Coronavirus affect spring-terms

BAILEY LANGO
DISTRIBUTION MANAGER

Only two weeks after returning from spring break, the campus was brought to an abrupt halt with the sudden onset of panic over COVID-19. Late Wednesday night, the campus received an email from Jeff Abernathy, president of the college, stating that classes would be moved online starting April 3rd, but reminding everyone that schedules would continue as usual until then. President Abernathy shared that there were two possible cases under investigation, one living off campus and the other under quarantine.

However, early Friday morning brought an even more abrupt halt to things as President Abernathy sent out another update stating that Friday would be the last day of in-person classes with the following Wednesday, March 18th, marking the start of online classes, and that commencement would be postponed until further notice. There was a mix of emotions on campus, including anger, sadness and confusion.

Despite the sudden change in plans, students quickly gathered together to say their goodbyes. Senior Laureano Thomas-Sanchez (‘20) quickly went to Twitter, announcing, “I’ll be playing pipes in mac mall at 11:30 today. Lets [sic] bring in a little music to these rough times and try to find some joy where we can.” A mass of students gathered around to listen as the sound of bagpipes filled the air. Many students cried, deeply saddened by the sudden ending and unsure of the future.

The college continued to send updates to students throughout the day, assuring those that needed spring terms that all would be taken care of. For seniors that need another spring term to graduate this spring, the S-course requirement has been waived. For all other students, spring terms would be figured out, but an S-course is still required in the coming years.

As classes came to an end at 5pm, the Alma College Choir rounded together on the library steps to give one last performance of “Loch Lomond” for the year. With emotions strung high, tears flowed freely, especially from seniors.

In terms of nationwide updates within the past week, the BBC reported that the US had banned travel to and from “26 Schengen countries – 22 European Union members and four non-EU.” Beginning Monday, that list has expanded to include the UK and Ireland. At a press conference on Friday, President Donald Trump said, “I don’t take any responsibility at all,” and continued to blame Obama-era administration for the failure of taking early action to test for coronavirus

Boy Scouts face bankruptcy

BAILEY LANGBO
DISTRIBUTION MANAGER

The Boy Scouts of America, an organization that was once a prominent experience in the lives of young boys across the country, has recently filed for bankruptcy. This claim arose after hundreds of men filed sexual abuse charges from when they were Scouts in the organization.

The institution has been considering bankruptcy since late 2018. Although lawyers across the country have been receiving cases involving these allegations for decades, the organization’s decision to file for bankruptcy limits the amount of time victims have to come forward.

The bankruptcy filed is specifically known as Chapter 11, which allow for institutions or organizations to reorganize. This way, it is believed that while the organization will take hits on their reputation, they won’t shut down completely.

“I’m sure the decision to file bankruptcy wasn’t a light one,” said Gabe Zerbe (’21). “As an organization, I’m sure it was their best decision as Boy Scouts has never been about generating profit from what I understood while being in it.”

Although the BSA’s national chair, Jim Turley, encourages survivors to come forward and share their stories, the filing creates a date where victims must report by in order to receive compensation. Currently, the organization faces almost 300 claims.

Aside from the numerous sexual abuse claims against the organization, it has also been facing a declining membership over the past decade and faced much controversy over their decisions to let girls and non-heterosexual people join their ranks.

“I have never personally had an experience with the organization, nor do I know anyone personally who has. It does seem like a thing that could easily happen, however, if someone with bad intentions wanted it to,” said Ethan Zalac (‘22). “The process to become an adult leader in the BSA is fairly simple, but even so, there are multiple sanctions put in place by the BSA in order to prevent this from happening, even if the wrong people get into positions of power in the organization.”

“Most likely, many of these assaults on minors happen through violating rules the BSA has put in place as preventative measures,” said Zalac.

Although the Boy Scouts of America was once a common experience for young men, people now speculate whether or not it will continue to be after the organization’s bankruptcy.

Kaitlin Bennett “Gun Girl” stirs up online controversy

BAILEY LANGBO
DISTRIBUTION MANAGER

Kaitlin Bennett, dubbed as “gun girl” on Twitter, first became prominent in 2018 when she graduated from Kent State University. Normally, times like these are cause for celebration, but Bennett received mostly negative publicity from across the world when her graduation pictures went viral because she was shown carrying an AR-10 rifle on the university’s campus.

Since then, Bennett’s name has continued to show up across social media for a variety of reasons. According to Bennett’s Twitter, which boasts 275 thousand followers, she is quoted as saying, “My haters memed me into a lucrative career that lets me travel the world, do what I want, and have a platform to be heard.”

