Oops! I made a movement

HADEN GROSS
STAFF WRITER

For 90’s brats and 2000’s babies, American pop star Britney Spears was an icon. She sang songs that were hip, wore cloths that were killer and dated all the hunky celebs. For many young girls, Brittany represented a strong female role model, who controlled her life and looked good doing it.

For others in the music industry and a barrage of angry parents, Spears represented a sex symbol, that was dominating the era of the boy band and encouraging young girls to feel comfortable in their own bodies.

“She did celebrate her own sexuality and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Said Anna Sump (’21), “She was still just a teenager and wasn’t asking to be put in the spotlight as a sex symbol. She also didn’t ask to be a role model, and she doesn’t owe anyone an apology for her actions and choices. If parents didn’t want their children to be influenced by her, then they shouldn’t have let them listen to her.”

Britney received a generous load of hate for even existing early on in her career. She was criticized by men for being promiscuous, shamed by woman for upsetting men, but above all else, she broke a glass ceiling in the entertainment industry- that would not be tolerated. The free Britney movement is not a series of unfortunate events, but rather decades worth of hatred placed on a young woman.

“Britney, like any adult, has the right to dress in a way that makes her feel confident,” Said Lainie Ettema (’23), “Modesty empowers some, promiscuity empowers others. Women should be in control of their bodies without being shamed by society.”

Beginning in the early 2000’s Britney made the grave mistake of falling for America’s golden boy with horrendous highlights, Justin Timberlake. Their relationship was a public affair, including their private lives. When the couple decided to break it off, a fury hate was directed at Spears.

Accused of adultery, Spears was heavily slut shamed. Becoming the symbol for “bad women” she was the center of criticism, all without hearing her side of the story. Timberlake profited off of this, making Britney the reason for his breakout career, and beloved heartbreak songs. He also profited off of her sex life, spreading rumors about her “bedroom activities”- which Spears denied fervently.

Her relationship with Timberlake marked only the beginning of her spiteful relationships, however, it is a key role into understanding her admittance into the psyche ward in 2007, and her years long battle for conservatorship over her own life. The Free Britney movement stems from her scrutinization from the media.

Britney was personified as a “bimbo” throughout her career, constantly looked down on and regarded as a child. Her producers refused to hear here ideas, the media berated her and the paparazzi were relentless. Her custody battle in 2007 was the proverbial nail in the coffin, that triggered her psychotic

break. Shaving her head and vandalizing a paparazzi’s car held grounds for the first draft of Britney’s conservatorship.

“The conservatorship is an abuse of power,” Said Ettema (’23), “Britney is a high functioning adult and there is no reason why extremely personal details of her life should be dictated by anyone but her. The conservatorship forces her into an endless cycle of abuse, which she is clearly suffering, but doesn’t have the freedom to get help.”

After Britney took time to mentally heal from the torture she was put through, her conservatorship remained. Fans took to social media with the hashtag #freebritney and protested.

“I think it’s [her conservatorship] ridiculous and awful, especially at this point in her life,” Said Sump (’21), “She should have a say in all things that pertain to her, but all of her rights to her own life were taken away. She no longer needs it [conservatorship], because she is capable of running her own life,”

Britney Spears still lives a life in ordinance to someone else. She is blamed for expressing herself, the clothing she wears, and even the criticism she faces. It isn’t a mystery that Britney has endured a harsh reality, and it is a hope for young, aspiring, women to not face such blatant sexism and hatred for prospering in a male dominated field.

Students discuss weekend restrictions

EMILY HENDERSON
STAFF WRITER

Alma College announced over winter break that students would only be permitted to return home on three specific weekends this semester. This decision was made in order to hopefully lower COVID-19 cases on campus this winter term.

Many students have opinions regarding this decision.

“I feel conflicted that students are only allowed to go home three weekends of the semester. I understand that they want us to have less chances of bringing Covid cases onto campus,” said Chloe Sandborn (‘21).

On campus, many students may feel as though going home only a few times in the semester is isolating and restrictive. For others, their health is a major concern during this pandemic.

“I find it frustrating because I’m immunocompromised and I know that people over the weekend [may] potentially get sick,” said Elizabeth Elliott-Redlin (‘23).

Decisions like this go through a myriad of individuals before anything is finalized, and the college spends much time grueling over such a topic.

“What we really saw was that when students went home that’s when they caught COVID and brought it back to campus,” said Alan Gatlin, senior vice president and chief operating officer here at Alma College. “That was the primary driver of our decision to restrict how frequently students go home.”

While the college may be trying to curb COVID rates on campus this semester, some individuals feel as though the decision doesn’t affect all on campus in the same way.

