Hurricane Ian’s devastating consequences




On September 28, Hurricane Ian, the landmark Category 4 storm, wreaked devastation on Florida with winds up to 155 miles per hour.

The storm was responsible for “at least 119 [lives], more deaths than any other hurricane had caused in Florida since 1935,” said Smith et al. of the New York Times.

Furthermore, estimated insured losses of infrastructure “could reach up to $40 billion,” said Mazzei et al. of the New York Times.

Both the devastation caused, and the lives lost make Hurricane Ian one of the most destructive hurricanes in Florida’s history.

The damage in Florida has been felt as far away as Michigan. “I have numerous family members who live in Florida. My family worried that we could not contact them when the storm first hit,” said Haden Gross (’23).

“Luckily, those relatives affected managed to come out unscathed. However, severe damage was done to many of their friends’ homes, and it caused them not to be able to go to work,” said Gross.

Gross, who is also an education major at Alma, was at her placement at a local middle school when she first heard the news.

“I was with my middle school students. They start their day by watching CNN 10. The news seemed to be devastating. It was the first time I had seen thirty middle schoolers quiet,” said Gross.

Hurricanes like these have become more and more frequent– Hurricane Harvey and Irma both striking the U.S. in 2017, Michael in 2018, Laura in 2020 and Ida in 2021–with all being either Category 4 or 5 storms.

The frequency and violence of these storms are not a coincidence. September is usually the peak of hurricane season due to warmer ocean temperatures caused by the phenomenon known as La Niña.

However, “waters off the coast were also two to three degrees Fahrenheit warmer than usual for this time of year, according to preliminary data from NASA,” said Shao, Popovich and Rojanasakul of the New York Times.

Higher water temperatures mean more energy for the storms, which means more devastation is caused, and higher water temperatures are not caused overnight.

“More than 90 percent of the excess heat from human- caused global warming over the past 50 years has been absorbed by the oceans, and a majority of it is stored in the top few hundred meters,” said Shao, Popovich and Rojanasakul.

Climate change does not necessarily mean more frequent hurricanes, but rather more powerful ones. And more powerful hurricanes mean more devastation to human civilizations and our way of life.

“Disasters like this should remind politicians and CEOs that the climate crisis rests on their shoulders. We as individuals should do our part to reduce our carbon footprint and hold others accountable,” said Gross.

It is important that lawmakers take climate change into account when rebuilding infrastructure. This can mean implementing better building codes, which will make homes less likely to collapse, as well as the possibility of relocating homes and communities.

Another way to protect shorelines would be to invest in “gray” infrastructure such as “dams, levees, flood gates and sea walls,” said Elena Shao of the New York Times. This would be the first line of defense, along with “green” infrastructure such as “wetlands, oyster reefs and mangrove forests,” said Shao.

Until we adequately reduce global carbon emissions and bring down the temperature of our oceans, it is important to rebuild with climate change in mind. If we do not, we will continue to see increased destruction and loss of life.

Natural disasters are inevitable, but there are things we can and must do to prevent the severity caused by such storms like Hurricane Ian.

Potential SCOTUS ruling jeopardizes Voting Rights Act



The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is currently considering the case Merrill v. Milligan, where the State of Alabama allegedly attempted to redistrict their congressional map in a way that under represents black voters.

Alabama has been accused by Evan Milligan, the executive director of Alabama Forward, and his associates of illegally packing black voters into a single district while dividing other pockets of black voters across multiple districts. The case deals with Alabama’s 2021 redistricting plan for their seven seats in the House of Representatives.

In other words, Alabama is accused of gerrymandering.

“Gerrymandering” is essentially “laying out voting districts for political advantage,” said Benjamin Peterson, lecturer of history and political science at Alma College. In conjunction with other systems that do not represent most Americans, gerrymandering “creates a very real risk of the government only representing a minority of the people,” said Peterson.

Depriving voters of congressional representation “violates the 14th Amendment and the [Voting Rights Act],” said Kristin Olbertson, associate professor of history and pre- law program coordinator at Alma College. “[A ruling in Alabama’s favor has] potential to undermine citizens’ ability to translate their will into representation and policy.” The 1965 Voting Rights Act

(VRA) was signed into law by Lyndon Johnson, outlawing discriminatory voting practices adopted in many southern states after the Civil War, according to the National Archives.

The VRA “provides a series of systemic protections against measures intended to deprive people of the right to vote, or to simply make their vote less important,” said Peterson.

Alabama argues that to prove the VRA was violated, the plaintiffs must show the legislature was intentionally designed to discriminate against black voters. Further, the defense contends that the plaintiffs must provide maps of the districts based on other factors that would still result in majority- minority districts, electoral districts where most voters are racial or ethnic minorities.

