World Cup in Qatar sparks controversy



The World Cup, which is being held in Qatar for the first time, began on Nov. 20 and has been fraught with controversy from the beginning. 

Starting with the selection process in 2010, it has been said that FIFA took over one million dollars in bribes to vote for Qatar to be the host of this year’s World Cup. 

Additionally, during the decade before the 2022 World Cup began, “hundreds, if not thousands, of workers died during the construction [of the stadium],” said Kurt Streeter of the New York Times. 

Furthermore, almost all these workers were migrants from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Knowing these facts puts a sour taste in the mouths of those that usually enjoy watching the World Cup. 

“It definitely has to tug at you while watching,” said Ethan Vollstedt (’24). “Knowing that in this day and age with everything we have at our expense in terms of practicing safe construction there is no excuse for this. Frankly, I feel it is an embarrassment to the sport which breaks my heart,” said Vollstedt. 

Though there are many faults, FIFA is trying to rectify this mistake. “It is good to see that FIFA is working to compensate the families who lost loved ones in Qatar,” said Joe Rawlin (’23)

And while compensation is a good start to helping these families recover, it in no way replaces the devastation of losing one of their family members. 

When it came to the start of the tournament, Qatar lost in the first round to Senegal, making them the quickest host country to have been eliminated in the 92-year history of the World Cup. 

However, with Qatar being a country that is not necessarily known for soccer, and with the team facing some tough opponents, it is unsurprising that Qatar lost this early. 

“Qatar’s team is very bad in comparison to the other teams, and I personally believe that they had bad karma coming their way considering they bribed many FIFA members to give them the bid to host this world cup,” said Antonia Avila (’24)

“This, combined with the multiple human rights violations, led Qatar to have a lot of bad energy going into the World Cup, and I think this is a fair result for them,” said Avila.

Furthermore, just a week after the tournament started, riots broke out in Brussels after Belgium’s team was upset by Morocco. Sadly, these kinds of reactions seem to be not entirely uncommon when such upsets happen in soccer. 

While it is good to be passionate about something you love to watch or participate in, this kind of response may be taking it too far. 

“There is nothing wrong with being emotional and disappointed after a loss but dealing with it in that way is senseless and should be met with firm consequences,” said Rawlin. 

“I wouldn’t say rioting is the smartest way to display your emotions, but for some people that’s their go-to, unfortunately,” said Vollstedt. Of course, rioting is not practiced by all soccer fans, but when it is practiced, it reflects poorly on the whole community.

It is not exactly clear which side may have started or participated in the riots, or whether both sides did, but it is upsetting to think about either way. “I would be terribly disappointed if it were the Belgian fans who were unhappy about losing,” said Nicholas Dixon, professor of philosophy. 

Additionally, “I don’t know what the facts are, but I do know that sometimes you can get an immigrant community that is not treated that well within a country [who then] can sometimes [develop] very negative feelings about that country. And so, I could just about see how, if it were the Moroccan fans [that started the riots] … how that could be a motivating factor,” said Dixon.

Regarding The U.S. participation in the tournament, the men’s soccer team played on Dec. 3 against the Netherlands’ team. It was a close game ending with a score of 3 to 1 in favor of the Netherlands. 

Of course, not all World Cups are this contentious, and there are even some positives such as the U.S. men’s soccer team speaking up for women’s and LGBTQ+ rights. Hopefully, we will still be able to enjoy the sport even after all of the controversy.

Alma College chapel holds holiday service



On Sunday, December 4, Alma College’s Dunning Memorial Chapel held a holiday service, “Lessons and Carols”. 

Unlike the chapel’s normal services, the holiday service did not follow the traditional service order. Instead, the event featured Christmas carols and seasonal scripture readings. 

According to Associate Protestant Chaplain Katrina Pekich-Bundy, the chapel staff and volunteers put a lot of planning and rehearsal into the special holiday event. 

“I [played] in a trio for the service, [and read] a passage of scripture . . . Students [chose] hymns and scripture for this service, and we have many talented musicians who participate who are staff and students,” said Pekich- Bundy. “This is a service with many moving parts, so it is often rehearsed in advance.” 

Pekich-Bundy feels it is important for members of the campus community to be able to come together to celebrate the holiday season. 

“The Christmas season and story are important to Christians, and it is equally important we experience it as a community,” said Pekich-Bundy. “Some students have that community at a local congregation where they will go home over break, but some do not. This service allows the Alma College Chapel community to celebrate Christmas together.”

