E-Sports and intramural sports have a new look


With some sport seasons on hold and others up in the air, the few sports that are currently happening at Alma College are taking on a new and safe look. Fall sports, such as football, soccer, cross country and volleyball, may be getting pushed into the spring season, but one lucky sport, Esports, is gearing to start their fall season.

With their sport predominantly taking place online, Esports players are in the clear when it comes to Covid-19 restrictions and are set to have a smooth sailing season.

“Last year many of the Esports teams were forced to end their seasons early and we were forced to cut off the tail end of our season because of Covid,” said senior Esports player, Nolan Rowland (’21). “This year we are planning on going ahead with the full season and are, thankfully, able to practice together while still abiding by the rules set by the college,” said Rowland.

With their 2020 season coming to an abrupt end, the Esports team looks to cherish every moment of their upcoming season, which escaped the postponement many other fall sports fell victim to.

On September 17, the Esports team kicked off their season against Davenport university with their League of Legends team. This was their first match of the regular season as they strive towards becoming GG League Champions again.

“The type of Esport depends on the game being played, but for League of Legends, the matches consist of two teams of five players, with each player choosing a unique champion,” said Rowland. “The goal is to destroy the opposing team’s Nexus, a structure that lies at the heart of their base, which is protected by defensive structures.” In this match, Rowland led the team with six assists and deaths as well as twelve eliminations.

Although the team fell to Davenport 2-0, the team remains optimistic and looks hopeful towards the rest of their season and upcoming match against Western Illinois University on October 1.

“While we were not able to beat Davenport this time, we learned very valuable lessons from those matches, and we are not necessarily expecting immediate results at the beginning of the season,” said Rowland. “While we have some veterans on the team, we are still quite new and I believe once we develop more chemistry, we should have no problem finding success for the rest of the season.”

As Esports continues to make its way through their season, many other athletes have found themselves with more free time than usual in the wake of many sports being put on hold. With campus looking quieter these days, Alma’s Recreational Center is finding ways to keep students active and safe through the use of intramural (IM) sports.

While IM sports occur throughout the school year, the need for activity and student interaction has placed high interest on the need for fall season IM sports.

“Covid has really put a strain on all activities,” said IM Student Assistant, Jarod Arendsen (’22). “We have implemented a number of regulations and policies to safely play IM sports. Before students can play, they must show their green check marks for their daily health screening. If they don’t have them, we have a temperature gun so they can get their temperature. We also are enforcing that everyone wears a mask while participating in IM sports along with adhering to social distancing.”

Along with these new regulations, new changes have also been made to the set-up of the competitions. Although the games may be running differently, the typical sports of basketball, volleyball, softball, kickball, pickle ball and soccer as well as some other smaller sports will still be offered.

“Before Covid, many IM sports would be a week or two long,” said Arendsen. “Each team would play in pool play for the first week and then go into a single elimination tournament. With Covid, we have had to make many changes. Since many sports you cannot socially distance, we have been limited to outdoor sports. We have been doing weekend tournaments. The number of participants depends on the sport. At each game, we have 1-2 referees to regulate the games and make sure they go smoothly.”

With the new adaptable competitions to current safety regulations, this enables not only the same sports students love and know to be offered, but it provides all students with the opportunity to participate. Even if students have never tried the sport before, it enables them to break out of their comfort zone and try something new—especially during a pandemic.

“I participate in the sports because of the social aspects,” said senior wrestler, Joseph Vondrasek (’21). “I do not fancy myself as competitive outside of wrestling, so I take the time to just enjoy the experience. Sometime the best part is making team jerseys and laughing when things go wrong!”

Although sports and many other on-campus activities may be postponed because of the pandemic, IM sports offer students the ability to not only stay active, but to stay connected and socialize in a time when social interaction is limited. It is something students can do safely and for fun.

“Alma students seem to be longing to have those casual social interactions that we know and love,” said Vondrasek. “Intramural sports create opportunities to socialize and be safe.”

Belarus – the last European Dictatorship


100,000 people on the streets, 12,000 arrested, 450 injured, and 50 missing.

These seemingly plain numbers carry on their shoulders the largest protest that Belarus has ever seen. A small landlocked country in Eastern Europe, Belarus emerged an independent state in 1991 after the Soviet Union collapsed. The country first held elections in 1994 which saw Alexander Lukashenko rise to power. Almost 25 years later, in 2020, the sixth Presidential elections were held, and Lukashenko won, again, for the sixth time. Belarusians took to the streets fearing five more years of the same leader that a majority of young Belarusians view as tyrannical. The protests were instigated when the election results gave Lukashenko an 80% majority of votes, which the opposition as well as some poll workers declared to be fraudulent.

