RBG holds critical position


Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was admitted to the hospital on Nov 9 after falling in her office and fracturing three ribs. Ginsburg, who is 85, has had several health scares prior to this one. She has had cancer twice and one heart procedure since she was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

Nevertheless, Ginsburg continues to overcome, and now is a more critical time than ever for her to be in good health.

Since coming into office, Trump had the opportunity to appoint two of the current nine Supreme Court Justices who serve a lifetime appointment: Neil Gorsuch and the infamous Brett Kavanaugh, which gave the Supreme Court a solid 5-4 conservative majority.

If anything happened to Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the next Presidential election (God forbid), Trump would have the opportunity to appoint another Supreme Court Justice, meaning he would then have handpicked one third of the court.

The United States surely does not need any more Brett Kavanaughs holding one of the most powerful positions in the country for the rest of his life; one is bad enough as is. Ginsburg’s position on the court is critical for the representation of women in our county. Judging by what we have seen from Trump so far, we all know that it is highly unlikely that he would appoint another woman to fill her spot if anything did happen to Ginsburg.

Luckily, Ginsburg is one tough woman, always returning to the bench rapidly after any setback. She recently pledged to stay on the Supreme Court as long as she is physically and mentally able to, which she predicted to be at least past 2020.

Ginsburg was only the second woman ever to be appointed to the Supreme Court and has always been a major advocate for women’s rights.

However, as difficult as it is to get appointed to the nation’s more prestigious court,

Ginsburg’s journey was even more difficult than usual. Ginsburg grew up in a low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother was a huge inspiration for her and always stressed the importance of Ginsburg’s education. Unfortunately, her mother died of cancer the day before her graduation ceremony.

Ginsburg went on to graduate first in her class at Cornell University and then became a student at Harvard Law. During law school, Ginsburg faced the challenges of balancing being a mother and a law student all while her husband was deployed. Not to mention she faced enormous disadvantages being one of only 8 women in a class of 500.

On top of all that, she became the first female member of the legal journal the Harvard Law Review.

Excelling at her own law school studies and battling gender discrimination all while being a mother alone is incredibly impressive, but it doesn’t end there.

Ginsburg’s husband was diagnosed with cancer at the same time and she proceeded to take notes for her husband. Basically, she was pursuing not one, but two law school educations at the same time.

After transferring to Columbia Law school to be in New York where her husband accepted a job at a law firm, Ginsburg graduated first in her class.

Later she became the first female tenured professor and Columbia Law. Ginsburg is one of the most accomplished women of our time. She is truly a hero to us all and without her, the Supreme Court would be a very dark place

Migrant Caravan approaches border


As a nation known for being the melting pot or the salad bowl that prides itself on being made up of immigrants, the general antiimmigrant stance that is so popular in the United States seems highly hypocritical. While we preach about how brave our ancestors were for immigrating to an unknown land, we condemn others for doing the same thing.

Currently, thousands of migrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are pressing on in their trek toward U.S. border. The caravan began the journey on Oct. 12, when just over one hundred migrants who had been planning their journey for over a month met at a bus terminal to begin traveling to escape violence, poverty and persecution in their home countries.

Historically, migrant caravans are typically much smaller, numbering only a few hundred; but when a former politician posted about this caravan on Facebook, the news quickly spread and new members joined rapidly.

Since migrants are highly vulnerable to getting kidnapped or trafficked trying to make the journey to the U.S. border, traveling in a large group like this one provides numerous safety advantages.

At its height, the migrant caravan grew to about 5,000 people, but has since fractured into a few smaller groups as some lag behind, settle in Mexico or seek alternate transportation such as hitchhiking.

Along the way, members of the caravan face dehydration, exhaustion, illness and injury along with a lack of food and shelter. It is unclear at this point in time how many people from the caravan will complete the journey to the U.S. border, as they are still over 600 miles away.

