Art prize projects take over campus


Art Prize 2018 is underway on campus with 11 exhibits. These displays are placed throughout North Campus and have already become a familiar sight for many students and faculty. Although each exhibit is unique in design and creation, they all follow the same theme – Black and White.

Themes are chosen based on student interest, according to professor Jillian Dickson, organizer of Art Prize. Dickson also provides advice and guidance for artists as they design, create, and display their projects.

“Last year the theme Recycled was chosen due to student interest in and conversations of the health of our planet. This year Black and White was chosen in reaction to our polarizing political climate,” said Dickson.

“Last year the recycle theme was too specific and everyone took it at face value, not really delving into what it could have been,” said Anissa Keeler (‘19), the artist behind “Tied Up.” “However, I feel like the black and white theme had a fair amount of ambiguity that forced us to think about the ideas and messages we really wanted to convey. I feel like this year there was so much more room for the artists to insert their own voices and passions into their works, which benefited art prize in my opinion.”

Each year’s Art Prize theme is announced during winter semester, allowing the artists lots of time to come up with their projects and gather supplies. Although much of this work occurs over the summer, some artists plan nearly a year in advance.

“I sat on the idea and let it evolve to what ended up being the final product over a period of about 6 months before I began painting,” said Calum Clow (‘20), the creator of “Spilled Milk.”

Although Art Prize is a contest, the reward for many participants has nothing to do with who wins. It presents an opportunity to see student work outside of a classroom environment where creativity and ingenuity are key.

“I enjoy the creative process, which I guess is the whole part. I like brainstorming about possible projects that fit with the theme and then getting excited when we think of a good one,” said Spencer Wehner (‘20), who worked with Ivy VanPoppelen (‘20) and Paige Shaw (‘20) to construct “Tunnel Through.”

“I love making art by myself or with my friends and art prize allows for that in a fun way. It also allows for other students who may enjoy art but don’t make much of it to enjoy it around campus,” said Wehner. “Anyone who wants to make something can, and it’s super fun and rewarding to see your work displayed on campus.”

For the artists, there is a sense of community and appreciation for the talents others bring to the table. “I love how art prize stimulates creativity. It’s inspiring to see the different creative avenues my peers have taken with the theme. It also presents an opportunity to explore unorthodox, innovative ways of installing artwork,” said Clow.

Keeler believes the lack of a traditional gallery arrangement improves the Art Prize experience. Instead of assembling all exhibits in one place, artists select a location on campus to house their projects.

“I like art that is meant to be a whole experience, something you can walk into and feel overwhelmed by. I like art that everyone can see, not just those willing to wonder around a gallery. I feel like the Alma Art Prize project allows for that kind of creativity, it allows art students to stretch their limits beyond white walls,” said Keeler.

Art Prize serves to function as a demonstration of what art can be outside on an orthodox setting, a demonstration of the results of thinking outside of the box, according to Dickson. “I hope that art students start thinking about art that functions outside of the classroom or a gallery. Having to collaborate with others, procuring a location, site specificity and art within an environment all have specific challenges, which are great learning tools.”

“Provoke” showcases NMS seniors

By Caden Wilson

News Editor

“Provoke is what we’d like our work to do to viewers. There’s a wide variety of projects at this show, and they all have the ability to spark some sort of emotion or feeling,” said Zachary Kribbit (‘18). 

Kribbit is one of several seniors exhibiting work for the New Media Studies department’s senior show “Provoke,” which will be held in the DOW lobby on April 11.  

He, like many other participating students, hopes to inspire thought and emotion through their projects- many of which deal with difficult and topical subject matter.   

“The most enjoyable part is looking at the final product and being able to say, wow, I was able to do this as a student,” Kribbit said.  

“I very rarely boast about myself, but I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve been able to do for this show despite obstacles and setbacks.”   

“Provoke” showcases a wide variety of work, including photography, film, web, sound and game design.  

However, the wide variety of media forms within the major doesn’t change the key concepts.   

“New Media Studies is a weird conglomerate of things. It can be interpreted in a lot of ways and everyone has a different view of how It should operate and what it should be. Taking a minor with NMS is sometimes a good option to keep your feet grounded,” said James Gaddy (‘18), who like many other NMS majors is driven by his passion.  