Last week marked the 50th day of these protests, with protestors amassing support instead of diminishing in numbers. Belarusians between the ages of 18-40 seek change in a country fettered between unemployment and inflation. The real frustration of the protestors however doesn’t stem from economic issues, which are very real, but from the dictatorial style of governance adopted by the Lukashenko administration. Early 2020 saw the rise of a popular political commentator and blogger Sergei Tikhanovsky. His internet streams against President Lukashenko gained mass popularity, and he was seen by many as an alternative; an alternative with a real chance of victory. The popular will however was quashed before it bloomed into democratic participation as the present administration arrested Sergei under charges of treason.

This did not stop the movement, which was absorbed by Sergei’s wife, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, an English school teacher. The unprecedented presidential candidate rose to popularity, contrary to what most pundits speculated, including Lukashenko who claimed that a woman isn’t capable of the Office. Belarusians thought otherwise, and soon Svetlana became the face of the opposition movement—‘Stop the Coakroach’— alluding to the current President.

But popular support and democratic participation can go only so far while operating in a corrupt and dictatorial system. There is a reason Western scholars and journalists argue that Belarus is Europe’s last dictatorship, and this was exemplified once the results were out. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was forced to seek political asylum in Lithuania as she faced threats from the current administration.

In the aftermath of the results several other female leaders disappeared from Minsk, capital of Belarus. One of them was Maria Kolesnikova. She was kidnapped by masked assailants and dragged into a van that drove up to the Ukraine border. There, she was forced to exile in Ukraine so as to limit her political influence. Political suppression isn’t new in this country, and this fact is driving the largest protests in the history of independent Belarus.

From BLM protests in US, to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, this year has been characterized by mass protests engulfing nations. But the impact of each protest has varied, and to understand this better we approached Dr. Hulme, professor of political science at Alma College. “The repression of post-election protests in Belarus continues a longstanding pattern of authoritarian rule in the country”, said Dr. Hulme. We also asked him about the future of the protests, and whether the international community can help. “While the international community, including the European Union and the United Nations, have urged authorities to refrain from violence, such key figures as China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have expressed support for the government and opposition to any external interference in the internal affairs of Belarus, making meaningful change unlikely in the foreseeable future.”

Pollution damages the Pine River


“It’s startling to watch birds drop from the air, flop around and die”, were the words of a St. Louis, MI, resident who was one of the many that came forward to report dystopian consequences in a town where a former industrial site once stood. Fifty years after The Velsicol Chemical Company, also known as Michigan Chemicals, was simply knocked to the ground and buried under a slab of concrete the people living around the former chemical plant are raising alarm.

The reason for birds falling to the ground, sky rocketing cancer rates and the need for an alternate water source all have a single reason behind them—the insecticide DDT. This pesticide is one of the best-known examples of how synthetic chemicals can harm an ecosystem, threaten human health and endanger the very existence of important species.

Banned in the United States in 1972, the chemical is infamous for persisting in the environment for abnormally long periods of time. It’s pollution of the Pine River is so colossal that it has led to the largest and one of the most expensive pollution cleanup projects in the state’s history. Ironically, the presence of DDT may have made it harder to deal with the original target pests.

For the 2020 worldwide synthetic biology competition, iGem (International Genetically Engineered Machine), The Alma College iGem team has proposed a way to help solve this perennial problem that plagues the perennial river.

“The iGEM Foundation is an non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of synthetic biology, education and competition, and the development of an open community and collaboration,” said Conner Arens (’23), a member of this year’s iGem team. “This is done by fostering an open, cooperative community and friendly competition. The goal of the jamboree, or competitions are not pitting teams against one another.”

The team that has competed with universities like the University of Michigan was ranked the highest of all midwestern universities participating in the 2019 competition and bagged the silver medal.

This project by the college team could be the be a new hope for a tale of pollution, destruction and environmental degradation that is bound to have everlasting impacts for many more generations to come.

Anti-racism vs. ICE Detention Centers


The following contributions are solely of the writer’s own views and are not affiliated with the Almanian and Alma College.

Robert J. Patterson, professor of African American Studies at Georgetown University, defines anti-racism as, “…an active and conscious effort to work against multidimensional aspects of racism.” President Donald J. Trump has taken down efforts to expand on the ideas of anti-racism and white privilege in schools and even the White House. The New York Times said that the White house called these trainings ‘divisive, anti-American propaganda’.

In some aspect these views may seem understandable, but I cannot consciously agree with that. We have reached a point in society where it is racists VS anti-racists. It is not enough to just be against racism; you must advocate and fight for those who are being affected by these foul ideas.