“It’s frustrating to see sports and some campus groups being able to travel while we are stuck here,” said Sandborn.

While some students are unable to return home as much as they have in previous semesters, others are still permitted to attend away sporting events.

“We didn’t see one instance where it spread at an athletic practice or athletic event,” said Gatlin.

Some students not only feel as though those on sports teams have received special privileges, but as have those that are not yet enrolled here at Alma.

“I also don’t understand why students are only allowed to leave three times a semester while the college allows potential students to come and tour,” said Sandborn.

Current students that live on campus are not permitted to leave the greater Alma area except for three specific weekends that have been laid out by the college, but that doesn’t mean that prospective students are not allowed to visit our campus with their families.

The entire campus was tested after their weekend absence. This has led some to wonder what changes may occur upon the results of this round of COVID testing.

“We’ve laid out two more weekends that students can go home. It would take a pretty dramatic upturn in cases for us to cancel those,” said Gatlin.

If less than one percent of students return a positive test the college will move into Phase II, permitting one other student in each other’s room with masks. Many students remain hopeful for this to become the case, as campus can be an isolating place during this pandemic.

There are some students that wish for campus to change in other ways however.

“I’d much rather have Phase II or have them be more firm on their stance,” said Elliot-Redlin.

Many students can’t help but feel down during these uncertain and lonely times.

“Campus is depressing and only being allowed to leave three times just makes it hard to enjoy my college experience,” said Sandborn.

While students may be permitted to go home or leave the Alma area on just three weekends, the decision makers at Alma College feel as though this is the best plan of action.

“We don’t enjoy having these restrictions in place, we’re just trying to make the best common sense decisions we can,” said Gatlin.

Winter storm Uri hits southwestern U.S.

ELLA BRIGHT
STAFF WRITER

Turbulent weather ripping across the Southeastern United States, the cause of the Winter Storm Uri, is likely a result of climate change further heating up the Arctic, say some environmental scientists.

In Texas alone, more than 30 individuals have died because of the harsh snowstorms and cold weather that have left many Texas residents without power and heat. As record-low temperatures moved throughout states like Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio and Oregon, power grids overwhelmed by high demand for heat implemented rolling blackouts to ease the strain.

Since Wednesday, Feb. 17 more than 1.6 million homes and businesses in Texas remained without power, and some also lost water service. Texas officials ordered 7 million people, which is a quarter of the population of Texas, the United States’ second-largest state, to boil their tap water before drinking it. The entirety of Austin, Texas is under a water boil notice, city officials announced that Wednesday night.

Many residents of Texas are frustrated with the power outages, wondering when they’ll be through with relying on huddling under blankets as their only source of warmth.

“We have zero confidence in ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) and Austin Energy caring about us or doing anything,” said Josh Sklar, a resident of northwest Austin, in an interview with USA Today.

“We are very angry,” said Amber Nichols, another Texas resident, in the same interview. “I was checking on my neighbor, she’s angry, too. We’re all angry because there is no reason to leave entire neighborhoods freezing to death. This is a complete bungle.”

Texas isn’t the only state in the United States being slammed with extreme weather conditions. On Monday, Feb. 15, residents of a coastal North Carolina community were struck with a tornado, which ripped through killing three residents and injuring 10.

The tornado reached wind speeds of up to 160 mph and several homes were destroyed, with several others left “severely” damaged. In total, at least 50 homes were affected and damaged in the tornado, according to a news release from Brunswick County Emergency Services.

There were four reports of tornadoes on Monday, Feb. 15, caused by the major Winter Storm Uri. Tornadoes also raged on and tore through homes and other structures, leaving at least four people injured in Florida and Georgia.

All in all, the damages from Winter Storm Uri in Texas alone will cost businesses billions of dollars.

Environmental scientists attribute it to the warming of the Arctic. Polar vortexes caused by a warming Arctic aren’t an abnormal occurrence, but they are usually more contained, the vortex and acting as a “lasso” of sorts, according to CBS News, and it keeps the cold air trapped inside. But the warmer the Arctic gets, weaker and longer the jet stream becomes, which allows the cold air to plunge south.

“Growing up in Texas, you’re often taught that Texas is the state that would be most likely to secede due to the fact that they have their own isolated power grid,” said Wiley Delisa (‘24). Delisa was raised in Texas, and more recently, has called Georgia his home.

“The problem with [Texas’ independence] is that now that they’re having a climate change induced extreme winter weather event, there is no way for them to handle their entire power grid going down and there’s not a lot that the federal government can do because they’re on an isolated power grid that was built in the 50s and 60s. There’s also the fact that they have senators who don’t care about them.”