Along with being a social media personality, Bennett was once the president of Kent State University’s chapter of Turning Point USA, a conservative non-profit organization that visited Alma’s campus last fall.

Following an incident on Kent State’s campus last year during “Free Speech Week,” Bennett sent in a flaming resignation letter, which is quoted as saying “I am in disbelief at how I went from being so upbeat, enthusiastic, and passionate about the organization to being disgusted, frustrated, and embarrassed to have invested my entire senior year into an organization founded by a college dropout who hires some of the most incompetent, lazy, and downright dishonest people I have ever encountered.”

Since resigning from this position, Bennett has taken on a position with InfoWars, a website dedicated to “seeking the truth and exposing the scientifically engineered lies of the globalists and their ultimate goal of enslaving humanity,” according to the online biography of their founder, Alex Jones.

Bennett also has spent her time protesting at popular rallies and interviewing other attendees. Recently, Bennett made appearances at the Women’s March, both in Chicago and Washington, D.C. At these events, Bennett has taken to asking about the political beliefs of others in attendance, as well as asserting her own.

“Whatever points she tries to make just fall so flat [that] it’s hilarious.” said Allison Boulware (’20). “Obviously I do not share any of her views or beliefs, but regardless of that, she…represents everything wrong with modern conservatism.”

Back in January 2019, at the Women’s March, Bennett reportedly harassed a father and his young child in attendance about abortion, saying that it was the number one cause of death for children in the United States. The interaction was caught on video and posted to Bennett’s Twitter and Instagram but has since been deleted.

Although Bennett continues to spread her beliefs through social media, rumors about her credibility have begun to circulate. One girl, in particular, shocked Twitter with the accusation that Bennett bought her nude pictures, including screenshots from Venmo to show the transaction.

Bennett has publicly stated that she feels she is in the political minority of her generation. Most are inclined to agree. “Kaitlin Bennett knows exactly what she’s doing when “expressing” her beliefs.” said Jordan Jackson (’21). “She uses transphobic rhetoric and stereotypes for shock value and comes off as a complete idiot.”

In addition to her beliefs about guns and abortion, Bennett has also expressed her ideas regarding controversial Halloween costumes on her Instagram. For the past two Halloweens, Bennett has posted pictures in Native American garb. Her Instagram also notes that Bennett has dressed in disguise at least twice to gather public opinion about politics or herself.

No matter age, gender, or political affiliation, it seems that a large majority of people disapprove of Bennett’s actions since she rose to fame. Despite this disdain, thousands of people across the world wait to see her name splashed across social media once more so they can read about what she’s doing next.

Winter recruitment is among us

BAILEY LANGBO
DISTIBUTION MANAGER

In the coming weeks, sororities and fraternities all over campus will be anxiously awaiting the arrival of their new members. Sorority recruitment started on Saturday, Jan. 18, and will conclude with walkouts on Friday, Jan. 24. Fraternity recruitment starts on Jan. 22 and goes through Feb. 5. Runouts is on Feb. 8.

Sorority recruitment occurs in three rounds. The first, which took place on Jan. 18, is known as the open house. Potential new members are divided into groups and taken to each sorority house, where they get to know the basics and meet the members of each organization.

The second group is known as the philanthropy round, where potential new members are invited back to get to know the sisters of each sorority better and learn about their philanthropies. This round took place on Jan. 19 and again on Jan. 20.

The third (and last) round is known as preferencing, which will take place on Jan. 22 and Jan. 23. It is known as the last chance to make a good impression on both sides. Potential new members are able to spend one last round getting to know the sisters of the organizations they’ve been invited back to and make a lasting impression on them. On the other hand, as well, members of sororities work hard to make a good impression on potential new members as they launch into preferencing after the last round.

Recruitment for the fraternities, on the other hand, is a bit different. The fraternities on campus do what’s known as an open rush system, so that any fraternity can hold an event at some point during the rush period, as long as it doesn’t overlap with another fraternity event.

This new system has recently come about due to Michigan’s newly passed laws concerning the smoking age across the state.

“Greek life has completely changed my life,” said Blake Jonassen (’22). “It has allowed me to grow close to so many people that I never would have gotten the chance to and has given me so many opportunities that have completely opened up the world to me.”

“Not only do I get to spend even more time with people that I absolutely love, but I get to spread my love for Greek life to anyone and everyone who is willing to hear it,” said Jonassen.

