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

Disability visibility on campus


March is Disability Awareness month. Alma College hasn’t always offered a plethora of information on disability awareness, but this year may be different.

This semester the Center for Student Opportunity has created a reading club for faculty and students. The material concerns disability visibility.

The subject matter for this group was Disability Visibility written by Alice Wong, and it’s a collection of short stories by those with disabilities about their lives.

“We talked about how this book brings light to the lives and narratives of people with disabilities written specifically by people with disabilities,” said Julia Dang, a graduate assistant for the office of diversity and inclusion.

This book was chosen for a myriad of reasons. One reason is that Alice Wong, the author of the highlighted book, will be speaking at the Women’s History and Disability Awareness Month Keynote that will be happening on March 25th.

Not only is March Disability Awareness month, but it is also Women’s History month. The CSO is hoping to celebrate and highlight these together at the end of this month.

This book was also chosen because it offers a closer look into the life of more than one disabled individual.

Throughout history disability visibility has been lacking in all societies, but those with disabilities and their allies are hoping to change this narrative.

“Disability visibility is having those experiences recognized and validated and to have their voices and concerns heard rather than doing what our society is known to do, which is push away the topic of disability and accessibility because it’s difficult,” said Dang.

Disability visibility is important more than just one month out of the year, and is something that has not received a lot of attention through media or other outlets, and when it does it may be from the perspective of a non-disabled individual.

“Oftentimes, we are told about disabilities by medical practitioners or even by media, and it’s really not their story to tell, so we thought it would be really beneficial for our campus to hear about what they have to say about their own community,” said Dang.

Many feel that the only way to know about the oppression that minority groups face is to hear their story from them, without the presence of the majority’s opinion obstructing the truth.

This club has more than one motive. Not only do they want students and faculty to learn about the struggles that those with disabilities face in their lifetime, but they are also hoping to spark a change among those on campus.

“I wanted us to be disturbed about the lack of accessibility that is around us so that we can be fired up to make a change to be more inclusive,” said Dang.

The Center for Student Opportunity doesn’t plan on stopping here. As momentum gains within our academic community, they hope to see more students join them in future meetings discussing other books regarding this topic.

“This was our first book club; however, based on the engagement and success, I’d love to host another one of these in the future,” said Dang.

The CSO is hoping to hold another reading club in the future, and are open to student suggestions on the material that is covered regarding the lives of those with disabilities.

While nothing has currently been planned regarding the next book that will be highlighted in this group, those who partook have a good feeling about the direction the campus is headed in regards to disability visibility.

Students discuss weekend restrictions


Alma College announced over winter break that students would only be permitted to return home on three specific weekends this semester. This decision was made in order to hopefully lower COVID-19 cases on campus this winter term.

Many students have opinions regarding this decision.

“I feel conflicted that students are only allowed to go home three weekends of the semester. I understand that they want us to have less chances of bringing Covid cases onto campus,” said Chloe Sandborn (‘21).

On campus, many students may feel as though going home only a few times in the semester is isolating and restrictive. For others, their health is a major concern during this pandemic.

“I find it frustrating because I’m immunocompromised and I know that people over the weekend [may] potentially get sick,” said Elizabeth Elliott-Redlin (‘23).

Decisions like this go through a myriad of individuals before anything is finalized, and the college spends much time grueling over such a topic.

“What we really saw was that when students went home that’s when they caught COVID and brought it back to campus,” said Alan Gatlin, senior vice president and chief operating officer here at Alma College. “That was the primary driver of our decision to restrict how frequently students go home.”

While the college may be trying to curb COVID rates on campus this semester, some individuals feel as though the decision doesn’t affect all on campus in the same way.

“It’s frustrating to see sports and some campus groups being able to travel while we are stuck here,” said Sandborn.

While some students are unable to return home as much as they have in previous semesters, others are still permitted to attend away sporting events.

“We didn’t see one instance where it spread at an athletic practice or athletic event,” said Gatlin.

Some students not only feel as though those on sports teams have received special privileges, but as have those that are not yet enrolled here at Alma.

“I also don’t understand why students are only allowed to leave three times a semester while the college allows potential students to come and tour,” said Sandborn.

Current students that live on campus are not permitted to leave the greater Alma area except for three specific weekends that have been laid out by the college, but that doesn’t mean that prospective students are not allowed to visit our campus with their families.

The entire campus was tested after their weekend absence. This has led some to wonder what changes may occur upon the results of this round of COVID testing.

“We’ve laid out two more weekends that students can go home. It would take a pretty dramatic upturn in cases for us to cancel those,” said Gatlin.