What happens when the caravan reaches the United States? Experts still are not sure. When they do arrive, they will meet 7,000 active duty U.S. troops and 2,000 more National Guard personnel accompanying the thousands of border patrol agents and customs officers at the border.

The Trump administration has made it clear that it does not want the migrant caravan crossing over into the United States since such a large influx of migrants at one time can quickly become a national security issue. Trump stated that up to 15,000 troops could be sent to the U.S.-Mexico border, which is more than the number of troops stationed in Afghanistan. Trump also made threats to suspend all aid to these Central American countries unless they stop the outflow of their citizens into the U.S.

According to international law, the U.S. is required to hear claims of asylum from migrants who are fleeing violence. For those fleeing serious persecution, they would be considered refugees.

However, for those trying to escape poverty or obtain a better quality of life, they are not considered refugees so they do not get the same protections under international law as the other migrants.

As the caravan gets closer to the border, some fear that violence may break out if a large amount of the caravan tries to enter the U.S. by force. Of those stationed at the border, an operation ironically named “Faithful Patriot,” some units are indeed armed.

However, the 2,000 National Guard personnel are not supposed to make arrests or carry weapons and the active duty forces face restrictions from the Posse Comitatus Act that limits troops’ ability to carry out law enforcement duties on U.S. soil.

All three proposals pass in MI


Proposal 1, the Marijuana Legalization Initiative, passed last week by a 56- 44 percent margin, making Michigan the first state in the Midwest to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. However, recreational marijuana is not technically legal until 10 days after the election and marijuana will not be widely commercially available until 2020. The use of recreational marijuana is only legal on private property for individuals over the age of 21. Marijuana is not legal for anyone on campus and other restrictions are still being set in place.

Proposal 2, the Independent Redistricting Initiative, passed with a 61.1-38.9 percent margin to end gerrymandering in Michigan. This proposal takes the power to draw the lines for congressional districts out of the hands of state lawmakers and gives the power to an independent redistricting committee. The committee will consist of four Republicans, four Democrats and five people who do not identify with either party.

Proposal 3, the Voting Policies in State Constitution Initiative, passed with a 66.8-33.2 percent margin to make voting in Michigan significantly easier. This allows same-day voter registration, increases auditing for election results, automatically registers citizens to vote at the Secretary of State’s office unless a citizen declines, provides residents the option to vote straight party and ensures that military service members overseas can obtain ballots. Several other states already provide some of these options.

Alma’s thoughts on the outside world: Freedom of speech and democracy


Due to the nature of journalistic writing, the Almanian was unable to publish a formal stance last week on the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This column accompanies the news story covering the murder that was printed last week.

The Almanian stands in solidarity with journalists everywhere who fight to preserve the freedom of speech that is central to a democracy. The Almanian operates without censorship and firmly believes in the power of a newspaper. As we advance further into the digital age, the newspaper and print media will continue to withstand the test of time because of its key importance to democracy and freedom. An attack on one journalist is an attack on all of us.

As stated previously, Khashoggi was murdered on Oct. 2 inside the Saudi consulate for his writing that included critical dissenting opinions of the Saudi Arabian government.

Initially, the Saudi Arabian government tried to cover up the incident and denied having any knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate. Soon after, the Saudi Arabian government claimed first that Khashoggi died in an apparent fist fight inside the consulate and then that he died in a “botched” interrogation attempt.

Since then, audio recordings documenting Khashoggi’s final moments inside the consulate have been released to foreign governments. The recordings verified that he was tortured, dismembered and killed. It is unclear at this point whether he was dismembered before or after he was killed and his body has not been found. There are currently 18 suspects and his case is still being investigated.

Khashoggi’s case represents something greater than an isolated incident; it represents a threat to the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech as we know it.

We have seen this time and time again; powerful regimes rule their countries on the premise of fear and silence anyone who dares to dissent. As a result, Khashoggi has joined the list the ever-growing list of martyrs of free speech not long after 12 journalists were gunned down in the Charlie Hebdo shooting in 2015 in France for the satirical pieces that they published.