The process of recruitment can be overwhelming for some, specifically in the beginning. Learning about every sorority in such a short amount of time can cause the day to be stressful for potential new members, especially if they aren’t sure if they want to commit to Greek life.

But Greek life has its positives. Being in a sorority or fraternity can have a great impact on their members.

“I was interested in Greek life because I wanted to find an organization [that] I truly felt at home in. Being in Alpha Xi Delta has helped me discover parts of myself I didn’t know were there,” said Lexy Maas (’22). “This sorority is turning me into a leader and showing me I’m capable of a lot more than I thought.”

“Beyond that, the sisterhood I found is incredible. I truly feel connected to every girl in the chapter,” said Maas. “Having a group of people that loves, appreciates, and supports me is what gets me through a lot of hard and stressful times.”

While the bonds Greek life creates are undoubtedly strong and long-lasting, there’s no shortage of other great things to be offered. Many people involved in Greek life comment on the many opportunities they receive to work on their leadership skills.

“I had the opportunity to take on a leadership role in my sorority, and because of that opportunity I was able to make connections with alumnae and even got an internship at an automotive company that one of our alums works at over the summer,” said Cheyenne Hansen (’20).

Students are encouraged to sign up for recruitment, even if it’s something they aren’t sure they want to pursue. Despite being unsure, potential new members might find themselves to be pleasantly surprised.

Concerts cover campus calendar

BAILEY LANGBO
STAFF WRITER

Photo by DYLAN COUR

As the semester comes to a close, groups across campus are gearing up to present what they’ve worked on for the past few months to their peers. Over the next few weeks, performances have been and will be taking place for both the campus and the public to enjoy.

On Nov. 23-24, the Kiltie Marching Band presented their annual Indoor Marching Show in Presbyterian Hall. The band, directed by professor Dave Zerbe, played their 2019 halftime show, Altered Carbon: The Human Element, as well as the debut of Legends of Middle Earth, a compilation of songs from The Lord of the Rings.

The show also hosted a variety of performances from other groups, including the Alma College Color Guard, directed by Earon Palma, the Alma College Pipe Band, directed by Andrew Duncan and the Alma College Marching Percussion, directed by Dave Zerbe and Dave Fair.

Although the marching season is over, the members look forward to next year and what’s to come. “I feel like band has always been something that I’ve just done because I enjoy it,” said Matthew Garland (’23). “I feel as though it’s been a great season, because I’ve made a lot of friendships through the band, and I look forward to next season because I’ll have a chance to better myself.”

“I have been in band for 10 years now, and the connections I’ve made in band are what have impacted me the most,” said Bruce Fowler (’21). “I believe this season went well. The halftime show had super intense and fun marching. The freshmen were all super talented and good at adapting to the intensity of being in a college marching band.”

“I always look forward to my next season of marching band,” said Fowler. “Although it’s hard work, band camp is the best two weeks of the year. Meeting the new freshmen and reconnecting with friends after a long summer of working every day is super refreshing.”

As well as the marching band, the Alma College Jazz Ensemble will be presenting their fall concert on Nov. 26. The event takes place from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in Presbyterian Hall. The ensemble is directed by Jeff Ayres. “The concert is police-themed,” said William Brown (’22). “It’s led by the song The Jazz Police by Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band. We haven’t had a concert all year so it will be fun to perform for other people.”

In addition to the bands performing, the Alma Choir and the Alma College Chorale, both directed by Doctor Will Nichols, are joining forces to present Festival of Carols, an annual concert that is taking place on Dec. 7 at both 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 8 at 3:00 p.m. The concert features a variety of Christmas carols, as well as performances from student acapella groups, Scots on the Rocks and Pretty in Plaid.

“Being in choir has connected me with so many amazing people and formed so many friendships that I would not have without it,” said Blake Jonassen (’22). “It also gives me a space to be myself and express myself how I want to express myself.”

On Nov. 25, students are welcome to join their peers in the Chapel as they perform in the Walker Fall Voice Studio Recital. The recital takes place at 7:30 p.m. “Being in Vicki Walker’s studio has allowed me to hone in on my singing capabilities and given me the opportunity to prepare many more solo pieces to perform, which is something I was always scared to do in high school,” said Jonassen. “Everyone has worked so hard on their solos and the big group’s songs, so this recital is going to be special.”

All of the events listed above are free for students and faculty. Other ticket prices and more information about these events can be found at www.inside.alma.edu or by calling the Heritage Center Box Office at 989-463-7304.

