“No war with Iran” ignites Twitter fued

EMILY HENDERSON
STAFF WRITER

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.

Alma Choir takes the midwest by storm

EMILY HENDERSON
STAFF WRITER

PHOTO BY EMMA GROSSBAUER

This past winter break brought yet another choir tour for the Alma College Choir. For the 2020 tour the choir performed in three states: Michigan, Illinois and Ohio.

The choir sang in Chicago, Dayton, Northville, Muskegon, Traverse City and Monroe. While they were originally set to perform in Davison as well, a snowstorm blew in, causing the performance to be cancelled.

Although one show was cancelled, they were still able to share their music with large audiences, and some students even sang in their hometown.

The choir tour is an important part of the choir experience, and it allows Alma College to showcase the wonderful talent here.

“Our purpose is three-fold: to give Alma students a chance to grow together as musicians and friends; to spread the good news about Alma College to new audiences; and to reconnect with Alma College alumni and friends,” said Director of the Alma Choirs, Dr. William Nichols.

This tour allows students to grow not only as singers, but as individuals as well.

The choir has done this tour for quite some time, and each year they are able to reach new audiences and communities.

“Churches and schools host the choir and provide us with a meal and housing for the night. Sometimes they put us up in a hotel but most of the time the members of the church bring us to their homes for the night,” said Ellie Woertz (‘20).

A lot of hard work is put into making sure this tour runs smoothly, and each member of the Alma Choir must be ready to give it their all for every performance. In fact, the singers in the choir memorized 18 different songs in a myriad of musical genres and styles.

The music performed during this tour ranged from the 16th century all the way through scores written this past year. While some of these songs may have been learned specifically for this tour, others will be performed again when the choir tours Ireland in the spring.

This choir tour has been a long-standing tradition here at Alma, and students have performed in many different corners of the United States.

“I suspect the choir has toured during the break for more than 70 years,” said Dr. Nichols.

While it seems as though this tour may be a daunting task, students are still given free time to explore cities and see sights that may be new, or old, to them.

“This year we spent two days in Chicago. It was cool to stay in a hotel that was a block from the mag mile and be able to roam the city,” said Woertz.

While Ellie may have been eager to share her stories from this past choir tour, others would like their memories to remain their own.

“What happens on choir tour stays on choir tour! But I can tell you how much I enjoy spending time away from campus with these outstanding students,” said Dr. Nichols.

A lot of time, energy, and hard work was put into making sure this choir tour was one for the books, and faculty and students alike can rest easy knowing they accomplished just that.

Each tour brings singers to new and exciting places, and maybe even areas they’d never thought they would visit. While the choir tour this year didn’t bring the singers to the sunshine state during the cold break, they each made memories that may last a lifetime.

“The choir program at this school is extremely talented and near to my heart. Dr. Nichols is an important asset to the college. I could never see another director of the choirs be as successful and beloved as this man,” said Woertz.

While this past choir tour didn’t take students to far away states, such as the previous tour in Florida, that is only because of the upcoming tour in Ireland.

“I anticipate taking the choir to the East Coast in February 2021 with concerts in Philadelphia, NYC and Washington DC,” said Dr. Nichols

Female appointed lawyer at Vatican

EMILY HENDERSEN
STAFF WRITER

This January marks a huge shift in the history of Vatican employment. Pope Francis appointed the first ever female lawyer into the Vatican’s diplomatic division.

This division, known as the Holy See, has never had a woman working within it, but that all changed this past month.

Francesca Di Giovanni is the first woman to ever be appointed into a position within the Vatican, as the new Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs.

The Holy See works with foreign relations and international affairs with other intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations, and is essentially the central government of the Roman Catholic Church.

Di Giovanni has worked in the Secretariat of State for 27 years, and has been working in refugee and migration issues as well as international human rights, the position of women, tourism and much more.

“I think it’s great that they’re starting to have more women in [higher] positions, but I do understand why women can’t hold some positions. [Catholicism] is a very traditional religion, so that’s why things like that don’t really change,” said Bridget Eshleman (‘20).

Many women groups, especially a group known as the International Union of Superiors General, have been calling for the Vatican to allow more women to hold positions, as they feel they are underrepresented in the religion they make up a large part of.

While Di Giovanni may now be the highest ranking woman working for the Roman Catholic Church, there are other women working within the Vatican, and this news gives hope to more women who wish to be either represented better within the Church, or would like to one day work among it.

