Senior farewells

To the Almanian,

Working on the staff of the Almanian for the past three years has truly been a good time. I began as a sophomore writing articles every week and soon held the position of layout editor, where I’ve stayed until now. I’ve enjoyed seeing how the perception of campus has changed over the years based on the articles we’ve written. We once wrote about clubs and spaghetti dinners, but now we look at presidential elections, climate change and racial and social injustices. Article topics may have changed, but I’ve found the staff have remained the same, hilarious people they were when I joined. I truly will miss spending Sundays in the office having minor meltdowns when the computers won’t start up, or Adobe Illustrator refuses to work or any of our regular issues comes up yet again. Although annoying when they happen, I’ve found I’m rather fond of those times. After I graduate, I will take a gap year and work as a rehabilitation technician before applying for occupational therapy schools. While this ultimately may have little influence on my career and my intentions in life, I will say with certainty that the Almanian has provided a new perspective on writing that I never really intended to have. I will miss you all and this newspaper greatly.

With love,
Kate Westphal

Dear Almanian readers,

As I reflect on my time as a staff writer for The Almanian, I’m able to also retrace the steps of my life here at Alma. I began my journey with the paper during my sophomore year, needing the extra cash and feeling as though I would be able to get some writing experience out of the gig. Writing for The Almanian was much more rewarding than I ever thought it would be. The experience of seeing something you worked incredibly hard to create on the front page, scattered around campus was quite thrilling. I’ve written everything from Campus Comment and stories on new clubs to political pieces and more. Each time I was given the opportunity to write something out of my comfort zone was an opportunity for personal growth. I’m thankful for my time here at The Almanian. Working for the paper allowed me to have a deeper connection to campus life, as well as giving me a space to write about important topics often overlooked by the mass media. I appreciate The Almanian’s willingness to choose topics that may be controversial, allowing us writers the chance to spark change across our campus community. I also have a sense of admiration for the paper’s push to remain an honest and unbiased source of information, as we oftentimes aren’t given something as simple as that by larger media outlets. I hope that students continue to pick up the paper and learn something, be it about campus, the world or even themselves. Fast forward to senior year, and here I am writing my farewell to The Almanian. Although I never would have dreamt that my time here at Alma would be ending during a global pandemic, I wouldn’t have wanted my last stories to be different than they were. Not only is my time writing for the paper coming to a close, but that chapter on my undergraduate career is nearing the final pages. I’d like to thank all of the Editor-in-Chiefs I’ve had at my time at The Almanian. I’d also like to thank all of the editors, who were kind enough to accept my articles late more often than not. Lastly, I’d like to thank all of those who read my articles; I hope you enjoyed them.

Keep on reading,
Emily Henderson

Dear Almanian,

When I was hired as “sports editor” of the paper, I mistakenly thought I was hired as a sports writer. While grateful for my first paid writing opportunity, this triggered my fight or flight response; I didn’t know enough to write about sports for every edition! I was certainly not qualified to do that. Once the then editor-in-chief informed my naive self that I was instead responsible for editing the layout of the sports page, that thought of impending doom went away and I was excited to get to work. My time working as a writer and layout editor for The Almanian has felt like it lasted for six years, but also six minutes. So many stories have been written and so much feedback has been received, yet it hasn’t felt like enough. In the last three years, I’ve written articles about anything from Alma conspiracy theories, on-campus events or popular culture, to more investigative works where I was in conversation with administration regarding larger campus issues. Throughout my time as a writer and layout editor, I have worked under three incredible editors-in-chief: Jelly, Brittany and now Bailey. These strong women have helped me grow into a more confident and capable writer and I appreciate their willingness to help me whenever I feel lost and ask silly questions. Our staff advisor, Matt Cicci has also been an immense help to me. He always sends his edits and opinions with some sort of witty comment and doesn’t judge me too hard when I send him emails with no files attached. Matt has guided me through a tumultuous senior year, which I am grateful for. I look forward to Sundays when we’re in the office because it is the only time I get to catch up with the other editors. We bond over reading Sorrow-Scopes when they come out, impatiently wait for Joe’s to open together and scream over every minor inconvenience that comes up while editing the pages. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Though I will not be missing the awful formatting issues on page 5, InDesign’s inability to be user-friendly or when my mouse says it is not charged after being plugged in for literally weeks at a time, I will miss these aforementioned things. The Almanian has given me an outlet for the last three years. Yes, it has given me journalistic experience and some extra cash, but moreso, it has given me a place where I can speak out about issues that I feel are important. This position has shown me time and time again why I want to be a journalist, and the people attached to the position are making it hard to say goodbye. To our current staff members and those who join in the future, know that the work you are putting in is important, and for the love of God, make sure to hit 3000 characters without spaces.