President Trump still has not issued a formal stance on the matter, but he did claim that it would be “foolish” for the United States to cancel its arms deal with Saudi Arabia because the life of one journalist is not worth as much as the profit from the arms deal. Find the rest of this article on thealmanian.org.

The Almanian stands in solidarity


Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian Journalist who was a Virginia resident and writer for the Washington Post, was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on Oct. 2.

Khashoggi’s death is of particular importance because of the root cause: he was critical in his writing of the Saudi Arabian government.

“The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is heinous, in the way that it was planned, carried out and covered up. While the murder of any person by his or her own government is abhorrent, Khashoggi’s death throws light on the silencing of journalists, particularly ones with progressive views in countries with less than democratic governments,” said Kate Westphal, a writer for the Almanian.

“Journalism is one of the few outlets today where the public receives unbiased, or nearly unbiased, information about the world around them. By silencing journalists, people receive only the information the governments feel they need to know instead of the information they should know to create their own beliefs,” said Westphal.

Initially, the Saudi Arabian government tried to cover up the incident and denied having any knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate. Soon after, the Saudi Arabian government claimed first that Khashoggi died in an apparent fist fight inside the consulate and then that he died in a “botched” interrogation attempt.

Since then, audio recordings documenting Khashoggi’s final moments inside the Consulate have been released to foreign governments. The recordings verified that he was tortured, dismembered and killed. It is unclear at this point whether he was dismembered before or after he was killed and his body has not been found. There are currently 18 suspects and his case is still being investigated.

Khashoggi’s case represents something greater than an isolated incident; it represents a threat to the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech as we know it.

“The murder of Mr. Khashoggi is an extreme example of the increasing willingness to use murder to silence the press,” said Edward Lorenz, former professor of History and Political Science at Alma College.

“Reporters Without Borders says 54 journalists were killed doing their reporting. Some of these were killed in apparent accidents and some killed by criminals and terrorists. The blatant killing of journalists has apparently increased in the last three decades, but Mr. Khashoggi’s murder is an extreme case, taking place in a peaceful city in a government building – the Saudi consulate,” said Lorenz.

We have seen this time and time again; powerful regimes rule their countries on the premise of fear and silence anyone who dares to dissent. As a result, Khashoggi has joined the list the ever-

growing list of martyrs of free speech not long after 12 journalists were gunned down in the Charlie Hebdo shooting in 2015 in France for the satiracle pieces that they published.

“The fact that Trump seems to be siding with Saudi Arabia despite overwhelming evidence sets a dangerous and threatening precedent for journalists all over the country,” said Atulya Dora-Laskey (’21).

President Trump has yet to release a firm statement on the matter. However, the President did claim that it would be “foolish” to cancel our arms deals with Saudi Arabia because of what happened to Khashoggi. By making this statement, it is clear that our current administration values money over the lives of innocent people, especially if those people happen to be political dissenters.

“For Trump to state that the reporter’s life means nothing in terms of the money the country gets from Saudi Arabia only fuels this fear to be a reporter,” said Emily Cowles, a writer for the Almanian.

Shortly after the murder of Khashoggi became widely circulated information, the Saudi Arabian government sent $100 million to the United States as a potential payoff according to a Washington Post article published on Oct. 17. The U.S. government has denied that there is any connection between the event and the money transfer, but money undoubtedly plays a key role in President Trump’s stance on the matter.

Lorenz described President Trump’s response to Khashoggi’s murder as “amoral.”

“While many have worried about U.S. willingness to be the world’s greatest supplier of deadly weapons, we have had the rhetorical decency to hide our interest in profiting from killing by saying weapons sales were for some shared foreign policy goal. As in so much of the President’s rhetoric, he has now stripped his speech from any pretense of ethical policy,” said Lorenz.

