Post-Super Tuesday Election Update


Joe Biden’s success Super Tuesday primary elections shocked Democrat voters, many of whom expected a much stronger turnout for Bernie Sanders. Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Mike Bloomberg have all dropped out of the race, and Biden now stands as the frontrunner. Before the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29, Sanders was the favored candidate. Now, after Biden took the majority in 10 out of 14 Super Tuesday primaries, he’s projected to win the nomination. “Election betting odds have gone from 8% chance of Biden winning the primary to 85%,” said Professor of Political Science Derick Hulme.

Biden’s success was the result of a lot of good timing.

“The key thing for Biden was getting the endorsement from Jim Clyburn and then winning by 30 points,” said Hulme, “Suddenly the psychology of everything changed.”

That change in psychology was exactly what Biden needed to be taken seriously and the results speak for themselves. Biden was no longer just another candidate with nothing new to say. Instead, he represents a more stable, moderate substitute for Sanders. On top of that, he alienates fewer independent voters and therefore stands a better chance against Trump in the presidential election. “I don’t think the Democrats want to put forward a full-on socialist like Bernie Sanders,” said Reo Donnelly, (’23). “I think it’s going to come down to Trump vs. Biden.”

The Michigan primaries are coming up and students all over campus are getting involved. Increasingly, young people are engaging with politics. Social media has allowed young people to get involved in ways that weren’t possible before. However, young people still aren’t voting. Sanders was relying on young voters to turn out in the primary elections, but they just didn’t show up to vote for him or anyone else.

Many young people feel apathetic about voting, whether they don’t think their vote matters, or they don’t like their options for candidates, they ultimately choose not to vote. They don’t like being forced to choose between the ‘lesser of two evils’.

“This year I’m choosing not to vote. I know that makes people mad, but I rest easier knowing that I didn’t give either candidate my support,” said Ethan Zalac, (’22).

However, young people are situated to vote in elections that really matter. The leaders we elect now will have impacts that will affect us for the rest of our lives.

“If young people have ever experienced a time when who their political leader is matters, it has been over the last 3 years.” said Hulme, “If you think that it matters who’s in charge, you should get out and vote.”

As more young people vote, their collective votes will start to matter more, but it’s up to the youth of the United States to take action.

Fortunately, there are a lot of opportunities on campus for Alma students to get involved in politics. Left-leaning students have clubs for the Democrats and Young Democratic Socialists of

America. For right-leaning students, there are fewer options. However, Donnelly is working to create a platform for those voices at Alma.

“We’re only really getting one side, as students, in politics,” said Donnelly, “So me and a few friends have actually started the ball rolling on starting a Turning Point USA chapter at Alma.

“Gunplay”: the effect of gun violence on Alma


Last semester, 21 students of Professor Joanne Gilbert’s Performing Advocacy class, in collaboration with Professor Gilbert, created a script based on interviews they conducted, original creative work, and research.

The result of their work is a script, entitled “Gunplay,” which seeks to explore the vast and varied dialogue surrounding guns and gun violence in the U.S. Now, after an entire semester of hard work, those students have the rare opportunity of seeing their show performed on stage—some of them even get to perform in it.

“It’s a daunting process for 21 students to create a script collaboratively,” said Gilbert, “Focusing on the causes and consequences of gun violence in the U.S., students interviewed campus and community members, located statistical data, and created original characters/scenes, ultimately, weaving these materials into a script. The students found the process both logistically challenging and conceptually rewarding. I am extremely proud of the work they did.”

The show premieres on February 13th and will run until the 16th. The showtimes are 7:30 PM Thursday-Saturday and 2:30 on Sunday. It features 11 actors, 2 of whom are students from the Performing Advocacy class who worked on the original script.

“I’m excited but also really nervous,” said Noor Hassan-Contreras (‘23), one of the actors who helped create the script, “I’ve been in theatrical productions before, and it’s always kind of nerve-wracking, but this one is different because I’ve put so much into it, and so it feels especially vulnerable.”

Oftentimes discussions about gun violence can feel disconnected, as if they are about problems that plague somebody else, and not ourselves; however, tragedies such as the Columbine High School massacre and, more recently, the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, remind students that gun violence is a very real fear.