Regardless of the kind of role you want to play in the events, Pekich-Bundy believes there is a place for anyone who wants to get involved in chapel activities and everyone is welcome. 

“If a student is interested in chapel activities, we’d love to have you join us. Students can follow us on social media and request to be added to the Chapel email list,” said Pekich-Bundy. “There are many opportunities to use your gifts, such as musicians, liturgist, hospitality and more. Feel free to reach out to myself or Rev. Alissa Davis.” 

Elizabeth Vredevelt (’24) has volunteered at the chapel since her first year at Alma College. This year, Vredevelt is excited to be an official chapel staff member. 

“[I was] involved with the worship planning side of the service which [consisted] of coordinating musicians and rehearsing for the special occasion,” said Vredevelt. Vredevelt is grateful for the opportunities she has had through spiritual life at Alma College.  She feels these experiences have helped her through the challenges that can come with being a busy college student. “Through my time at Alma, being involved in chapel and worship has kept me grounded in my faith and helped centered me,” said Vredevelt.

“It’s easy to lose a sense of identity in college when there are so many changes and stress around us as students. Being involved in something like chapel encourages us [to] focus on something bigger than ourselves.” Vredevelt encourages other students to attend spiritual life events. No matter what you want to take away from the experience, Vredevelt believes these events are worthwhile resource for many students.

“Spiritual life at Alma is truly whatever you make of it and will meet you where you’re at. If you need to come and just be encouraged, you are welcome to observe and heal,” said Vredevelt. “If your cup is full and you’re ready to give back through volunteering or serving, opportunities abound. All are welcome at the table.”

Justice Cuddie (’25) has enjoyed the opportunity to work on multiple chapel related projects throughout their time at Alma College. 

“I have been involved with Chapel since day one here at Alma. I worked with the Interfaith program last year, I volunteer when it’s available and I attend services often,” said Cuddie. “I have led worship gatherings and was also a part of Rev. Alissa’s installation service here.” 

Cuddie believes that events like “Lessons and Carols” are good opportunities for students, even if they don’t have the time or desire to make chapel activities a regular part of their schedule.

Cuddie also feels it is important to emphasize that chapel activities are open to students of all religious faiths. 

“I believe chapel activities are worthwhile for . . . students because it’s a low-commitment way to have community and feed your soul. Even if you only attend chapel every once in a while, you are greeted with warm smiles and open arms to build your spiritual path,” said Cuddie. “. . . We have services and spaces available for students of many different faiths.”

David Zerbe inducted into Golden Thistle Society



David Zerbe, director of bands and percussion studies at Alma College, is the first ever non-Alma College alum to be inducted into the Order of the Golden Thistle.

The Golden Thistle Society is an acknowledgement of alumni loyalty and is typically an honor given to those that attend their 50-year class reunion at Alma College. For context, the thistle is a historic symbol and the national flower of Scotland. 

Alumni are seen proudly wearing their pins of the Golden Thistle post induction at campus events and throughout Homecoming weekends. 

“Being inducted into the Golden Thistle Society is truly an honor. It is humbling to know that people feel so strongly about your contributions to the life of Alma College that they believe you [are] worthy of an Honor reserved for Alma Alumni,” said David Zerbe, the inductee. 

Zerbe was presented with the honor of being inducted into the Order of the Golden Thistle at the Kiltie Marching Band centennial celebration. Many of his accolades were mentioned, but above all, the description of his character is what stood out to most.

“I attended the centennial as an outside volunteer with the Student Advancement Association but listening to all of the remarks about Professor Zerbe made it very clear he was very deserving of this award,” said Ryan Gray (‘25).

“He has modeled exceptional qualities in leadership, dedication, kindness and compassion and just going with the flow. As I approach graduation and will be getting my own degree in teaching . . . Zerbe is somebody I look up to and hope I can be as impactful of an educator as he is,” said Kayla Keopf (‘23), student of Alma College and Senior Drum Major.

Along with being director of bands and percussion studies, Zerbe is also the Paul Cameron Russel Professor of Music. This is an Alma College prestige and an endowed professorship in honor of the late Paul Cameron Russel. 

Since starting his career at Alma College in 1988, Zerbe has earned many awards. He received the Outstanding Faculty Award for the Humanities in 2011. He was also the Faculty Barlow Award recipient in 2013. 

Not only is Zerbe a distinguished Alma College faculty member, but he is also a distinguished member of the music community outside of Alma College. 

According to the Alma College website, Zerbe is a founding member of the internationally acclaimed DMP recording group and the Robert Hohner Percussion Ensemble and he has performed with many different organizations.

