Trump’s troubles beyond the impeachment inquiry


The events surrounding the impeachment inquiry have captured the nation. However, there are more problematic revelations and verdicts plaguing the White House.

Two books have been a center of focus in recent weeks. One, written by an anonymous senior Trump Administration official entitled, A Warning, provides a look into the inner workings of Trump’s White House. 

The anonymous author explains their experiences within the administration, citing concerning incidents regarding the President’s willingness to follow precedent or observe typical operating procedure. As the book is unsigned, there is room to doubt the credibility of the author, however this individual has previously published an op-ed in the New York Times. 

The book focuses less on the impeachment inquiry, (as the book was fully written at the time that the process began,) and more on the inner workings of the cabinet and administration as a whole. They explain the exodus of cabinet members and the consideration of officials to revolt against the president en mass. 

Also, recently in print, former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley released a memoir on Nov. 10 entitled With All Due Respect. Considering the negative news surrounding the president as of late, this book seemed to pose a more positive light.

In her book, Haley often sides with Trump while criticizing the rest of the administration. However, she admitted she did not agree with all of the decisions and actions made by Trump, particularly regarding foreign policy.

Haley seemed to concur with the speculation in A Warning, by explaining that multiple administration officials tried to convince her to act in a way different from her direction from the president in order to “save the country.” 

Trump’s turbulent month was not limited to publications. A guilty verdict was announced on Friday for Rodger Stone, longtime aide to the president. Stone was charged with seven felonies, including lying under oath and obstruction of justice among others. He was found guilty on all counts and is expected to be sentenced to jailtime in February. 

Stone is among several former Trump associates who have been found guilty on charges stemming from the 2016 campaign and other dealings with the president. While this verdict does not directly impact Trump, it has been bobbled by political pundits as a bad look overall. 

Considering Donald Trump’s financial records legal battle, a Manhattan federal appeals court consisting of three judges, unanimously decided that the president must turn over financial records. Several parties have requested to see this data, as it pertains to hush money payments, potential conflicts of interest cases and more. 

This fight is set to hit the Supreme Court Docket, likely this term, meaning a decision could be announced before the 2020 election. Trump’s lawyers have diligently fought the ruling, calling it politically motivated and an attack on the president. 

The larger issue at stake in a Supreme Court hearing will be the extent of presidential immunity.  The court has previously taken cases involving sitting presidents, however in both cases, the president in question felt losses (Nixon in 1974 and Clinton in 1997). 

The months to follow will be pivotal in the future of the Trump Presidency.  Considering the escalating impeachment inquiry and external troubles considering former cabinet members and associates, Trump’s efforts to damage control will be critical to his success moving forward. 

Changes coming for Alma College Venture experiences



Fall 2020 will bring some big changes to our small campus. Beginning next fall term, Alma College will open up more travel experiences for students, in the hopes that more individuals will be able to make use of the opportunities offered through the college.

Currently, any student who has taken advantage of a Posey Global Grant to travel abroad is not eligible to use a Venture Grant. Starting in the fall of 2020 that will change.

“Students can now complete multiple experiences and they will not take away from their access to other opportunities,” said Assistant Director of the Venture Program and Off-Campus Study, Carla Jensen.

The goal of this change is to open up opportunities to students on campus that may otherwise be closed. Some say that Alma’s off-campus experiences help to distinguish the college from other small liberal arts schools.

Not only will students be able to use these grants in any order they see fit, there will even be opportunities for those traveling to get more funding.

“All traditional Venture funding will still be in place, but additional funding is available, thanks to generous donor support, for experiences like local service learning, social justice and advocacy work,” said Carla Jensen.

Some students now wonder what this means for those that have already received a Posey Global Grant and were denied for a Venture Grant.

“The Venture Grant was falsely advertised to me as a prospective student and I was very angry to learn that I could not access it because I took the opportunity to use a P-Global in my first year,” said Destiny Herbers (‘21).

While students still currently cannot apply for a Venture Grant if they have already used a P-Global, the opportunity for some will come soon enough.

“This change I do think must be frustrating for people who were denied their Venture due to using P-Global money first, but that doesn’t mean that Administration shouldn’t make this change,” said Lillian Blaisdell (‘21).

For many this change seems to be a case of “better late than never,” but still brings some disappointment as they won’t be able to take advantage of this opportunity for this upcoming spring term.