The Catholic Church currently only allows men to become ordained priests, so the allowance of a woman to be in such a high-ranking division of the Vatican is a rare and intriguing feat for Di Giovanni to have accomplished at the ripe age of 66.

Pope Francis has been no stranger to shaking up the Vatican since his Papal inauguration. Not only is the Pope attempting to integrate more women into high-ranking positions within the Church, he also leans more progressive with his views on same-sex marriage and the celibacy of priests.

Pope Francis, in past speeches, has discussed his views on the importance of women becoming more involved in everyday workings at the Vatican, and he claimed that women were “mediators of peace” and that their talents could be utilized to create a more united and peaceful space.

While this new position may begin to excite many women of faith, they also remain cautious of these changes, because while opportunities for women may begin to arise, gender roles are still very much being pushed.

“With any political position, or anything like that, I honestly believe that regardless if it’s a man or a woman, whoever is best suited for the job should get it. I don’t necessarily know if they should give [a position] to someone just because they’re a woman, especially if it’s out of pity,” said Eshleman.

Di Giovani, in an interview with the Vatican news, also commented on her new position, discussing her thoughts on being a working woman so high up in the Vatican’s political system. She also stated that she had no idea that the Pope was going to call upon her to take the position.

The world now looks to the Vatican and the Pope, all itching to see what progressive decision he will make next.

Campus prepares for winter months

EMILY HENDERSON
STAFF WRITER

January marks the midway point of influenza season, but that doesn’t mean that the infection rate of this illness will slow down. Winter is prime cold and flu season, but that’s not the only ailment that may affect the students of this campus.

As daylight hours lessen and become overrun with darkness, many faculty members and students alike may begin to feel a little down in the dumps. Alma College’s Health and Wellness Center is ready to tackle any issues that may arise during this season.

There are many measures that each student can take to ensure their mental and physical health is in tip-top shape this semester. One step that those in the Wilcox Medical Center encourage everyone to take is receiving the flu vaccine.

“I think [the flu vaccine] is very valuable because the flu can become deadly, so I think it’s important that we’re vaccinated to try and help prevent that and the spread of influenza. It is highly contagious,” said Allison Neyer, Simulation Technologist in the Nursing Department.

Some may feel as though there is no merit in receiving the flu vaccine this far into influenza season, but those in the Wilcox Medical Center disagree.

“We do still have [flu] vaccines available at Wilcox. They do take 2 weeks to be effective, but we still recommend getting them. Flu season goes typically through April, and last year’s flu season came late in our area and the surrounding counties, so I recommend even now if you haven’t received it you come in and get it,” said Renee Kern, family nurse practitioner.

Not only is the influenza more common this time of year, common colds are also seen more often.

The flu vaccine is the best way to fight against influenza. There are other methods that students can use to keep the common cold at bay.

“Hand-washing is the number one way to prevent illness year-round and especially this time of year, so wash your hands often,” said Kern.

While the Wilcox Medical Center is available for all of your sickness-related needs, those who may be feeling a little worse for wear in the emotional sense can find help in the Counselling and Wellness Center, located in the Wilcox building as well.

“SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a form of depression that occurs around a specific time of year typically in autumn and winter,” said David Wier, one of the counselors at the Counseling and Wellness Center located next to Hogan.

Many students may begin to feel a lull in their day-to-day life, which can be a common occurrence due to the limited sunlight in the winter.

The Counseling and Wellness Center has a sun-light that is available for all students to use whenever they need it. Along with that students can receive a one-on-one counseling session to discuss whatever they need to.

Many students may feel embarrassed or awkward when wanting to try the resources this center offers, but it is much more common than many may know.

“Of the 2019 graduating class 49% of students accessed mental health services at some point during their time at Alma College,” said Wier.

Many students may not be thinking about things such as mental and physical health so early in the semester, but it is important to keep them in mind during these cold months.

Keeping good hygiene as well as being open about the state of your mental health are both important for each student to practice during these cold winter months.

“We’re always happy to see you in Wilcox if you have any concerns about your health,” said Kern.

China’s re-education camps

EMILY HENDERSON
STAFF WRITER

Since 2014, China has been placing Uyghur Muslims in re-education camps in an attempt to curb extreme terrorist acts within the country.

China has been one of too few countries that have not experienced many actions of terrorism in their recent history, and has often felt pride in that.

That pride changed to fear in 2013, when three individuals drove a car into a crowd full of people at the Gate of Heavenly Peace on Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The drivers were Muslim extremists from Uyghur.

Shortly after this attack occurred, China opened these re-education camps and began to force parents and children with any ties to this region into them. 