With love,
Jordyn Bradley

Dear Almanian,

I can’t believe how fast the years have gone by. I became the Web Editor of the Almanian at the end of my freshman year and have been managing the website ever since. Through these past three years, I have learned countless things by working on the Almanian staff. I have managed teams of people, social media accounts and a website. It was an amazing opportunity that has given me skills to prepare me for graduation, which is quickly approaching! I have seen so many amazing staff members come and go. To the staff who I have had the pleasure of working with: I truly enjoy reading and viewing your content every week; it’s the best part of my job. The editors have done an amazing job taking the Almanian to a whole new level over the past few years, and I have loved to watch it grow. After three years, I say my final goodbye to the Almanian and my fellow staff members. I can’t wait to keep up with Alma happenings by reading the website! I know that the Almanian is in good hands with all of you.

Your friend,
Chapin Kartsounes

Dear fellow Scots,

The past four years here have flown by with many challenges and positive memories that I will always remember. During my first initial visit on campus, I could tell there was small family feel between students, faculty and staff. From every organization and club that I have been a part of, this family culture was centered around each one. Upon my reflection on my time here at Alma, I want to thank my fellow wrestling teammates and coaches who fought with me, laughed along with me and stayed hard with me. I want to thank my professors who pushed me to take on challenges, but always believed in me every step of the way. I want to thank the people that I may have not known but have allowed that family feel to exist throughout Alma College. I also want to thank my many close friends that
have helped me develop into the person I am today. Finally, to the underclassmen, keep on the traditions, take on challenges and keep Alma College as a close-knit community.

Zach Jandereski

Trans students want to see Alma’s actions speak


The lack of restrooms that are available for any student, no matter what gender they prefer, on Alma’s campus is something to question.

You may not have noticed this issue because it doesn’t particularly affect you, but for the students that it does, it is more than an inconvenience.

There are very few all gender bathrooms in common areas of campus, and this problem needs to be solved. There are students on our own campus who have nowhere to do something that everyone does, and no one can help.

It’s time we start growing with society and creating spaces that allow people to use the bathroom if they need to, just like everyone else can.

There is a solution to this issue — we need single use bathrooms that are accessible and plenty around campus. These can be used by anyone, no matter what gender they identify as.

In the end, no one would be inconvenienced. A lot of people would be helped, and a positive change would be made!

I think the first step of this process should be addressing the few all gender bathrooms that already exist on our campus.

The most well-known all gender bathrooms are the ones on the first floor of Dow. These are routinely disgusting. The smell carries past the door, and the toilets are always very dirty.

The point is there, but Trans students deserve the basic decency of having a restroom that is useable.

Another gender inclusive bathroom used to exist across from Tyler Van Dusen but has since been removed and painted over. There are only male and female bathrooms in Saga, as well as the rec center.

There are no public all gender bathrooms in SAC, but students are allowed to use the one in the teacher’s lounge on the first floor if needed.

It is absolutely not okay that a student may have to walk up and/or down three flights of stairs just to use the restroom during class.

This issue has surpassed being just an inconvenience to students who need single use bathrooms. It can interfere with their health and disrupt their education because they would need to walk up and down flights of stairs which would cause them to miss more class time than those who could just use the restroom down the hall.

Because of the fact that I am cisgender, I have spoken to many individuals with whom the lack of all gender bathrooms effects. I then decided to use my voice as a staff member of The Almanian to broadcast their worries.

“If I’m somewhere like the rec or SAC, I’ll have to walk across campus just to use the bathroom,” said Oliver Labuda (’22). Labuda also stated that they sometimes leave SAC during class to use the single use restroom in the Eddy Music Hall.

Other students opened up to me about their struggles with not having a bathroom that is accessible to them.

“I have taken to social media to speak out about the issue,” said David Parnell III (’21) who has spoken with members of administration about the lack of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus.

“Your Trans students just need your actions to speak,” Parnell stated in a tweet that got several likes and retweets from other Alma students.

The school has taken a step by making bathrooms of dorm buildings single person use because anyone can use and access them at any point.