The changes of the order in which the Venture Grant and P-Global can be used is not the only change to this system, though.

“Beginning next fall, all experiential and service learning programs will now fall under the Venture umbrella and most will have a shared application and committee review process,” said Carla Jensen. “Students can dream up their Venture and apply for the funding needed and the committee will determine the awards.” 

While the entire process hasn’t yet been fully decided or released, the college is planning on big changes that involve opening more doors for students who are willing and wanting to travel abroad. The upcoming changes have many students giddy about the prospect of being able to travel even more, but they feel as though there are still issues that remain unsolved.

“I do think a major flaw that still exists in the Venture program system is why [and] why not some students receive the “full” $2,500.  I think, especially since $2,500 is advertised for every student, it really stirs up bitterness and confusion when people aren’t awarded the full amount,” said Blaisdell.

Although some students feel as though there are issues within the Venture system here at Alma, there are changes being made in hopes of allowing more students to venture off campus and explore the world around them.

“We believe every Alma College student should have a transformative experiential learning opportunity and the college is expanding our commitment to making that possible,” said Carla Jensen. “College is a great place to explore new things and we believe your college experience should include the opportunity to pursue something you care deeply about or maybe just to step out of your comfort zone and try something you never imagined”

2020 primary elections cause political shake-up


This week has seen the 2020 primaries heating up with the switch of Virginia, a formerly republican red state, to a democratic blue. This voting result is consistent with the surge of more suburban populations attending the polls, which has been seen nationwide. The democrats are in control of the top three statewide offices as well as the House of Delegates and the Senate within Virginia after Tuesday’s election.

An important takeaway from this election is the money put into voter mobilization efforts in Virginia from a Democratic Super PAC, Forward Majority, allowing for more blue voters to turn out in greater numbers.

“A total of 1.2 million Virginians cast votes for Democratic state Senate candidates on Tuesday, while 892,000 chose Republicans, according to the state board of elections. More than 1.1 million voters supported Democratic House of Delegates candidates, while 985,000 chose Republicans,” stated the Washington Post. “Democrats flipped two seats in the state Senate and five seats in the House, ensuring majorities in both chambers. They also gained several seats and took control of the boards of supervisors in both Loudoun and Prince William counties.”

But what are the implications for this switch? More liberal policy changes are to be expected in the state alongside potential ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Virginia is a key state due to its tendency to be majority Republican in its House and Senate seats. Its proximity to Washington DC also shows significance in overall voting trends.

The next important event in the 2020 Democratic Primaries is the fifth debate, which will be taking place in Georgia and is co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post. This increase in debates with next year’s caucuses nearing shows the importance in state leanings from this point onwards.

This election also holds value due to the power of redistricting that is given to the Independent Bipartisan Advisory Commission on Redistricting in Virginia. How these new districts are drawn directly ties into how each party will fare in each section. A new bipartisan commission has been proposed as a constitutional amendment to draw congressional maps and this will require each party’s vote before it is cemented fully.

The most vital aspect of this democratic win in Virginia is how their governmental actions will be perceived by other states. “That could have broader implications given the national election. People will be watching to see what the Democrats do in power now that they have it,” said Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.

Virginia should be placed alongside other key partisan elections that happened in 2019, including Mississippi and Kentucky. The gubernatorial race in Kentucky shows the decline in percentage points for Republican incumbent Bevin, who is losing favor in the polls due to the moderate campaign of Democrat Andy Beshear.

For the students of Alma College, we should remember that our vote counts more than ever in both primary and national elections. 2020’s election is not a guarantee for any party just yet and everyone should make an effort to let their voices be heard civically. 

iGem wins silver medal in annual competition


From Oct. 31 through Nov. 4, a group of Alma college students attend the iGEM 2019 Giant Jamboree in Boston, Massachusetts. Here they compete against teams from across the world in a synthetic biology competition. Students in high school, undergraduate and graduate studies are asked to look at their local communities for an issue to try and solve through engineering.

iGEM stands for International Genetically Engineered Machine which is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to the education and advancement of synthetic biology through collaboration in an open community. They hold an annual competition where teams show the project they worked on the past year.