“I do think that the language around anti-racism in this moment and in our climate has become a way of division, even if it has not intended to be,” said director of Diversity and Inclusion, Donnesha A. Blake.

Mr. Trump has stated that he does not believe that there is a systemic racial bias in the United States, and that those who believe they are more targeted by the police, etc. are viewing things in the wrong way. This is simply not the case. Business Insider provided 26 charts of statistics stating how systemic racism exists in the United States.

This is no longer a case of just how racist some people are, or even how racist people believe Mr. Trump to be. This has become a matter of what we can do to rid our society of these biases. Reach out to your local politicians, read up on the different laws and policies, do whatever you can to help be a part of that change.

Critical race theory looks at how society and culture play a role in race, law and power. It closely examines how white supremacy and racial power have been protected possibly unconsciously by the law.

Mr. Trump has criticized critical race theory and said that he will not allow it to be a main priority in schools across America. The New York Times said that he advocates for a more patriotic education for students.

While it is important for students to learn about American history, it is also very important for them to understand the mistakes that past politicians and even society have made. If we prevent our students from learning about racism and what they can do to help make a change, we will never grow and develop.

There is a certain stigma that stands with the idea of Mr. Trump being against anti-racist education and him constantly advocating for stronger immigration laws and the ICE detention centers. The intention of the detention centers was to hold immigrants who have traveled to the United States illegally. These detention centers are supposed to just a holding place; they are no longer that. Conditions [of the centers] are horrid and vile.

While it is important to do things rightfully by the law, the immigration laws in America have reached a point to where it is nearly impossible to even apply for a visa, let alone citizenship. They have made it so difficult for immigrants to become citizens. It seems that this was intentional, with the way Mr. Trump speaks about people of certain ethnicities and backgrounds.

Whether you stand with or against President Trump, it is evident that there must be more done for anti-racism in America. Imagine if this was something that you had to deal with on a daily basis; racial slurs being said to you for your skin tone, people throwing things because of what you are wearing or even just being afraid to leave your house because of encounters you may have heard of. Do not let racism be the thing that America stands for. This is a conscious act that we must all be a part of.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves a legacy


Graphic by MORGAN GUST

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, passed away on Sept.18 from metastatic cancer of the pancreas. In her 87 years of life, Ginsburg was a trailblazer for gender equality.

“I was shocked, but not surprised,” said Claire Wittlieff (‘24), who noted Ginsburg’s declining health.

“When I opened up Twitter (I follow a lot of historians and legal scholars), I was struck at first by their overwhelming grief at her loss, and then their concern about what her absence on the Court would mean for issues of gender equality and other important issues,” said Professor of History Kristen Olbertson.

Because of the severity of her health, Ginsburg said just before she passed that her fervent wish was that the Senate wait until after a new president is installed to fill her seat on the Supreme Court.

Her untimely death, just 45 days before the Presidential Election, brings up many consequences for the court. Ginsburg was the lead liberal seat of the Supreme Court and without her presence, the seat may be filled instead by a Republican.

When Former Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016 under President Barack Obama, this also sparked a debate within the Senate.

“It has already been announced that [President] Donald Trump is nominating Amy Coney Barrett for Justice Ginsburg’s seat,” said Olbertson. “I expect the Senate to confirm Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court, despite the fact that in 2016, Senate Republicans refused to hold confirmation hearings for Obama-nominated Judge Merrick Garland, claiming it was improper to do so in an election year.”

Olbertson also added that Justice Ginsburg’s influence on law and the American society as a whole has been “undeniable.”

“I think there [are] definitely some people that don’t realize what she’s accomplished in both her law and judicial career,” said Wittlieff.

Ginsburg’s mother was a big proponent for women being independent and going after what they wanted professionally. Ginsburg herself graduated from Harvard Law School at the top of her class but was turned away from multiple law firms post-graduation because she was a woman.

“Throughout her entire career, she remained dedicated to the idea that the Constitution guaranteed every person equality under the law, regardless of their gender,” said Olbertson.

Ginsburg’s work as a litigator and as a Supreme Court Justice helped advocate for greater gender equality in a plethora of aspects. Ginsburg pushed for gender equality in social security and wages, as well as in marriages for gay men and women. Because of Ginsburg, women can also have a mortgage or open a bank account without needing male approval. These are just a few examples of rights that are relevant due to her influence.

Though she pioneered for gender equality, Ginsburg has been criticized in the past for being compliant to issues relating to the treatment and equality of minority groups. She was criticized for not joining Justice Sonya Sotomayor’s endorsement of the Black Lives Matter movement and for not being knowledgeable in matters of tribal sovereignty.