“I like filming [and] creating; I can’t sit still unless I’m watching clips or like media, so going out and shooting is just as exciting as sitting around and editing,” Gaddy said.   

The varying nature of the degree leaves students free to draw influence and inspiration from a wide variety of places.   

“I would say my internship with Alma Athletics prepared me the most for ‘Provoke.’ I created multiple videos for them that really tested all of my video production skills,” said Skylr Goodman (‘18), who cites Dr. Collamati’s encouragement to focus both on technical precision, and a compelling story that keeps the audience engaged.   

“For ‘Provoke’ specifically, I spent all semester preparing. It’s a project that’s meant to encompass all of my skills as an NMS major, so I could say my entire college career was preparation for this show,” Goodman said.  

Difficulties are not just commonplace when preparing for a showcase like “Provoke,” but fully expected.   

“My project takes place in Grand Rapids, so I was constantly running back and forth from here to there, as well as spending a ridiculous amount of time editing,” said Kribbit.  

“The biggest challenge was trying not to get discouraged when my clients couldn’t set up a meeting time with me, or if I looked at my footage afterwards and either didn’t have enough or some of it wasn’t quality,” Kribbit said. 

“I overthink a lot of my work and criticize it more myself than others and it’s weird. I also had to make time to film and cut together my project,” said Gaddy.  

“My original project was a lot larger than I anticipated and took up a lot more time than I expected to have.”   

Light refreshments and appetizers will be provided at the showcase where students, friends, family and faculty are invited to finally see these projects.  

The department asks attendees to RSVP but encourages everyone to come regardless.  

Procedure in case of on-campus emergency

By Caden Wilson

News Editor

Mass shootings are not a new threat to the American public. However, a string of shootings from Las Vegas, to Parkland, to just a few minutes north in Mt. Pleasant have initiated new conversation about how to respond to these tragic events. In an active-shooter situation, it is important to know what to do.  

According to the Alma College Student handbook:  

“An active shooter can strike anytime, and the events are unpredictable and rapidly changing. Most active shooter situations only last 10-15 minutes. “  

Following the 2016 Orlando Pulse Club shooting, Washington Post writer Joel Achenbach published an article detailing the steps to take durring a mass shooting.   

Primarily, the first action of someone in the vicinity of an active-shooter situation is to run. It is imperative that you put both distance and hard-cover obstacles between yourself and a shooter. Never run in a straight line or through an open area unless no other option is available to you.  

Do not hesitate or stop to take anything with you. Things can easily be replaced. If you have your cell phone on hand, make sure you are a safe distance away from the situation before calling 911. Do not attempt to contact friends or family until it is safe for you to do so.  

The student handbook states the following as information that will be vital to relay to first responders:  

*Last known location of the shooter  

*Number of shooters  

*Physical description of shooter(s)  

*Number and type of weapons held by shooters  

*Number and location of potential victims  

*If law enforcement officials arrive on the scene, make sure your hands are clearly visible. In an active-shooter situation, law enforcement officials are looking for individuals holding weapons.   

If you are unable to run, an active approach may be key to your safety.   

“When you go somewhere, you don’t want to put yourself in a situation where if you get found, you don’t have any options,” said J. Pete Blair, executive director of the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center, at the Texas State University in an interview with the Washington Post.  

If you cannot safely exit the vicinity, lock the doors and barricade the entrance to your location. This can be done with desks, chairs, and any other things found in the area. Damage to property does not matter as long as you make yourself safe.   

After you have secured the entrance to your location, it is imperative that you silence your phone, turn off any lights, and be as quiet as possible. As soon as it is safe to do so, call 911.  

Remember, this is a last resort. You should never hide in a confined space or area with one entrance or exit unless there is no other option.   

Fighting against an active shooter should be considered as a last resort or when your life is in immediate danger. The student handbook states to strike the shooter with any objects nearby or to attempt to incapacitate him by throwing anything on hand.   

The first action of emergency responders will be to stop the shooter and to help anyone affected second. Remain calm and follow all instructions they may give. Keep your hands visible and don’t make sudden movements.  

For more information, review the emergency information on the college website: Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 1.43.01 PM

“Reaching Across the Aisle” Addresses recent shootings

By Caden Wilson

News Editor

Under the guidance of Jillian Dickson, visiting assistant professor of art and design, a group of students planned and pieced together and art exhibit entitled “Reaching Across the Aisle” with the intention of starting conversation about the multiple deadly shootings in the past year. It will remain in place through the planned national student walk-out. 