“Neither of these standards [for the plaintiffs] are required by precedent or by the VRA,” said Olbertson.

“[The argument is essentially] that you cannot prove that it was an illegitimate gerrymander unless you could make a map that would produce the new district without considering race,” said Peterson. “If the Supreme Court did not have its current composition, I think Alabama’s argument would be weak.”

Despite weaknesses in the defense, SCOTUS is likely rule to in Alabama’s favor.

“This case is ultimately about the larger question of representative democracy,” said Olbertson. “The conservative supermajority on the Court has [been] skeptical about its role in preserving or protecting our democracy.”

Olbertson pointed to the Court’s position in Shelby County v. Holder (2013), where SCOTUS ruled parts of the VRA unconstitutional. SCOTUS argued in Shelby County v. Holder that “racism no longer [affects the American] electoral system,” said Olbertson.

Olbertson also noted that SCOTUS has overturned precedence-setting cases and that such cases are in danger of being overturned.

“It wouldn’t be shocking of SCOTUS overturned [Thornburg v. Jingles],” said Olbertson. Thornburg v. Jingles is a case from 1986 in which SCOTUS unanimously ruled that a North Carolina redistricting plan unlawfully discriminated against black voters.

So, in the case of Merrill v. Milligan, the question becomes one of how large the margin in Alabama’s favor will be.

“The margin might be Chief Justice John Roberts,” said Olbertson. “[He seems] slightly uncomfortable at times about how fast and loose [SCOTUS] is playing with institutional norms and has concerns about [SCOTUS]’s legitimacy.”

SCOTUS is expected to release their decision following November elections.

Choir and Orchestra tune up




Alma College’s Choir and Orchestra programs have begun practicing for their fall performances and for the rest of the school year to come. Both esteemed programs on campus, the choir and orchestra, are some of the ways Alma College features musically talented students. 

The Choir’s performance this past weekend was focused on works by the German-British composer, Handel, including a treble-focused song. 

Alina Malinowski (’23) has been a choir member during all four years of her college experience. She started in the chorale her freshman and half of her sophomore year. She then moved up to choir the winter of her sophomore year.

“I am most looking forward to being able to travel to Scotland with the choir for Spring Term and singing all across the country in different churches, [along with] exploring different landmarks such as castles and rivers. I cannot wait,” said Malinowski.          

“We have not been able to do this trip for the past 3 or so years because of COVID-19 and it impacting travel so highly,” said Malinowski.

Malinowski is feeling the emotions of this being her last year as a member of the Alma College choir. “I feel it may affect me a bit more during the end of the year and [during] the Christmas concert with those being the biggest and most memorable concerts through the whole year,” said Malinowski.   

However, Malinowski has some advice for the freshman members of the choir. “A piece of advice I would give to the freshmen is to have fun with it, make friends and enjoy all your time in the class. It goes by way too fast, and it will be over in the blink of an eye,” said Malinowski.

The orchestra concert that took place this past weekend featured pieces by Mozart and Arensky. Abby Skerik (’23), the concert master of the orchestra, said some changes had to be made regarding the formation of the orchestra.

“Since COVID-19, we had to adjust to a string-only chamber orchestra, which has given us new opportunities for different types of music to play,” said Skerik.

“I am most looking forward to performing in the upcoming concert, and to keep playing with the orchestra and learning more about the violin and the opportunities that come with playing and working with others,” said Skerik.

Skerik has some advice for new members of the orchestra. “The most important thing is to keep pushing yourself every day and always try new things with music and never get too comfortable with how you play, you can always improve,” said Skerik.                      

The students work hard with each other, a few hired professionals and our community members to produce music for everyone to enjoy at our public concert.

The October concert is a culmination of over a month of work in regular rehearsals and dress rehearsals.         

“I would describe orchestra as one big family that comes together to play amazing music while also encourageing each other to be the best musicians we can be,” said Moranda Johnson (‘22) a former member of the orchestra.

The Alma College Choir’s next performance will be a Halloween concert at 11 p.m. on October 31 and the Festival of Carols on December 3 and 4 at 7 p.m. and 2 p.m. respectively. The Alma College Orchestra’s next performance will be with the Choir at the Festival of Carols concert. Both performances will take place at the Oscar E. Remick Heritage Center.

Gender affirming closet open to campus and community



It can be a challenge in a rural town like Alma for queer people to be visible and feel accepted. The Gender Affirming Closet of Alma College exists to help support the queer community express themselves and feel comfortable, offering access to free clothing for LBGTQ+ people on Alma College’s campus and the surrounding campus community.

The Gender Affirming Closet is open to the community Friday from 6 PM to 8 PM, Saturday from 10 AM to 6 PM and Sunday from 2 PM to 4 PM.