“I think the important thing about both of these issues is that she kept learning and adapting,” said Olbertson. “As brilliant as she was, she obviously didn’t know everything–and when she got feedback, she took it in, she considered it, and she incorporated it into her thinking.”

Just this summer, Ginsburg joined the majority in the McGirt v. Oklahoma case, which was a major victory for indigenous rights.

“There are some viewpoints and opinions she had that not everyone agrees with, but you have to give her some form of credit,” said Wifflieff.

Justice Ginsburg spent the majority of her life pining for gender equality, and her memory will live on in all the judicial changes that came about because of her.

NYC labeled “Anarchist Jurisdiction”


Last Monday, President Trump’s Department of Justice declared three major American cities, New York City, Portland and Seattle, as ‘Anarchist Jurisdictions,’ alleging that these three locations contribute to lawlessness, violence and destruction.

Although the label of ‘Anarchist Jurisdiction’ sparks strong sentiments by itself, some believe it fails to accurately represent the current state of these three cities.

“For a few weeks during the protests there was a group in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle that did create a self-governed zone, but that was a tactic to de-escalate conflicts with the police, not a claim of fundamental jurisdiction,” said Dr. Benjamin Peterson, professor of history and political science. “In other words, while the police might have stepped back a bit from the area to avoid confrontation, the people in the area did not gain any kind of immunity from city laws, let alone becoming some kind of anarchist mini-state.”

Because none of these three cities display true examples of anarchy jurisdiction, many suspect this label by the D.O.J. involves more to do with election-year politics than the actual state of the cities.

“If you look at the recent messages from the Trump campaign, they are all about Trump being the candidate of law and order,” said Peterson. “These kinds of law and order campaigns have a long and frankly racist history in the United States, but people run them because they are often effective. The concept of an anarchist jurisdiction existing, and the president’s opposition to it, obviously supports that underlying campaign message.”

Although these labels may represent nothing more than election-year politics, the D.O.J. could implement serious penalties against these three cities based on allegations of anarchy.

“This is another instance in the complicated dance that is federalism in the United States,” said Peterson. “The Trump administration means to assert that if a local government fails to respond to a protest in ways that they find suitable, the executive branch can punish them–in this case by withdrawing money. While a state government could clearly intervene in a city’s affairs, it is more striking for the federal government to do so.”

The loss of federal funding for these three cities would drastically change the way these cities operate, especially because cities all across the country are already under financial stress due to COVID-19.

“The funding of local governments comes from a dizzying array of local, state and federal grants, funds and sources,” said Peterson. “The D.O.J. has many programs which provide direct funding to the local police, often through a block-grant structure. Potentially the removal of that money will decrease police protection and readiness, defund drug treatment programs, and disrupt the operation of city governments.”

Although labeling cities as ‘Anarchy Jurisdictions’ is not a common occurrence, the federal government often places pressure on state and city legislators to operate according to the status quo.

“We might see this as the administration attempting to usurp elements of state sovereignty and essentially step between the state legislature and the city,” said Peterson. “While that may

sound shocking or highly aggressive, these sorts of conflicts are constant in our government as the practical lines of federal, state and local authority are always shifting.”

The year 2020 brought about many unprecedented events, but the transformation of New York City, Portland and Seattle into anarchy jurisdictions simply is not one of them.

Puerto Rico to Receive Billions


On Friday, Sept. 18, President Trump announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would be sending almost $13 billion, including $11.6 billion in federal funding, in aid to Puerto Rico to help rebuild. This announcement came almost exactly three years after Hurricane Maria caused devastating damage in Sept. 2017. Congress had approved this allocation of funds in 2018.

The grants are two of the largest grants ever awarded by FEMA and, according to the White House website, “illustrate President Trump’s unwavering commitment to rebuilding Puerto Rico and aiding Puerto Ricans as they continue to recover from multiple natural disasters.”

In what was called the “most devastating U.S.-based natural disaster in 100 years,” Hurricane Maria slammed the island with winds of 155 mph, killed almost 3000 residents of Puerto Rico (leaving even more of them without homes) and caused about $100 million in damage. Since then, earthquakes, flash floods, an economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic have caused even more devastation to the island.

The announcement of this aid came less than fifty days before the presidential election. President Trump had previously criticized the officials of Puerto Rico and stated that no more money needed to go there because it would be “wasted.”

When asked why he had approved money to go there so close to the election, Trump responded that he had been advocating for this money to be sent for a long time but it had been held up by Democrats in Congress.