Reporters from BBC have inside information from individuals who have been separated from their children. They claim Uyghur Muslims are not only being placed into these camps if they express any extreme thoughts or ideas, but are ripped from their children if they are merely practicing their faith. 

China has made claims that these camps are only in place to combat violent extremism, but some are comparing them to concentration camps.

They are two completely different things. These are education camps. The chinese online news also mention that they’re education camps, different from what the Western media has reported,” said Dr. Liping Bu, chair of the history department here at Alma.

This is not the first time that China has put its residents into education camps. The People’s Republic of China came to be in the 1950s, and this brought forth major social changes; the biggest being socialist values within the country. At this time, China instituted re-education classes for its upper-class citizens. 

“[China] conducted re-education classes for people who used to be of the upper class who had biased toward ordinary people to try to reshape their attitude so they could reshape their thinking,” said Dr. Bu. 

While some countries may feel as though the actions of China are on the extreme side, this is not the first time that China has used these tactics to reshape the ideas of their society.

These camps were first instituted in China in 2014, but they haven’t gained much media attention overseas until now.  The reasoning: leaked documents from China that tell officials within these camps to treat the individuals with “absolutely no mercy.”

This document has just recently come to light, and many other countries are now looking to China for an explanation, but some say that you must remain cautious of what you hear and see in the media. 

“You’ve got to check the sources in their original form. In the past, I have seen reports, which were in the Western news, that were completely off of the original documents. Read the original language, what does it say there?” said Dr. Bu.

No matter what the document may say, China is still building more and more education camps, and is placing Muslims into them each day.

Many Uighurs have come from the Xijian region to leave behind China’s birth control limits, study and have more religious freedom. They are now facing oppression at the hands of the Chinese government.     

“My understanding is that the government is trying to educate these people so they don’t use terrorist tactics. Once the political situation becomes tight the government can go beyond expectation,” said Dr. Bu.   

These camps, and all that they entail, are just now being questioned by other countries. While many nations are aware of their existence, the secrecy of China’s government makes it difficult for many to know what is actually occurring within these “re-education” camps.     

Changes coming for Alma College Venture experiences

EMILY HENDERSON
STAFF WRITER

Photo by EMMA GROSSBAUER

Fall 2020 will bring some big changes to our small campus. Beginning next fall term, Alma College will open up more travel experiences for students, in the hopes that more individuals will be able to make use of the opportunities offered through the college.

Currently, any student who has taken advantage of a Posey Global Grant to travel abroad is not eligible to use a Venture Grant. Starting in the fall of 2020 that will change.

“Students can now complete multiple experiences and they will not take away from their access to other opportunities,” said Assistant Director of the Venture Program and Off-Campus Study, Carla Jensen.

The goal of this change is to open up opportunities to students on campus that may otherwise be closed. Some say that Alma’s off-campus experiences help to distinguish the college from other small liberal arts schools.

Not only will students be able to use these grants in any order they see fit, there will even be opportunities for those traveling to get more funding.

“All traditional Venture funding will still be in place, but additional funding is available, thanks to generous donor support, for experiences like local service learning, social justice and advocacy work,” said Carla Jensen.

Some students now wonder what this means for those that have already received a Posey Global Grant and were denied for a Venture Grant.

“The Venture Grant was falsely advertised to me as a prospective student and I was very angry to learn that I could not access it because I took the opportunity to use a P-Global in my first year,” said Destiny Herbers (‘21).

While students still currently cannot apply for a Venture Grant if they have already used a P-Global, the opportunity for some will come soon enough.

“This change I do think must be frustrating for people who were denied their Venture due to using P-Global money first, but that doesn’t mean that Administration shouldn’t make this change,” said Lillian Blaisdell (‘21).

For many this change seems to be a case of “better late than never,” but still brings some disappointment as they won’t be able to take advantage of this opportunity for this upcoming spring term.

The changes of the order in which the Venture Grant and P-Global can be used is not the only change to this system, though.

“Beginning next fall, all experiential and service learning programs will now fall under the Venture umbrella and most will have a shared application and committee review process,” said Carla Jensen. “Students can dream up their Venture and apply for the funding needed and the committee will determine the awards.” 

While the entire process hasn’t yet been fully decided or released, the college is planning on big changes that involve opening more doors for students who are willing and wanting to travel abroad. The upcoming changes have many students giddy about the prospect of being able to travel even more, but they feel as though there are still issues that remain unsolved.

