Gossip Squirrel 11/7/2022

Dear Gossip Squirrel,
What is the] Best advice on beating burnout? Between classes, clubs, FSL stuff, working 3 jobs, and trying to have a social life, it’s really hard. I can’t quit anything I’m doing so I’m not sure how to find a second in the day to take a break.

Dear SOS,
One of the hardest things you can do as a busy person is fill up your schedule to the brim. Most of the time you don’t mean to but your commitment to your many roles can definitely make you very busy. It is important that you are finding sometime in your busy schedule for yourself. This can be the time saved to socialize and the relax. If burnout is a big worry focus on getting through everything little by little. If you think about your commitments ahead of time as you are planning a weekly schedule, managing these commitments and finding free time could get easier. Make sure to take some time to stop and rest since being busy constantly can tire you out and lead you to a deeper burn out. If you can’t find any free time consider scheduling it in when planning.
-Gossip Squirrel

Dear Gossip Squirrel,
Signing up for classes had to be one of the most stressful parts of my past week. When I ended up going to sign up for my classes, two were already full and had a waitlist. I also emailed professors and they told me there is nothing I can do but wait to see if someone drops either the class or the waitlist.
-Scheduling Nightmare

Dear Scheduling Nightmare,
I think every Alma College student can agree with you when it comes to the struggles of registering. What is crucial about deciding your schedule is that you have backups. As people with more credits register, many classes will fill up. Making sure that you have backup courses in case they get filled up, can help you in taking required courses and filling up your schedule. It can be easier to schedule classes in your major since they are requirements and teachers might feel slightly obligated to let you in but when it comes to other classes the waitlist can be the pretty hard to come off of. Going in and talking with the professor in
person can be a great way to see if the professor is willing to expand their class a little bit but having backups will help tremendously in the process of making your schedule.
-Gossip Squirrel

GOP Blocks Student Debt Relief



During his presidential campaign, President Joe Biden promised to create a plan that would provide student debt relief. The Biden Administration has recently introduced a plan providing the ability to make the student loan system more manageable for students from low and middle-income families.

Progress on this plan has been stunted by several lawsuits despite multiple lawsuits being dismissed by federal court judges

The alliance of Republican-led state attorney generals responsible for one of these lawsuits appealed the dismissal to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals after a federal District Court judge dismissed the suit. This action temporarily blocked the student debt relief plan.

One of the state attorney generals’ major legal arguments in their lawsuit against the Biden Administration’s student debt relief plan is that it is financially harmful to the states.

This is due to the state-affiliated Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) agencies which will lose revenue as a result of forgiving student debt. In order to have validity in their case, the states must show that the plan creates substantial economic harm.

“I am worried about the acts of the GOP that are aiming to stop the student debt relief plan by the Biden Administration. I believe that they are only concerned with the possible short-term economic consequences and ignoring the future of educational opportunities,” said Claire Neeb (’25).

In the last 20 years, the total cost of a four-year college education has almost tripled. According to a Department of Education analysis, the typical undergraduate student with loans now graduates with nearly $25,000 in debt. Many students from low and middle-income families have no choice but to receive federal aid if they want to get a college degree.

According to the Department of Education, almost one-third of those who received financial aid for their education have debt but have not earned a degree. Many of these students could not complete their degrees because the cost of attending college was too high.

“The student debt relief plan increases college attendees. Because of the cost of college, people have chosen to go into the trades; although those are necessary, we still need the jobs that a college education can grant like doctors, nurses and teachers. Not relieving student debt prevents the employment opportunities we need for the future,” said Neeb.

Student debt falls disproportionately onto the African American community. According to The Institute on Assets and Social Policy, twenty years after first enrolling in college, the average African American who received financial aid and started college in the 1995-96 school year still owed 95% of their original student debt.

“The student loan debt relief will carry a significant price tag. However, it also will relieve all student loan debt for a significant number of lower-income earners, which will create positive economic benefits,” said Dr. Hulme, professor of political science.   

To guarantee an easy transition to repayment and prevent unnecessary defaults, the Biden Administration extended the pause on federal student loan repayment one final time through Dec. 31, 2022. Those who have student debt should expect to resume their payments in January of 2023.

For more information on student debt relief visit the White House’s website.

Whitmer or Dixon to become Michigan’s next Governor



Gretchen Whitmer (D) and Tudor Dixon (R) are facing off in Michigan’s (MI) 2022 gubernatorial election, or the election for governor.

Whitmer, the incumbent, highlights infrastructure development, investments in business and access to abortion as key aspects of her campaign.

Dixon, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is focusing on education, “pro-growth” economic policy, infrastructure, ending most legal abortion access and the second amendment, according to her website. Dixon has criticized Whitmer’s COVID-19 response and “will block mask mandates in schools,” according to her website.

