Sigma Chi raises money for Huntsman Cancer Institute


Sigma Chi recently hosted their annual week-long philanthropy fundraiser, otherwise known as “Derby Days.” The fundraising events were held starting on Oct. 21 and ran through Oct. 25.  

Derby Days started in 1933 with Sigma Chi’s Alpha Beta chapter at the University of California Berkley as a series of skits done by active brothers. Since then, it has slowly been adopted nationally.  

Sigma Chi hosts Derby Days in support of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, which was adopted as their national philanthropy after being founded by Sigma Chi, Jon Huntsman. The fraternity currently holds a national pledge of $20 million to be donated to Huntsman towards women’s cancer research. 

“Personally, I think cancer is something that effects everyone, and it’s important to the Sigs at Alma to be the generation that ends cancer,” said Sam Lindeman (‘20).  

This year’s events included a hat decorating event for a local cancer research center. Students attended and decorated winter hats for cancer patients in anticipation of the colder season.  

The other events were a cornhole tournament, a trivia night at Highland Blush, a banquet, a mini golf tournament held across campus and a bowling event in Ithaca.  

There were also week-long individual fundraising incentives, such as Shave-a-Sig, where brothers set a personal fundraising goal and agreed to shave their head upon reaching that goal. Every night of the week, people that donated would gather at the Sigma Chi house to celebrate the brothers that had met their fundraising goals.  

Sigma Chi also had a trailer parked on the lawn of their house displaying cans that were donated to their annual can drive. 

Along with on-campus support, several local businesses offered support to Sigma Chi.

“[Sigma Chi’s Philanthropy] is extremely important to me because cancer has taken family members and friends, from not just me, but everyone,” said Connor Hart (‘21).  

The fraternity gives an incentive to their fundraiser by making it a competition between other Greek life organizations. The organizations receive points based on attendance at events, the penny wars held in Saga (Hamilton Commons) and other various tasks throughout the week.  

The organization that receives the most points wins a prize, varying from campus to campus. “For our campus, we have a rotating trophy that has the names of previous winning organizations, and this year we added a $150 prize to be donated to the winning organizations charity of choice,” said George Murphy (‘20).  

The organizations that participated in this year’s Derby Days were Kappa Iota, Alpha Xi Delta, Gamma Phi Beta, Alpha Phi Omega and Phi Sigma Sigma. This year’s winning organization was Kappa Iota.  

“We typically don’t participate in Derby Days, but we appreciated how much effort the brothers put in this year to revamp it,” said Rose Cyburt (‘20). “It was more inclusive, less competitive and just fun!” 

Kappa Iota donated their prize money to their philanthropy RISE, a women’s shelter located in Mount Pleasant.  

“I would like to add a special thanks to all organizations that participated,” said Murphy. “With their help, we raised over $2,700 for Huntsman Cancer Institute!”

Students or faculty interested in individually supporting Huntsman Cancer Institute can make donations over phone, by mail or on their website.

Choir and orchestra honor the classics



On October 27, 2019, the Alma College Choirs and Alma Symphony Orchestra presented a collaborative concert featuring the famous Mozart piece “Vesperae solennes de confessore” and Dvorak’s New World Symphony.

“It’s been a long learning process for both choirs and the orchestra,” said Bennett Dubois (‘19). Dubois participates in both the Alma Choir and Orchestra, making his experience with what the choirs are calling “Mini-Masterworks,” a unique experience.      

This concert is being called “Mini-Masterworks” because of its similarity to the Masterworks concert that the choir and orchestra programs put on in Heritage Center every spring. “I think this concert eases new singers into how these combined concerts work,” said Rachel Whipple (‘20). “It can be hard to get used to singing with an orchestra, so singing a shorter piece with them in the fall helps to get us comfortable with the performance.”

“The orchestra adds a sense of authenticity you can’t get with just the piano,” said Zachary Everly (‘21). “It would’ve been very unlikely to walk into a 1780’s performance and hear this work without the orchestra. Both the Chorus and Orchestra have great parts, but putting them together is what makes it a truly fabulous piece.”

The Mozart piece contains 2 solo quartets, as well as a featured soprano vocalist, Victoria Walker. Walker teaches vocal lessons at Alma College, and sometimes Dr. Nichols brings her in to sing some of the extensive solo work for performances.

“One of the beauties of vocal music is that we have text to help us tell a story,” said Everly. “While the text is not in English, it is still the choir’s job to tell the story. Being in a quartet is an honor, but also a big responsibility. It is our job to continue to tell the story on our own when the choir stops singing. It is more crucial that we know the details of what we are singing because there is nobody to help us.”

The willingness to sing classical music is small for some students, but others believe that these pieces should still continue to be performed. “I feel like programming these pieces is important because we want to keep deeply rooted musical traditions alive,” said Everly. “All of the music we see today exists because this music existed. A beauty of writing music is that it can never be ‘proven wrong’ like some scientific ideas persay, only expanded upon and changed and adapted for culture of the time.”