“Gun violence has reached epidemic proportions in this country,” said Gilbert, “According to the CDC, 100 people are killed every day by guns in the U.S.—that’s over 36,000 people a year.”

The CDC also reported that 2017 showed the highest rate of gun deaths in the U.S. in the past two decades.

Public awareness about school shootings has grown, which means schools are taking more precautions to prevent similar tragedies, but it also means that students everywhere are forced to reckon with the possibility of similar events happening in their own schools.

“As students, we’ve all thought about what it would be like if there was a shooter on campus,” said Hassan-Contreras.

Even as schools increase security, students’ fears are validated. During every lock-down drill, the uneasy feeling that a school shooting is just around the corner lurks in the back of many students’ minds.

However, the story isn’t dominated by just the students’ perspectives. One of the goals of the show was to dive into the numerous ways that gun violence can affect people, especially in the Alma community, and tell the stories of people who don’t often get their stories told.

“It’s usually school shootings [that people talk about]—which we do cover—but we also talk about violence against people of color, and suicide and self-harm,” said Elizabeth Pechota (‘22), “There’s essentially 4 or 5 storylines and each one “Gunplay”: the effect of gun violence on Alma addresses a different topic.”

Gunplay touches on these issues and more, from the different perspectives of all the students who worked on it and from the people they interviewed in the community.

“A lot of the quotes in the play were taken from community members,” said Pechota, “It’s really reflective of our community.”

The purpose of Gunplay is to provide a unique opportunity for Alma students and community members to join in on a large dialogue with their peers and deepen their understanding of issues that affect us all.

Small fish, big pond: how transfer students adapt


When I first arrived at Alma College as a transfer student, I had no idea what was in store for me. I was nervous and excited, and I was dreading the Michigan winter, which had a reputation that preceded it all the way back to August. Now, with a semester under my belt and a long, restful winter break, I’ve had time to reflect on my experience.

Transferring to a school like Alma from an out-of-state community college is a unique experience and one that I’m really grateful for. And at last, I finally feel like I have an answer to the question I’ve been asked more than any other, “why Alma?”

Aside from the usual boilerplate answers I usually gave people, I couldn’t put my finger on it. I cherish the time I spent at Salt Lake Community College (or “Slick” for you Salt Lake City locals), but Alma had something unique to offer: the sense of community that comes from all the students who live on and around campus. The community of learning at Alma College is one of its greatest amenities and one that I think goes under-appreciated. However, becoming a part of that community and taking advantage of everything it has to offer isn’t always easy.

As many of us remember first-hand, the first few weeks at school can be overwhelming for incoming freshmen. It is an avalanche of new information—new faces, new places, and new expectations. It really does feel like being thrown into the deep end of the pool on the first day of swimming lessons, except this time you’ve got a $300 stack of books and a hundred other kids splashing around with you.

It’s a lot to handle and the college knows that, which is why there are so many resources available to freshmen, especially in those first few weeks. Things like orientation and the first-year seminar classes that all freshmen have to take are life-preservers to help keep everyone’s heads above water.

Transfer students, thankfully, are equipped to deal with a lot of the stress that plagues first-year students. They have already gone through that crucible, and they know what to expect.

But that doesn’t mean their transition is painless. There’s still a lot to learn and, in some cases, a lot to un-learn.

Unfortunately, most of the resources for new students aren’t perfectly suited for transfer students. Even the resources that would be really helpful can be hard to find. That is why Alma has the Transfer Assistance Program (TAP).

“The transfer program is supposed to give you a sense of belonging,” said Johnnie Upshaw (20), a TAP mentor and a transfer student himself. “The first time I actually left my room in my first semester was for a TAP event and I met like four people that I’m still friends with today,” said Upshaw.

My personal experience definitely affirms that goal. When I arrived Alma, it was immediately clear that I was an outsider. However, I didn’t feel excluded. Quite the contrary—I felt welcomed by both the staff and the students, largely thanks to outreach from the TAP mentors.

For some students, transferring from a community college to a four-year school can improve the experience overall.

“It gives you a transition from dependence to independence. At community college, you’re still under your parents’ roof. You have more independence on campus, and then you go back

home to being dependent. When you come to a university where you stay on campus and you live there, it’s like full independence. You’re learning adulthood.” said Upshaw.