Although there are many, a limited number of these organizations include the Midland, Saginaw, Traverse City and West Shore symphonies in which Zerbe was a profound percussionist.

Furthermore, Zerbe is an active free-lance musician who has appeared with Aretha Franklin, Peter Ruth, Michael Feinstein and many other renowned musicians.

More about Zerbe’s accolades, accomplishments and directee groups can be found on the Alma College website. Additionally, it has been noted that Zerbe presents his students with amazing and unique musical opportunities.

“He . . . gave me the opportunity to cover the vocal part on saxophone for the song ‘Afro Blue’ for the Alma College Percussion Ensemble,” said Jack Letica (‘24), a student studying instrumental performance and vice president of Phi Mu Alpha, a music centered fraternity. 

“He has worked extremely hard in his care for teaching students. From the moment I met Zerbe, I could tell he had a great passion for music. I believe he understands and supports my efforts to go further into music and develop a career by giving me these opportunities,” said Letica.

It is clear that Zerbe has made an impact on the Alma College campus, community and beyond, and it is exciting to anticipate what will come next from the Alma College professor.

“I am looking forward to continuing to build on the strengths of our organizations to foster even more vibrant ensembles, ones that not only bring instrumental music to campus… but also [provide] a window for those not yet acquainted with Alma to experience what Scots can do,” said Zerbe.

Winter break: tips and tricks



With the first semester coming to an end students have to start planning for winter break. Alma College housing including residence halls, apartments and small housing closes for winter break at 5:00 pm on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. Housing will reopen at noon on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. All students are expected to leave campus for breaks unless they are approved to stay. 

If a student wishes to stay on campus over winter break, they need to fill out the break stay request form in the housing portal to request permission. The break stay request form is available and will stay open until 5:00 pm on Monday, Dec. 5. 

There are many activities students can do over the break, whether on campus or off. “Get 8 hours of sleep, maintain a regular schedule, be active, find temporary work, catch up on movies, enjoy time with friends and family, read a book, journal, learn a new hobby or connect with an old one, explore something new in your area and try a new recipe,” said Anne Lambrecht, the Associate Vice President for Student Life at Alma College.

“Honestly, my main plan for winter break is to get some long-needed rest. This semester has been my busiest at Alma so far, so taking time to relax and do things I enjoy, like hanging out with old and new friends, is my plan,” said Kylee Lary (’25)

In the 2021-22 academic year, Alma’s students had a three-week winter break. This year, students ha ve a four-week break which can have some positive and negative consequences. “I have my likes and dislikes about break being a month long. Some students, who have a healthy home life, love the long amount of time to spend with family and loved ones back home. However, for those who find more comfort and joy back in Alma, winter break can sometimes be challenging,” said Lary. 

“No matter what my environment is, I always try to take time for myself and do things available to me that I can enjoy. As much as part of me wants it to come faster so that the before-the- week-of-finals-stress can go away, I am going to miss my very close friends from Alma during this time,” said Lary.

“Having a month-long winter break can be beneficial to give students a chance to let their brain take a break after finals and finishing up things for the term. This can be a stressful time and having a break allows students time to celebrate accomplishments from the fall term and get ready both mentally and physically for the next term,” said Lambrecht. 

For students who are staying on campus, there are resources available for students to get food. “The most important thing a student can do is check “yes” on the food access question on the break stay request form. We have a new partnership with Metz this year, and they have started putting together food boxes for students who are on campus during breaks. We contact students who indicate a need, and they can pick up the boxes in Hamilton,” said Alice Kramer, Alma College’s Assistant Vice President for Student Engagement.

There are also alternative break opportunities. “I chose to go on an Alternative Break because I wanted to help others and give back to people in a worse situation than myself. I wanted to be able to have a new experience that I know would help better me as a person and give me a new perspective on life,” said Elaina Gross (’25).

“This is my first alternative break and everyone I know who has been on one has had nothing but good things to say so I am excited for what the experience will be. I don’t really know what to expect so I am excited to learn new things and build new relationships with new people,” said Gross.

Ticketmaster’s Swift catastrophe



The recent Taylor Swift, “TheErasTour,” ticket sale has caused me, and many others across the country, a lot of frustration. Ticketmaster headed the sale but failed to moderate the massive demand for the tickets. 

Swift announced the first leg of “The Eras Tour” on Nov. 1 with 27 stadium tour dates across the United States. Three days later, she added another eight shows that were to be followed by an additional 17 the next week. The addition of shows makes it clear how high of a demand was expected. Even prior to the tour being announced, fans were speculating it would be hard to get tickets, especially considering this is Swift’s first tour in seven years. 