These pieces have been around for as long as performing ensembles have, and the emphasis on them by Alma College directors have an influence on how the modern student views this classical music literature.

The choirs perform next for their Festival of Carols concert Dec. 7-8, and the groups combine again for Masterworks in April of 2020.                                                                                     

Amber Guyger on trial


In Sept. of 2018, fired Dallas police officer Amber Guyger entered the apartment of Botham Jean. She had mistaken Jean’s apartment for her own. Guyger assumed that Jean was an intruder, and fired two fatal shots into his chest.

A few days later, an arrest warrant was issued for the arrest of Guyger, where she was charged with manslaughter. Guyger was then released on a $300,000 bond and was put on administrative leave from her position with the Dallas Police Department.

Jean was an accountant with PriceWaterhouseCoopers and was described as church-going and hardworking. Several days after the incident, family and friends gathered at the church Jean attended.

“A nuke had been unleashed on our family by someone charged to protect and serve.” said Jean’s uncle.

Within a few weeks, Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall announced that Guyger had been fired from the police department after an internal affairs investigation revealed that Guyger “engaged in adverse conduct” when she administered the fatal shot.

In Nov. of 2018, Guyger was indicted on one account of murder, to which she plead not guilty. Her trial was set to begin in the fall of 2019.

Between her indictment and the beginning of Guyger’s trial, footage of both the 911 call Guyger made and of the scene immediately following the shooting were released, prompting controversy within the media.

On Sept. 23, 2019, Guyger’s trial began. Prosecuting attorneys asked the judge to convict Guyger of murder, stating claims that she gave Jean no time to de-escalate or to surrender. Guyger’s defense team said that these accusations turn an innocent accident into an evil act.

Jurors were then shown bodycam footage of the scene of the shooting that was taken once officers responded to Guyger’s 911 call. In one part of the video, officers are shown desperately trying to revive Jean while he lay unconscious on his living room floor.

Texas Ranger David Armstrong testified on behalf of Guyger, saying that he believes Guyger “did not commit a crime” based on evidence from the investigation. Armstrong believes that is was a “reasonable response to perceive Jean as a deadly threat”.

Three days after the initial trial, Guyger testified on behalf of herself, telling the jury the moment she noticed Jean was in what she thought was her apartment.

“I was scared to death,” she testified.

On Oct. 1, 2019, Amber Guyger was convicted of murder. Guyger was then sentenced to ten years in prison for the killing of Botham Jean. Prosecutors originally recommended 28 years sentencing, as that was the age Jean would have turned this year.

Jean’s mother said that Guyger’s sentence would give her time to reflect on and change her life for the better.

Guyger will be eligible for parole in five years.

Alma advocates for suicide



As we move into the future, more awareness is being brought toward mental health. This advocacy for mental health not only includes Mental Health Awareness month in May, but also Suicide Prevention Week.

While National Suicide Prevention Week was the week prior, this past week the campus of Alma College was flooded with events and other various activities to bring awareness during Suicide Prevention Week.

On Monday, Sept. 23, Alma College’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) hosted motivational speaker and expert on mental health awareness, Jeff Yalden. This event was sponsored by Mid-State Health Network, Alma College, Child Advocacy, Gratiot County Substance Abuse Coalition, Gratiot Integrated Health Network, MidMichigan Health and Gratiot Isabella RESD.

According to his biography on the Premier Speakers Bureau’s website, Jeff Yalden has become the most in-demand youth motivational speaker in North America, due to his personal experiences with mental illness. Yalden has spoken to over 4,000 youth-dominated audiences.

Yalden’s speech focused on mental health awareness, but highlighted several different points, including learning from your mistakes and hardships, valuing your life and focusing on your own wellness.

“His points related back to campus by informing us on how to be supportive and understanding of others around us,” said Austin Popp (‘21).

Yalden also spoke on how personal decision making can affect those around you, about abolishing the stigma around mental health and “to seek help with mental health, as there is nothing wrong with making sure you are okay,” said Popp.

Mental Health is a touchy subject for all, but students were heavily impacted by what Yalden had to say. “Being so personal and intimate with an entire audience must be hard, so I have a lot of respect for him for that. It’s not easy talking about mental health,” said Popp.

Another organization advocating publicly for Suicide Prevention Week was Active Minds. Active Minds is an organization that advocates to change the conversation about mental health.

“We advocate for the normalization of mental health. Mental health should be as easy to talk about as physical health,” said Mackenzie Hemmer (‘20), president of Active Minds.

Active Minds put together the Field of Flags, where 1,100 yellow flags were placed between the library and Clack to represent the number of college students that commit suicide every year.

