Deadliest earthquake occurs in Turkey and Syria in over 20 years




On Feb. 6, a seven-point- eight magnitude earthquake has left at least 35,000 people dead. The epicenter of the earthquakeoccurred near the Turkey-Syrian border and the unusually high six-point-seven, seven-point-five and six-point-zero magnitudeaftershocks occurred just hours after the initial quake, further increasing the death toll.

On the Richter Scale, a measurement of the strength of earthquakes, a seven-point- eight magnitude earthquake is considered to be major, causing damages to most buildings, as well as obviously being a threat to the people in the area.

The earthquake occurred along the East Anatolian Fault, similar to the San Andreas fault in California in that it is a “strike-slip or transform fault,” meaning that “two plates  past each other,” said Professor Borrello, Chair of Environmental Studies at Alma College.

For the East Anatolian Fault, earthquakes of this magnitude are fairly rare. Since 1970, there have only been three earthquakes with a magnitude of six or more.

In a strike-slip fault, “solid rocks are pushing up against each other across a vertical fault line, building stress until one finally slips in a horizontal motion, releasing a tremendous amount of strain that can trigger an earthquake,” said Gloria Dickie of Reuters.

Furthermore, this earthquake, which was only made worse by the fact that the rupture occurred close to the surface, proved to be that much more deadly because of lax building codes.

“Turkey’s construction codes meet current earthquake-engineering standards, at least on paper, but they are too rarely enforced, explaining why thousands of buildings toppled over or pancaked down onto the people inside,” said NPR.

Additionally, “Turkish justice officials targeted more than 130 people allegedly involved in shoddy and illegal construction methods,” said NPR.

“Skirting building codes for profit [(to save money)] is a common act. In Florida a few years ago, there was a luxury apartment building that collapsed due to this. Also, when California had the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and the 1994 Northridge quake, it was discovered that some structures buckled that shouldn’t have,” said Borrello.

While rescue efforts continue in Turkey and Syria, in other cases, these efforts can be prevented by the effects of climate change, further exacerbating the damages felt by devastating natural disasters.

For example, “In early August, 2022, China experienced a devastating earthquake at about the same time a climate-related series of storms [and] flooding was happening. This prevented rescue efforts and no doubt led to more deaths and displacement,” said Borrello.

Furthermore, “[W]ildfires that have been burning our Western U.S. are climate related. The intensity and devastation exceed what would be predicted without climate change,” said Borrello.

“Even earthquakes and volcanoes, which are supposed to be caused by internal forces isolated from climate effects, are impacted by climate change when rescue operations are hindered by climate-related events,” said Borrello.

With Syria already being a war-torn country, when one considers the effects of climate change, the skirting of building codes and unprecedented earthquakes, these terrible situations are only made that much worse.

Students react to the Learning Commons




On January 25, 2023, the Greg Hatcher Learning Commons opened for student use after 11 months of construction. Parts of the interior building, as well as the landscaping on the exterior, are still being renovated. However, the basement, first floor and second floor are all open to students.

The Learning Commons held a grand opening celebration on Jan. 25 that gave students the chance to tour the interior for the first time. Since then, students have been actively using the space despite ongoing interior construction.

Several faculty and staff offices moved into the Learning Commons since its opening. The library staff offices are located on the second floor, The Center for College and Community Engagement and Career and Personal Development moved from the Center for Student Opportunity (CSO) to the basement. The Student Success offices, also previously in the CSO, moved to the first floor. The Writing Center has moved from the DOW study rooms back to its previous location on the first floor, occupying the same corner as the Student Success office.

“Students were studying in the library space almost as soon as the doors were open,” said Matthew Collins, Library Director. Students ha ve had few options for study and social spaces since the construction began. Now that the space is available, students ha ve been using it consistently.

Students ha ve had mixed reactions to the Learning Commons since it opened. W hile students have been frequently using study spaces, ongoing construction and supply chain issues have impacted how students are able to utilize the Learning Commons. The most popular concerns among students have been the lack of doors for study rooms, as well as the limited cosmetic designs within common spaces.

“After understanding the need for modernization, I still think that the current Learning Commons could do with more color and decorative aspects throughout,” said Maxwell VanZant (‘23), Learning Commons Student Manager. There are currently plans to implement more college-related decorations, but those changes can only happen after all the construction is nearly complete.

“I hope the rest of the doors come in soon since I think that is the one thing many people have reservations about,” said Victoria LeCureux (‘24), a student worker at the Learning Commons.