On Nov. 15, Ticketmaster hosted the TaylorSwiftTix Presale. Despite following all the instructions, there seemed to be some issues. When I got to the front of the queue, I got an error message and was kicked out. Then, the queue didn’t seem to be moving. 

However, this didn’t appear to be an issue only on my end. “Some fans faced a myriad of error messages, while others endured an hours- long wait in Ticketmaster’s virtual queue, only to find there were no reasonably priced tickets left,” said Laura McQuillan of CBC News. 

In a statement on Twitter on the day of the presale, Ticketmaster said, “There has been historically unprecedented demand with millions showing up to buy tickets for the TaylorSwiftTix Presale.” 

If they were the ones who sent out the codes to access the sale, how were there too many people trying to purchase the tickets? Other fans have noticed issues with their presale code methods as well. 

“I noticed that a lot of people had gotten presale codes. Ticketmaster had said whoever had tickets to her previous tour, which was canceled due to COVID-19, were going to get priority in getting the presale codes, and I know a lot of people who had those tickets did not get those codes,” said Kara Sutherland (‘24)

I thought I would still have the chance to secure tickets at the general sale planned for Nov. 18. This was not the case. Unfortunately, many fans never got the chance to try for tickets as Ticketmaster ended up canceling it.

Following the presale and cancellation of the general sale, I saw a lot of distraught fans in my media feeds. Even fans who got tickets were not entirely pleased with the process.  

“I feel like the sticker price of the tickets were reasonably priced, but with dynamic pricing and also Ticketmaster fees, they got to be really expensive and much more than what people were expecting,” said Sutherland. 

Swift even expressed frustration when she released an apology and statement to her fans. “I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could. It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them,” said Swift. 

I appreciate the message assuring fans and that she is aware of the issues that occurred. However, it doesn’t account for the fact that massive amounts of tickets are being resold for alarmingly high rates. 

“I find that the Taylor Swift presales have been worse than I have ever seen before, especially with lots of resellers marking tickets up to $50,000… This was especially disheartening because fans were promised affordable tickets between $49-500,” said Kimberlyn Hollon-Morseau (’23).

Ticketmaster also released an apology following these events. “Historically, we’ve been able to manage huge volume coming into the site to shop for tickets, so those with Verified Fan codes have a smooth shopping process. However, this time the staggering number of bot attacks, as well as fans who didn’t have codes, drove unprecedented traffic on our site,” said Ticketmaster. 

Many fans seem to agree with this narrative, and I had never had serious issues using the platform to purchase tickets previously. 

“I have gotten other tickets from Ticketmaster and the experience was so much easier and smoother than these tickets,” said Kylee Lary (‘24). 

Additionally, the bot situation still raises serious concerns. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn are trying to get some answers about it by writing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chair, Lina Kahn. 

“Given the numerous high-profile incidents in the online ticket marketplace, it would be helpful to understand how the FTC intends to act to address such conduct going forward,” said Blumenthal and Blackburn in the letter. 

In the end, many fans got tickets, and many did not, which is not uncommon for popular artists. It will be interesting to see how the resale prices change as the current cheapest option is close to $600 for nosebleed seats, excluding ticket vendor fees.

Republicans divided as Trump announces 2024 presidential run



On November 15, former president Donald Trump announced from the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida that he would be running for president in the 2024 election. 

The announcement came just weeks after the 2022 midterm elections, in which many candidates endorsed by the former president lost. Democrats retained control of the Senate. 

“America’s comeback starts right now,” said Trump during his announcement speech. “Your country is being destroyed before your eyes.” 

As he made his campaign announcement, Trump was joined at his Florida home by members of his family as well as some of his most prominent supporters: political operative Roger Stone, former California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. 

One notable exception from this group was the former president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, who later announced her plans to step away from politics. 

“I do not plan to be involved in politics,” said Ivanka Trump in a statement following Trump’s campaign announcement. “While I will always love and support my father, going forward I will do so outside the political arena.” 

Some notable Republicans like Utah Sen. Mitt Romney have voiced their opposition, while others such as South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds have yet to say if they plan to back the former president. Many wonder just how much support Trump has lost from other members of the party. 

During his announcement, Trump went on to assure his audience that, if elected in the 2024 election, he would repeal President Joe Biden’s initiatives regarding immigration and climate change. 

As a political science major, Adam Short (’24) has made it a priority to keep up with the news of Trump’s campaign announcement. 