Seventeen yellow school chairs line the sidewalk just south of Clack. Each one displays the name and age of one of the students or faculty killed at Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland. Closer to the library, a pair of dining room chairs display the names of Diva Davis and James Eric Davis Sr., who were shot and killed in CMU’s Campbell Hall. 

Dickson contacted the campus maintenance department for assistance in locating and procuring the materials necessary for the memorial but stressed the importance of student decision-making. All major aspects of the art piece were agreed upon by the student artists, with simplicity being the key element, according to Dickson. 

One of the most important elements of the exhibit is the potential for inspiring politically-minded talk as mass shootings and gun control take the stage of public interest. 

“I hope that comfortable conversations among like-minded people are as prevalent as the challenging conversations,”said Dickson. “Conversations will help young adults figure out what kind of future they want, not their parents, family neighborhood, or even their friends.” 

It is not the intention of anyone who was a part of the project to promote a political stance. Instead, the artists hope that people who view their memorial to the shooting victims will form their own viewpoints. 

“I think this is an important subject matter to college life for two reasons,” Dickson said. “Students are increasingly more aware of and interested in mental health. Mental health is a significant topic when discussing gun control. College is a time where many students participate in democracy for the first time in their lives. They are voters. They are activists.” 

“I hope that people are emotionally effected by it and see the names on the chairs,” said Shaw. 

“We need to humanize the people on the chairs because if we do that, people are more apt to talk and work to fix the problem.”  

Although the memorial is intended for students and area residents, Shaw hopes that the combined messages from survivors of the events and activists will spark greater public interest. 

Just as the title says, the artists hope that elected officials will reach across the aisle and put aside political differences to come up with a permanent solution to the problem at hand. 

“I believe that young adults have the most passion and drive to make a difference.” Said Allison Henry (‘20) 

“I hope people realize that it’s ok to have an opinion and it’s ok to talk about current events and your personal stance on political topics.” Said Henry. 

“We need people to stop being selfish and realize that this isn’t a political debate. These are children’s lives. People are dying,” Shaw said. 

“It’s insane to me that people are talking about it like it’s another law. It’s not another law; it’s a problem.  

“I don’t care where you stand on the political spectrum and you don’t care enough to talk about this to change this, that you’re a selfish person. Something has to be done. The debate shouldn’t be whether or not something has to be done, it should be about what has to be done.” 

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Advancement office conducts phonathon

By Caden Wilson

News Editor

Every year, the Alma College advancement office hosts an annual fundraising phonathon, during which current students are hired and trained to call and talk with alumni and donors to the college.

“It allows us to stay in contact with our alumni and friends and gives them an opportunity to support the college,” says Brent Neubecker, director of annual giving. “The annual fund supports the operating budget of the college.”

According to Neubecker, the advancement office looks to hire forty students who will be trained to operate phone lines and converse with alumni and other donors to the college. Additionally, the phonathon will also ensure that the college maintains accurate contact information with alumni.

Money raised during the event will go to the Annual Fund which pays for student aid, scholarships, necessities for campus organizations, and venture grants. The advancement office’s goal is to raise $1.45 million by June 30, 2018.

Although calling alumni may seem daunting, Neubecker stated that the students the office hires usually perform very well.

“Many of our students are nervous the first few times they call but we have a very good training program and once they make a few calls our students do very well,” he said.

For many of the students who have operated phone lines in the past, the event has been very beneficial. Aside from talking with alumni about their experiences, students develop social skills and learn about one-on-one interaction.

“I’m naturally a people person, so I had no issues talking to people,” said Gabrielle Alter (‘19), who has worked on the phonation for four sessions since 2015. “I really enjoyed listening to people tell how Alma positively changed their lives.”

Alter’s favorite part of the phonathon was listening to alumni describe how the college positively impacted their lives. On average, Alter was apart of eight shifts for every session she was apart of.

However, Alter stated that she disliked the negative attitudes of some alumni who were irritated when asked to donate, including some who verbally harassed callers.

“The only call I was nervous about making was the first one ever. During all of the following calls I felt comfortable,” said Max Stepanets (‘19), who contacted between 250-300 alumni. Stepanets stated that the best part of his experience was successfully convincing alumni to donate. His time spent calling was around ten hours a week.