The primary goal of the Gender Affirming Closet is to “provide free, safe, equitable [and] appropriate access to clothes to all people.” said Sydney Powers, Americorp VISTA LBGTQ+ Support.

The “hope [in creating and maintaining the Gender Affirming Closet] is that [access to these resources] will inspire our queer community on campus to express themselves and feel that they are supported.” said Kate Stymiest (’22).

The Gender Affirming Closet strives to provide gender-affirming clothing options for non-binary students specifically. The closet achieves this in part by not organizing their clothing in gender-specific sections, a practice that is common in chain stores and boutiques.

The Gender Affirming Closet aims to give queer people options and encourages shopping without feeling pressured to conform to a particular gender. The closet stocks clothing for queer people of all shapes and sizes.

“The clothing supply is abundant and versatile. [We are] trying to cater to all styles, occasions, and body types,” said Stymiest.

The Gender Affirming Closet has been open for over a year as a part of the Alma College AmeriCorps Vista program.

Previously located in Highland Blush, a coffee shop in downtown Alma, the Gender Affirming Closet was recently moved to Tyler VanDusen. The closet is now located across from the Center for Student Opportunity (CSO). The move into Tyler VanDusen creates easier access for students.

Students are excited about what the Gender Affirming Closet offers to the campus community. “I think that it is amazing that the Gender Affirming Closet is on campus. I truly believe that this resource can be used to better the lives of the queer community.” said Sam Bjordal (’23).

The affordability of “fashionable” clothes is often a barrier to access for queer people. The cute, gently used clothing available at the Gender Affirming Closet is a great way for queer people to express themselves without overspending.

The Gender Affirming Closet is in need of a few specific types of donations.

“We do have a need for more binders, unopened cosmetics, jewelry, paper bags and tote bags for ‘checking out’,” said Powers. “Otherwise, we have more than enough clothes.”

If you are looking for a local volunteer opportunity, the Gender Affirming Closet relies on volunteers. Volunteers can help with several of the closet’s different functions.

“I had the…opportunity to volunteer at the Gender Affirming Closet,” said Jacob Keeley (’23). “[I helped with] washing clothes, organizing their inventory and locating resources for the [communities served by] the closet.”

To sign up and explore volunteer opportunities with the Gender Affirming Closet, please visit Alma Connect or reach out directly to Sydney Powers in the CSO. You can also drop off any donations for the Gender Affirming Closet to the CSO.

Alma College Theatre presents “The Imaginary Invalid”



The Imaginary Invalid is coming to campus! The show opens on Oct. 27 and runs through Oct. 30. The show will occur at 7:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. at the Remick Heritage Center.

This production is based on Miles Mallesons’s adaptation of the play by Moliere, who was writing for the theater in the 17 century.

“He poked fun at society a lot, and the idea of the play is about a guy named Argan, who is a hypochondriac, and he comes up with this great idea that if he marries his daughter off to a doctor, he’ll get free medical care,” said Director Scott Mackenzie.

Fortunately, at the time, Argan’s daughter fell in love with a young man that she wants to marry. The fun ensues when Argan finds a doctor, who was a dim-witted charlatan, for Angelica to marry off to.

“However, Argan’s clever housemaid, Toinette… manages to work things out so that the young lovers get to be together and Argon… gets his free medical care,” said Mackenzie.

It has taken 8 weeks for the production to happen under Director Scott Mackenzie. Terry Jachimiak II worked on the scene for sound and light design. Heather Brown worked on costume design for all the characters in the production.

It would not have been possible to make “The Imaginary Invalid” come alive without the efforts of the student actors and backstage crew.

Besides all the fun experiences the students had in this production, they also had a few challenges to overcome.

“As this is my first show in college, the college theater experience is something new to me…One reason it is so new and different from my previous acting experience is because I am understudying two roles. This requires me to be familiar with two characters’ lines and blocking, which is a bit more challenging,” said Caedmon Applegate (‘26).

“I can’t tell you how many times I accidentally said one character’s line when I was supposed to say the other’s during rehearsal,” said Applegate.

Another student actor also had a challenge to face that required extra determination in the making of the play.

“Before we had our first blocking rehearsal, I [fell ill with] covid and was taken out for 7 days… Luckily, I have been able to start my own character work, and I find myself learning something new about my character every time we rehearse. Even for someone without a lot of stage time, Dr. Diaforus is a big presence and I hope to do him justice as we approach the show dates,” said Wiley Delisa (’24).

During some moments in the rehearsals, student actors came up with better humor for their characters than what was originally planned. “I always like it when a student does something that I smile at or laugh at that I had never expected,” said Mackenzie.

Besides acting, there are many other aspects of the show that are needed in order to make it happen. This includes costume design production.