Because of supply chain issues, most of the study rooms do not ha ve doors. Because of this, it is difficult to find a private space apart from any public areas.

Doors for study rooms had been ordered well in advance of the Learning Commons opening, but due to national supply chain issues, the order continued to be pushed back. While some of the doors arrived within the last few weeks, most of them have yet to be shipped in.

“Even with the heavy construction, the Lower Level remains the location with the highest amount of student traffic and is used for a myriad of events and activities,” said VanZant. Despite complaints they had about the space, students still use the Learning Commons as a vital resource.

Ever since the height of the COVID pandemic, students ha ve struggled with finding spaces to gather and form a community. The Learning Commons building has also served as the ‘heart of the campus,’ both in its location in the center of campus as well as its function as a social hub for students. Hopefully, construction will be near completion by the Fall 2023 semester.

Theatre presents “A Streetcar Named Desire”




Alma College presented Tennessee Williams’ play, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” on Feb. 16 through Feb. 19. The two-hour show took place at the Remick Heritage Center in the Strosacker Theatre and was directed by Alma College Professor and Director of Theatre, Scott Mackenzie.

The play is set in New Orleans, Louisiana, and follows financially troubled Blanche DuBois as she moves in with her sister, Stella, and her aggressive husband, Stanley Kowalski. It explores Blanche’s current and past misfortunes alongside her brother-in-law’s cold-hearted persona.

“‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ is a classic mid-20th century play that has not lost its relevance in today’s society. The play addresses issues of class, domestic violence, mental health and sexual assault,” said Mackenzie.

“I think that some audience members will be shocked to see how those issues were addressed when the play was written versus how we perceive those issues today. Tennessee Williams was ahead of his time,” said Mackenzie.

Since COVID, casting has been challenging. “In the past, we never bothered to cast understudies, but… we had to take some precautions by double casting most of the major roles and planning for emergency understudies if someone in a smaller role had to miss a performance,” said Mackenzie.

In addition to casting extra, the cast only had about one month to rehearse for the production. “We auditioned right before Christmas but didn’t start rehearsals until the second week of the new semester… It was for sure challenging to learn all of my lines and blocking in such a short amount of time,” said Mia Abate (‘23) who played the part of Stella Kowalski.

The controversial nature of the play has also been difficult for some actors. “A lot of my parts have been very similar to who I am as a person… and Stanley is not like that at all. He is a very violent person… so the biggest challenge has been getting in his head and trying to empathize with someone who is so intense all the time,” said Cody Diesler (‘25) who played Stanley Kowalski in two of the four shows.

Despite the challenges, cast members like Abate have enjoyed the process. “My favorite part of preparing for the play was working with an amazing cast and crew… This show covers some pretty serious topics, so having a cast and crew who all support and care for each other made for a great environment to work in,” she said.

The production would not have been made possible, however, without the hard work of the student-run crew who worked behind the scenes to make this show come to life.

“I call the cues during the show, and I typically just make sure everything runs as smooth as possible. I communicate with all the separate departments within the theatre department,” said Kiera Biland (‘23). Biland was the stage manager for this play.

“The hardest part is keeping track of all of the props and costumes during scene changes. I write a shift plot, which is where and when each scenery piece or prop gets moved. This show has a lot of props, so keeping track of their movements is pretty hard,” said Biland.

The crew oversees all the technical aspects and ensures that everything is in place for a successful show. Though difficult, “having the actors in costumes and [using] props and set pieces makes it all feel worth it in the end,” said Biland.

Though a rigorous process, the dedicated efforts of cast, crew and directors made for a successful four nights of shows enjoyed by Alma College and the community.

Update on Joe’s Place



At the start of the school year Alma College found troubling news about plumbing issue at Joe’s Place. The issue led to the closure of the facility during the fall term; however, the issues were planned to be solved by Winter Term.

At the beginning of the year students received this email from Sandra Gadde, “Unfortunately, due to plumbing issues that were discovered late in the summer, Joe’s will be closed for the duration of fall term. This closure has brought some logistical challenges that we are working to address.”

As the mid-point of Winter Term approaches no updates have been released on when Joe’s Place would open up once more.

“They haven’t told us what is going on since the start of the year. Though the addition of the Joe’s Retail Store has helped the issue of the closure it hasn’t fixed the issue in its entirety,” said Britney Hamilton (’23).

Since the closure of Joe’s Place, Alma College has been working on creating a new dining option similar to Joe’s place.