“These events brought awareness to mental health on campus because of the impact that many students feel from it and the thoughts that it provokes,” said Hemmer.

Students that are passionate about mental health and about removing the stigma around it are encouraged to take action on campus.

“Students can get involved with Active Minds in a few different ways,” said Hemmer. “First, come to the meetings if you can! We meet biweekly on Tuesday’s at 8pm in SAC 104.”

Mental health advocacy is an important part of any college campus, and Alma College Provides several resources to help students that are struggling.

Contact information for the Counseling and Wellness Center can be found on both the college’s website and on the back of the Student Identification cards.

Crossover: What’s the point?


Crossover is Alma College’s take on a university’s “Welcome Weekend.” Upperclassmen begin festivities on the evening of Labor Day, and Freshman are not to cross on to South Campus until midnight. While the concept of Crossover is brilliant, the marketing and execution are all wrong.

Crossover is not being used to its full potential. Alongside being a way to signify the last official day of summer break, Crossover is also an opportunity for organizations on campus to market to upperclassmen and first year students.

There are not enough clubs and organizations involved in Crossover. I understand that this is typically considered a “party tradition,” but it is still a great time for small groups to get their names out there.

On top of clubs and organizations, Greek organizations could really benefit from using Crossover as a recruitment tool. Fraternities do an outstanding job at hosting parties, but there are plenty of ways to market the Greek Life experience during Crossover.

Clubs and organizations could host their own events on different areas of North Campus, (i.e., hall lobbies, Joe’s) during the hours leading up to midnight. This way, Freshman could not only be exposed to campus organizations, but also have another opportunity to form connections with their classmates in order to make the party experience more enjoyable.

I believe that while typically explained as a Freshman-Oriented tradition, Crossover is marketed more to upperclassmen. I attended Freshman Orientation last fall, during which Crossover was never mentioned. I, and most of my peers, were not even aware that parties were taking place on Labor Day.

After interacting with some of this year’s Freshman class, I noticed that this pattern was consistent. While my friends and I were all very excited to go out and celebrate, not many freshmen knew what was going on.

While attending parties on Crossover, even after midnight, I saw very few unfamiliar faces, and of those I did not recognize, there were very few Freshman. This only proved to me that Crossover was being marketed to the wrong people.

This needs to change. Crossover should be mentioned at some point during Freshman Orientation, where it should be stressed that this event is the perfect way to meet more people, and really experience the fun side of campus before the stress of school starting.

All of that being said, I still do think that there are great things about Crossover. From what I have experienced, the overall atmosphere of South Campus during Crossover is positive and fun.

Ultimately, Crossover is a tradition that is important to the Alma experience, and I hope that eventually it is used up to its full potential.


Smollett assaulted in hate crime


Jussie Smollett, actor on the Fox Series “Empire,” was hospitalized earlier this month after being assaulted in what is being possibly investigated as a hate crime.

The assaulters attacked Smollett on the streets in Chicago, and allegedly tied a noose around his neck while dousing him with an unknown chemical.

The crime is potentially being considered a hate crime. Smollett fell victim to the attack because of his portrayal of an openly gay character on the Fox series “Empire,” while also being a homosexual person of color in real life.

The attackers, while not currently identified at the time of publication, are two white men who are no more than 25 years old.

The attackers were caught on video right before the attack, and were seen with the noose being worn as a necktie by one of them. The video did not show the actual assault, and the video is still in the process of decided whether or not the evidence is usable in a courtroom.

A big controversial aspect of this crime are the words used by the attackers, and these words are what sparked the debate of calling this a hate crime.

Witnesses, including Smollett himself, recall hearing the attackers using racial slurs, homophobic comments and parts of President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign.

In a society where LGBTQ+ pride has become more common, and tolerance is expected, this gives some members of the community reasons to be concerned about our governments political climate.

“These events are beginning to worry me, because as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I am beginning to believe that we are truly going backward in acceptance with our current president and others in power convincing citizens that being someone like me is wrong and is becoming increasingly widespread,” said Blake Jonassen (‘22).

Some other students believe that this instance will shed a light for others to see. David Parnell (‘21) says that they are not worried that hate crimes, such as these, will set back the socio-political progress of the United States because it shows the prejudice many queer people and people of color face every day. Parnell also hopes that these attackers are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Several schools across the country have also showed concern for their students, particularly people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Some schools are also doing their best to increase security measures in case of a situation like this.

“My sense of safety on campus is not moved by this incident because the attitude toward both queer and people of color is much different than what you may find at a Trump rally,” said Parnell.

Parnell believes that the students on campus are responsible for the nature of their own behavior, and if someone sees or hears about one of these incidents, they should report it immediately.

“Even though I’m worried about society in general, I do not believe that people on this campus will become hostile because all of my interactions with everyone on campus have been positive and everyone seems to be much more inclusive than the rest of society,” said Jonassen.

