Child trafficking cases rise in the U.S.


The year 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the first publishing of the Trafficking in Persons Report. Over 25 million children have been bought and sold into slavery, thus violating their civil liberties as a human being. Young girls and boys are subjected to sexual labor at an alarmingly increasing rate. In 2019 alone, the United States alone had 220 child trafficking cases according to the US Department of Justice. “

The idea of child trafficking is an underlying fear anyone with kids always has in the back of their head when they take their children out in public,” said Miranda Avolio (’24).

 “In America, the sentence for a child sex offender involved in human trafficking is not enough time for the hell they put both the victims and parents through. Human trafficking is not only degrading physically, but mentally as well.”

Of these cases, child traffickers were prosecuted anywhere from a one-month sentence to a lifetime. The vast majority of sentences ranging in five years or longer; however, some traffickers were sentenced only to probation which sparked major controversy in both media and activist groups. It is estimated that 80 percent of all child trafficking violations have involved American citizens according to the Federal Bureau.

While child enslavement is not a new offence, it had recently gained large attention of mass media with the introduction of the Jeffery Epstein case. A case involving 36 girls ranging with the youngest of the victims being fourteen, Epstein subjected these young girls to various levels of sexual assault and rape.

While this case is one of the larger ones publicized, many young men and women across the United States are being subjected to sexual labor on a daily basis. These offenders range anywhere from wealthy businessmen to gas station employees. Yasmin Vafa, a worker for RIGHTS4GIRlS explained that their organization has cared for victims as young as ten years old within in the last three months according to a PBS News segment.

“I have a younger sister that is 10 years old,” said Abby Strait (’24). “As a protective older sister, I fear that I am not able to save her from child trafficking as it is an ever-growing problem within America.”

Nonprofit organizations have released a barrage of facts, and preventative measures young women can take in order to better protect themselves and others around them. Of which include, traveling in large groups, avoiding malls and other shopping centers after dark, carrying pepper spray and informing parents or legal guardians of their location at all times according to Help Save the Next Girl.

“I do not ever feel comfortable going to local malls and stores near me by myself because of the numerous reports of child trafficking that have been reported in my area,” said Avolio.

It is understood that 1 in 6 girls have experienced sexual assault before the age of twelve, according to

“I protect myself when I go out by keeping my phone and keys in hand,” said Strait. “Checking surrounding and staying up to date with social media and other news channels in order to be aware of new tactic sex traffickers are using.”

Sex trafficking is a growing pandemic that effects young men and women across the globe. In order to keep yourself and others safe, you must stay up to date on new efforts made by sex traffickers. Some methods to know include honey or a sticky substance on your windshield, leaving notes claiming “damage” on vehicles and zip ties on your property and or vehicle.

For more information or to donate visit RIGHTS4GIRLS. Org, and Help Save the Next

Eugenics bring controversy



Eugenics are defined as the arrangement of reproduction within the human population in order to increase the occurrence of certain desirable characteristics. The eugenics movement was first introduced to America in the early 20th century, despite its principles dating back to Ancient Greece. It was originally coined by Francis Galton in the late 1800s.

In 1897, Michigan was the first state to propose eugenics in legislation, which did not pass at the time. Several years later in 1913, Michigan passed this piece of legislation but primarily enforced it on those who were deemed “mentally defective” or “insane.”

The law was then adapted in 1923 for the addition of x-rays for vasectomies and salpingectomies and was expanded to those who were considered imbeciles but not insane. In 1929, the law was expanded to include those who were found to be harmful to the general public such as pedophiles, which was an even larger number of the population.

“In the 1920s, the Supreme Court voted on Buck v. Bell, which boiled down to the legalization of eugenics and forced sterilization of those deemed “unfit” to reproduce,” said Maria Ruedisueli (‘21).

“This statute has not been overturned and there have been thousands of forced sterilizations across the country since this passed.”

Since mid-September, there have been reports to the Department of Homeland Security about forced hysterectomies performed on immigrants who are located at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Irwin County Detention center in Georgia. Hysterectomies are female sterilization, which cuts or blocks the fallopian tubes to prevent eggs and sperm from meeting. Dawn Wooten, who used to work full-time at the detention center, was the nurse who raised these concerns.