If less than one percent of students return a positive test the college will move into Phase II, permitting one other student in each other’s room with masks. Many students remain hopeful for this to become the case, as campus can be an isolating place during this pandemic.

There are some students that wish for campus to change in other ways however.

“I’d much rather have Phase II or have them be more firm on their stance,” said Elliot-Redlin.

Many students can’t help but feel down during these uncertain and lonely times.

“Campus is depressing and only being allowed to leave three times just makes it hard to enjoy my college experience,” said Sandborn.

While students may be permitted to go home or leave the Alma area on just three weekends, the decision makers at Alma College feel as though this is the best plan of action.

“We don’t enjoy having these restrictions in place, we’re just trying to make the best common sense decisions we can,” said Gatlin.

Retention rate in response to the pandemic


Alma College’s campus has looked very different this past year: new restrictions being put in place, classrooms looking and behaving differently and social events being a thing of the past. The question now that must be asked is how this pandemic has affected Alma’s retention rate.

Retention rate refers to the percentage of first-year students that return to a campus the next academic year. Alma College’s retention rate of first-years in 2019 was 81.9%. The national retention rate in 2018 was 81%, so Alma has kept up with the pack when it comes to the rate at which students return.

The data regarding Alma’s current retention rates will be available by February 1st, and this will provide insight into just how large of a toll the ongoing pandemic has placed on our campus community.

While many students excitedly returned to campus following winter break, this is not the case for all.

“We have 60 students fully online this term, in comparison to 43 last term,” said Vice President of Student Affairs, Damon Brown.

The college has been working with students individually and as a whole to ensure that the education they receive is as riveting and informational as possible during these difficult and strange times. Those that chose to return to campus for the winter semester are able to continue their education either fully in-person or in a hyflex format, depending on the preference of each professor and student.

“One impactful strategy has been offering students the option to study online and working individually with each student to create an online schedule through a mixture of online, hyflex, and lecture-based courses that, in many cases, faculty have been willing to adapt to meet the needs of online students. Without an online option, we likely would’ve lost the 60 students who stayed as online-only students,” said Brown.

The hard work and dedication of professors, students and faculty have made education possible even during these unprecedented times.

While students continue to battle both rigorous courses and the pandemic, they must keep in mind that the virtual doors to Alma College’s Student Affairs office are always open.

Not only is the Student Affairs office focused on healthy students, those that fall ill to COVID-19 this semester may find that the transition from in-person and hyflex classes to completely online in isolation moves more smoothly than last semester.

“Academic Support staff gathered survey data about the experiences of students on medical leave. The data from this survey was used to optimize the student medical leave process and support to streamline communication and vary the touchpoints of support offered to students at critical times,” said Brown.

For those who aren’t ill, they may start to feel isolated and lonely as there aren’t as many campus-wide events going on nowadays. The Student Affairs office is working diligently to bring COVID-safe events and activities to campus this semester.

Activities include a campus-wide fitness challenge, academic support geared towards wellness and motivation, virtual and in-person study groups, pick-up activities and more.

“Student Affairs staff is supporting programming to increase student motivation and decrease student isolation,” said Brown.

February will bring some much-needed information to light regarding the impacts this pandemic has had on student retention rate. The college’s Student Affairs office will continue to evolve and work with students and faculty during these unprecedented times.

Greek events look different this semester



Due to the ongoing pandemic students may have noticed a few changes to this year’s events. Derby Days and Greek week are no different.

Greek week has recently come to a close, with many having participated in the events. Greek week is an event that all the Greek organizations on campus took part in and was created as a way for these groups to earn money for their various philanthropies.

This year Greek week may have looked different than years prior, with a lot of in-person events being moved to a virtual format to ensure the safety of those participating.

Some of the events included different dress-up days during the week such as letters day or formal attire. There were also different challenges that occurred throughout the week. A scavenger hunt, trivia night and social media challenge were just a few of the events that took place during this week-long event.

“Anything that is done in person is meant to be socially distanced and obviously requires masks,” said Julia Neuvirth (‘21).

Social distancing as well as mask wearing were required to participate in any of the in-person events that occurred during the week, as well as any event that is hosted at Alma College.

This year Greek week was hosted as a way for these organizations to earn money for their philanthropic ventures.

If you missed the happenings from this year’s Greek week fret not, as more philanthropic events are just around the corner. Sigma Chi’s annual philanthropic event Derby Days will commence this year in just a few short days.

The brothers of Sigma Chi will host a myriad of events during the week to raise money for the Huntsman Cancer Institution.

The Huntsman Cancer Institution, founded in 1995, is an organization that works towards cancer research and is located in the state of Utah. All Sigma Chi fraternities across the nation have been raising money for the Huntsman Cancer Institution since 2012.