Hospital lockdown raises safety concerns


Last Sunday night, Nov. 10, MidMichigan Medical Center – Gratiot in Alma was placed on lockdown. That evening, a woman arrived at the hospital with a gunshot wound. The authorities were immediately notified, and the hospital was to remain in lockdown until further notice. Fortunately, they determined that the wound was the result of an accident, but not before word got out and lead to feelings of unease in the Alma community.

Some Alma students caught wind of this incident before it had been entirely resolved and raised concerns that Alma college failed to notify the students of a potential threat to campus.

Alma College has an emergency notification system and campus security was aware of the incident. If they thought that it was a threat, they would have used the notification system.

“First of all, with matters like that—since we had a complaint—we always go out and confirm with local the local authorities,” said Toby Pickelmann, Security Manager at Alma College. As soon as Alma Security became aware of the incident, they contacted the police to determine if there was any potential danger to students on campus, and they were reassured that there was no danger.

“The [Alma Security] officer called 911 dispatch, and they said, “we can’t give you specifics of what’s going on, but there’s no danger to the college,” said Alan Gatlin, Alma College COO; Senior Vice President.

In the event of a verified emergency, Campus Security will issue a warning to all students, but the verification is an important step in the process. “One of our guidelines is to only the campus emergency system for emergencies,” said Gatlin.

They don’t want to cause panic if there is a false alarm. Additionally, they worry that sending too many emergency alerts could lead to students ignoring them. For the emergency system to be effective, “[students] need to act on the information when they get it,” said Gatlin.

Campus Security reminds students that in the case of an emergency to “call 911 first.” Afterward, they can contact security through their phone number: 989-463-7777. From a campus phone, simply dial 7777.

“Just call us. We’re here 24/7 365 days a year,” said Pickelmann.

The emergency notification system is an important safety measure for all students on campus, but it is only effective if everybody is registered for it. For most students, that happens automatically when they register for classes, but anyone who is concerned that they aren’t registered can simply go to to register. A link to this website was sent to all students’ school emails on Nov. 13.

Munch Money expands downtown



Along with the first snow of the year, November is bringing new Munch Money options for students at Alma.

The frozen custard shop, Serendipity, is joining the Munch Money program. Lana Wood, the owner of Serendipity, has installed all the necessary equipment and, with any luck, the system will be transaction-ready within the next couple of weeks. This might come as a shock to many students. Wood has previously avoided joining the program because the upfront cost made it too expensive to join without taking on debt. “I don’t like debt. I try not to buy anything if I can’t pay for it outright.”

Now that Serendipity is a part of the program, Wood hopefully looks forward to an influx of customers. Having more customers is great for business, and Alma students make up a huge portion of her customer base. In fact, the business that Alma students brought to Serendipity in the first year were integral to its success.

“Alma Bucks was a godsend. After my first year, I was in tears. It saved me,” said Wood. However, she wants to be clear that it’s not just about the money to her. “I always take care of the students first, and they know that,” said Wood.

She is excited to be a part of the Munch Money program and she hopes that it can be good for students as well.

Fortunately, students are just as excited as she is. Many of them already wished they could spend their Munch Money at Serendipity.

“That’s great news!” said Aristotle Koronias (22). “I thought it was firmly off the table. I might have to start saving my money.”

Additionally, Starting Monday, Nov. 11, Highland Blush is starting a promotion tentatively called ‘No Munch Money Mondays.’ That means that students won’t be charged an additional fee when using Munch Money on Mondays.

Damien Sanderson, the owner and founder of Highland Blush, hopes that this will bring more students into the shop on a day that is usually slower and create a livelier environment. This promotion cuts into his sales margins, but he thinks it’s worth the cost as long as the students are interested. “If they can get more for their Munch Money, we want to offer that to them,” said Sanderson.

Sanderson’s promotion brings to light an interesting dilemma. While Munch Money is good for business, it comes with costs. On top of the initial investment of setting up the necessary equipment, each Munch Money transaction costs the business a fee. They usually have some sort of ‘Munch Money Charge’ to help cover that cost. Any Alma student who has spent Munch Money downtown is familiar with that concept, but businesses approach the issue differently.