In her report, she explained that immigrants were not receiving accurate information in regard to their treatments.

Forced sterilization has long been an issue within minority groups, and it appears that this time is no different. “Minorities have always been a target for the upper and middle Anglo-Saxton population,” said Ruedisueli. “It is fueled by an irrational fear of displacement and losing their status in society.”

Such is the case in prisons and detention centers now. Official complaints received by the Department of Homeland Security say that immigrants have specifically been targeted as of lately, as shown in Georgia. This maltreatment of immigrants and minority groups is a concept that has long been practiced within the United States.

There have been at least 148 women in California’s prisons from 2006-2010 who have reported forced hysterectomies. “Sterilization of women is still taking place in prisons as of quite recently, and with new reports, it appears that this trend is back again at the border,” said Ruedisueli.

While forced sterilization within the United States is still a problem, steps have been taken to lessen its frequency. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, the government of the United States had begun to provide funding towards reproductive health for both men and women. President Obama signed the Eugenics Compensation Act into law in 2016 which has provided thousands of Americans federal safety net programs.

Election day in the United States is arriving quickly. There has been a lack of response from political officials regarding forced hysterectomies at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Irwin County Detention center in Georgia.

Greek events look different this semester



Due to the ongoing pandemic students may have noticed a few changes to this year’s events. Derby Days and Greek week are no different.

Greek week has recently come to a close, with many having participated in the events. Greek week is an event that all the Greek organizations on campus took part in and was created as a way for these groups to earn money for their various philanthropies.

This year Greek week may have looked different than years prior, with a lot of in-person events being moved to a virtual format to ensure the safety of those participating.

Some of the events included different dress-up days during the week such as letters day or formal attire. There were also different challenges that occurred throughout the week. A scavenger hunt, trivia night and social media challenge were just a few of the events that took place during this week-long event.

“Anything that is done in person is meant to be socially distanced and obviously requires masks,” said Julia Neuvirth (‘21).

Social distancing as well as mask wearing were required to participate in any of the in-person events that occurred during the week, as well as any event that is hosted at Alma College.

This year Greek week was hosted as a way for these organizations to earn money for their philanthropic ventures.

If you missed the happenings from this year’s Greek week fret not, as more philanthropic events are just around the corner. Sigma Chi’s annual philanthropic event Derby Days will commence this year in just a few short days.

The brothers of Sigma Chi will host a myriad of events during the week to raise money for the Huntsman Cancer Institution.

The Huntsman Cancer Institution, founded in 1995, is an organization that works towards cancer research and is located in the state of Utah. All Sigma Chi fraternities across the nation have been raising money for the Huntsman Cancer Institution since 2012.

The question at the forefront of many minds is how the brothers will be able to host these events in a way that is safe for all.

“Derby Days will be different this year due to the pandemic. There will be a mix of socially distanced events and online events that consist of virtual events and social media challenges,” said Brandon Ralston (‘21).

Events this year will allow for students to be able to donate and participate while still remaining healthy and distant. While Greek week focuses more on those a part of Greek life, Sigma Chi’s Derby Days is meant for all students to enjoy.

“We love having non-Greek students participate because it demonstrates that Greek life is about more than partying,” said Ralston.

Many Greek organizations focus on hosting events meant to raise money for their philanthropic venture and are a way for students to donate money to organizations while also participating in different happenings on campus.

Volunteering has a new look for sports teams


At Alma College, volunteering is a key priority for many sports’ teams. With many of their seasons on hold, athletes are finding new and safe ways to continue giving back to the community. Although volunteering may be taking a different form, the Scots are not letting COVID-19 take another opportunity away from them.

“Last year, volunteering opportunities were easier to find as a team and on my own” said sophomore lacrosse player, Ava Frederickson (’23).

“Since COVID, however, there are more restrictions on where people can volunteer and how many people you can have. It makes it difficult to volunteer as a team, which is a big part of Alma athletics.”

Coming into this year, athletes were not quite sure how volunteering was going to look. With many teams relying heavily on community service as a pillar of what they stand for, teams had to become innovative, especially within the community.