Deadly virus coming from Arctic icecaps

BAILEY LANGBO
STAFF WRITER

Climate change is a subject that has long been circulating through the news and world politics. Although there are countless side effects of climate change, researchers have recently discovered another phenomenon occurring: key marine animal species across the globe are dying due to a virus being released from melting icecaps.

Phocine distemper virus (PDV) is a pathogen that has long been affecting marine mammal populations across the Arctic. Its origin baffled researchers for a long time, until they noticed the link between the spread of the virus and the rate of the icecaps melting.

It is reported that since 1988, the virus, caused by the icecaps melting due to climate change, has killed tens of thousands of marine animals. Scientists became curious how the virus was being released when the disease, which had previously circulated in certain species of seals, began to spread through otters and sea lions, as well.

After studying data for 15 years, researchers noted that Arctic sea ice is a necessity for marine mammals, but when ocean temperatures rise, they are forced to cross paths with new species in pursuit of their food. It is this interaction that makes the virus spread to new species and what tipped off researchers to its source.

Exposure of the virus has peaked twice; once in 2003 and again in 2009. In both cases, the outbreaks came after record-low levels of sea ice. These outbreaks reportedly occur every five to 10 years. According to NASA, sea ice hit its second-lowest level in 2019, so marine mammals could easily be facing another outbreak soon. The virus is prevalent in the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

PDV luckily doesn’t infect humans, but it has been compared to the measles. Both are respiratory diseases that spread through contact—and both are highly contagious. Although the virus itself doesn’t affect people, there have been indirect consequences of declining marine mammal populations. As seals and fish move further away from shore, Alaskans find it harder to hunt and maintain their livelihoods.

There is no known cure for the virus, but there are ways to slow it down. Marine mammals are unable to keep up with their changing environments and circumstances caused by climate change. People can make greater efforts to reduce their individual carbon footprints, which can come together as a global effort.

“It is important to reduce our carbon footprint because within the next century, we could experience extreme weather patterns, a loss in biodiversity, and mass extinction, just to name a few tragedies caused by climate change,” said Rebecca Marolf (’23). “U.S. citizens release the most carbon dioxide per capita, and it is important that we take the necessary steps to reduce our carbon footprint for future generations.”

Making efforts to reduce individual carbon footprints can often be easier said than done, but there are easy ways to make a difference. “Personally, I have taken initiative to stop consuming large amounts of meat including beef, chicken, turkey, etc. I will only eat venison and meats that my family and I harvest from hunting,” said Marolf. “I have also changed my clothes shopping habits and started thrifting. I have found that thrifting used clothes has been very fulfilling for my bank account and for the environment.”

There are even more ways for students to help the environment. For example, things as simple as reducing the use of plastic water bottles or turning off lights when they aren’t being used can collectively make a big difference in the world’s carbon footprint. Efforts like these, together, can help to slow down the effects of climate change and provide a safer world for both humans and animals, such as those being affected by PDV.

Welcome to the return of the black parade

BAILEY LANGBO
DISTRUBUTION MANAGER

Around the world, fans of My Chemical Romance are dusting off the band t-shirts from their teenage years. On Oct. 31, the band announced that after breaking up for six years, they have come back together for a series of reunion shows.

The first show, which is sold out, takes place in Los Angeles, California, on Dec. 20. The band then takes a break for three months, resuming in Melbourne, Australia, on Mar. 20. From there, they travel to Sydney, New Zealand and Japan.

My Chemical Romance first formed as a group in 2001 in New Jersey. They released their debut album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, in 2002. From there, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, which ended up going platinum, was released in 2004, and The Black Parade was released in 2006.

The Black Parade World Tour started on Feb. 22, 2007 and had a total of 133 shows. During this time, My Chemical Romance received mixed reviews for The Black Parade, their third studio album. While they did end up receiving numerous awards because of the album, a British tabloid known as The Sun published an article stating that the band was linked to the death of a thirteen-year-old British girl named Hannah Bond.

The coroner of the case suggested that the girl’s obsession with My Chemical Romance was linked to her suicide and that “emo” music glamorized and promoted suicide towards its audiences.

Outraged by these words, a group of British fans came together in protest of the article. They first planned a march starting in Hyde Park and ending outside the office of the Daily Mail, which openly did not support My Chemical Romance. The march was called off and instead, fans came together at Marble Arch to protest.

