looking for our young guys to step up and our older guys to wrestle like they know they are capable of.”

Just as Coach Tobias predicted, the Scots faced a tough dual against the Panthers, but fell just short in a 25-20 loss.

This was not the outcome the Scots wanted, but is merely the beginning of the season with much time and room to overcome their losses and challenges. The goal for the team still remains the same and unfazed.

“The goal is to be MIAA champions, Top 4 at Regionals and Top 10 at the NCAA tournament while increasing the number of all-Americans and academic all-Americans,” said Coach Tobias.

Melt down I.C.E


Graphic by MEREK ALAM

I carry my United States of America issued passport card with me at all times. It’s quite cute looks exactly as you would expect it to after some underpaid designer crammed a couple semi-transparent American icons together on a 2×3 inch card an called it a day. When I initially picked it up from the Detroit passport agency the kind woman behind the desk asked me if I had grown out my hair since taking the picture and I had to explain that it was simply tied back in the photo. My only aesthetic complaints about it is that my beard is too long and that I personally believe the background flag should have been flat and not waving in the wind.

The official functions of the card are borderline useless to me. You can use the passport card to drive into Canada and Mexico and get sea-port entry to the Caribbean and Bermuda. I don’t really find myself crossing our northern or southern border all that often and I’m not one for sailing. The real reason I hold on to the card is because of my immigrant mom, who is worried about her son being stopped by the police and detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (I.C.E.). She herself carries numerous documents in order to prove her legal residence and her parental relationship to my sibling and me.

The fear isn’t irrational, ICE constantly detains American citizens. I actually have it pretty good for a first-generation kid, I may be brown but I’m not an explicitly targeted ethnicity. Latino high school student Fransisco Erwin Galicia was stopped at an immigration checkpoint, and he too was prepared with a variety of legal documents including his Texas ID and a wallet-size birth certificate (which probably has even less official usage than my passport card), yet he was still detained by ICE for a month, losing 26 pounds in 23 days and not being allowed to shower. The typical advice to just “follow the law” and “come here legally” is moot when ICE arrests American-born people of color for kicks

Fransisco’s case isn’t unique and even the more infamous family separations are just the tip of the iceberg for the unaccountable agency. While the individual actors inside the system are responsible, it is increasingly clear that the true fault lies with the very system itself. ICE regularly engages in unconstitutional behavior, and the typical process that they rely on can be resisted by local and state governments (In January, the Whitmer administration did not respond when the Almanian asked if they would support similar steps in Michigan). In July, ProPublica reported on a secret Customs and Border Protection (C.B.P.) Facebook group contained roughly 9,500 agents who gathered to joke about migrant deaths and referred to immigrants as “tonks,” which is a reference to the sound a flashlight makes when it is used to bash an immigrant’s skull. The federal government has received more than 4,500 complaints of sexual abuse that have been committed against children in detention centers, which ranged from watching them shower, molestation, and rape. This past week, ICE was spotted in New York driving an armored vehicle to make a single arrest.

Neither I.C.E. nor C.B.P. is there to protect people, and they’re clearly not interested in enforcing the law. In reality both agencies operate as an occupying force designed for maximum terror and abuse. Most importantly: they’re beyond reform. ICE was only formed in 2003 under the Patriot Act and since they’ve enjoyed ample opportunity to spread fear under the Bush administration, caged children under the Obama administration, and now flagrantly break the law under the Trump administration. No matter if the person in the Oval Office is Republican or Democratic, the corrupt mandate of ICE and CBP grows larger and larger with each term. They simply can not be trusted any longer to continue to hold some much power under one roof. Last Thursday, Bernie Sanders became the only democratic candidate to call for the complete breakup of ICE and CBP, but even that isn’t enough. We’re beyond simply abolishing them, the leadership of both needs to be prosecuted on national television and individual agents who participated in misconduct need to be tried before a jury. These officials have degradingly used the flag of the American people to commit horrific abuses and now the American people must rise up and reclaim that flag from those that shield themselves with it.

The law is there to protect people. There are no longer any excuses to be made for institutions that abuse the law to dehumanize people or ignore the law entirely when it suits them. Every time I look at my passport card I get a little more angry knowing that millions of others in this country have to carry around a jumble of legal documents on the off-chance we get stopped by an unrestrained institution and have to appease verifiable psychopaths so they don’t detain us in squalid conditions. No more half-measures.

Munch Money expands downtown



Along with the first snow of the year, November is bringing new Munch Money options for students at Alma.

The frozen custard shop, Serendipity, is joining the Munch Money program. Lana Wood, the owner of Serendipity, has installed all the necessary equipment and, with any luck, the system will be transaction-ready within the next couple of weeks. This might come as a shock to many students. Wood has previously avoided joining the program because the upfront cost made it too expensive to join without taking on debt. “I don’t like debt. I try not to buy anything if I can’t pay for it outright.”

Now that Serendipity is a part of the program, Wood hopefully looks forward to an influx of customers. Having more customers is great for business, and Alma students make up a huge portion of her customer base. In fact, the business that Alma students brought to Serendipity in the first year were integral to its success.