“Volunteering has changed a lot this year due to Covid,” said senior women’s swimmer, Haven Westra (21).

“We often serve in-person at the Masonic Home, which is a high-risk population, so we have been unable to do that. Additionally, our team of 40 people cannot all meet together to volunteer due to the social distancing guidelines. We have switched to remote service or volunteering outside.”

Despite social distancing and gathering limitations, teams are still finding different ways to come together as a team. Whether this means meeting online or outside where social distancing can happen, teams are finding ways to stay connected in order to give back to the community.

“I think it is important to volunteer during the pandemic because a lot of people are struggling right now and can use assistance and encouragement” said Westra.

“It is possible to be creative and intentional to ensure the safety of volunteers and those who we are serving.

As difficult as the pandemic has been for student-athletes, it is important to look at the bigger picture of our community and do what we can to help others.”

Volunteering during a pandemic may not seem like a priority, but to a few teams, such as the Women’s Swim and Dive team as well as the Women’s Lacrosse team, it is crucial to not only thank the community for their support, but to remind them that we have not forgotten about them and everything they have done for the teams and college.

In particular, Alma’s Masonic Home has always been one of the sports’ teams’ favorite places to volunteer at. Athletes enjoyed having the opportunity to play minute-towin-it games or charades with the residents. Hence, teams have had to come up with innovative ways to stay connected.

“We made cards for the residents at the Masonic Home last week,” said Westra. “We wrote encouraging messages to them since the residents have not been able to have visitors due to the pandemic. We chose to take part in the opportunity because it would be a great remote option for our large team to volunteer in the Alma community. This opportunity was provided through the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and the SAAC Community Outreach Coordinator, Joe Vondrasek.”

Teams are not the only ones working on outreach to the community. Committees, such as SAAC, are helping teams and students stay involved within the community by offering safe volunteering opportunities for everyone involved. The online app, HelperHelper, also helps provide athletes with updates on upcoming events that need volunteers for in-person and virtual aid.

All of these volunteering moments not only help the community physically but socially as well.

“I believe part of building a community is through creating a strong support system but also through making friendships” said Frederickson.

“Volunteering helps build friendships and connections through the people you meet. It builds character and helps people to understand different point of views. Right now, the world is hurting and it’s important for people to help in any way they can, and the stronger the community, the better they can protect everyone within it. Without volunteers’, nonprofits like the community café would suffer and most would not be able to serve their purpose(s).”

While teams are focusing their attention towards the Alma community, individual players are also generating their energy towards others outside of the community. In Frederickson’s case, she volunteers through online mentoring, dog walking, helping at many nonprofits, such as the Community Café, and conducting surveys for the upcoming election.

In Westra’s case, her volunteering embodies a more team focus thanks to the push from her new coach. With no direct cure for coronavirus in sight, athletes plan to continue their new and safe form of volunteering to give back to the community throughout the school year.

Updates regarding future academic offerings


On Friday, Oct.16, President Abernathy sent out a communication to campus regarding the goal to strategically reduce the college’s overall budget. Alma College’s Task Force on Reducing College Costs came to the conclusion to phase out certain academic programs in order to adhere to these budget cuts.

Alma College will be phasing out the French and German majors and minors, but will still offer classes in the languages to cover language requirements.

The Religious Studies major will also be phased out, but the minor and the Pre-Ministry programs will remain intact.

The Bachelor of Music in Music Performance and the Alma Symphony Orchestra will also be phased out. The B.A. in Music and B.M. in Music
Education will be retained, and the college says they will continue to have other support for string instrumentalists.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art will be phased out, but the school will retain the B.A. in Art.

The Anthropology program will be phased out completely.

Alma College stresses that anyone who has declared a major in any of the programs impacted by these changes will be contacted by the Registrar in
regard to next steps and degree completion. If anyone was considering one of the programs but has yet to declare, they should consult with the Registrar’s Office and their academic advisor to look at the next steps.

More information regarding this update will be published soon.

Attempted kidnapping of Governor Whitmer


Earlier this week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer was the target of an attempted kidnapping. Thirteen men were charged in the kidnapping plot; seven of the men face state charges and the other six face federal charges.