“iGEM is a way for students and society to become more aware of synthetic biology and help realize the potential of this field to create innovative technologies that solve real world problems,” said Devin Camenares, professor of biochemistry and iGEM coordinator. “This is a way for students to work on a team towards a common goal – to see ways in which they can apply their education across different disciplines.”

iGEM started in 2003 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology for their students. The following year it was a summer competition and since then it has grown to have over 6,000 participants.

David Viguilla (’20) got involved with the team for many reasons. He was drawn to the student led aspect which allowed them to choose what they worked on—rather than being given an assignment—as well as the other learning aspects where he can put what he has learned into practice. There was also the interdisciplinary work the team had to partake in that he enjoyed.

“This gives opportunity for all majors to get involved in iGEM and in fact, makes it a necessity for the team to be made up of a diverse range of students,” said Viguilla.

Madison Hibbs (’22) said that they choose their project through looking at local problems. The team engaged with the community to come up with ideas to solve issues that are in the community. She also has a love for fixing problems with science.

“The fact that it is a competition that helps people really drew me in,” said Hibbs.

Alma’s project was titled “Plaque Attack.” The group’s goal was to engineer a microbe that could break down trimethylamine, also known as TMA, before it could have any harmful effects. The ultimate goal is to create a probiotic to prevent future plaque buildup and improve heart health.

“The program brings a new avenue for experiential learning, one that is interdisciplinary and team-based,” said Camenares. “It gives students a chance to emerge from Alma as leaders in the new field of synthetic biology.”

This was the team’s first year competing and received a silver medal. Other teams from Michigan included Michigan and Michigan State, both of who got bronze medals. Other countries that were represented at the competition included, China, Scotland, Australia and many others.

The competition provided an encouraging environment for synthetic biology engineering to thrive. While there, students were able to see ideas that other teams got to present as well.

“I loved being able to hear other people’s ideas and seeing what they brought to the table,” said Hibbs.

“Some successful teams even form start-up companies and receive grants from pre-existing companies to continue their research,” said Viguilla.

Following the competition, their work does not stop. Hibbs said that they will continue to look for ways their pathway to work. They will also begin looking at new projects to pursue for the upcoming year.

The mouse and the monopoly


Graphic by MEREK ALAM

Last Tuesday, Disney officially launched their Disney + streaming service. An initially impressive subscription-based service that allows you to watch all the nostalgic Disney works from your childhood along with all the current Marvel and Star Wars movies, along with some new original additions such as The Mandalorian and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. I’m here to predictably tell you why this is actually bad upon closer inspection.

One might argue that Disney + is good because it gives people another chance to relieve their younger days by watching classic Disney shows like The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Kim Possible, Hannah Montana and even The Simpsons. Even more importantly, Disney + provides a platform to watch older classics such as Fantasia, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin so the younger generation can properly appreciate classics of the past.

I argue that you shouldn’t even need Disney + to watch these at all.

When the United States Copyright Act was first passed, copyrights only lasted about 14 years. This was amended over time, and soon the original author could file an appeal to extend it. By the time the first every Mickey Mouse cartoon emerged, “Steamboat Willy,” copyright had been extended to 56 years (not including renewal). This would not do for Disney, who began immediately pressuring Congress to extend this. In 1976 Congress passed new copyright terms that gave copyright protections for an author’s entire life as well as an additional 50 years. Then, when the deadline for Mickey’s copyright got dangerously close again, Disney pushed Congress to pass the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act which gave corporate-owned works up to 120 years of copyright protection and free reign to sue anyone who hosts or creates something similar.

In addition, Disney has slowly formed a growing monopoly and makes up near 40 percent of all U.S. box office sales. It’s not creatively or democratically healthy to have so many creative works coming out of one corporation. When Disney once again wants more legislative changes to be made in favor of the corporation, they will leverage your love for their unfairly held properties in order to instill in you actual political opinions.

If the government attempts to increase tax margins and it affects Disney shareholders, you’ll get Marvel movies where Peter Parker must stop an evil government from unjustly taxing Tony Stark’s estate. If Disney workers begin fighting for employee rights, you’ll have a Star Wars sequence where Yoda’s ghost explains to disgruntled cantina workers how unions are actually bad for them. If Congress tries to break up monopolies, they will announce a Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars crossover movie so you personally rally for Disney to hold on to their copyrights. Occasionally, a LGBT+ subplot will be added into an animated movie so they still seem “progressive,” but the subplot won’t be too heavily emphasized. After all, Disney will need to edit it out so they can still make money by showing it in China.