The question at the forefront of many minds is how the brothers will be able to host these events in a way that is safe for all.

“Derby Days will be different this year due to the pandemic. There will be a mix of socially distanced events and online events that consist of virtual events and social media challenges,” said Brandon Ralston (‘21).

Events this year will allow for students to be able to donate and participate while still remaining healthy and distant. While Greek week focuses more on those a part of Greek life, Sigma Chi’s Derby Days is meant for all students to enjoy.

“We love having non-Greek students participate because it demonstrates that Greek life is about more than partying,” said Ralston.

Many Greek organizations focus on hosting events meant to raise money for their philanthropic venture and are a way for students to donate money to organizations while also participating in different happenings on campus.

Registering to vote in the upcoming election


Photo by Lizzy Dermody

Voting season is now upon us. This presidential election is said to be one for the books as Donald Trump and Joe Biden take the stage to discuss their policies and ideals.

Politics is often seen as stressful and burdensome, and young voters are the least likely to turn out to the polls yet are the most affected by each election.

“Voting is crucial, but still a first step. Get involved with a political group as soon as you can,” said Sam Nelson (‘21).

Alma College offers various clubs that allow students to understand and learn about different political groups. Many say that getting involved is an integral part of becoming an informed citizen.

Registering to vote is the first dive into the ocean of politics. Each state has a different date in which registering to vote must be completed, and other avenues such as mail-in voting exist to help those who may not be able to vote in person.

For Michigan the final date one can register to vote is Oct. 19th. If you would like to mail in your vote you can do so now through Oct. 19th in order to ensure your vote is counted.

Unlike some states, Michigan does allow for voters to register on voting day, but it is only available at specific locations in your town, not your polling place.

Voting has long been seen as a tedious task, and one that many Americans feel has lost its value within the Electoral College.

“Voting has that benefit of encouraging you to be involved and aware. There are some studies that show that people feel better about the country when they vote,” said Dr. Britt Cartrite, professor of political science.

Although voting has been proven to boost morale among Americans, young voters are the least likely to turn out to the polls and vote. Many feel as though their vote doesn’t count and are oftentimes discontent with one or more party’s representatives.

Mail-in voting has often been an avenue for those who find themselves in a different state than their home state during this time, or for those who simply can’t make it to the polls.

Many worry about whether or not their vote will make it on time, due in part to the ongoing pandemic but also the issues that have arisen this year with the USPS.

“It is safe to vote by mail, but there is potential for delays. If you want your ballot to count, you should make a plan to get your absentee ballot today,” said Nelson.

For those who are in a different state, or in a different part of the state, mail-in voting is a useful tool. Those who utilize mail-in voting can track their ballot online to ensure everything goes through, and can even request a new ballot if there is an issue with the one they previously sent in.

Voting goes beyond registering and showing up to the polls, though. In order to vote one must be aware of the state of our government and its systems.

Many citizens currently feel as though a shift needs to happen within our government, be them from the left or right.

“You can actually have a real impact at the local level. That’s another reason to get involved and participate. Most of the rules, regulations and laws that impact your day to day life are done at the state level, not the national or local level,” said Cartrite.

There has often been talk of change happening at the local, state and national levels of our government. Many political scientists are seeing a shift in the people’s wants, as well as institutions and systems within our government that may be failing.

“It seems like our institutions are starting to struggle. I think it’s a good time to get involved, especially as a young person, because the world is changing fast,” said Cartrite.

Collective thinking of the people is what moves the country along, and voting is one avenue that allows voices to be heard and change to be made no matter what you stand for.

Masks for all is new campus policy



The CDC has asked that all Americans over the age of two and those without certain health conditions wear face coverings while out in public, or in an area where social distancing is virtually impossible.

Alma College has adopted these policies as part of their reopening process this fall. This rule states that students must wear face coverings when not in their dorm room.

Many have questioned whether face coverings are able to slow the spread of this virus, or if we’re simply told to wear them to offer ourselves peace of mind during this global pandemic.

“Several studies have now been conducted that demonstrate wearing masks helps to decrease the transmission of the virus from infected individuals to others,” said Assistant Professor of Biology, Eric Calhoun.

Some fear that wearing a face covering may cause a buildup of carbon dioxide, which can be deadly to the wearer. There has been no evidence that this is the case, so mask wearers can rest easy knowing that when they exhale their CO2 isn’t lingering in the cloth.

Another reason why some without underlying conditions are choosing not to wear a mask during this pandemic may be due to comfort. Face coverings were often ditched in summer months due to hot days and swampy masks. They have also been causing a new phenomenon — mask acne.