“There will be a new grill option similar to the old Joe’s set to be placed in the Learning Commons. The name of the new facility has not been decided, but the grill is scheduled to open in March,” said Micah Barman, General Manager of Campus Dining.

The new dining facility will offer similar amenities to the old Joe’s, such as a retail outlet store and a grill the Joe’s name will be changed.

“The name will change and has yet to be released. We ran a naming contest/survey to let the students name it. The contest has ended, the marketing team is going through the results to decide the new name,” said Braman.

Though plans were set to ha ve the new Joe’s open by the beginning of the winter term, construction on the project is getting delayed by a couple months.

“Construction is taking longer than expected due to supply chain issues,” said Braman.

There has been speculation among the student body upon why the old Joe’s location is not getting fixed.

“The workers at Joe’s told me the leak that shut Joe’s down had been occurring since last year. I think the only reason Joe’s was shut down was because of the introduction of Metz. If the school still employed Sodexo, Joe’s may have stayed open,” said Hamilton.

Due to the prolonged absence of Joe’s Place, many students have grown impatient and irritated with the situation.

“It feels like the school is ripping us off. I spend a good amount of money to attend this school and I hoped to be given numerous options for dining. The absence of Joe’s has left only the Hamilton Commons as a place to get an actual meal on campus. I miss having different meal options on campus,” said Hamilton.

“It is frustrating as a student athlete to have Joe’s closed for so long. Sometimes after practice I don’t want to eat in the dining hall and just w ant to eat in my room. I miss having the option of taking my meals to go from Joe’s,” said Marissa Luzac (’24).

To compensate the closure of Joe’s, the college created a late-night option in Hamilton. However, once the new facility that replaces Joe’s is finished this program will no longer continue. “Currently there is a late-night option in Hamilton to compensate for the old Joe’s being closed. With the new Learning Commons location opening it will offer food later so there will not be a need for Hamilton to remain open,” said Braman.

Overall, the new dining facility will act like Joe’s but with a new name and location.

What’s up with Scotty?




Scotty has long been a staple of Alma College’s campus community from the days of old when it w as a Scottish Terrier, to a more cartoonish figure to its current state as a masculine Scottish man. These changes over the years reflect a change in branding associated with Alma College the same as switching the school ’s nickname from the Fighting Presbyterians to the Scots in the 1930s.

Across campus students and faculty alike have seen changes in the way in which Scotty has been portrayed across campus this year. From his removal in the Admissions office to his decreased presence at athletic events, everyone has taken notice and formed opinions on the matter.

Nonetheless, students and faculty can rest assured that Scotty is not going anywhere and will retain his current form for the foreseeable future.

“I think the rumors [about Scotty] have been squashed at the cabinet level and Scotty is not going away,” said Sarah Dehring, Vice President and Director of Athletics at Alma College.

Melinda Booth, Vice President for Communications and Marketing agreed with Dehring stating that there are no current plans to phase out or replace Scotty in any way.

The rumors Sarah mentioned were ones started by students who were under the impression that Scotty would change his outward appearance and take on the likeness of a Highland cow or possibly even a squirrel. Posters ha ve sprung up around campus both in favor of and against the squirrel as a potential new representation of Scotty.

All of this comes as schools across the country have been forced to reconsider or outright change their mascot in the name of better reflecting diversity and inclusion.

Some of the pushback against Scotty as he currently stands is that he is not representative of Alma College’s mission of creating a diverse and inclusive community for all students. His overt masculinity is just one example of an aspect of his outward appearance that comes under scrutiny.

Other examples of things highlighted as problematic with Scotty include his Northern European likeness which to some may represent colonial values and oppression.

Jonathan Glenn, Director of Diversity and Inclusion could not be reached for comment on this article.

In terms of utilizing Scotty in athletics, he has never been a key part of any logo and according to Dehring, the Alma College community can expect to see the Plaid “A” being representative of Alma College Athletics.

“We are the Scots, we are in Scotland, USA, I don’t think the Scotty name will ever go away,” said Dehring.

The same may not be true for the Alma College tartan however at other levels in future Alma College marketing. One specific aspect that the Alma College community may see slight changes in is the Alma College plaid or tartan.

“The plaid is not being phased out of all marketing materials,” said Booth, “we have begun to use less of [the plaid] ondigital platforms like web and social media where it can look heavy or a bit dark.”

Others involved in making future decisions about Scotty as well as the Alma College tartan include Raymond Barclay, Chief Operating Officer of Alma College, who also could not be reached for comment on this article.