“I do think a major flaw that still exists in the Venture program system is why [and] why not some students receive the “full” $2,500.  I think, especially since $2,500 is advertised for every student, it really stirs up bitterness and confusion when people aren’t awarded the full amount,” said Blaisdell.

Although some students feel as though there are issues within the Venture system here at Alma, there are changes being made in hopes of allowing more students to venture off campus and explore the world around them.

“We believe every Alma College student should have a transformative experiential learning opportunity and the college is expanding our commitment to making that possible,” said Carla Jensen. “College is a great place to explore new things and we believe your college experience should include the opportunity to pursue something you care deeply about or maybe just to step out of your comfort zone and try something you never imagined”

Alma students experience health and safety inspections

EMILY HENDERSON
STAFF WRITER

Photo by HANNAH GIBBS

Many students have already experienced the Health and Safety inspections that began this semester. This inspection is returning to Alma this year, and is something that has occurred across all of campus.

While this may be the first year in a long time Alma College has introduced the Health and Safety inspection, this time it’s here to stay.

“The Health and Safety checks are going to happen once a semester,” said Resident Assistant Andrew Coffelt (‘20). 

These checks will happen each semester, and are done to ensure that each dorm room hosts a safe environment for the students here at Alma.

Most students here on campus do not enjoy the room checks, but they also don’t feel as though they are an invasion of privacy either.

“I honestly didn’t think twice about it; I thought it was normal,” said Noor Hassan-Contreras (‘23).

While these checks occurred on North campus, they were also done on South campus and at the Greek houses. Some theme houses felt as though they weren’t adequately warned of these checks, though.

“They knock on the door and say “campus security” and then they come into the house. They knock on every door and tell everyone they’re coming in and if they don’t get a response they walk in. If you tell them to hold on a second they will, but not for very [long],” said Darian Jones (‘21).

Some students expressed concern over the way the Health and Safety checks were conducted at Greek houses, as some fraternities here on campus claim they were not informed 24 hours before the check occurred, yet students living in the dorms were.

“Health and safety inspections entail Residence Life staff members notifying students at least 24 hours in advance that health and safety inspections will [occur] during a set date and time,” said Graduate Assistant for Second Year Experience, Andrew Lienau.

It is mandatory that these inspections are announced 24 hours before their occurrence, so as to not surprise any students.

The new Health and Safety inspections will continue on after this semester, whether students like it or not. While these checks may be abnormal for Alma, they aren’t atypical for other colleges.

“This is the first year Alma has done health and safety, but a lot of other schools do them,” said Coffelt.

A quick Google search will clearly show that many colleges all across the United States do, in fact, conduct these inspections each semester to ensure the dorms are as safe as they can be for all of the students living on campus.

While many colleges and universities may conduct these inspections, that doesn’t mean students like them.

Some students feel as though these checks go beyond just looking at Health and Safety, and may even be close to an invasion of privacy.

“They should just be coming in to look and see that the fire detector hasn’t been tampered with and you should look around to make sure everything is fine, but no, they come in and look hard. I know for sure [that] someone was told that they failed the check because their trash can was full and they had dirty clothes on their floor,” said Jones.

While some students may feel as though these checks go deeper than just looking around to ensure everything is in tip-top shape for student’s health and safety, some say they’re just doing their job.

“We weren’t digging through people’s stuff, it’s just a look at the overall room,” said Coffelt. 

While these Health and Safety inspections may be seen in a controversial light by some students, the fact of the matter remains: the new Health and Safety inspections are here to stay. 

Academic services on campus

EMILY HENDERSON
STAFF WRITER

Photo by GRACE GRELAK

Alma College has a plethora of academic services, yet many students may not utilize them. As classes near their midterms, students at Alma may begin to feel as though they need a little extra support to stay ahead of the curb.

From the CSO, or the Center for Student Opportunity, to the writing center, Alma offers a myriad of different options depending on a students’ specific needs, be it tutoring, writing help and so much more.

The CSO is a place some students utilize, but others feel as though there are many students who are unaware of the help available.

“You can go to the CSO and discuss what you need. If you need more time to take tests, disability services or a wide-range of things. There’s also tutoring, and it’s free on campus,” said Kimber Buzzard (‘21).

The CSO can be found right next to Joe’s in Gelston Hall here on campus.

Students can pick up tutoring forms in the CSO, and they’ll be matched with a tutor, free of charge.

The Writing Center is another academic service found here on campus, located in the library.

“The Writing Center in the library is a great place [to go] if you’re struggling to write a paper. That’s a really cool resource that I think a lot of students don’t utilize. Everything’s free because [Alma College] doesn’t want students to not have these opportunities,” said Buzzard.