“My process is based on the type of performance, the director/choreographer, the budget, the labor pool–so much goes into it all… In this case, the director gave me two ideas to work with… From there, I went forward with research[ing], drawing, painting, pulling [and] procuring,” said the Costume Designer, Heather Brown.

“A single costume, for me that means one complete look, socks to nose ring, can take anywhere from four hours to one hundred hours to make.”

“The Imaginary Invalid,” a quick-paced classic comedy, is a production that took time and effort to create.

The admission fee is free to students, staff and those under eighteen years of age. For those who are adults, it is fifteen dollars. It is seven dollars for senior citizens.

Everyone is invited to enjoy the show. If anyone is interested in future productions, they can contact Scott Mackenzie for further information.

Winter sports introduced by Throwdown in A-Town



It is that time of year again in Alma where winter sports are starting up. To hype up the students for the new sports season, Alma College introduces the Winter Sports teams by kicking off the season with the Throwdown in A-Town.

This year’s Throwdown was on Thursday Oct. 20 from 9pm to 11pm in the Art Smith Arena.

Going to the Throwdown in A-Town is a great way for Alma College’s students to show their excitement for the winter sports season and support Alma College Winter Athletics. Students had the chance to win prizes, participate in a raffle and see entertainment from some of our winter sports.

“The first 100 students  [received] a door prize, Spirit Squad, Dance, and Cheer/STUNT [performed], the men’s basketball team  [did] a dunk contest, the women’s basketball team [did] a 3-point shooting competition and the remainder of winter sports [had to] compete in a competition.”

“Throughout the event we [gave] out prizes, and students [had] the opportunity to enter a raffle to shoot a half-court shot for a TV”, said Kiana Verdugo, the Associate Athletic Director at Alma College.

During the Throwdown, the student athletes introduce their teams, performed and engaged in some lighthearted competition.

“I am most excited about the pre-game portion of the Throwdown….It also means that it is the start of our season”, said Alina Malinowski (’23), a member of Alma College’s Spirit Squad.

The Throwdown in A-town has occurred for the last 10 years at Alma College. “Throwdown in A-Town is a kickoff to the winter sports seasons and aims to generate excitement and support on campus. It is modeled after Midnight Madness that a lot of other schools do”, said Verdugo.

Student athletes get a chance to show their support for one another at the Throwdown.

“I’m really looking forward to being able to perform again! Seeing all the support from other teams means so much! Last year, I remember being able to feel the excitement and unconditional support from my fellow student athletes throughout the whole event”, said Ella Squier (’25), a member of the Alma College Dance Team.

At this year’s Throwdown, Alma College’s Women’s Basketball Team won the 3-point shooting competition and received Alma College merch as a prize.

The TV raffle was not won, so there will be an opportunity for that to be offered at an upcoming Alma College Basketball game. To find more information regarding this year’s Basketball game schedule, visit

The student athletes really enjoyed the Throwdown in A-Town this year and are already pumped for the Throwdowns in the years to come.

“My favorite memory was the hip-hop performance with the Dance Team. Seeing the students, coaches, and professors get excited and smile while we were dancing meant so much. I think this event is a ton of fun and I hope it continues past even my four years here”, said Squier.

“My favorite part of Throwdown was the head, knees, shoulders, and cup game. It’s fun to see other sports teams get competitive with one another. The last round is always my favorite because the crowd gets so excited and involved”, said Hanna Scott ’23, a member of the Alma College Dance Team.

Gossip Squirrel 10/24/2022

Dear Gossip Squirrel,
I feel like my roommate doesn’t like me. They are never in our room and have barely
spoken to me since move in. We both like sports and I’m sure would have more in
common but they don’t seem to [want to] give it a chance. Things always feel tense
and it gets pretty awkward. Any tips or advice?
-Confused Roommate

Dear Confused Roommate,
If you haven’t brought this up with them then maybe you should consider bringing it up casually. There might be a possibility that they aren’t completely aware of the room dynamic. I think if you are trying to reach out and are not getting any sort of response back, you should definitely consider either moving forward without a strong friendship or if things get more tense it could be beneficial to talk to someone like an RA about it.
-Gossip Squirrel

Dear Gossip Squirrel,
So I have a long distance relationship and college is really straining things. Our
schedules don’t line up so face time doesn’t work very well. I don’t want it to end but
idk what to do….
-Worried Partner

Dear Worried Partner,
Long distance relationships can have their hardships and a busy schedule adds another challenge. It is important to focus on the way that you both find time to talk. Are both of your schedules completely full or are you giving up some moments where you could talk a little bit. If it hasn’t already happened, this should be a conversation between the both of you. Regardless of it going good or bad both of you should value sitting down and having this conversation.
-Gossip Squirrel

Up ↑