Students at Alma College have numerous issues they take into consideration when deciding how to cast their vote, however, many students feel they must prioritize key issues. 

“My top issues are student debt and access to healthcare,” said Luke Losie (’23), Co-Chair of Alma College YDSA. “With the repeal of Roe v. Wade, I have been forced as a voter to consider exclusively the abortion issue in this election.”

On abortion, Whitmer has taken actions to protect access. Most recently, the MI Court of Claims ruled a 1931 MI law banning abortions without exceptions unconstitutional. 

The MI House of Representatives introduced Proposal 3, which will “amend the state constitution to provide that every individual has a right to reproductive freedom” if passed, according to the official proposal. Proposal 3 will also be on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Alternatively, Dixon believes abortion should only be allowed to save the life of the mother, according to MLive and her website.

Students are also concerned about infrastructure, education and taxes.

“This election has me hyper focused on the state-wide infrastructure issues…[MI’s] problematic decline in test [scores] and educational facilities and the role tax cuts or hikes will play in handling both,” said Jacob Keeley (’24), President of the Alma College Republicans. “Over the last four years, [Whitmer’s] administration’s lack of [economic] planning has become incredibly obvious.”

Whitmer’s proposed $2.1 billion “MI New Economy” plan focuses on supporting the middle class, small businesses and making community investments into infrastructure like high-speed internet and housing units, according to a press release.

Dixon wants to reduce personal income taxes, encourage workforce training, promote trade and cut MI’s regulatory code by “40%…in 4 years,” according to her website. 

“I support Dixon’s broad usage of public-private partnerships as well as restructuring Michigan road management agencies,” said Keeley.

According to Dixon’s website, her goals for education include the following. Dixon wants to finance individual tutoring using federal COVID-19 relief funding, “ban school personnel from talking to [K-3] children about sex and gender theory secretly behind their parents’ backs, protect young girls from being forced to compete against biological boys,” improve civic and financial literacy and create education savings accounts.

According to Chalkbeat Detroit, among Whitmer’s education priorities are “tripling the number of school literacy coaches[,] closing the school funding gap [and] creating a college scholarship program for education majors.”

Voting for MI’s next governor will take place on Nov. 8. If you have not yet voted, be sure to do so at your precinct-specific voting location.

Alma College dancers prepare for fall concert



The Alma College Dance Company and the Kiltie Dance Company are both hard at work preparing for their upcoming Fall Dance Concert set to show this November.

Ben Munisteri, associate professor of dance, is directing the concert. Auditions were held on Aug. 30. The rehearsal process began shortly after.

“Casting was really challenging because we got a record number of people coming to the audition,” said Professor Munisteri. “The audition was Tuesday, Aug. 30, and I had something like 40 people show up, and we cast almost all of them.”

“As a result, we had to create pieces that weren’t too heavy with dancers, so 13 is the most. We had to spread everybody out over seven dances: four Alma College Dance Company dances and three Kiltie dances,” said Munisteri.

This year, the Alma College Dance Company was able to spend a week working with Winston Dynamite Brown, a choreographer from New York, to create an original dance that both faculty and students are looking forward to.

Normally, Brown has weeks to create a piece. The process of choreographing this dance was “daunting” due to the short time frame and complexity of the process.

  “We only had about 18 hours to construct the work, and that’s no small feat because I came in with a blank canvas,” said Brown. “My process is largely playful and collaborative, meaning that I [left] a lot of space for interpretation because I [wanted the dancers] to inject who they are.”

Brown says the work is intended to “evoke and inspire conversation,” said Brown. “I want people when they leave to be inspired by what they saw and want to discuss it further.”

“We were very lucky to get him, and scheduling him was not easy,” said Munisteri. “Working with him was very challenging for the dancers. He has hip-hop, modern, jazz and some contemporary all in one dance.”

“[Working with Winston] was a very collaborative process,” said Sydney Lopez (‘24), a member of the Alma College Dance Company. “He created two longer phrases, and then had each dancer create a ‘solo’. From there he sliced and reorganized the movements throughout the piece.” Lopez said.

As a returner to the dance company, Lopez is looking forward to continuing to connect and bond with the other performers.

“My favorite part of preparing for this concert is, honestly, getting to bond with my fellow dancers. The people I have met through the dance department have allowed me to create a familial bond and a home away from home here at Alma,” said Lopez.

On the Kiltie side, the dancers will be performing three dances. “Two of them are Scottish meets contemporary, and one is a traditional Scottish piece,” said Munisteri.