“It was all a learning experience, whether the call was a success or failure,” Stepanets added.

Last spring, the phonathon raised $100,000, although Neubecker expects to break that record.

“Becoming a student caller helps build a student’s resume and helps them gain valuable skills to take with them after Alma,” Neubecker said. “It is also a lot of fun.”


Amnesty International teaches nuclear preparedness

By Caden Wilson

News Editor

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On February 8, Alma College hosted Amnesty International’s nuclear preparedness simulation, an event where students were invited to see exactly how prepared they would be in the event of a nuclear strike.  

After the four corners of the room had been labeled A,B,C and D, Megan Finkbeiner (’19) addressed the gathered students and explained that the United States was under attack and a nuclear explosion had been confirmed in the vicinity.   

At the front of the classroom four options were projected, one for each alphabetized corner which participants would walk to after having decided on their answers. Through a series of chosen responses, participants learned what to do if a nuclear missile were to strike the U.S.   

Much of the public fear of nuclear war is a result of tensions, sometimes expressed via twitter, between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Amnesty International’s Alma event poked fun at this in its public advertisement as it referenced one of the pesident’s January tweets.  

“Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” Trump tweeted.  

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the first major concern would be to those directly in range of the blast. Intense heat and fire would surround the impact site, while a shockwave would destroy everything in the vicinity.   

As roughly one-third of the participants guessed, the best chance of survival for people outside in the open would be to lie face down on the ground with their hands over their head.   

FEMA reports that fallout and radioactive material are more dangerous than the initial nuclear blast. Finkbeiner explained that the primary goal of an individual trapped by fallout should be to find a brick or concrete building to take shelter in within 10 minutes.   

While moving in the open, it is necessary to cover the eyes, mouth and nose with cloth or another respiratory system to prevent radioactive particles from entering the body.   

To prevent long exposure to radiation, it is imperative to remove and seal clothing in a plastic bag before wiping or washing exposed skin clean. It is also important to remain inside with a radio or cell phone to listen to FEMA reports about outside conditions.  

After learning the proper procedure for the hours following the blast, students were asked to assess which supplies would be the most important from a given selection. FEMA’s recommendation is to remain indoors for two weeks after the initial detonation.   

“It was entertaining to see what supplies other people placed higher value on,” said Eric Ferrara (’18). Ferrara added that he was glad to have been a part of an updated rendition of nuclear preparedness, citing the antiquated methods of the past. “Duck and cover is a joke. It hardly does anything.”

Students, faculty share thoughts on cheating

By Caden Wilson

News Editor

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Sunday night is usually the busiest night of the average college student’s weekend. Whether Friday and Saturday are for friends and family, homework isn’t always put first. By the time the early hours of Monday morning roll around, people can get desperate and cheat.   

Three-hundred and thirty-six current students and 62 members of the faculty responded to an anonymous Almanian survey, in which 16 percent of the students stated they had cheated, plagiarized, or copied other’s work at least once. Of the faculty, 84 percent  confirmed having caught a student cheating.  

Response  from the student survey summed up three major categories explaining why students cheat.   

Primarily, there are the students who were concerned about the negative effects of a low grade on their GPA. In response to the survey, some students stated that they had cheated as a result of being in a prerequisite class or class that wasn’t required for their major.  

As a result, they simply needed the class to fill a credit to graduate and placed importance only on their letter grade. For many campus programs and groups, it is important for members to maintain a certain GPA, resulting in many students using alternative methods to inflate their grades.   

Some responses stated that cheating had been the result of an information gap, where students claimed either that the questions on tests were more difficult than the covered material or simply hadn’t ever been addressed by the professor.   

In an anonymous response to the survey, several professors stated that while students may be put into a position where cheating is tempting, it is ultimately their choice to break student conduct policies.   

“They are pushed to the limit, often in terms of time and stress, and just want to, or need to, get the assignment done in a hurry.  They willingly take the risk of being caught and either don’t think they will or don’t care if they do,” said one faculty member.   

On the other hand, some students admitted that often it was simply a matter of what was easier. While a few simply didn’t study or do the assigned work, many others felt so overwhelmed with their homework that they felt it was their only option.   