Despite swirling rumors, it seems likely for now that Alma College’s mascot will remain to be Scotty for the future.

Spring sports start at Alma College




With practices for spring sports beginning in late January, student-athletes participating in men’s and women’s lacrosse, baseball, softball and men’s and women’s track and fi eld are getting busier and busier.

On Jan. 23, the men’s lacrosse team’s full practice schedule commenced for the 2023 spring season with a week full of winter weather advisories.

Even as the team trudges on through the snow and cold, there is much to be excited about including the home games and the atmosphere that comes with them. There will be plenty of opportunities to catch the men’s team playing on Balke Field this year with five home games.

“I love running out with the team because of the electrifying energy. Running out with the sword, shield and Scottish flag symbolizes what our team truly plays for. I feel like I am a part of a family,” said Dalron Gray (‘24), a short-stick defensive player.

The men’s lacrosse team has gained a new head coach for their 2023 season. “It feels great to be a part of a new chapter in Alma College Men’s Lacrosse history… the spring is going to be the beginning of the program accelerating [in] the right direction,” said Coach Casey Hogan.

Women’s lacrosse also launched into action with their 2023 spring season on Jan. 23.

While men’s lacrosse got a new head coach, women’s lacrosse found themselves with a new assistant coach. “I think [the assistant coach’s] unique perspective of the team combined with the standards we have set for ourselves is going to make this season extra successful,” said Rileigh McGeorge (‘24), a midfielder on the women’s lacrosse team.

Baseball had their first practice on Jan. 30, and their season will be busy with numerous games. Catch them on campus at Klenk Park at one of their seven home games this year.

As with many sports, “the hardest aspect of the season is keeping up with schoolwork with all [of] the traveling and missed classes… even when on campus, there’s less time to do homework with practice every day,” said Mitchell Foley (‘25), an outfielder on the baseball team.

Most spring athletes agree with Foley. Season means less time for school, but some good advice to take heed of is to “try to get homework done sooner rather than later; procrastinating is an even worse option while in season,” said Foley.

Going hand in hand with baseball, softball begins on Jan. 30, as well. This year’s softball team, however, may be a little different because the team “lost the majority of [their] starters on the field from last year,” said Danielle Dumoulin (‘24), a third baseman on the team.

“I am excited to see how our team steps up… we went all the way to the regional finals [last year], and it is important for us to follow up doing that again this year,” said Dumoulin.

Outdoor track has a bit of a later start than the previously mentioned sports with their outdoor meets beginning in March. This March, the team will “have more depth and… [has] gotten better,” said Jenna Belmas (‘25), a sprinter and hurdler for the track team.

Ultimately, from team practices and finding time for homework to gaining new coaches and losing players, spring sports are stressful. Yet, the attitude towards this season has been summed up in these three words by multiple athletes across campus, including Cole Pearson (‘25): “We are ready.”

Starbucks Connect creates new Munch Money option




Around campus there are many exciting projects that are coming to fruition in the next couple months. Currently, the college is working to integrate a new Starbucks Connect system to be assessable to students and the Alma community.

OnJan.16thefirstpart of the renovations took place which installed the wiring for the system. The installation process will be ongoing until the end of March.

“We are currently about halfway through the install process, this program takes 10 weeks to install and there are a lot of tasks that must be completed with a target date of March 22nd for launch,” said Micah Barman, General Manager of Campus Dining.

“We are waiting on new hardware to be shipped to the location. However, IT related infrastructure is being worked on at this time,” said Barman.

The new system will offer new features for Alma College students to utilize at Starbucks. Students will now be able to use their Starbucks app to remote order their drinks. Additionally, students will be able to use their Starbucks rewards with their Munch Money.

“Alma College Starbucks customers will be able to use the full rewards program. Also, all customers will have access to remote ordering,” said Braman.

Many students are excited for the new additions to Starbucks. Numerous students have been waiting for the opportunity to use their Munch Money with their reward points.

“Since coming here I found it frustrating when I couldn’t use my rewards points with my munch money. I go to Starbucks almost daily and I would be able to save a lot of money through their rewards system,” said Kylie Demarets (‘25).

The Starbucks reward system is a function found on the Starbucks app that allows users to gain stars which are tracked as points. When a user spends a dollar, they receive a star in return. Different amounts of stars grant you different rewards ranging from a free customization of a drink to free select merchandise.

Throughout the year the system grants users special offers such as additional stars on select holidays or exclusive access to personized offers like a free drink on a birthday.