While those may be the case, there are some that are unable to leave their home without fear of falling ill with the coronavirus.

“Data show that if I contract COVID-19, I’m twice as likely to die than the average patient. [If you] take into account my age, that increases the odds of death even more.”

Instructor of Geology and Environmental Studies, Murray Borrello

The use of face coverings does not just affect the user, but those around them as well. Those of high risk of death include individuals over the age of 85 and those with underlying health conditions.

“More than 186,000 people have died in the United States due to SARS-CoV-2. This is not a hoax.”

Assistant Professor of Biology, Eric Calhoun

New studies on this virus are coming out each day, and with them a breadth of knowledge not known beforehand. A recent study conducted by the CDC found that many individuals guilty of spreading this virus were asymptomatic. The importance of wearing a mask in public is becoming more evident through time, as experts still do not know everything about the novel coronavirus.

There are many different types of face coverings on the market as of late. From the traditional surgical mask to neck gaiters, and everything in-between, individuals have a plethora of options to choose from when mask shopping. Not all face masks are created equal, however.

The CDC, as well as other health organizations, have done a myriad of studies to discover which face coverings work the best in the face of the novel coronavirus.

“With the cloth or surgical mask, the distance the droplets traveled was significantly reduced; down to right around only a foot from the mask,” said Calhoun.

The use of a face covering has been proven through various scientific studies to be a good combatant in the fight against COVID-19.

Some may not refute this data but have other reasons as to why they feel as though they should not Masks for all is new campus policy be told to wear a mask while in public or around others.

“Some people feel that being asked to wear a mask, or required to wear a mask, is an infringement of their individual rights. And they would be wrong,” said Borrello.

The use of a face covering is important in the fight against the novel coronavirus, and all students must adhere to the Alma College policies and continue to wear their masks when not in their dorm rooms.

“No war with Iran” ignites Twitter fued


Earlier this semester a student group on campus hung a red painted banner that read, “No War with Iran.” Shortly after the banner was placed outside the library, it was removed and later found in the trash.

This sparked quite a bit of drama not only around campus, but on one of the many Alma social media pages students use to anonymously vent. Alma Confessions, an anonymously run Twitter, was the page that saw the true heat of this argument.

Students from both the right and left took to Twitter to retweet, argue in the comments or just watch the show.

The banner and its removal lead to quite the political unrest on our small campus.

“The act of tearing down the banner, on its own, is a completely acceptable form of expression. That being said, it’s cowardly and also is the result of ignorance,” said Aristotle Karonias (‘22).

Some felt as though the students who tore down the banner continued their argument by hiding behind a screen. There was much argument over whether or not the removal of this banner was an act of free speech, or students just trying to cause a ruckus.

Not only were people discussing the banner on Twitter, slurs were being hurled from one direction to the next.

There were quite a few tweets posted by the Alma Confessions page in regards to the banner and its whereabouts, and others were in regards to students questioning why some had a problem with its removal, and yet others were discussing the issues with tearing it down.

Alma Confessions posted a tweet sent in by a student that read, “We 100% put that [redacted] banner in the trash. Then took it down again and brought that [redacted] off campus so it’ll never be found. Quit being [redacted] soft liberal pieces of shit. #NukeTfOutOfIran.”

Some of the students who put the banner up were bothered by the tweet being posted on this twitter, and arguments ensued. While some are angry, others tried to look at the situation with optimism and positivity.

“I do love everyone and stand to the fact that these people are still our peers and friends. What they did and believe in may reflect poor ideals, but they still have the right to those and expression, such as tearing down the flag,” said Karonias.

This entire issue brought forth a giant red flag, and not the one that was hung by the library.

Are Twitter pages like Alma Confessions more harmful than beneficial to our campus? Arguments can and have been made for both sides.

Pages like this one allow students a place to vent where they may not have otherwise been able to, which allows a certain kind of freedom that many students may feel they are lacking. On the other hand, this kind of anonymity can allow for the harassment of others with what feels like no backlash or punishment.

Already there have been tweets singling women out on our campus, and more will surely follow.

Pages like Alma Confessions must be aware of what they are posting, and can choose whether or not they will tweet or share something that may be harmful to their fellow students on campus.

Even after all of the arguments and posts found on the Alma Confessions page, students still feel as though it is more helpful than harmful on campus.

“Alma Confessions is a vital resource in the means of channeling our first amendment freedom of speech rights, in a way that somewhat can separate identity from message conveyed. For this reason, I think that to eliminate it would be an attack on that aspect of our constitutionally given rights,” said Karonias.

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