If we had more areas like this around campus, it would be a step towards making Trans students on campus feel a little more comfortable.

When you have a marginalized group speaking out and asking, “hey, we need this thing to make us feel more humane on your campus,” and the issue only seems to get worse, there needs to be a call to action.

The college should take responsibility for this mistake and allocate more bathrooms around campus to being single use, all gendered and easily accessible. This is a small step that could help many students at Alma who deserve comfortability.

Next time you’re walking around common areas of campus buildings, check the bathrooms. If you see an all gender bathroom, check the conditions. If none are satisfactory, or there isn’t one in sight, realize that.

Alma College, we want to see change. As long as everyone pees, they all deserve a place to be able to do so.

Freshmen settle into campus life


As fall semester comes to an end, students on campus have settled into their routines as undergraduates. Freshmen have started to learn the ways of navigating the Alma area, academics, and social life in general.

A few months ago, four freshmen were featured in a “Campus Comment” segment that focused on what they wanted to achieve looking forward at their lives as Alma College students.

Each student mentioned how excited they were to meet new people, take classes related to their majors and partake in featured clubs on campus.

Now, several weeks into the semester, we checked back in with those students to catch up with how they have been adapting to the college lifestyle.

“I’m happy with the person that I am. I feel the same, just in a more mature environment with a lot more people who have like mindsets to me, so I would say I’m way happier here overall,” said Brad Skellenger (‘22). Previously, Skellenger had mentioned that he was excited to meet new people who were as dedicated to music as he is.

Skellenger participates in band, choir and a small student-led vocal group called “Off Kilter” on campus.

Irene Collins (’22) found that her excitement about singing with the choirs was validated. “Chorale is my favorite class because singing makes me incredibly happy and [Will Nichols] is a wonderful professor,” said Collins. “My FYS (Time Travel in Science and Literature) is a close tie because the class is incredibly interesting and Dr. Jensen is a wonderful and incredibly thoughtful educator and person.”

Students can meet new people by joining clubs, engaging in their classes, going to on campus events and more. Every week at Alma, there is at least one event happening that has been put on by a student led group. These are made aware to the student body through posters around campus and emails sent to your Alma email address.

“My favorite thing to do on campus is attend sporting events and perform with the dance team,” said Alexandra Mithen (‘22). She had expressed in the earlier edition that she was excited to perform with the dance team this year, especially at sporting events. Mithen is heavily involved with the dance team as well as taking classes pertaining to dance on campus.

Moving into a new school with people that are unfamiliar can be challenging as an incoming freshman. However, as we move further into the fall semester, people around campus are starting to find their homes, friend groups, favorite classes and more.

“My favorite class is probably my FYS, which is Dance in the Humanities,” said Gina Dossantos (‘22). “I love learning about different forms of movement and how aspects like culture and history influence [them].”

Dossantos mentioned previously that she was excited to join clubs that celebrate different cultures. “I haven’t engaged in as many clubs as I had hoped to. However, I think now that I’ve seen all the different opportunities I have, I can pick the ones I’m drawn to most,” she said.

During the first semester of freshman year, a major life shift occurs. This can create a push towards large life changes in a short amount of time. Being away from family, living on your own and having to create new friendships and bonds comes along with that change.

“I [learned] that nothing will come easy here, everything, even the little things, require self-motivation and discipline,” said Dossantos.

For any incoming college students, Skellenger advised them to “[not] be shy. Talk to people even though you know you’re terrified to because it’s so much easier to be yourself once you’ve branched out already.”

Skellenger encouraged his fellow students to exceed their boundaries and make friends to have a much more enjoyable experience in college.

Clapping in SAGA causes controversy


You may have heard the thunderous applauses every once in a while during meal times. The clapping and cheering occurs whenever someone drops a piece of dishware, loudly in the middle of Hamilton Commons. Once it hits the ground, people sitting in Saga might begin clapping, cheering and sometimes they might even give a standing ovation.

Not everyone participates however. Some have rolled their eyes, others have yelled out for it to stop, some just choose to ignore the noise.

“It’s more of a football thing, not a lot of people do it if they’re not associated in some type of athletics,” said Nahuel Juarez (‘21). “It’s something that people started before us that’s been carried on.”

According to Juarez, the tradition began many years ago when the football team started cheering for their teammates who had dropped something.