As Thomas Friedman, the New York Times’ Foreign Policy expert wrote on Oct. 23, “[B]y telling us that we must weigh a $110 billion Saudi arms purchase against taking a moral stand on Khashoggi’s murder, is literally telling us the price of our values — about $333.33 for every American. (Your check is in the mail.) But if you think, as I do, that countries that sell out their core values for financial gain suffer in the long run or if you think that such a country is not the America you want us to be, and that the world needs us to be, then you need to vote.”

Trump’s comment may seem insignificant, but this is not a coincidence. Trump has a long track record of being anti-journalist. An example is the “Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required.” T-shirts implying that journalists should be hanged that were sold during the presidential election.

“President Trump clearly has fit within this dangerous trend by explicitly welcoming assaults on the press,” said Lorenz.

“Shortly after Mr. Khashoggi’s death, in a campaign appearance in Montana, the President expressed his admiration for Greg Gianforte, who when running for Congress last election

assaulted a reporter. At rallies, he also has encouraged crowds to see reporters in attendance as the enemies,” said Lorenz.

As President Trump continues to make attempts to limit free speech and freedom of the press, it is dire that the public understands that this is a major step in the fall of a democracy. Every silenced journalist is a threat to the peace.

“I think that this event shows that journalists are political weapons now, and they will need to use a great deal more caution when reporting in the future,” said Destiny Herbers (’21).

“Trump’s comments are reflective of his dismissive attitude towards media in general. He should be equally concerned for a reporter as he is for any other American citizen,” she said.

If we allow censorship and violence against journalists to increase, then the parameters of our rights will continue to shrink.

“The safety of journalists is imperative to the accessibility of information, and thereby to freedom of speech,” said Herbers.

“If our journalists aren’t able to investigate and report, we will not be receiving honest and comprehensive information,” she said.

“I think [the murder of Jamal khashoggi] is absolutely important and relevant, and more people on our campus and in our community need to know about it. Journalism is about telling the truth and being a voice for those who may feel like they do not have a voice, and the fact that a man was brutally murdered in order to make a point and to silence people is insanely awful. As a writer, it is my job to stand up for others and to be that voice, and this incident is trying to show others to stay silent or you will face consequences. I am here to say that it is downright awful and there needs to be change.

-Jordyn Bradley

“Journalism is one of the only profession left where you do not have to answer to anyone. You have the freedom of speech and the reliance of the people to tell them what others will not. With the murder of the Saudi Arianism journalist and the shooting at Charlie Hebdo in Paris, it makes me fear what I publish. I want to be the truest to myself and to my readers. My mother has warned me not to get hurt or put myself in danger but I want to say what I want to say and if someone has an issue with that, so be it.”