Of the six federal charges, five men were from Michigan: Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta. One man was from Delaware: Barry Croft. Other people are still suspected in the crime.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been holding tight restrictions on public gatherings and mask mandates in Michigan. While some citizens of Michigan are grateful for her restrictions, but there are people who are displeased. A group of men decided to kidnap Governor Whitmer and leave her on her boat in lake Michigan.

Adam Fox was the leader of the “Michigan III%ers, and they worked together with the Wolverine Watchmen to plan and train for various acts of violence including kidnapping politicians and storming the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing.

In early discussions, before the conspirators focused more exclusively on Governor Whitmer, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who like Governor Whitmer is a Democrat, was mentioned as a possible kidnapping target.

“This was a highly strategic operation with a lot of moving parts, and that would be up to law enforcement to inform people who needed to know. [Whitmer] received the information confidentially, said Dana Nessel, Michigan’s Attorney General. “One person talking to the wrong individual could have cost numerous law enforcement officers their lives.”

Through confidential informants and undercover agents, federal agents learned that some of the men had staked out Governor Whitmer’s vacation home in northern Michigan. They had also planned to detonate a bomb to divert law enforcement away from her home. Other elected officials and members of law enforcement were also targeted.

“I believe they should be tried for the premeditated attempted kidnapping and any other charges connected to the surveillance,” said Kayla Koepf (’23). “Those people made a plan, thought it out, and were going to act on it if their plan did not go wrong.”

The men trained together in tactical exercises, and they discussed plans to kidnap Governor Whitmer before the November election. They were also preparing for “the boogaloo,” or a racial or political civil war.

“Training with weapons and learning how to use them seems like they were intending on actually hurting her,” said Emily Krolikowski (’21).

In early discussions among the Michigan III%ers and the Wolverine Watchmen, Fox and others took close-up still photos and videos outside Governor Whitmer’s vacation home as part of the planning to kidnap her. Prosecutors showed in the courtroom photos of Fox shooting photos just outside the cottage, in daylight.

By the time the Michigan III%ers and the Wolverine Watchmen conducted a second surveillance outside the cottage, this time at night, they had been so thoroughly infiltrated by the FBI that two undercover FBI agents and two confidential informants were part of the surveillance group.

“There is a reason we as a country have set up a system in which we can protest rather than enact violence,” said Sarah Ward (’21).

A suspect in the case, Paul Bellar, is facing extradition from South Carolina where he was arrested last week. Bellar had the role of “Sergeant,” based on his expertise in firearms, medical training and his ability to design tactical exercises.

The other suspects facing state charges are in custody in Michigan jails according to the attorney general’s office.

College tours in the age of COVID

Chelsea Faber

Everyone remembers their first tour of Alma, hearing about our Scottish heritage, perhaps talking to coaches or faculty, even having your first meal in SAGA, however in a world dealing with COVID-19, what should this experience look like? Balancing the two pillars of keeping our campus safe and free from extra outside exposure, while providing this pivotal and critical experience to incoming students has been a recent topic of debate among campus.

Per campus policy, outside guests are prohibited, not only from residential halls, but some academic centers as well. Additionally, current students are highly discouraged to return home and are encouraged to only leave campus when necessary. Yet, despite these measures taken by the college, new ‘pods’ of individuals enter campus every day.

The Admissions website outlines heightened safety procedures including sanitizing of any check in materials, outdoor meetings, as well as a screening the day before. It is important to note the policy specifies that face coverings are required inside buildings, however there is no clarification as to whether this is also required when outdoors.

Students are not required to wear masks outdoors when in a situation that would allow for social distancing; however, campus culture has shown that many individuals continue to wear masks at all times when outside their own residence.

It would make sense that the policy would be universal across both sectors, but we need to remember that prospective students and their families are coming from all across the state, if not the country. They could reside in areas with a high rate of positive cases, therefore bringing a threat to campus.

Once again, this brings a complex issue to the forefront, how do we provide this experience in a meaningful but safe way?

Our admissions staff worked over the summer to provide a 360 view of campus as well as an improved walking tour –both with the hope to bring the experience of walking through campus to the screens of prospective students across the globe. Is this enough to convey the Alma College feel?