As Texans and all those across the southeast wonder if there’s an end in sight, without power, it seems like hoping is unfortunately all they can do.

“I think this situation shows a lot about the values that we have in our country today, especially how we don’t care about each other,” said Delisa. “I think capitalism has bred this kind of environment where it’s every man for himself, and “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” extends to updating dangerously outdated technology.”

Trump acquitted by Senate

ZACH CARPENTER
STAFF WRITER

Donald Trump’s second articles of impeachment were taken up by the United State’s Senate on Feb. 9, for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol in Washington D.C.

Trump had already been impeached in the House of Representatives on Jan. 14 while still in office.

Trump was charged for having, “threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power and imperaled a coequal branch of government.” On those grounds, in a 232-197 vote that included 10 GOP Representatives who chose to vote to impeach Trump. The articles of impeachment were then sent to the Senate to be taken up at trial at a later date.

The trial began with a debate on whether or not the trial itself was constitutional, with House Impeachment Managers arguing it was constitutional to impeach a former president and Trump’s defense arguing it was not. Following eight hours of debate the Senate voted 56-44 to continue forward with the impeachment trial based on the legal precedent it was constitutional.

“The purpose of impeachment is to either expel a person from federal office if they are seen as dangerous to the Republic because they’re corrupt or because they’re dangerous to democracy itself,” said William Gorton, Associate Professor of the Political Science department.

In the case of Trump, Impeachment Managers appointed by the House of Representatives attempted to make the case before the Senate that Trump’s words were directly responsible for inciting the violence at the Capitol. They also argued that because of Trump’s outsized role in the leadup to the riot he should be disqualified from serving in future federal office.

Prosecutors opened their argument by saying that in his Jan. 6 speech at the Ellipse in Washington D.C., Trump addressed his supporters saying, “if you don’t fight like Hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” They also argued that statements such as that directly motivated his supporters to march towards the Capitol building in order to stop the certification of the Electoral College vote.

The subsequent hours saw the death of four people directly as a result of the violence and occupation of the Capitol by pro-Trump supporters.

Trump’s defense team argued that his words alone did not incite the riot and that the rioters acted on their own accord, having planned it in advance of Trump’s speech. They also argued that Democrats had been attempting to remove Trump from office since the beginning of his presidency and this was just another attempt to prevent him from holding the office in the future.

“I think that the second impeachment of Trump was just political theater and a useless waste of taxpayer’s money,” said Sawyer Hill (‘23).

Following a combined 32 hours of arguments from Impeachment Managers and Trump’s defense team the Senate had to decide whether or not to call witnesses in the trial. They ultimately decided not to, paving the way for a vote on whether or not to convict given all the evidence.

“After carefully listening to all the evidence presented in this trial, it is overwhelmingly clear that Donald Trump violated his oath of office by inciting a violent, deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol

and our democracy,” said Sen. Gary Peters (‘80) (Local 4 News). Both Sens. Peters and Stabenow of Michigan voted to convict Trump.

In a final vote of 57-43, the Senate voted to acquit Trump on the charge of inciting a riot. The vote marked the first time in U.S. history that a president has been impeached and acquitted twice. The vote also shows the loyalty many GOP Senators still have for Trump, even after he has left office.

“I think [the impeachment] was super predictable,” said Anika Ried (‘23). “He should have been convicted if only to stop him from holding federal office ever again.”

“[Trump] remains very popular with the Republican base…I imagine he’s going to start holding rallies again in anticipation of running for president again in 2024,” said Gorton.

Since the acquittal Trump has also been permanently banned from most social media platforms including his previous go-to Twitter, potentially complicating future campaigns.

Moving forward with the investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Congress has created a bipartisan investigative committee focused on understanding how rioters were able to get past security and into the Capitol. More hearings are scheduled for the near future.

Texas faces loss during winter storm

ALIVIA GILES
STAFF WRITER

WESTON HIRVELA
GRAPHIC CREATOR

At least 26 Texans are dead after a week of historically low temperatures. Since Feb. 11, millions living in the Lone Star state have been without power and left searching for food and water.

On Monday, Dallas dropped to five degrees Fahrenheit – the coldest temperature the city had seen since 1989. For the first time in over 30 years, Austin and San Antonio saw single-digit temperatures.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) – a grid operator that controls roughly 90% of the state’s electric load – announced it was experiencing a “record-breaking electric demand.”

Many Texas residents took to bundling up and staying in their cars, as state leaders opened about 135 warming centers and deployed the National Guard to conduct welfare checks.

By Tuesday, over four million state residents were without power. “[ERCOT] has been anything but reliable over the past 48 hours,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said.