In the spirit of fairness, Highland Blush and others choose to charge a percentage fee on all Munch Money transactions. That way, they’re always charging enough to cover costs—no more and no less. “I think it’s unfair to charge something to cover your costs if you’re making a profit because your charge is greater than your costs,” said Sanderson. However, this option can be a bit complicated and lead to slower transactions.

Other businesses choose to charge a flat fee which leads to simpler, and potentially quicker transactions, but the flat fee isn’t perfect either. For smaller transactions, it can lead to students overpaying relative to the transaction fee that the business pays, but on the other hand, large transactions end up with the business eating most of the cost. In the end, the differences are small, and some business owners, like Wood, have decided that the convenience is worth the cost.

Sallie Mae Celebrates, Student Debt Climbs


Sallie Mae, the largest private student loan provider in the US, sent 100 of their top sales executives on a five day, all-expense-paid trip to Hawaii to celebrate $5 billion in sales made this year. This year’s trip sparked outrage among the 44 million Americans who collectively owe over $1.6 trillion in student loans.

They feel that it’s unfair that the company is making so much profit from the student loans when people need them to pay for their education. “I get that people need to get paid for their work, but the whole reason [Sallie Mae] exists is to help people pay for school. Instead of sending people to resorts, they should help more students,” said Emily Lopez (‘22).

Many of students who receive these loans end up with more debt than they expected and struggle to pay it off for the rest of their lives. “They don’t really care if you can’t afford it afterward. They’re trying to get people to take those loans, and then my life is dramatically changed because of how much money it’s going to cost me,” said Lopez.

There have been some concerns in the past five years that Sallie Mae might be intentionally targeting high risk students and making loans that they know the students won’t be able to pay. “The attorney general of Illinois sued Navient and Sallie Mae in 2017, accusing the company of deceptive subprime lending, a failure to offer proper repayment options, and faulty collection practices,” wrote Zach Friedman in an article titled “Sallie Mae Flew 100 Employees To Hawaii, And You Still Have Student Loan Debt.”

Regardless of the lender’s intentions, students seeking financial aid often feel pressure to accept loans that they don’t fully understand. “As soon as I got into Alma, I was told you’ve got to do these things and take these steps if you really want to go here,” said Lopez. “At first I thought it was pretty straightforward. I thought I had a great plan, but when I got here it wasn’t actually that foolproof.” Like many other students, Lopez relies on student loans to pay for the majority of her education.

Student debt can undoubtedly change the course of a student’s life after college, but it can also change the course of their education. “I struggle with the idea of people that young taking out loans that big because more than anything it just conjures up a lot of fear—you possibly can’t study something that you want to study, or that you’re truly interested in because you’re being told you’ve got to get a job. That fear hinders true learning and true passion,” said Benjamin Shaw, Transition Assistance Program Counselor at Alma College.

To help mitigate some of that fear, Shaw advises that students decide on a plan for their career before they start looking at loans, and then consult with experts to try to make that plan work. “It’s important for a student to be well informed about the decision before they take out those loans. Talk to your financial counselor or professors at the school you’re looking at. Get a third or even a fourth opinion.”


Inclement weather starts new soccer tradition


Michigan is known to have unpredictable and extreme weather, especially in the fall. To student-athletes on campus, it’s just a part of life. They can’t control the weather, and they can’t always cancel a game just because it’s raining. However, rain can cause more issues than just discomfort.

Two weeks ago the women’s soccer team had to play their game on the artificial turf on the Bahlke field instead of Scotland Yard where they usually play. The rain had flooded the field and it was deemed unfit for a game of soccer.

“We would have torn [the field] up,” said Sarah Dehring, Associate Athletics Director at Alma College, “The men’s soccer team had played on it the Saturday and Sunday before that so we just wanted to let it recover.”

The soccer teams weren’t the only ones affected by the inclement weather. It rained so much that there was standing water on fields all throughout Gratiot County.

“We even hosted the St. Louis homecoming football game on the turf (…) because their football field was underwater,” said Dehring.

