Alma embraces Giving Tuesday


The college celebrated Giving Tuesday by hosting a massive drive for donations. Organized by the Office of Alumni Engagement, the strategy room on the second floor of the Hood Building was the center of operations for the push to set a new Alma record.

“[Our goals were] to raise at least $100,000 and to obtain 100 new student referrals,” said Brent Neubecker (‘95), director of annual giving.

“If the college raise[d] $100,000, three donors [would] provide an additional $100,000, bringing the overall total raised to $200,000.”

Giving Tuesday broke all expectations; Alma raised $323,023 total with 186 student referrals.

Neubecker said that their methods of outreach were social media, emails and individual outreach to alumni, parents and friends.

“Giving Tuesday is just a great annual reminder to check in with ourselves about what is important to support philanthropically. [These include] the institutions and organizations that have impacted each of our lives on a personal level,” said Melinda Booth (‘02), associate vice president for marketing.

Social media made a huge impact on the amount of alumni and parent donations.

“Social media is really the difference maker for Alma College,” Booth said.

“It’s where we see a lot of engagement from alumni, parents, staff, etc., sharing commenting and interacting with us on…Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.”

Individual outreach was an important factor and even students got involved.

“Current students are a wonderful source of new student referrals,” said Neubecker. “Students can encourage their siblings and friends to apply to Alma.”

Even small donations matter. “Giving Tuesday is about participating at every level,” said Neubecker.

“Last year, we saw many students participate by giving gifts they could afford, such as $5. Those gifts are very special and reflect the generous spirit of our student body and our college as a whole.”

He understood that most Alma students give back to the college once they have graduated and appreciated those who felt moved enough to donate before the students graduate.

“Students can be persuasive with people in their networks who have the resources to give to Alma College,” said Neubecker.

“Giving Tuesday is about spreading generosity and we are grateful when students can generate excitement for others to provide philanthropic support.”

Neubecker went into detail on where the donation money goes.

“Each donor decides how to direct their gifts. The college is placing particular emphasis on the Alma Fund, the Scot Scholarship Fund and the Jungle, Grove, and Campus Fair Fund.”

These three funds directly impact student life and financial aid.

“A gift to the Alma Fund provides flexible, immediateuse resources keeping the College affordable while enhancing the student experience,” said Neubecker.

“Gifts to the Scot Scholarship Fund allow you to invest in the education of deserving, qualified students. Gifts to the [Jungle, Grove and Campus Fair] fund help keep Alma’s campus welcoming to students, faculty, staff and guests throughout the year.”

Neubecker hoped that future Giving Tuesdays will be just as successful as this year’s. “Each year we learn a little bit more about what works well and does not work well with our alumni and friends,” he said.

“We have seen more and more success in every passing year on Giving Tuesday. Our challenge will be to keep the day exciting and meaningful to those who support our college.”

Students question Alma Commitment


Alma College attracts students by guaranteeing them the Alma Commitment. This includes the Alma Venture as well as academic & career guidance, but also an on-time graduation.

The on-time graduation promises that if you follow your track but do not graduate in four years the college will cover your tuition for an additional term. Students majoring in education, nursing and others instead get a four and a half year graduation commitment.

Education majors are a large factor in this group. “The usual time for most certificationtrack Education students is four years of courses and one term of student teaching,” said Peggy Thelen, professor of education. “We have exceptions including endorsements in Music Education and Special Education.”

Thelen went on to explain that while it is possible for education majors to graduate in four years there are factors that could get in the way of that. “Graduation timeliness also depends on the number of majors and or minors that a student carries…a lot of factors.”

Multiple majors or minors could complicate student schedules. This makes it harder for them to graduate in four years like most students. “All education majors are expected to graduate in four and a half years, the extra half year being student teaching,” said Marisa Romano (‘19), an education major. “It’s not impossible to graduate in four years, and some students choose to do that.

“To get a degree in music education requires a lot more courses and ensemble credits than other teaching degrees,” she said. “At other schools it’s very common to have music education students graduate in five or more years; I’ve even heard of people taking seven years.

“I think it’s unusual and stressful to be expected to be done with my classes and distributive requirements in only four years,” she said.