As a company, we decided we wanted to broaden our dances,” said McKenna Lindsay (‘24), a member of the Kiltie Dance Company. “We have a couple that are out of our comfort zone, and we also have a traditional piece.”

This is McKenna’s third year as a Kiltie dancer at the college. She has always loved performing for an audience and, like many others, is looking forward to showing off the new dances at the concert.

“I am looking forward to performing. I love dancing… Dancing in front of a crowd, and possibly giving them joy or entertainment, makes it that much better… [It] is one of the best feelings,” said Lindsay.

Lindsay and many of her fellow dancers enjoy the challenge of learning new dances and the satisfaction of watching her hard work come to life.

“My favorite part about preparing for the show is learning new choreography and watching it all come together as a group,” said Lindsay. “I am excited to watch [the pieces] all come together on stage next weekend.”

The Fall Dance Concert performances are set for Nov. 11 to 13. Tickets are available on the Alma College webpage; seating is reserved. 

Winter registration brings excitement and stress




With the Fall Term wrapping up, the beginning of registration for the Winter Term begins. This period can be stressful and chaotic for many students; however, there are many ways to make registering for classes easy, efficient and effective.

Many advisors email their advisees to schedule a meeting time to discuss which classes will be best for the upcoming semester. Most of the time, advisors are chosen based on a student’s academic field of interest. This helps them understand a student’s major or minor requirements.

All advisors have different attitudes and methods regarding advising. This can significantly affect the advising experience.

“I switched advisors after I changed majors. This switch allowed me to understand how different advisors have different advising styles. I feel as if I connected better with my current advisor than I did with my previous one. [This] has allowed me to have a great advising experience over the years,” said Andrew Smith (’22).

For many underclassmen still deciding what major they want to pursue, registration can be stressful as there is no set list of distributive requirements.

“Going into registration, I didn’t know what course plan I wanted to undergo. I am still contemplating my major, and picking classes has been a struggle. My advisor helped relieve most of my stress, and with his help, we made a plan that I wouldn’t have been able to create myself,” said Kylie Demarets (’25).

Those still determining their academic path should seek the help of their advisors to devise an interesting path in different classes. This may help spur interest in a subject area. 

There are four time periods students can register for classes. Those with 90 or more credits pick on Oct. 31. Students with 56 or more credits pick on Nov. 2. Anyone with 25 or more credits picks on Nov 7. Finally, all remaining students can decide on Nov. 9.

These dates were chosen to allow upperclassmen to choose first, which will enable them to stay calm about getting a seat in classes necessary to graduate. First-year and second-year students must usually work around this factor, understanding some classes they want to take will fill up.

“My classes are always planned far ahead, making it less stressful. As an upperclassman, registering early has been a huge stress reliever, so now I don’t have to worry if classes I need to graduate fill up,” said Marissa Luzac (’24).

“Picking out classes has been very stressful for me. As an underclassman who picks last, it is nerve-wracking knowing that certain classes I need to take might not be available due to limits on class sizes,” said Sofia Flores (’26).

If first-year and second-year students aim to get the classes they want, they should have a line-up of different class options from other subject areas. If students do not limit themselves to one or two subject areas, they allow themselves to be open to an extensive array of classes to choose from.

“A student should have a number of classes that are interesting to them that are different. There should be various classes so that your studying is diverse enough to be done well,” said Dr. Hulme, professor of political science.

If students have any questions regarding winter registration, they should reach out to their advisor as soon as possible, as registration closes on Nov. 13.

GSD, DI and PAGE present Murder Mystery MasQueerade




A yearly tradition returned once again, the Murder Mystery at the MasQueerade is back. GSD (Gender and Sexuality Diversity) worked with PAGE (Pop culture, Anime, Gaming, and Entertainment) and Diversity and inclusion to host their yearly masquerade. It was held in the Zimmerman Hall in the Opera House this last Saturday, the 5th.

The previous masquerade happened in 2019, GSD chose to work with other groups to help revive traditions that had been lost to COVID. Usually, GSD is the sole host of this event, but this year they co-hosted with D&I and PAGE.

“This year one of our EC’s general goals is to reach out and collaborate with more on campus groups,” said Angela Mish (’24), GSD’s president. At the MasQueerade, students were encouraged to attend wearing formal attire to dance, have snacks and beverages and participate in a murder mystery hosted by PAGE.

“We will also have a gallery walk that kind of coincides with the murder mystery that adds the educational component to the event which features some classes we have at Alma College that are queer related, some keynotes we’ve had, some spotlights of queer folks and some general factual queer awareness information,” said Julia Dang, Alma College Assistant Director of Diversity and Inclusion.