Both Parnell and Jonassen encourage each student to become aware of what is happening around them. If you see any person being verbally or physically assaulted, speak up and contact authorities.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez makes waves


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the recently-elected democratic representative of the 14th congressional district of New York.

Ocasio-Cortez was elected into Congress on June 26, 2018. She was endorsed by several progressive and civil rights-based organizations and didn’t accept funding from major corporations.

Ocasio-Cortez is a self described democratic socialist. Her political positions include single-payer Medicare for All and enacting gun-control policies. OcasioCortez is very involved in all areas of politics.

“I am literally in love with her. Frankly, the United States is really behind in the health care and education departments. Every other developed country has some form of socialized health care,” said Preston Riegel (‘22).

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a freshman in congress. Being a freshman means that this is her first elected position in Congress and first year of official political association.

Ocasio-Cortez has said that the socialism she supports is not that of Cuba or Venezuela but mostly resembles that of which we see in the United Kingdom and other European countries.

“The Congress of the US is supposed to be representative of the people, including demographics, and I believe that she [AOC] represents the voice of the younger generation of Americans well,” said Nathan Fetter (‘22).

Along with her support of free public college and trade school, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also leads the effort on many proposals within the democratic community.

“I think people are forgetting to acknowledge the plans she has with Sen. Sanders for a Green New Deal. Although these aren’t coming to full fruition any time soon with the dynamic of congress, I’m looking forward to seeing material proposals in the near future,” said Bennett Dubois (‘19).

The Green New Deal involves the federal government investing in the construction of largescale green infrastructure. Ocasio-Cortez also sees climate change as the single biggest national security threat in the United States.

“While many of her policies are popular with the American people … most of her stances will most likely not be implemented during her first term,” said Fetter.

Before beating incumbent Joe Crowley in the 2018 democratic primary election, Ocasio-Cortez was given little airtime by major networks. She was also barely covered by any form of mass media before her win in the primary.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is also a very prominent figure in social media. Just recently, she called into a livestream with a well-knownYouTuber. Once live, she stayed on the call until said YouTube star met his goal of $200,000.

One of Ocasio-Cortez’s most controversial platforms is that she supports defunding the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. She would not completely disband the agency, but rather create a pathway to citizenship through decriminalization.

Ocasio-Cortez has also said that she would support the impeachment of President Donald Trump. She believes that we must hold everyone accountable, and that no one is above the law.

Dubois believes that the current political climate in the United States is not prepared for Ocasio-Cortez’s progressive views. While he wishes that the United States was ready for a leftward shift, he feels that the political establishment will resist her with the same methods that have worked for decades.

Alternative breaks encourage service


Alma College offers students the opportunity to participate in Alternative Breaks. Alternative Breaks allow students to perform community service in lieu of going home for major breaks. These community service opportunities can vary from working with the homeless to providing disaster relief.

According to the Alma College website, most alternative breaks include teams of eight to twelve students, along with a staff advisor. Before departing, students will attend meetings in order to better understand the expectations of the trip. These trips are available for affordable prices through a subsidy from the Responsible Leadership Institute.

“When I attended my last alternative break, I made a bunch of new best friends and connections with people I never thought I would talk to,” said Bridget Flanery (‘20). Flanery most recently attended the trip to the Everglades in National Parks, Florida, in December of 2018.

During this trip, students assisted the park with maintenance, and completed several tasks that otherwise would not have been completed due to lack of funding for the national park.

“This trip had a lot to do with nature and the environment, but when we reflected at the end of each day, we realized it was about more than that,” said Flanery. “I met so many people and made so many new inside jokes. I made lots of new friends while also serving”

“I did an alternative break to the Fowler Center in Mayville,” said Alexia Miller (‘20). According to the Fowler Center website, the Fowler Center provides yearround camping experiences for children and adults with developmental disabilities.

“I want to work with the special needs population so I got to do that very hands on,” said Miller. “I enjoyed helping them get to their various activities.”

Miller and Flanery both said that alternative breaks are about more than just the service. “I will admit I was scared at first, but it was a lot of fun and rewarding,” said Miller. Similarly, Flanery said, “when people would walk through the parks, we would realize just how rewarding it was to be behind the scenes. We also would start to realize that the sheer beauty of the national parks is not done without hard work by everyone that works there.”

“It brings joy into people’s lives,” said Miller, “it’s definitely an experience I don’t regret, and I want to go on another one soon.”

“Alternative breaks make you value what you have at Alma. It’s comforting knowing that you have made new friends, and alternative breaks bring awareness to all of the opportunities you really have on campus,” said Flanery.

If you would like more information on alternative breaks, you can find more information on the Alma College website, or on the Alma Alternative breaks instagram-@ac_altbreak.

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