Romano wishes the college would guarantee students with majors such as these the chance to graduate on time without the threat of losing scholarships. “If I hadn’t taken several courses at [a] community college over the summers I would not graduate on time, and I was told I would lose most of my scholarships if I stayed at Alma past the four and a half years.”

Thelen also commented that students would like to have their scholarships and student aid stay with them through student teaching and graduation.

“I have taken 17 or 18 credits every semester I have been at Alma and I’ll still have to take one class online this summer,” said Jared Fleming (‘19). “There is no room for error or exploration if you’re an education major at Alma.”

Fleming likes how the Alma Commitment pushes you into the real world faster and decreases costs for students. However, he feels that education majors get a limited liberal education experience due to the strict course schedules they must adhere to.

The Alma Commitment also has some limitations, according to Romano. “I only know of one [student] who had her semester covered by the school…her advisor failed to tell her that one of her required courses was only offered every other year, so she got money from the school because it was the school’s fault,” she said.

“The problem with education [majors] is that they have to deal with what the state does because we are on a certification track and they’re just doing what the state outlines,” said Rachel Frisbie (‘19). I don’t know if there’s anything Alma can do to help solve those problems, but it would be nice to get some extra assistance. That extra semester is a lot to do.”

Chaplain encourages inclusivity


Alma hired a new chaplain this year. Andrew Pomerville, an Alma graduate himself, brought with him a few changes to how the Chapel is run. One of those changes being the new Thursday service from 11:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

College staff and students pointed to the Chapel’s welcoming feeling no matter what event they participate in. “I try to attend every Thursday with Coach Cole,” said Coach Jason Couch.

“It is a great service that [has] allow[ed] me to escape whatever I’m doing throughout the day and center myself. My family and I also go to the Sunday service.”

“The Thursday interfaith service is meant to be a break in the middle of the day for students, staff, and faculty all together,” said Pomerville. “[It’s] interfaith so we have different voices and different faith perspectives that are on display each time.”

According to Pomerville, one of his goals is to make the Chapel an open place. “I’m hoping every student and faculty member will have the opportunity to engage with the Chapel or me as the chaplain while they’re here.”

He wished to establish personal connections with students and staff. “I’m here for some counseling and support as well.”

His new approach has also impacted their hiring policy. “We’ve added our interfaith approach to our student ministry coordinators. We used to hire students who were simply asked to run our Sunday night ecumenical Christian service. Now we hire students who are from a variety of faith backgrounds.”

“You may be of a different faith from the person next to you, but what does it look like to all be working towards one unified sense of ministry that we’re all trying to demonstrate here?” said Pomerville.

“I’m everyone’s chaplain whether they want me or not; That’s what I have always told people,” said Pomerville. “I’m chaplain to atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Protestants, Catholics. You name it I am your chaplain.”

He distinguished between the role of pastor and chaplain. A pastor is for a particular church, but a chaplain is for an organization.

“It’s not my place to pretend to be an imam or a rabbi, but I will help facilitate and find the right avenues and resources for people regardless of their faith,” said Pomerville. “Even if it’s one that I don’t know. It’s my job to try and figure it out.”

Pomerville also hosts a chapel service before every football game. “It [has been] a time for reflection and sanctuary before they go off,” said Pomerville. “It’s not just a club that meets in the basement of the Chapel. The idea of the chaplaincy being part of the campus everywhere [has been] a goal for the college.”

“I want students to feel that they are safe, that they’re able to ask as many questions as they have, [and] that they’re not feeling they’re being indoctrinated but they are certainly learning,” he said.

“I love his sense of inclusiveness, his positive attitude, and his welcoming posture,” said English Professor Dana Aspinall when asked about his experience when attending the Chapel’s events.

“I also like how he has involved students in his Sunday services,” said Aspinall. “You just [came] out of there feeling positive and that there are still people who care about each other.”

ACUB outperforms the competition


From Oct 25 to 28, the Alma College Union Board participated in the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) Mid America Conference in Grand Rapids and won Program of the Year award for a budget under $75,000.“

During the conference, we are able to network with other campus activity boards, professionals, performers, and their agents,” said Molly McCranner (‘19), one of the Heads of Staff of ACUB.