-Kelsey Weiss

Screen Shot 2018-10-28 at 11.11.41 PM.png

Domestic Violence Awareness begins


All throughout October, there will be several events on campus for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which started back in 1987. Domestic Violence Awareness Month developed from the Day of Unity Event in October of 1981 held by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence that expanded to a full week and eventually an entire month of events.
The original Day of Unity event was designed to connect advocates against domestic violence from across the nation and it is now held on the first Monday of October every year to kick off Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Many students and faculty members on campus have strong feelings about these issues.
“Domestic Violence disproportionately affects women and children (in a parallel life, I work as a child advocate with the Gratiot County family court),” said Prathim-Maya Dora-Laskey, professor of English and Women’s & Gender Studies as well as faculty advisor to the MacCurdy House.
“It places a huge burden of fear, pain, guilt and a host of other negative experiences on the individual, which adds up to a huge social, national and global burden. It takes place in families of every class and race, and frequently it is hidden or minimized because women and children have fewer resources,” said Dora-Laskey.
Research also shows that this issue is prevalent on college campuses. “Recent studies have shown that about 1 in 5 college students experience abuse at the hands of a current partner, and 1 in 3 college students have experienced abuse by a former partner (Sinozich, et al., 2014). I think we can all agree that’s far too many,” said Kevin Carmody, the Civil Rights/Title IX Coordinator.
In attempt to remedy this issue, various groups on campus such as KI, the MacCurdy House, Counseling and Wellness and others are hosting events to spread awareness and provide support to victims/ survivors. The Counseling and Wellness Center began the Clothesline Project on Thursday, Oct. 4, which has been displayed on campus every year since 1995. The project is made of t-shirts created by survivors of domestic violence or in honor of someone else who has experienced it.
The purpose is to provide healing for survivors, educate the public and provide solutions to prevent violence in the future, according to Anne Lambrecht and the Counseling and Wellness Center staff. Campus is also participating in the Purple Tie Campaign. “Each Friday through October, we are encouraging people to wear purple in support of survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV), and to take a stand as a community to say that these behaviors are antithetical to our values,” said Carmody.
For those who do not own a purple tie, they are available for free at the Counseling and Wellness Center, the Wilcox Medical Center or in Carmody’s office in Tyler Van Dusen.
Faculty also emphasized that Domestic Violence Awareness Month is not only for women. “IPV has long been seen as a ‘women’s issue,’ which ignores that members of any gender may be impacted by IPV,” said Carmody.
“As men, I feel it’s incredibly important that we add our voice to the work that women have long been doing on this issue, and to recognize that IPV is most often committed by men. That makes it incredibly important that men step up and add our voices in this issue,” said Carmody.
However, for the first time in several years Slut Walk, a protest created to promote gender equality and to end rape culture and victim blaming, will not take place on campus this year.
“We decided to transition to Take Back the Night because last year the residents faced a lot of backlash from students and the administration due to provocative posters and marchers having the idea to pound on fraternity doors,” said Eryn Corinth (‘21), a member of KI and the MacCurdy House.
According to Corinth,  the name Take Back the Night comes from the 60’s and 70’s where women didn’t feel safe walking down streets alone at night. “The ideas of them are both the same, but we want to do Take Back the Night because it’s about the same issues but it just has a different name so it won’t have the same backlash [as Slut Walk],” said Corinth.
“Another reason we want to do Take Back the Night is to draw attention to the lack of lighting on Alma College’s campus, and how even here we don’t always feel safe walking home at night. We’ll also try to talk to all of the sororities and fraternities on campus to get them to come to it,”she said. Take Back the Night will occur on Nov. 2 at 7 p.m.

Students impact local health


43 years after the public health disaster that came from the Velsicol Chemical Corp. in St. Louis, MI contaminating the state food supply, community members are still feeling the effects.

Many residents were exposed to polybrominated biphenyl, or PBB, when the company accidentally switched Nutrimaster, a cattle feed supplement, with Firemaster, a toxic flame retardant that poisoned several farm animals and a large amount of the population across Michigan.

By the time the mistake was recognized, it was already too late.

“The Velsicol plant mixed up fire retardants (PBB) with supplements meant for cow feed, and ended up distributing these all over the state of Michigan, which the cows ingested, farmers were directly exposed, and a majority of the people already ingested the products,” said Grace Erickson (’21).

Even though the Velsicol Chemical Corp. center in St. Louis shut down, the effects are still present in society today and the former site is now an EPA Superfund site because it is one of the most highly contaminated pieces of land in the United States.

Now, Alma students are getting directly involved with addressing the health problems that are still going on from this disaster back in 1973 by partnering with Emory University School of Public Health.

“The project that I am working on is a research piece for Emory University. They are studying many different effects that PBB has on the people of Michigan,” said Erickson. “There are many people involved in this, including Dr. Lorenz, the Healthy Pine River Group, the Emory research team, and many other officials and people of the community.”

The research involving Emory University has been going on since 2011, but the studies have evolved since then because PBB contamination can be passed on to offspring.

“They are doing a multigenerational study looking at the effects from the grandparents to the kids to the grandchildren,” said Maggie Patterson (’21).