While Texans tried to stay warm, officials reported a rising death toll, with fatalities linked to both the frigid temperatures and carbon monoxide poisoning.

By Wednesday morning, about 3.4 million customers were still without power in the state of Texas, leading Gov. Abbott to look into an investigation of ERCOT.

ERCOT CEO Bill Magness stated that the issue was primarily a lack of energy supply as low temperatures closed power facilities. According to Magness, the controlled power outages helped prevent the system’s collapse.

“If we had waited, and not done outages, not reduced demand to reflect what was going on, on the overall system, we could have drifted towards a blackout,” Magness said. “People feel like what we’re seeing [is] a blackout, but the blackout that [could have occurred] could last months.”

Meanwhile, Texas Senator Ted Cruz arrived at Cancun International Airport shortly before 8 pm on Wed. Cruz was met with backlash online from Liberals and Conservatives alike.

As the airport photos circulated on social media, Cruz’s team quickly released a statement.

“Like millions of Texans, our family lost heat and power too,” Cruz wrote. “With school cancelled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon.”

Cruz went on to say he and his staff “are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas.” The explanation sparked further controversy, as many criticized Cruz for seemingly placing the blame on his children.

Shortly after noon on Thursday, Edward Russell, who works as the lead airlines reporter at Skift, revealed the senator had rebooked his flight back to Houston that morning. He had not been scheduled to return from Cancun until Sat.

On Thursday evening, text messages between Cruz’s wife, Heidi Cruz and her friends surfaced. “Our house is FREEZING,” Heidi Cruz wrote, going on to say their family “couldn’t stand it anymore,” before sending information on flights out of Houston.

By Thursday, nearly 290,000 people were without power, a substantial improvement from the millions affected by outages earlier in the week. However, the low temperatures continued, delaying a full recovery.

About 13.5 million Texans dealt with water disruption, as roughly 800 water systems reported problems such as broken or frozen pipes.

As bottled water became difficult to find in stores, some businesses began giving it out for free. Senator Cruz took to social media to share pictures of himself passing out water.

By Friday, Texas had seen little improvement, with almost half of the state’s population still experiencing water service disruptions. Approximately 190,000 homes and businesses remained without power.

Hospitals were heavily impacted by the week’s events. President and CEO of Houston Methodist Dr. Marc Bloom, who oversees seven hospitals around the city of Houston told CNN two facilities did not have water at all for days.

On Saturday, as 85,000 Texas homes were without power and water disruptions and decreasing supplies remained a threat, President Biden approved a major disaster declaration, which provides more federal resources to the state.

Power has now been restored in many areas of the state, but residents are still struggling to get clean water. President Joe Biden is set to travel to Houston, Texas on Friday, Feb. 26. He will be accompanied by first lady Dr. Jill Biden.

The past week has left many wondering what steps Texas should take to be prepared for severe winter weather in the future.

“Texas has to invest far more in basic infrastructure, that clearly is missing,” said Derick Hulme, Professor of Political Science. “And there has to be a commitment by the state to move forward aggressively [with renewable energy].”

Positive Updates 3/2/21

LZZY DERMODY
STAFF WRITER

Last week, the frigid Texas weather, threatened not only the residents of South Padre but the sea turtles as well. Thousands of sea turtles were rescued by volunteers and Sea Turtle Inc., the South Padre Island Rehab center, who helped them warm and recuperate from cold shock. Thanks to the center, in partnership with other sea-life centers, over 2,000 of the sea turtles rescued have been released back into the Gulf of Mexico in what was a 24 hour process. Though the center is still working to rehabilitate and release the rest of the turtles, they are very optimistic each one will be back in the water very soon.

Campus moves to Phase II of guest policy

JORDYN BRADLEY
SPORTS EDITOR

On Monday, Mar. 1, the campus community received an email from Damon Brown, Vice President of Student Affairs, regarding the move to Phase II of the campus visitor and guest policy.

The decision to move to Phase II was made after the campus-wide COVID-19 testing that happened Feb. 24 and 25 resulted in two positive cases.

Phase II of the visitor and guest policy states that each student may have one visitor in on-campus housing and all visitors must be current Alma College students. Visitors are required to be escorted by the host resident at all times and must wear masks.

With this update, there are still things regarding guests and visitors that are not permitted.

Outside guests and overnight guests are not allowed in college-owned housing and no social events are permitted.

Additionally, common areas in college-owned houses remain closed to guests and visitors. However, policies regarding common areas in residence halls remain the same as they were in Phase I.

Administration will continue to evaluate all COVID-19 policies on a weekly basis for the remainder of the term. The full guest and visitor policy can be found on the Return to Campus page of the Alma College website.

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