The NACA Mid America Conference gives ACUB the opportunity to share ideas and information between similar organizations across campuses.

McCranner listed off several opportunities available to ACUB due to attending.

“We [went] to about 5 educational sessions to learn all about professional development, creating successful events, and diversity and inclusion.”

“We also [got] to spend a bit of time watching showcases of performers who we are able to book on spot to bring to campus. We [had] so much fun learning from other schools and booking performers,” she said.

ACUB won the Program of the Year award for a budget under $75,000 at the conference. They won this award for their Drag Show event earlier this year.

“The easy answer would be that we put on amazing programs year round, but I think that we won because our event was successful in terms of attendance as well as being progressive in a world that isn’t very understanding of all walks of life,” said Tikilah Turner (’19).

According to Turner, ACUB was distinct from the competition for that reason. “I think that ACUB really shined because we brought that dynamic to campus. It was something that students wanted and needed to experience as well.”

ACUB plans on keeping up the success and running for other awards in the future. “This is the first award we ever put ourselves in the running for and it was a success!” said McCranner. “We plan on holding our staff to high expectations and constantly doing our best to give the student body exactly what they want and a little variety for students to try new things.”

ACUB will also host bigger and better events. “We’re looking to do bigger events next semester,” said Turner. “[We’ll do] about double what we’ve done in the past which is really cool.”

Turner attributed this change to ideas and advice from fellow NACA attendees. “We had the unique opportunity to go to NACA and get some ideas on how to program effectively, but also cost efficiently,” she said. “So I think combining what we’ve learned with what we already have will make it a great semester.”

Some Heads of Staff commented on the NACA experience. “I’m always looking to improve myself as an individual,” said Turner. “This year I was really looking to bring that back to ACUB.”

“It was great to see all these different artists, spoken word poets, craft artists and singers,” she said. “We also had these really cool professional development workshops that talk about how not to burn out with such a stressful schedule and how to get the most out of your program.”

“The biggest benefit [of attending NACA was] that you’re learning so much, but you [had] so much fun you [didn’t] realize you [were] learning,” said Turner.

Science Blowout promotes STEM


On Friday, Oct. 26, Science Blowout brought about 150 elementary school kids to Alma’s campus. The kids visited stations hosted by various STEM clubs. The stations included animals, tin foil boats and chemistry demonstrations.

Chemistry Club Vice President Scylar Blaisdell (’19) was excited to share her love of science with the kids. “My number one goal is to get kids excited about science, and for them to hopefully take on science oriented careers in the future.”

“Science Blowout is really an event that gets kids excited about science. I really enjoy teaching and explaining science to them,” said Zach Lincoln (’19), President of Chemistry Club. “They should learn that science can be exciting and entertaining, but also that we need to be safe and responsible while doing so.”

Lincoln was responsible for The Big Show that opened Science Blowout. “I really enjoy having The Big Show and doing demonstrations, particularly when we light balloons on fire and watch them explode with a loud noise,” said Lincoln.

Blaisdell also commented on the popularity of the chemistry show. “The exploding balloons [are] one of our more popular demonstrations and their excitement is contagious.”

Though the Chemistry Club’s demo is a large draw, other clubs’ activities were also exciting. “[The Biology Club] put on an animal room where the kids come and it’s basically a reptile petting zoo. So we give them a small introduction to what reptiles are and what biology is,” said Biology Club President Savannah Warners (’19).

A wide variety of animals were introduced to the kids. “We have a bearded dragon, a crested gecko, a kolkata tortoise, a leopard tortoise, a few different species of turtles, a few corn snakes and a python. The python can be very temperamental,” said Warners.

Warners admitted that challenges came with running the event, including the number of kids and safety precautions.

“There are a lot of kids. A lot of the time they’re just so excited to be out on this field trip that they don’t handle themselves well,” said Warners. “It’s [mostly] ‘don’t stick your fingers in the eyes of these lizards,’ but most of the time it goes smoothly.”

The kids are not the only ones who have fun at Science Blowouts. “[Last year, I] chas[ed] a tortoise across a room. It was interesting because it decided it wanted to book it from one end of the room from the other. Kids were crowding around it too,” said Colin Stephens (’20).