“They [community members] have high levels of PBB in their blood and they continue to come back to this study throughout the years to get tested and these could’ve been factory workers or farmers or they could have even been community members who somehow got a higher exposure.

Now they’re doing a clinical study to test the effects of some medication that they are trying out. Because PBB tends to be stored in the fat, they’re trying to figure out a way to help get it out of the body,” said Patterson.

Even though the study is well established, Emory University is always looking for more people to get involved.

“They’re always looking for more Alma College students to help out because Emory likes having us help out. We help them get people from station to station and keep some organization and peace during the meetings.

“They also have us do confidentiality training because we handle files and so therefore we have to be trained for that. They typically do two or three events in the area around us that they would have us help out with every year,” said Patterson.

According to Alma students involved, this project is far more than a resume builder. “This experience has really shown me that health is a huge determinant of happiness,” said Erickson.

“It has also shown me that no matter how long I have to fight for something, to never give up. Whether this is a class, applying for Medical school, or just life in general. These screenings have given the community hope above anything. They have given the people solid answers, time to vent their concerns and time to ask questions,” she said.

It also provides them a new perspective on their prospective careers.

“I’m on the Pre-Med track and it showed me that I would to have some research still in my future and it exposes where there may be a gap between patients and their doctors if the doctors aren’t necessarily informed about environmental factors,” said Patterson.

“If a patient is experiencing a certain effect or certain symptoms but the effect that is happening is rare, looking at your patient’s history but also where they live and how things happening around them can have an impact on them,” she said.

Above all, Alma students are most concerned about getting answers to improve the health of community members who were effected, according to Patterson and Erickson.

“Hopefully one day soon these people can have some justice or they can have some of their negative health effects relieved,” said. Erickson.

Living a zero waste lifestyle


Out of habit, we turn off the lights when we leave rooms, recycle when there are bins available, use reusable water bottles, and more. But are these small steps enough?

Using reusable water bottles might be saving plastic water bottles from landfills, but how much waste do people actually produce in a day? According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, “the average American produces about 7 pounds of trash per day.” This is more than throwing out packaging or wrappers, it involves food waste and energy waste as well.

7 pounds of trash per day may not sound like much, but multiply that by the entire population of the United States and it becomes apparent that we have an extreme waste issue.

As we become increasingly concerned about climate change and waste, one thing to consider is moving towards a zero waste lifestyle, which means living without sending anything to a landfill.

The purpose is to reuse what you can, reduce what you need, recycle what you can, and compost the rest.

But how can college students cut back on waste? Start with the small steps first. Alma College already does some work towards cutting back on waste, such as the Green Box program for reusable dining containers, installing motion-sensitive lighting, and implementing water bottle refill stations into the dorms and academic buildings.

According to Alex Karakuc (’21), who is working towards living a zero waste lifestyle, more can be done on campus to help lead these efforts.

Some of the improvements that Karakuc suggested include adding compost bins to Joes, Starbucks, and Highland Java. She also suggested posting informational signs about what can and cannot be composted as well as having a composting site on campus.

Other improvements include putting all of the to-go lunch options in Hamilton Commons in reusable containers rather than disposable ones, having reusable cups in Joes for the fountain drinks, and adding recycling bins in more spaces on campus.

Aside from small changes, a few large changes can be made as well.

“One last and bigger task the college could do is make the current aquaponics system that is currently being built in the greenhouse into something for large scale. Then incorporate growing fresh fruits and vegetables from it—and even harvest fish—for saga and joes. (Which there is already a [campus] project that is trying to start this called The Big Box Farm, ironically),” said Karakuc.

Although this would require time and investments, Karakuc argues that it would be worth it.

“It saves money in the long run and to be able to say something like ‘we are the most sustainable college in America’ would be very big. It would probably even bring more students in for just that reason. We want to be the model for other colleges. We want to show everyone else it’s possible and worth it,” said Karakuc.

For more information and help taking steps towards living a zero waste life, contact the Climate Change Action Network group on campus.


Up ↑