Disney is playing a dangerous game. As people realize more and more that the company is solely interested in making money, or that it is coming dangerously close to producing a majority of the art and political messages for our society, they might want to monetarily support it as little as possible. They might install a VPN so they can’t be tracked by their internet service provider or college wi-fi. They might look into how or ask a friend to download these shows and movies through torrents so they can keep these nostalgic works on their computers offline or delete them when they’re finished. They might get into seeding, hostin, and uploading art so everyone can view them without the stranglehold of a monopoly dictating the monthly terms of enjoyment.

Alternatively, they might just use their grandmother’s login.

Regardless, it is important to remember these corporations are never your friend, no matter the friendly content they shove in your face and attempt to hold on to forever. Creative works of our childhood should belong to everyone, not merely the Mouse trying to profit off us.

Hospital lockdown raises safety concerns


Last Sunday night, Nov. 10, MidMichigan Medical Center – Gratiot in Alma was placed on lockdown. That evening, a woman arrived at the hospital with a gunshot wound. The authorities were immediately notified, and the hospital was to remain in lockdown until further notice. Fortunately, they determined that the wound was the result of an accident, but not before word got out and lead to feelings of unease in the Alma community.

Some Alma students caught wind of this incident before it had been entirely resolved and raised concerns that Alma college failed to notify the students of a potential threat to campus.

Alma College has an emergency notification system and campus security was aware of the incident. If they thought that it was a threat, they would have used the notification system.

“First of all, with matters like that—since we had a complaint—we always go out and confirm with local the local authorities,” said Toby Pickelmann, Security Manager at Alma College. As soon as Alma Security became aware of the incident, they contacted the police to determine if there was any potential danger to students on campus, and they were reassured that there was no danger.

“The [Alma Security] officer called 911 dispatch, and they said, “we can’t give you specifics of what’s going on, but there’s no danger to the college,” said Alan Gatlin, Alma College COO; Senior Vice President.

In the event of a verified emergency, Campus Security will issue a warning to all students, but the verification is an important step in the process. “One of our guidelines is to only the campus emergency system for emergencies,” said Gatlin.

They don’t want to cause panic if there is a false alarm. Additionally, they worry that sending too many emergency alerts could lead to students ignoring them. For the emergency system to be effective, “[students] need to act on the information when they get it,” said Gatlin.

Campus Security reminds students that in the case of an emergency to “call 911 first.” Afterward, they can contact security through their phone number: 989-463-7777. From a campus phone, simply dial 7777.

“Just call us. We’re here 24/7 365 days a year,” said Pickelmann.

The emergency notification system is an important safety measure for all students on campus, but it is only effective if everybody is registered for it. For most students, that happens automatically when they register for classes, but anyone who is concerned that they aren’t registered can simply go to to register. A link to this website was sent to all students’ school emails on Nov. 13.

First Year halls host Fire Safety Events


Living on Alma College campus, the reverberating sound of fire alarms quickly becomes a familiarity for all students. Fire alarms are particularly prevalent among the first-year dorms, Bruske Hall and Gelston Hall.

“The fire alarms go off often – about once a week, if not more.” said Bruske resident Annabelle Avolio (‘23).

There are many reasons for these frequent fire alarms, most of which are cooking-related. Smoke from improperly cooked microwave meals often results in a fire alarm.

“Because they’re transitioning into college, they might have never made food for themselves before and have no idea how those things work. Every year we have the same trends where somebody makes mac and cheese or ramen noodles without water.” said Nicholas Benjamin, Assistant Director of Residence Life and First Year Experience.

However, many different activities could set the fire alarms off at any moment. Most of these activities are common everyday actions that could result in a fire alarm by complete accident.

“I typically find that it’s just students who aren’t necessarily aware of what they’re doing. They might put something in the microwave for too long. A lot of times hairspray will cause the alarms to go off if they spray way too much of it. It’s a case-by-case basis.” said Benjamin.

Although many first-year students know the proper fire evacuation process, some students choose to not evacuate their dorms because they assume it’s caused by a false alarm. However, there’s no guarantee that any alarm is a false alarm until the residence hall is declared safe by staff.