Let’s also consider it from the opposite end: anxiety about fully understanding potential college options in the age of the coronavirus is likely at the forefront of many high school seniors. Many campuses have not had as successful of a return to campus as Alma has. In fact, campuses across the nation have seen high rates of positive cases, with outbreaks continuing among students.

Keeping this in mind, potential students have to balance the nerves of experiencing a place that could become their temporary home for the very first time with the fear of contracting COVID-19.

Michigan has recently seen spikes in positive cases, specifically in areas that have fared well thus far in the pandemic. Many experts worry this is the beginning of the ‘fall surge,’ meaning the second wave of high rates of cases across the country.

With this being said, it is not the time to let down our guard, not even a small amount. There is absolutely no way to know if a ‘pod’ of prospective students would be the ones to bring and transmit the virus on campus, but with as fragile of an ecosystem as we have here, is this a risk we are willing to take?

Regardless of how a potential shut down would impact the college on the administrative and operational end, we have to consider the health and wellbeing of students, faculty and staff first. We cannot place ourselves in a position to shut down abruptly again. Therefore, as we move forward into what is poised to be a second wave of coronavirus, we must be extremely cautious and calculated in our actions as a community.

Tension rises in the Supreme Court


With the Presidential Election drawing near as well as Supreme Court elections and re-elections, Capitol Hill is a scene of tension.

Following the death of former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Trump moved forward to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to take Ginsburg’s seat. This has brought an abundance of controversy, as Ginsburg’s dying wish was for her seat to not be filled until the next president took office.

When Justice Antonin Scalia–whom Barrett clerked for and called her “mentor”–died in 2016 while serving on the Supreme Court, President Barack Obama received backlash from Senate Republicans. They refused to hold confirmation hearings for Obama-nominated Judge Merrick Garland, claiming it was improper to do so in an election year.

President Trump–the then-Republican presidential nominee–pushed for Obama to not make any major decisions regarding the Court at the end of his presidency.

The day after Ginsburg’s death, President Trump contacted Barrett regarding the vacancy. He formally offered her the position on Sept. 21.

“I think the timing is disgusting,” said Salem Gray (‘23). “[Ginsburg’s] final wish was that the next president be the one who chooses the next Supreme Court Justice. If Trump respected her at all, he would have left the choice to whoever won the election.”

Others hold similar beliefs regarding the timing of Barrett’s nomination.

“I think that Donald Trump refusing to wait until after the election to pick someone is suspicious since he insisted on President Obama waiting to recommend when the last justice died,” said Amelia Earl (‘22).

The quick turn-around following Justice Ginsburg’s death isn’t the only thing that has brought tension to the Court. Barrett’s views have also been controversial.

“[Barrett] holds very controversial and conservative views, especially about abortion and a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body,” said Gray. “I think that she’s a threat to a woman’s bodily autonomy and minority rights.”

Many people are concerned that if Barrett is appointed to the position with the Court, her views will largely affect the Court. As of right now, five of the justices were appointed by Republican presidents and three by Democratic presidents.

“While I appreciate that [Trump] is recommending a woman, her views are the opposite of [Ginsburg’s] and I think she will make the Court too uneven in terms of political alignment,” said Earl.

Trump vowed to appoint justices that will be ready to overrule Roe v. Wade, the decision made in 1973 that states that a pregnant woman has the Constitutional right to an abortion if she so chooses. Barrett’s record shows that she votes almost uniformly conservative when it comes to her views on gun rights, healthcare, discrimination, immigration and, as previously stated, abortion.

Not only is Roe v. Wade potentially threatened by Barrett’s nomination, but Barrett has also been vocal about her qualms with the Affordable Care Act.

The Senate Judiciary Committee began its confirmation hearing with Barrett on Oct. 12. While here, Barrett was questioned heavily on her views of the Affordable Care Act, as she was quoted in 2017 saying that Chief Justice John Roberts “pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.”

Barrett was quick to say that she has no hostility toward the Affordable Care Act, and that she will judge independently and without a personal agenda. Still, Senate Democrats use her public personal beliefs as a driving force against her.

Barrett’s confirmation hearings are set to commence with a vote to come, but Senate Democrats are hoping to push the vote back to Oct. 22.

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