Roughly one-third of all student responses stated that they did not have time to complete the assignment they cheated on, in addition to other reasons.   

No responding faculty believed that there was any time where cheating would be acceptable.  

Cheating and plagiarism are covered by the college’s Academic Dishonesty policy. This also includes the act of assisting someone in doing either, which 30 percent of the surveyed students admitted to doing. Students who are caught cheating face consequences designated by the provost,  which may result in failing the class in question or even a hearing with the campus conduct committee, which could lead to expulsion.  

A minority of faculty members believed that punishments for cheating should increase in severity, encompassing 46 percent of those surveyed. 52 percent believed that the current system is effective as is and 2 percent of the questioned faculty agreed that punishments should be less severe, with most agreeing that the punishment should be based on the actions of the student in question.   

“Can there be situations where a professor makes unreasonable demands of their students? Absolutely!,” said Steuard Jensen of the physics department. 

“We’re human, we’re enthusiastic about our subjects, and we can misjudge things. We probably misjudge things more often than we’d like to admit. But those are reasons for a student to contact the professor about the issue and look for some way of resolving it.  

“As a professor, I’ve definitely made changes to assignments after conversations like that, often for everyone in the class. Nothing that a professor can do is worth giving up your honor for.”   

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Alt-right violates Michigan, campus protocol

Caden Wilson

News Editor

White supremacist and outspoken “alt-right” leader Richard Spencer was denied speaking space on the University of Michigan’s campus this semester, according to the university’s official statement.  

However, the U of M has not ruled out the possibility of Spencer speaking on campus later in the year and the ultra-conservative leader has already rented space to deliver a speech at Michigan State University in March.   

Both schools have faced strong opposition from students who loudly oppose Spencer’s ideology and are actively protesting his campus appearances.    

Spencer rejected the term “white nationalist,” instead labeling himself as a proponent of an “ethnostate for a dispossessed white race” and has called for “peaceful ethnic cleansing.”  

In 2017, Spencer cancelled a University of California Berkeley event after an elevated number of protests drew safety concerns. The protesters were lambasted by conservative media for obstructing the First Amendment and Spencer’s freedom of speech.   

Chaplinsky vs. The State of New Hampshire defined by the Supreme Court in 1942 is the first of several cases that may shine some light on the situation, in the form of the “Fighting Words” rulings. The court’s verdict was as follows:   

“(Fighting Words) …By their very utterance, inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.”  

The mere fact that Spencer emulates Nazi Party propaganda and has on multiple occasions denounced the Jewish faith goes far beyond the cause behind the indictment handed out to Walter Chaplinsky, who was detailed for verbally insulting his town marshal.   

Most Alma students are familiar with the section of the Student Handbook. As of Jan. 10 2018, the handbook stated:   

“The Alma College Mission Statement asserts that the purpose of the institution is to seek the liberation of people from ignorance, prejudice, and parochialism…Spoken, written or symbolic harassment occurs when people insult, stigmatize or denigrate individuals or groups on the basis of race, religion, creed, national origin, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age or physical ability.”  

Spencer not only advocates for a North American with ethno-state, but uses the chant “Hail Victory” with his supporters to promote the white race, a clear translation of the German “Sieg Heil,” used by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.   

Actions and behaviors like this are not only in clear violation of Alma College’s policies but sections 2.01, 2.06 and 2.04 of the Spartan Student Life Handbook. More importantly, Spencer is in violation of Section 750.147b of the Michigan Ethnic Intimidation statute, which forbids harassment based on race.   

In accordance to the Alma College Mission Statement the Diversity and Inclusion office has taken steps to creating a much more inclusive, understanding and non-judgmental campus through the implementation of Safe Zones, where students can speak to members without fear or harassment and with understanding.   

Currently the program is focused on Alma’s LGBTQ+ community, although the concept in general was met with criticism by the conservative right, who compared college students to babies unable to comprehend adult issues outside of their bubbles.   

With all of that in mind, some internet users have found it ironic that the same right-wing individuls mocking college students for being sensitive have been vocally livid over Starbucks cups that didn’t have the phrase “Merry Christmas” printed on the outside and boycotted Star Wars XII over John Boyega’s role as a black stormtrooper.   

In accordance to Alma College’s mission statement, it is unlikely that advocates such as Spencer will a be allowed to speak on campus. 

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