“I know where to go. I always evacuate the building, even if I assume it’s a false alarm. I don’t think everyone else in the building necessarily evacuates though.” said Avolio.

Because of the frequent fire alarms, there will be fire safety informational events for first-year students hosted on November 21st from 7-9 p.m. in the lobbies of Gelston and Bruske. These events were a new idea proposed by the RAs to provide first-year students with the information they need to hopefully prevent the fire alarm from ringing and perhaps reduce the amount of false alarms.

“The RAs  thought it was a really good idea so everyone knows how to make food if they don’t want to go to the cafeteria or if they’re studying and need something quick without causing the fire alarms to go off.” said Benjamin.

The new fire safety events will feature games to make the experience both informative as well as enjoyable for first-year students.

“They’re gonna have a Kahoot, and that’s gonna cover things like what our actual fire policy says, some fun facts about fire safety and just in general how to make certain kinds of food.” said Benjamin.

Although most of the fire alarms among the residence halls turn out to be false alarms, it’s important that students take each alarm seriously.

“We know to get out of the building, stand outside, and don’t go back in until it’s been cleared.” said Bruske resident Madie Acosta (‘23).

In order to ensure that all students are safe in the event of a fire, those living in residence halls should read the Alma College fire policy carefully and memorize the evacuation protocols. Never just assume that any alarm is a false alarm; doing so could put students’ lives at risk.

“If the fire alarm does go off, what I tell all students is to treat it seriously because at the end of the day, you never know and it’s better to be safe than sorry. My recommendation is always to get out of the building, stay away from the doors and stay far away from the building.” said Benjamin.

Registration confuses campus


Recently, Alma has made a lot of changes, one of the changes being the registration system.  While the new system had many new features that students liked quite a bit, many students found themselves confused and frustrated when it came time to actually register for their classes.

It was announced that the registration and advising system would be changing on Thursday, Sept. 26, to students through an email. If students were confused with any of the new features, then they had access to the guide for the new system which was attached to the email. Students now have to go through Inside Alma and plan their semester out through the course catalog. In order to register for classes, students must have a meeting with their advisor and get their schedule approved prior to their registration date.

Students now have access to view their progress on their degree and on distributive requirements, along with planning their whole degree out unlike before when you had to wait until it was closer to registration.

With this new software, you can now easily plan out your degree over your four years.  Many students really liked this feature because then they could plan out what classes they wanted to take or need to take before graduating.

Breawna Ritter (’22) said, “This is probably the best feature because then I can plan all of my future classes out.”

With the planning feature, students were also able to see a schedule which lays out the day and time they will be in classes. Some students it took some time to figure out and get used to the new feature, some are even still learning how to work the new system.

Carrielynn LaFranchie (’22) said, “I didn’t like the new systems at first, but after I got used to it and learned everything, I found that I actually really like it. It’s really helpful and cool that it plans out your schedule and shows you what your schedule would be like and if any of your class schedules clash together.”

Some students even found the benefits that can follow them to jobs on and off campus.

Emmett Kelly (’22) said, “I really like that I can see what my exact schedule will look like and be able to make sure that everything will work. It’s also handy for my job, because I can just print my schedule out and give it to them for my availability.”

Students with 90 or more credits were first up to test the new system for their registration date on Monday, Nov. 4, starting at 9 a.m. Some students had troubles getting their planned courses to load and had to learn that in order to register, you had to log out and reload the page before actually being able to register.

It was still a learning experience when students with 56 credits or more registered on Wednesday, Nov. 6.  Students were still trying to get around registering for courses you had to have special permission for or had to have you advisor approve.

Katie Bailey (’22) said, “My only complaint is that there were a few classes that said you needed special permission to take them when I already had permission, but for some reason it let me into them right away and I had to talk to the registrar for like ten minutes in order to register for my spring term because it said I needed ‘instructor permission’ when I already had it.”

Students were still learning while registering on Nov. 11, students with 25 credits or more were quick to jump on and realize that certain thing like lessons. “I think it’s pretty convenient for the general population, but for anyone that wants/needs to take private lessons in the music department, it’s still not ideal. We are still having to waste paper and time by filling out a drop/add form,” said Kelly.

Anyone else who had not registered had a slim picking of classes and had virtually no problem except for the occasional loading error.  Overall, the system had its ups and downs, but so does any new system.

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