Soon after this, My Chemical Romance announced they would go on a tour through the United States before taking a break. They also released a live DVD collection called The Black Parade is Dead!.

On Nov. 22, 2010, the band released their fourth studio album, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. Just as they did with The Black Parade, the band received mixed reviews from critics. “Sing,” one of the songs off the album, was labeled as propaganda. However, the band was unphased.

The band’s final project started on Oct. 2012 and ended in Feb. 2013, featuring two unreleased songs that had been recorded in 2009 each month. The project was called Conventional Weapons.

On Mar. 22, 2013, only a month after the final two songs were released, the band announced its break-up. They released a greatest hits album, May Death Never Stop You, on Mar. 25, 2014.

Each member continued their musical careers, either solo or collaborating with other artists. In addition to releasing music, lead vocalist Gerard Way worked on comic books, one of which was later adapted for Netflix series The Umbrella Academy.

Now, six and a half years after their break-up, the band is back for a series of five shows. They will also be releasing a new merchandise line.

Since Oct. 31, when the band announced their reunion, fans have been going wild.

“I honestly got into [My Chemical Romance] right after they broke up, and I was pretty sad about it when I realized,” said Hallie Sage (’22). “I’m super excited to hear the new stuff they’re making. I hope it isn’t quite what they did before, but something that’s still them.”

The only concert in the United States is sold out, but the other four in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan still have tickets available, and in the meantime, fans are anxiously awaiting any other surprises the band might throw their way.

Students take back the night

BAILEY LANGBO
STAFF WRITER

On Nov. 8, students will be able to join the MacCurdy House in an international event known as Take Back the Night, a march that unites students against all forms of sexual violence. The march starts at 6 p.m. and ends at 7 p.m., with refreshments available at the MacCurdy House after the march until 8 p.m.

Sexual violence has been a problem across the world for a long time. Worldwide, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will experience sexual violence in their lifetimes. Thanks to the initiative of the MacCurdy House, Alma College students are able to come together to unite against the issue through peaceful forms of marches, walks, and protests.

“Take Back the Night is a movement meant to raise awareness and help to end sexual violence and violence against women, as well as other marginalized groups,” said Kayla Schmitz (’21). “Its focus is on the nighttime because it originated from a microbiologist, Susan Alexander Speeth, who was stabbed to death walking back to her home at night in Philadelphia in 1975.”

“This sparked the conversation of women’s safety in the night, which eventually became women’s safety overall, and now also focuses on safety of marginalized groups in general,” said Schmitz.

The issue of sexual violence is a problem that hits close to home for many students and faculty on campus. “This experience means to me personally to just have a group of people on campus come together to support an issue that hits close to home. I’m sure it hits close to home for many people on campus. Our campus may be small, but there are still dangers, especially at night,” said Schmitz.

“Activism is so important because it starts a discussion. Even if nothing concrete happens, the discussion it sparks makes it so that this issue of women’s rights is not forgotten,” said Clara Beck (’22). “It needs to be an ongoing discussion, not one that begins and ends when something horrible happens or someone has the courage to stand up and say that they’ve been assaulted or made to feel uncomfortable being a female in this world.”

“As a woman, this event means less fear. I don’t think that I will ever know no fear in this lifetime while walking alone at night or even alone in general in certain situations,” said Beck. “When I’m walking somewhere in the dark and I’m alone, even somewhere as safe as Alma, I either have pepper spray and a personal alarm, or I’m on the phone with someone so that if something happens to me, someone knows that it has happened right away rather than hours later.”

Although sexual violence is an issue for many students on campus, it doesn’t have to be to participate in the march. Anyone is welcome and encouraged to take part and show their support for the event.

“While I personally have never experienced a sexual assault situation, I learned and talked about Take Back the Night a lot last semester for COM 111 because all three of my speeches were on feminism,” said Katie Bailey (’22).

The march is welcomed as an opportunity to bring people together and show others that they are not alone. “It brings people together to promote a cause they are passionate about,” said Sarah Sheathelm (’22).

“Seeing people come to Take Back the Night, standing up and speaking up against this issue as a collective, feels amazing, because it is a reflection of how we are not alone, and there are allies everywhere,” said Schmitz.

Prior to the march, students can go to the MacCurdy House for Mac and Movies, where students can hang out at the house, eat macaroni and cheese, and watch Tuca and Bertie, as well as make posters. Anyone and everyone are encouraged to attend both this pre-event and the march itself.

To learn more about the movement or learn how to get involved, visit takebackthenight.org or contact the MacCurdy House.

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