“It came as no surprise to me that Trump would be running for president again in 2024. I knew shortly after his loss in 2020 that he would likely run again, especially when his supporters encouraged it so much,” said Short. 

Short personally opposes the idea of another Trump presidency. “From my own personal standpoint, I am afraid of the changes that would be made under another four years of President Trump,” said Short. 

Despite Short’s own opinion about Trump, through his education at Alma College, he feels like he can better understand opposing views. 

“Republican leadership is notorious for stripping away the laws that protect me, however, my experiences as a political science major ha ve also changed many of my opinions as well,” said Short. 

“There was a time when I would have felt much more angry at Trump’s rerunning for president,” said Short. “I have gained a deeper understanding for why others do see themselves represented in Trump and why it is important to our democracy for a fair presidential election to ensue.”

Short is not sure if Trump will have a chance at winning the election in 2024, but he is curious to see what the upcoming election might do to the Republican party as a whole.

“It is hard to say whether or not Trump will be reelected in 2024 . . . I am highly interested in how Trump will fare against other non-MAGA Republicans. Ron Desantis, the governor of Florida . . . has a strong foundation for his own presidential campaign,” said Short. “To my knowledge, he has not yet announced he will be running in 2024, however Desantis and other non-MAGA Republicans have an uphill battle against Trump and MAGA.”

“It is curious to see the slowly increasing divide between Republicans and MAGA Republicans. Trump only increases this divide when denouncing Republicans, even his own previous Vice President, when they do not support him,” said Short. “He may be hurting his future campaign by attacking members of his own party.”

Club Q shooting in Colorado




Approximately ten minutes before Midnight on Nov. 19, 2022, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich allegedly opened fire inside Club Q, a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, CO. At 11:56 PM, the Colorado Springs Police received a 911 call, and within six minutes, Aldrich had been subdued and taken into custody. 

Richard M. Fierro, a retired Army Major, worked with Thomas James to restrain the gunman shortly after the second round of shots could be heard within the club. Before police arrived at the scene, five people were killed and 17 were injured. Of the 17 injured, seven were hospitalized and have since been released from medical care. 

The five victims consisted of two bartenders and three club attendees – Ashley Paugh, Kelly Loving and Raymond Green Vance. Vance was the boyfriend of Fierro’s daughter who was at Club Q to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Daniel Davis Aston and Derrick Rump were bartenders working the night of the shooting. 

In the wake of this tragedy, many people online are comparing this event to the Pulse Nightclub shooting that occurred in 2016 in Orlando FL. Club Q, like Pulse, was a center for queer community in Colorado Springs. The community is currently handling the loss of these five people as well as an important space that provided safety and belonging for LGBTQ+ people. 

“Mass shootings like this show that it is okay to shoot people because you don’t like them,” said Emma Adams (25’), DEI Chair for Phi Sigma Sigma. “I think most queer folk always have a sense of fear that they will not be accepted or that they will fall victim to hate crimes just for being who they are. Events like this just increase that fear,” said Adams. 

“Anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and laws embolden hateful people to do hateful things,” said Kia Blysniuk (24’), Diversity and Inclusion Chair for Kappa Iota. Many connections are being drawn between hate crimes like these and the rise of anti-queer rhetoric across the United States. “I believe this sort of thing sets a precedent for similarly hateful people to do similar things.” said Blysniuk.

“I heard about it the way I think most people hear news these days, through social media. I think in this specific instance it was an out of context TikTok I looked further into,” said Blysniuk.

Many folks learned of the shooting through social media and through TikTok, then researched news articles from there. 

“I first heard about the shooting at Club Q immediately after worship that Sunday morning. I saw it on social media and immediately looked up news articles to see what was happening,” said Rev. Katrina Pekich-Bundy, Associate Protestant Chaplain at Alma College. 

“Violence in our country has become too frequent and that violence affects BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities the most,” said Rev. Pekich-Bundy. Learning about this shooting was heartbreaking for many, but violence against queer folks and people of color has so heavily normalized that people are not shocked to hear of hate crimes like this. “I was saddened, angry, and upset by the shooting, but unfortunately not surprised because these acts of senseless violence happen too often,” said Rev. Pekich-Bundy.

“I will say I am infuriated that there are still so many mass shootings in the United States and that the number keeps going up,” said Adams. Queer folks across the country have been affected by news of this shooting, many dealing with the burden of handling news of another shooting. 

“The way that this sort of thing has become the norm, media barely even covers shootings anymore. Real action has to be taken,” said Blysniuk.

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