They also had a voter information table with information about upcoming elections. This MasQueerade not only marked the continued revival of the yearly event, but the creation of new traditions in the wake of COVID-19.

“Masquerade has been an event the club has hosted for many years, however, many of the traditions were lost during the peak of COVID when we could not have large gatherings such as this,” said Mish. While the Masquerade was hosted last year, attendance had to be limited to comply with COVID-19 guidelines.

To prepare for this event, GSD, DI and PAGE held an event for people to craft masks to wear to the MasQueerade.

Mask Making with DI: The Masks We Wear as Queer, Neurodiverse People was offered for people to decorate masks while listening to presentations about ways that queer and neurodiverse people have to “mask” in day-to-day life.

PAGE presented about how queer and neurodivergent communities often crossover into communities like TTRPG and cosplaying. Each group that hosted helped in facilitating conversations about the topics presented and offered to hear stories and examples of masking from people in attendance.

GSD and DI will be hosting more diversity-related events this semester. DI will be hosting NAHM Drum & Dance Presentation on November 9th, NAHM The Real Thanksgiving on November 16 and NAHM Native Craft Night. These events feature guest Hannah Bartol, member of the Hannahville Indian Community, who will be educating event attendees about native traditions and misconceptions about native history and the first thanksgiving.

GSD will be hosting an event with the Career and Personal Development Office that centers around networking with LGBTQ+ alumni. All students that are interested in more info about these events can find it on the Alma college Calendar.

“It’s been so much fun planning this event with the two groups. I’m extremely proud and impressed by the work that everyone’s put into it,” said Dang. If you didn’t make it to the MasQueerade this year, keep an eye out for it next November.

Student-wide CSO resources




The Center for Student Opportunity (CSO) has support services aimed to enrich students’ time at Alma. These services, along with other programs hosted within the CSO, focus on fostering both academic and personal success.

Study tables hosted by a King-Chávez-Parks First Year Mentor (KCP mentor) is one option available to students on campus. These are hosted every Thursday and Sunday from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm in the CSO.

“Study tables [are] open to all students on campus, they do not have to sign up or do anything prior; just show up,” said Chetara Knight (‘24), the KCP mentor who hosts the study tables.

“My goal is to provide a space for students to feel comfortable studying together and getting work done,” said Knight.

The library renovations have limited the study spaces on campus, making this a great alternative for people who like to work alongside others. “It can be a silent time for students, but we also encourage everyone to work together and make the environment warm, easygoing and productive,” said Knight.

This is currently a small group of students, so if you think it would be a good fit stop by. “We usually have the same turnout of about 4-6 students. We are looking for more students to attend,” said Knight.

The Office for Student Success is here for students seeking academic support or disability services. Personalized plans can be set up for students’ success.

“We help students with study strategies and time management techniques and can meet one-on-one regularly to help students stay accountable,” said Virginia Blandford, Academic support coordinator at Alma College.

Tutoring is also available through this department, free to any student. “Our hope is that [tutee’s] benefit from having a peer who has ‘been there’ to answer content questions and offer advice on how to be successful in the course,” said Blandford.

The Office of Career and Personal Development also has set up various resources to help fit students’ needs.

“Career and Personal Development offers a variety of ways to connect, including workshops, alumni networking, career fairs and other events,” said Brittany Stoneman, Associate Director of Career and Personal Development at Alma College.

“For individualized appointments, we offer a broad range of appointment types on topics such as resumes and cover letters, mock interviews, personal statement prep, job search strategies or even major and career exploration,” said Stoneman.

In addition to scheduling an appointment on Handshake, Drop-in Career Peer hours are available. Located in the CSO, Library or Starbucks, this option allows students to drop in during designated times Tuesday through Friday. 

“Drop-in sessions are open hours staffed by our Career Peers, and typically cover document review and support. The primary difference is that with scheduling an appointment via Handshake, you pre-arrange the meeting time and appointment type (topic),” said Stoneman.

These services are completely customized to the student’s needs, and you can be at any stage in the process to reach out for help. “We work to meet students where they are, whether they have no idea where to start or they are seeking feedback on finished materials,” said Stoneman.

If you aren’t sure where to start or are scared about reaching out keep in mind these resources are here and meant for students use.

“Asking for help is never a sign of weakness, rather a sign of wisdom to know when your limits are being tested,” said Blandford.

“I think the first step is to reach out – come to an event, stop by, or schedule an appointment to begin the conversation. College is a time of exploration in so many ways and it really is okay to not know where to start. For personal development, two tools we highly recommend are CliftonStrengths and PathwayU,” said Stoneman.

Students can access CliftonStrengths and PathwayU here: https://www.alma.edu/live/forms/490-cliftonstrengths-code-request-form Links to an external site.



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