Blaisdell stated that some of the best parts of Science Blowout are seeing the kids’ expressions when they try something new. “[The moment when you’re] getting them passionate about discovery [shows them] ultimately what science is all about.”

Peterson joins Alma community


Dr. Benjamin Peterson was a recent addition to campus faculty this year.

He teaches Political Science and History and gave advice to students of all class standings.

Peterson gave some advice for current students at Alma College about finding their path.

“Take advantage of everything offered while you’re here [including] the classes, professors and community because you’re never going to get something like this again.”

Peterson also mentioned that students should not over-plan because of how flexible the job market is in our current climate.

“Don’t over-plan the rest of your life now. We no longer live in the kind of economy in which the major that you have in college is fundamentally going to determine what you spend the rest of your life doing.”

Peterson said that he knew several people who worked in admissions offices in medical schools that can verify his claims.

“I asked them what kind of majors do you like to see people coming out of. I was thinking biology majors and they said those are great, but you know who we really love? English, History, and Political Science majors,” said Peterson.

“What they loved is people [who came] in with a lot of critical thinking and writing skills.”

In his last words of advice, Peterson counsels students to get out and take advantage of opportunities outside of the classroom.

“Do internships. They’re fantastic opportunities. You get college credit, learn about yourself and serve the community,” he said.

“There are these amazing opportunities to get really involved in your community —to do good by it— but also to develop those pragmatic connects and skills that will serve you for the rest of your life through internships,” said Peterson.

On a different note, Peterson spoke about his hometown and how it influenced his interests.

“I’m from Yakima, Washington. I always say I’m from a small agricultural community, but to be clear I’m actually from a city of 100,000 people,” said Peterson.

“Compared to Seattle, where my family is from, it’s a small town mixed in with large farms and a thriving urban center.”

Dr. Peterson cited his mother, who involved herself in local politics, and his grandfather, an old union man, as figures that greatly influenced his interest in History and Political Science.

“My grandfather was a teamster. He always had these stories when I was a little kid about the old strikes that were stumbling fights for survival. I became really interested in that because it was a history I didn’t see anywhere else.”

In terms of career path, Peterson has worked several different jobs. “I was a lobbyist while I was still an undergraduate. After that, I became a political organizer and worked in electoral politics, community organizing, and labor organizing. I first taught when I went to graduate school, and I love teaching both History and Political Science,” said Peterson.

“History allows you to really meditate on things in a meaningful way whereas politics and Political Science [are] so constantly and directly relevant that they’re two different classroom dynamics and subjects to study,” said Peterson.

Peterson also talked about his hobbies. “My main hobby is cycling. In addition, I [have done] hobbyist microcontroller stuff like home automation. For example, I built my own lighting system in my apartment that responds to voice commands.”

“I also do photography, but specifically time-lapse photography, and reading.”

Finally, when asked about the inflatable alien in his office, he explained it.

“There’s a town near Salem, Oregon [which I used to live in] named McMinnville. McMinnville is notorious because it had a series of alien abductions there,” said Dr. Peterson.

“They haven’t had anyone say they’ve been abducted there in a very long time. Instead, it’s become a cultural institution there like around Roswell. Every year they have an alien festival.”

“Some people take it seriously, but most people see it as an excuse to dress your dog up as an alien or dress up as a Wookie. I picked it up there,” said Peterson.