Resources here on campus are free to students, which can allow every student to have an equal opportunity to gain academic support. The Writing Center and tutoring are not the only academic services found here on campus.

“Students can go to the CSO for things such as career services, tutoring, help with their resume, graduate school applications, interview help,” said Kendall Bird (‘20).

Along with assistance on resumes and more, the college also offers academic help for those with disabilities.

“Students that have a diagnosed disability can get in contact with Rhonda Linn, and she can help with accommodation letters and what would be feasible for the college to do to help the student succeed in their classes,” said Cosette Coston (‘20).

Alma College allows students with certain disabilities have access to exams for more time, or even in different areas aside from a classroom setting, allowing each student the opportunity to turn in their best work.

“Some of the things the school can do are assisted note taking, so they’ll hire a student that is in a class to take notes and send their notes to the CSO. The process would be confidential, that way the students don’t know who is writing the notes and who the notes are going to. They can also help with reserving rooms to take exams,” said Coston.

If students require different help than what is offered in the CSO or Writing Center, there may still be options available for them.

“There’s a library research class, headed by Steven Richter. It’s a class that helps students find scholarly articles, aside from using Google Scholar,” said Martin Betancourt (‘21).

Not only can students find help with library research, but there are other courses available to help with other academic needs.

“There’s also academics 101, which is a study habits class that helps students that are struggling with their GPA; it helps college kids that don’t know how to study for their classes gain good study habits. Both classes meet once a week for a max of 45 minutes,” said Betancourt.

Academic services may come in a myriad of different forms, be it tutoring, writing help, resume building or even being taught better study habits. The college provides students with many different opportunities, and students are welcome and encouraged to utilize the academic resources here on campus.

Pence’s Mackinac Island motorcade

EMILY HENDERSON
STAFF WRITER

Photo by EMMA GROSSBAUER

Last Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence rode from an airport on Mackinac Island to the Grand Hotel using an eight-car caravan, breaking a century old tradition.

Mackinac Island has not allowed cars, except for emergency vehicles, to be driven on the island for over a century to keep the old-time and rustic feel of the quaint town alive.

This past Saturday, however, the tradition changed. Vice President Mike Pence was set to speak at the Grand Hotel, to which he was transported via an eight-car motorcade.

While Pence is the first sitting Vice President to visit the island during his term, many other presidents have visited–and none have travelled around the island in vehicles.

The Grand Hotel, a staple of Mackinac Island, was less than a mile from the airport Pence landed in.

“The idea that he needed the eight-car caravan proves that people in government tend to have elitist ideas about themselves; that they’re better than everyone else,” said Julia Neuvirth (‘21).

Many people are outraged by this occurrence, feeling as though Pence has disrespected a century-old tradition.

“It’s a place where you ride horses or bike everywhere and that has been going on for centuries. He came in and destroyed that legacy,” said Neuvirth.

Some have argued that Pence’s motorcade was necessary, as the safety of our Vice President is important and vital.

The ferry company that transported Pence’s vehicles to the island, Shepler’s Ferry, defended the actions in a tweet posted on Saturday. Others, though, feel as though the measures were a bit much.

“Just because he’s the Vice President doesn’t mean he should be given special allowances for things like that. I don’t see why he needed that much security,” said Elizabeth Shaffer (‘21).

Alma College students and Mackinac Island residents are not the only people expressing their concerns over this event.

Rashida Tlaib, Michigan’s 13th district U.S. Representative, turned to Twitter to share her views on the issue. “Disgusting. I am in such disbelief that this was allowed to happen. This Administration doesn’t care about the law (you know, the U.S. Constitution), so it shouldn’t surprise me so much that they don’t care about our history or traditions,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

Mackinac Island is a place that has prided itself on being traditional, somewhere that takes you back in time. Many believe that Pence’s actions ruin this facade and has hurled the quaint island straight into the 21st century.

“Mackinac Island is beautiful, cultural, rich. I think it’s a unique place to go. I think the whole experience there is centered around old-fashioned [life],” said Mia Arkles (‘21).

There has been a huge outpouring of negativity from various channels within the news, as some reporters claim that there was no need for such a motorcade to ensure Pence’s safety.

Some Alma College students agree.

“It’s not that I think his safety shouldn’t override this tradition, but I think there were other ways of going about his safety that could have been done without ruining a legacy,” said Neuvirth.

Many individuals feel as though the tradition that made Mackinac Island such a unique place will no longer be as special.

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