Alongside of the rewards features, the new system will assist baristas to keep up with orders at a faster rate. 

“The program will automate some back of the house tasks to speed up service and ensure better accuracy for customizing beverages,” said Braman.

One major issue that Starbucks employees and customers deal with daily are long lines that accumulate throughout the day. These long lines can create a noisy environment that can be distracting for students who utilize the café space to study.

“The new system I believe will be an effective way to reduce wait time in Starbucks. The new addition of the remote ordering system will help decrease the lines which will bring a quieter environment in the store for people like me who utilize it to study,” said Madison Arnzarut (’23).

“I’m hoping that this doesn’t make things too much harder on the baristas, they already work hard to be sure we get our correct orders and get them in a timely manner. I hope that online ordering and the reward system work out just as well for them as it will for us,” said Aubrey North (‘23).

Overall, the system will create new opportunities for students to utilize munch money while on campus. The progress of the project will be updated for the campus community once the launch date nears closer.

History club: Making their mark at Alma College




The Alma College History Club has been working hard towards making their mark on campus. With the release of new podcast episodes and winning the excellence in inclusion award, 2023 is shaping up to be their year.

“The primary goal behind the history club is simply to have fun researching and discussing history. As I like to say, we’re a place where stories are heard because we focus on whatever members are interested in– especially for the podcast,” said Aubrey North (‘23), president of the History Club at Alma College.

Meetings are held every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in SAC 106. Anyone interested in joining is welcome to stop by.

“We do try to focus more on Alma College’s history and the local history of Gratiot County. With this focus, we provide members full access to the Almanian Archives and try our best to stay in contact with the Gratiot County Historical Museum and Genealogical Library,” said North.

The club was recently awarded the excellence in inclusion award from the Diversity and Inclusion office. This award recognized individuals and groups whose work advanced diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Ultimately, we received the award due to our focus on inclusion in our events and podcast and our ‘genuine interest and dedication to spreading awareness of underrepresented populations and discussing how we can begin to advocate for equality.’ Our events have recognized and discussed the struggles and successes of marginalizedcommunitiesthat the dominant culture has often tried to erase,” said North.

The group has been partnering with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (DI) on events, and the mutual benefit has shown.

“I feel like the office of DI has given us a lot of support over time too, it’s just a really fantastic relationship,” said Professor Benjamin Peterson, Lecturer of History and Political Science and faculty advisor for the History Club at Alma College.

A key focus of the club is producing their podcast, Alma College Histories and Mysteries. Two episodes have been released so far this calendar year.

“Our first episode released on Jan. 19 and shares the oral history of Alice Kramer as she reflects on her time at Alma as a student and [a member of the staff] Our [second] episode [came] out on Feb. 2 and features an interview with retiring professor, Nicholas Dixon as he reflects on his 36 year at the college, retirement and the life of a philosophy professor,” said North.

Podcasts are on the rise and are a great way for the group to relate with others in the Alma community. “It provides a new way for people to connect, not just to history as a whole, but [also] to the history and tradition of Alma College and Alma, Michigan… [It] allows them to reflect on that,” said Peterson. 

Additionally, it is a tangible product of the group’s work and will be out in the world forever. “It continues to exist, and people can continue to go back to it. That’s what I think is particularly cool about it as a medium,” said Peterson.

“We release episodes every other Thursday on Anchor, Spotify and Stitcher,” said North.

The podcast is not the only thing the group has to focus on, however, as they are constantly working to grow their presence as a group on campus.

“We try to host one event a month, try to take one field trip a semester and continue to produce content for the podcast. We do our best to hold events related to a specific history or heritage month… This semester we’ll be collaborating with the Alma Connection Project to host an event for National Arab American Heritage Month,” said North.

Students can get involved in the group in many different ways, it really is catered to everyone. “History club came about because the history department wanted one. What history club is is determined by the students in history club,” said Peterson

“If you have anything you’d like us to make a podcast episode on or even want to make a podcast episode yourself, don’t hesitate to reach out to [Aubrey North], Dr. Peterson or Madison Hall. Additionally, if you’re a senior and would like to record an interview reflecting on the Covid-19 pandemic at Alma College, reach out to the above-mentioned contacts to set up a time and place,” said North.

“On March 11th, we will visit the Michigan History Center in Lansing. We will cover the costs of admission and dinner in the area. Please email [] to reserve one of our fifteen spots! More information to come soon,” said North.

Up ↑