“Alma Bucks was a godsend. After my first year, I was in tears. It saved me,” said Wood. However, she wants to be clear that it’s not just about the money to her. “I always take care of the students first, and they know that,” said Wood.

She is excited to be a part of the Munch Money program and she hopes that it can be good for students as well.

Fortunately, students are just as excited as she is. Many of them already wished they could spend their Munch Money at Serendipity.

“That’s great news!” said Aristotle Koronias (22). “I thought it was firmly off the table. I might have to start saving my money.”

Additionally, Starting Monday, Nov. 11, Highland Blush is starting a promotion tentatively called ‘No Munch Money Mondays.’ That means that students won’t be charged an additional fee when using Munch Money on Mondays.

Damien Sanderson, the owner and founder of Highland Blush, hopes that this will bring more students into the shop on a day that is usually slower and create a livelier environment. This promotion cuts into his sales margins, but he thinks it’s worth the cost as long as the students are interested. “If they can get more for their Munch Money, we want to offer that to them,” said Sanderson.

Sanderson’s promotion brings to light an interesting dilemma. While Munch Money is good for business, it comes with costs. On top of the initial investment of setting up the necessary equipment, each Munch Money transaction costs the business a fee. They usually have some sort of ‘Munch Money Charge’ to help cover that cost. Any Alma student who has spent Munch Money downtown is familiar with that concept, but businesses approach the issue differently.

In the spirit of fairness, Highland Blush and others choose to charge a percentage fee on all Munch Money transactions. That way, they’re always charging enough to cover costs—no more and no less. “I think it’s unfair to charge something to cover your costs if you’re making a profit because your charge is greater than your costs,” said Sanderson. However, this option can be a bit complicated and lead to slower transactions.

Other businesses choose to charge a flat fee which leads to simpler, and potentially quicker transactions, but the flat fee isn’t perfect either. For smaller transactions, it can lead to students overpaying relative to the transaction fee that the business pays, but on the other hand, large transactions end up with the business eating most of the cost. In the end, the differences are small, and some business owners, like Wood, have decided that the convenience is worth the cost.

Amazon ablaze: what is to blame?



The Amazon rainforest has undergone record-breaking fires this year, and the usual drought of Amazonia’s dry season is not the only cause. In addition to drought, illegal logging and deforestation further feed the flames.

“The rainforest has had intensive fires these past few months, naturally occurring as well as man-made,” said Holly Barnum (‘20). “The Brazil President Jaor Bolsonaro has rolled back protections of the rainforests and introduced far-right policies that pretty much lets miners, farmers, and loggers set fire to the forest to clear more land to use.”

Recent changes to environmental policies which previously protected the Amazon rainforest now leave Amazonia vulnerable to various destructive forces. These changes were economically-driven, but their harmful effects will long outlast their benefits.

“The recent president of Brazil has been very anti-environmental,” said Dr. Rowe, professor of biology. “It’s for short-term economic gain. But, of course, we all know these forests are worth much more than the availability for the oil and gas industry, because oil dries up.” 

Many feel that the short-term economic gains of deforestation pale in comparison to the long-term benefits of leaving the rainforest intact.

“The Amazon rainforest helps to revert climate change because of its ability to process CO,” said Rowe. “The Amazon is also a hot-bed for natural products. There’s a lot of natural products and chemicals in plants and other things that are used for medicinal purposes.”

The Amazon rainforest serves home to thousands of species of plants and animals, many of which could be at risk amidst the destruction of the rainforest.

“Of all the plant species, around 70-75% of the plant species are endemic to the Amazon,” said Rowe. They’re found nowhere else. It’s also got the greatest concentration of freshwater fish in the world.”

In addition to the rich biodiversity of plants and animals residing in the rainforest, Amazonia serves home to many indigenous people. The fire threatens the land occupied by their ancestors for centuries, as well as their way of life.

“There are numerous indigenous tribes that have lived in the rainforest for generations, with extensive experience and knowledge of the species-rich environment.” said Barum.

Various factors have destroyed large portions of the Amazon rainforest already, and the future foretells even greater loss.

“They’ve lost a considerable amount of their forest,” said Rowe. “About twenty percent or so of the Amazonian rainforest is just gone. It’s been converted to other sorts of things. By 2030, I think we’re looking at somewhere closer to twenty-five percent loss.” 

In spite of the damage Amazonia has undergone already, people from all over the world possess the potential to make contributions towards saving the rainforest.

“Donations to organizations such as the and Amazon Watch, Rainforest Trust, World Wildlife Fund, and the Rainforest Action Network’s “Protect an Acre” grants are a few options for people to get involved.” said Barnum.

In addition to financial contributions, small changes of habit here at Alma College can make big contributions towards rainforest conservation.

“Using less wood and paper as well as consuming less beef, cheese, and pork can help reduce commercial pressures in the Amazon,” said Barnum. “Buying from ethical sources is also a beneficial method, such as buying items certified by the Forest Stewardship  Council (FSC) or by the Rainforest Alliance (RA).”


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