Playing on the turf instead of grass is a pretty major change, and it isn’t always a welcome one. Many athletes, especially soccer players prefer to play on the grass. “I personally like playing on the grass better because I can actually slide tackle,” said Benjamin Briegal (23), a player on the men’s soccer team.

“A lot of players are afraid to slide tackle on turf because the turf burn hurts a lot,” said Briegal.

Whether or not the players enjoy it, playing on turf is a different experience—especially in the rain.

“Grass fields aren’t perfectly flat,” said Briegal, “The field floods a bit and there are puddles. If the ball gets into one of those puddles, it’ll just stop.”

The turf fields, on the other hand, have the opposite problem.

“It’s totally different. Especially when it rains, the ball skips really fast and it’s very predictable,” said Briegal.

In anticipation for those differences, soccer teams need to make a lot of preparations. The field needs to be painted with lines for a soccer field, and the soccer teams have to practice on a turf field to familiarize themselves with it.

“Anytime they’re scheduled to play on a field that they know has turf they’ll schedule some practices on the turf, and before [the women’s soccer team] played last Friday they practiced on the turf as well,” said Dehring.

Despite all the complications the women’s soccer team faced, the game on the turf was well received by the coaches and players. So well received that it might have started a new tradition for the women’s soccer team.

“Honestly it was a really great atmosphere out on the turf under the lights,” said Dehring, “It’s probably something we’ll look at doing once a year in the future.”

Preparing for winter on campus


Winter is well on its way and people around campus have already started to adjust for the coming cold. However, a lot more goes on behind the scenes than most people realize. Preparing the campus for winter is an arduous task and the Facilities Department at Alma works around the clock to make sure it’s ready.

“Our grounds crew regularly starts work at 6 a.m. However… we may arrive on-site as early as 4 a.m. as needed to make sure sidewalks and parking lots are cleared by 8 a.m.,” said Douglas E. Dice, head of facilities and services at Alma.

The facilities department stays busy even when there isn’t snow. As the weather changes, the department is responsible for more than just clearing the sidewalks. According to Dice, they’re already working on firing up the “sixteen large boilers and around 90 other heating units across campus.”

If something goes awry with any of those heating units, just use the new digital work order system and the facilities department will handle it. “As soon as we are made aware of any heating, cooling, plumbing or other malfunction, we assign a technician to the task,” said Dice.

But before you do, he asks that you take a look around the room first to see if the problem can be easily fixed.

“We get a number of calls each year about cold dorm rooms and find that blankets or clothing have blocked the heater vents,” said Dice.

Students are also making preparations in their dorms. Keeping snow out of the dorms proved to be a challenge on stormy days in past years.

“Last year we just left our shoes out in the hallway. At one point I looked in the hall and there were like 40 pairs of shoes,” said Joshua Gross (‘21).

In anticipation of the snow this year, Gross and his roommate have devised a new solution: a plastic tray in their dorm to hold their shoes when they get wet.

Some of the effects of winter aren’t as obvious as icy sidewalks or wet shoes, but they can be just as challenging. One major obstacle winter brings with it is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

“Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression,” said Linda W. Faust, LMSW at the Alma Counseling Center. “Due to a lack of sunshine, one’s body produces less Vitamin D, which can lead to feelings of sadness and a lack of motivation. Also, due to the colder weather, people often get less exercise, which can exaggerate symptoms of depression and anxiety.”

SAD affects about 5% of the population, and it is more common in women.

“The symptoms usually occur during the fall and winter months… and improve with the arrival of spring. The most difficult months… tend to be January and February,” said Faust. “…and those affected report that ‘they have symptoms about 40% of a calendar year.”

Even if you don’t suffer from SAD, the busy workload that winter brings is the source of a lot of students’ stress.

“The counseling center tends to be the busiest in October, but we believe that is not seasonally associated but rather based on midterms approaching and students becoming busier with classes,” said Faust.

Winter doesn’t mean doom and gloom to everyone though. In fact, some students are excited about it.

“I personally love winter,” said Gross. “When I’m home, I go snowmobiling, sledding, ice fishing—all of that.”

And for some students, being cooped up indoors doesn’t sound all that bad.

“I’m honestly looking forward to having a good excuse to stay in,” said Megan Jenkins (‘23).

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