Sibs weekend unites families


From Oct. 5 through 7, the Alma College Union Board put on Little Sibs Weekend, which offered students the opportunity to connect with their siblings along with participating in a variety of events over the weekend.
“I think it [was] a great opportunity for students to bring siblings up, especially students who may be homesick, and I think it’s important that they have a little piece of home here on campus often because ultimately that’s what makes Alma College home for them,” said ACUB Head of Staff TiKilah Turner (‘19).
The primary event of the weekend was an excursion to the Anderson and & Girls Orchards to partake in the petting zoo and other activities. Other entertainment options  included rock climbing at the Stone Recreation Center, along with a Rainforest Obstacle Course.
Turner, who handled most of ACUB’s purchases for the event, was excited to see the event play out. “I’m just so excited for a successful event to [have] happen[ed] and for all of the hard work that myself and all the rest of the staff to [have] really blossom[ed] into this amazing event.”
Older siblings are also able to participate alongside younger ones. “We [tried] to cater to all age groups for this event. For example, when I ordered the inflatable I wanted to make sure that people who are about aged 13 or 14 could also be a part of it,” said Turner.
“The excursion to Anderson & Girls also cover[ed] all ages because they [had] a few animals that can be found in the jungle as well. I think it’s cool to be  able to see that,” said Turner.
“Even if an activity [didn’t] seem like it would be fun everyone wants to act like a kid again and why wouldn’t you want to visit your sibling at school!?” said Molly McCranner  ’19).
Turner spoke on the difficulties that came with hosting the event like ordering inflatables t-shirts in the midst of coordinating events while also posting to social media.
“It’s the small things that [made] it challenging — the things that are easy to forget,” said Turner.
Turner hopes that little siblings got a sense of Alma College while they were here. “I hope they [were] immersed in the Alma College culture, even a little bit, their experience [was] different than that of a student, but I hope that they [got] a taste of what it’s like for students.”
“I hope that Little sibs [got] memories that’ll last. It is such a change in a family dynamic when one of the kids leaves for college, so it [was] a great opportunity where we [had] a bunch of fun and interactive activities for an entire weekend,” said McCranner.

Budget decisions affect organizations


Student Congress has recently made budget decisions, and some students have strong opinions about them. Almost all student organizations have had their budget cut by 15%. Student Congress Executive Council and Representatives spoke out in response to this.

“Budget decisions are complicated in student congress. We want it to reflect how that club or organization is serving the campus or the students that are in that club,” said Bridget Flannery (‘20), Student Congress President.

“We do have a budget committee which all student organizations are either on the constitution committee or the budget committee, so it’s made in part by the students that receive the funding…We want to make sure that clubs use their money wisely and everything that goes with that,” said Flannery.

According to Samuel Nelson (‘20), Student Congress Treasurer, the 15% budget cut did not correlate with the amount of an organization’s budget spent last fiscal year.

“Student’s are entitled to use the entirety of their group’s budgets through the end of the fiscal year, on June 30th. This [was] not typical, but happened this year in May and June. The money spent during this time period had no bearing on the decisions regarding budget cuts, as that leftover money would have been saved in a separate account.”

“What prompted the cuts was the nature in which we build our yearly budget. The vast majority of students pay the Student Activity Fee (SA fee); however, students in non-traditional tracks such as high school students [who dual enroll] do not pay this fee,” said Nelson.

“What caused the budget cuts was a lower amount of Student Activity Fees paid than expected, according to Nelson.

“The number of students required to pay this fee totaled approximately 1,365, not the 1,444 that would have been necessary to meet the budget expectations resulting from last year’s committee. The 15% cut across the board was easily the best way to respect our needs and desires as a student body without putting ourselves in financial jeopardy. So I think it went all right.”

Student Congress Representatives responded to these cuts: “Overall, I think StuCo EC did well with accommodating to what the new across-clubs budget was,” said TiKilah Turner (‘19), Representative of the Multicultural Student Union. “I think the budget [was] handled much better, for the simple fact that the EC made an executive decision rather than asking each club representative, which would have ended in an uproar and been ineffective.”

Andrew Bach (‘20), Representative of Phi Mu Alpha, also spoke out in regards to the budget. “I think for future budget overspending issues, docking everyone’s budget by 15% is not necessarily the best solution.”

“[The] budget for AlmaCon is a fraction of what it was last year. They need better oversight on how clubs are spending their budgets,” said Jordan Bird (‘20), Representative of Alma College Otaku and Gamers. “We need to ensure an accurate projection of students, and in turn funds,” said Nelson.

According to Nelson, there are a few questions to be answered in order to improve budgeting in the future. “What [could] be done to maximize both students’ voices and effective use of our time? We must answer–how [would] we most effectively use our SA fee equitably, and in line with Alma’s mission? Should clubs start out with max funding, or should we prioritize contingency for special occasions and needs?”

Up ↑