The White House announced that $9.6 million included in this aid sent by FEMA will be used to restore electrical grids that had left Puerto Rico with the longest blackout in U.S. history. $2 billion will be used for the Department of Education to help repair school buildings across the island. With this new amount of aid, the White House announced they had thus far sent about $26 billion to Puerto Rico. Congress has approved about $43 billion.

In an interview with CBS news, Puerto Rican resident Angel Perez said the United States government has been of very little help in Puerto Rico’s recovery. “As a community social worker, I can tell you that Puerto Rico’s recovery, if it can be called that, didn’t come thanks to the government,” said Perez. It came from nonprofit associations, it came from the neighbors themselves. It came from foundations. It came from the hands of other people who supported the families that suffered the most.”

When asked about this new announcement of funding, students at Alma had some different opinions. Some felt straightforwardly about the aid. “I believe that the U.S. should fulfill this promise as best they can to help Puerto Rico,” said Lucy Woods (‘24). “I would like for all of that money to get there. I believe that when you promise something, you should fulfill that promise.”

Some students felt rather conflicted about this amount of money sent to Puerto Rico. “I would like for America to send as much aid as they possibly can to Puerto Rico because they’ve got a lot of problems,” said David Troyer (‘24). “The hurricane caused so much devastation and they need all the help they can get. However, national debt has increased and with the election, I think this decision needs to be postponed for a couple more months unless the current administration can figure something out.”

The 3.2 million residents of Puerto Rico are not eligible to vote in the U.S. election, but they will be electing a governor and a few other local officials on the same day. However, all the residents of Puerto Rico that fled the island and now reside in the United States will be voting in the election on Nov. 3.

Alma welcomes new PAGE club


With the semester under way, many clubs and organizations have started holding meetings and events. Recently, Alma College welcomed a new organization. The PAGE (which stands for Pop Culture, Anime, Gaming, and Entertainment) Club has begun hosting various campus events.

The PAGE club was founded at the end of last year. The organization was formed from the merging of two separate groups: ACOG (Alma College Otaku and Gamers) and the Gaming Guild.

Mike Oliver (’20) serves as the organization’s president. As he watched ACOG and the Gaming Guild’s number of members drop, Oliver felt it was important to unite the two groups.

“The [two organizations] were not doing very well for a number of reasons,” said Oliver. “And there was rivalry between them, which was very unfortunate because they were very similar clubs.”

When the founding members set to work organizing the club, they kept in mind some of the best parts of ACOG and the Gaming Guild, while also looking at where improvements could be made.

“When we were drafting the constitution, we thought about what ACOG was as a group. [It] wasn’t quite a club in the traditional sense,” said Oliver. “It was very, very broad. It was [more like] a social organization. What [the founders] wanted to do was expand on that and make it a bit of both.”

Oliver hoped this new structure would help draw in new interest – and it seems to have worked. “ACOG and the Gaming Guild only had four members going into this year. Now we’re at, as of our last count, 38,” said Oliver.

Sophie Flater (’23) works as the club’s Alumni Liaison and Social Media Organizer. After hearing about the organization as a freshman, Flater became involved with the Gaming Guild. When the Gaming Guild and ACOG merged to form the Page club, she decided to get more involved.

Flater’s favorite part of being involved in the PAGE club is how accepting the organization is. “Our [social media] offers a place for people to feel accepted, vent, ‘geek out’, and just generally feel like a part of a community,” said Flater. “It’s a really great environment to be in and I hope even more people will join in the future.”

According to Flater, the PAGE club is “essentially an umbrella club for all things nerdy” so they have something for just about everyone. So far, the club has hosted a variety of successful events, including Pokémon Night, an Among Us event, a Studio Ghibli viewing event, a Smash event, and most recently, a “Bad Fanfiction” reading event.

Flater is looking forward to what the PAGE club has in store for Halloween. “There will definitely be some interesting events for Halloween lovers,” said Flater. “On the third, we will be hosting a horror movie night, and a few of our [members] are currently working on a spooky, supernatural escape room experience.”

Abigail Ely (’24) serves as the club’s Inventory Manager, keeping track of storage and assisting people in checking out items. She also helps run the group’s Thursday night Dungeons and Dragons event.

Ely’s favorite part of being involved in the PAGE club has been the connections she has made. “I have become good friends with most of the people who attend [events] regularly,” said Ely. “The people I’ve met in PAGE are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and I’m so thankful I joined this club.”

Ely would like to encourage any student to get involved in the PAGE club. “You don’t need to consider yourself a gamer or ‘nerdy’ to join this club and be active in it,” said Ely. “PAGE is a club where you can be yourself and have fun with people who truly care.”

For more information on the PAGE club’s upcoming events, students are encouraged to join the organization’s Facebook group or Discord Server.


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