Some students feel that the clapping should only occur depending on the type of person who dropped the dish. “If I know the person who dropped something, I [clap]. I know my buddies, so I mess with them because I know they know it’s just a joke,” said Cam Ramirez (‘20). “I can see it bothering people, like upsetting them, that’s why I only clap for the people I know.”

Recently, some of campus has taken to social media to discuss the controversy over the tradition. They felt as though the cheering can be dangerous to students who have social anxiety.

“I dread walking my dishes to the back in fear of dropping something. I would most definitely be one of those people to freak out,” wrote Kara Denike (‘20) on a Facebook status.

Social anxiety includes fear of being judged by others, feelings of not being good enough, and high levels of embarrassment around large groups of people. “I’m not diagnosed with any anxiety disorder but I’m close with enough people to imagine how it feels,” said Bridget McCaffrey (‘21). “In a moment like that, all you hope is that no one noticed what happened and that you’d just be able to move on, but instead a whole cafeteria of people you’ve never met [have clapped] for a mistake you made. It makes the person feel like [dropping a dish] is so important and impactful that the whole room [needed] to point it out.”

Others disagree. They feel as though the situation is a light-hearted, meaningless joke that shouldn’t be taken so seriously. This is where the question of ‘should the tradition continue?’ lies.

“I understand people get embarrassed, but I feel like if you can’t handle clapping over a cup being dropped in Saga, life will hit you pretty hard,” said Juarez. “I do somewhat see how people think it’s rude though.”

Some wonder if a compromise will be made between the two viewpoints, whether that be to keep the clapping strictly between groups of friends and teammates, or something more, while others argue to keep the tradition going to honor the Alumni who began it.

“Some do it to be rude and others do it just to poke fun at their friends,” said Ramirez. “There’s two sides to every story.”

Living without access


You don’t necessarily know that something is missing until you need it. For me, that thing was handicap buttons, ramps, and other means of accessibility on campus.

Throughout the summer, I became semi-dependent on mobility devices to get around, especially when I was going long distances or had a really active day.

When I got to campus, I knew there was a lack of ramps, but I didn’t think the issue would be as difficult as it quickly became for me.

I live in Newberry, which, for those who don’t know, does not have a ramp or access to any dorm room without taking at least five steps up or down. Luckily for me, I am still extremely mobile and can handle a few stairs.

There are some who are not as lucky as I am and cannot walk at all. If they ever wanted to spend time in a Newberry dorm room, it would be nearly impossible unless someone physically carried them up the steps.

At one point, I decided to use my motor scooter to get from Newberry to one of my classes. On the way out, I noticed that there was absolutely no handicap button, so I had to try and drive my device while opening the door at the same time. This task is even more difficult on the way into a building.

When you have to deal with these things regularly, you get used to them. However, I, and any other handicapped student on campus, should not have to.

I do not believe that it is too much to ask to install a button on each door that leads outside of the buildings on campus. All I am asking for is to have the ability to enter and leave a building independently.

Not only do a lot of doors lack these, but the ones that do have them don’t always work. There have been some instances where I have pressed the button, just to test it, and the door has not opened.

That means that the buttons need to be kept up with somewhat regularly to make sure they are in order. If a student reports a broken handicap button, the first thing that needs to be done is repairing it.

Something else that needs to be addressed is the lack of elevators in dorm buildings. Yes, Newberry is the only building on North Campus that does not have complete accessibility to any dorm room, but if you have friends on the second or third floors, you are out of luck.

Not having accessibility also takes a toll on mental health. Personally, I feel as though my needs as a person with a physical handicap are not a priority to the higher powers of Alma College whatsoever.

Along with this, it is easy to feel like a burden to your friends when you have to ask for help doing things that should be easily done with handicap accessibility. Going back to the elevator situation, someone in a wheelchair would have to depend on their friends coming to their dorm if those friends lived on a second or third floor.

We have expensive new chairs, academic technology and more but some buildings have only one or no handicap buttons. While these are all very beneficial to our campus, there are other issues I believe need to be addressed that seem to be constantly thrown under the radar.

A common opinion in the disabled community is that we just want to have the option to be independent and do things for ourselves. Sometimes, it is necessary to ask for help, but having our choice stripped from us is borderline inhumane.

Installing a handicap button, more ramps, and options to get up the stairs in the dorm buildings seems to be a minor thing to ask for, however, it comes down to more than just asking for help. We want to be seen, heard, understood and want to finally see action take place.

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