Updates regarding future academic offerings

JORDYN BRADLEY
SPORTS EDITOR

On Friday, Oct.16, President Abernathy sent out a communication to campus regarding the goal to strategically reduce the college’s overall budget. Alma College’s Task Force on Reducing College Costs came to the conclusion to phase out certain academic programs in order to adhere to these budget cuts.

Alma College will be phasing out the French and German majors and minors, but will still offer classes in the languages to cover language requirements.

The Religious Studies major will also be phased out, but the minor and the Pre-Ministry programs will remain intact.

The Bachelor of Music in Music Performance and the Alma Symphony Orchestra will also be phased out. The B.A. in Music and B.M. in Music
Education will be retained, and the college says they will continue to have other support for string instrumentalists.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art will be phased out, but the school will retain the B.A. in Art.

The Anthropology program will be phased out completely.

Alma College stresses that anyone who has declared a major in any of the programs impacted by these changes will be contacted by the Registrar in
regard to next steps and degree completion. If anyone was considering one of the programs but has yet to declare, they should consult with the Registrar’s Office and their academic advisor to look at the next steps.

More information regarding this update will be published soon.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves a legacy

JORDYN BRADLEY
STAFF WRITER

Graphic by MORGAN GUST

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, passed away on Sept.18 from metastatic cancer of the pancreas. In her 87 years of life, Ginsburg was a trailblazer for gender equality.

“I was shocked, but not surprised,” said Claire Wittlieff (‘24), who noted Ginsburg’s declining health.

“When I opened up Twitter (I follow a lot of historians and legal scholars), I was struck at first by their overwhelming grief at her loss, and then their concern about what her absence on the Court would mean for issues of gender equality and other important issues,” said Professor of History Kristen Olbertson.

Because of the severity of her health, Ginsburg said just before she passed that her fervent wish was that the Senate wait until after a new president is installed to fill her seat on the Supreme Court.

Her untimely death, just 45 days before the Presidential Election, brings up many consequences for the court. Ginsburg was the lead liberal seat of the Supreme Court and without her presence, the seat may be filled instead by a Republican.

When Former Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016 under President Barack Obama, this also sparked a debate within the Senate.

“It has already been announced that [President] Donald Trump is nominating Amy Coney Barrett for Justice Ginsburg’s seat,” said Olbertson. “I expect the Senate to confirm Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court, despite the fact that in 2016, Senate Republicans refused to hold confirmation hearings for Obama-nominated Judge Merrick Garland, claiming it was improper to do so in an election year.”

Olbertson also added that Justice Ginsburg’s influence on law and the American society as a whole has been “undeniable.”

“I think there [are] definitely some people that don’t realize what she’s accomplished in both her law and judicial career,” said Wittlieff.

Ginsburg’s mother was a big proponent for women being independent and going after what they wanted professionally. Ginsburg herself graduated from Harvard Law School at the top of her class but was turned away from multiple law firms post-graduation because she was a woman.

“Throughout her entire career, she remained dedicated to the idea that the Constitution guaranteed every person equality under the law, regardless of their gender,” said Olbertson.

Ginsburg’s work as a litigator and as a Supreme Court Justice helped advocate for greater gender equality in a plethora of aspects. Ginsburg pushed for gender equality in social security and wages, as well as in marriages for gay men and women. Because of Ginsburg, women can also have a mortgage or open a bank account without needing male approval. These are just a few examples of rights that are relevant due to her influence.

Though she pioneered for gender equality, Ginsburg has been criticized in the past for being compliant to issues relating to the treatment and equality of minority groups. She was criticized for not joining Justice Sonya Sotomayor’s endorsement of the Black Lives Matter movement and for not being knowledgeable in matters of tribal sovereignty.

“I think the important thing about both of these issues is that she kept learning and adapting,” said Olbertson. “As brilliant as she was, she obviously didn’t know everything–and when she got feedback, she took it in, she considered it, and she incorporated it into her thinking.”

Just this summer, Ginsburg joined the majority in the McGirt v. Oklahoma case, which was a major victory for indigenous rights.

“There are some viewpoints and opinions she had that not everyone agrees with, but you have to give her some form of credit,” said Wifflieff.

Justice Ginsburg spent the majority of her life pining for gender equality, and her memory will live on in all the judicial changes that came about because of her.

Alma Confessions faces backlash

JORDYN BRADLEY
SPORTS EDITOR

If you’re an Alma student with a Twitter account, you’ve probably seen tweets shared by Alma Confessions (@scotscandals), an anonymously-run confessions page. Since its debut in January of this year, the page has been the talk of campus for multiple different “scandalous” Twitter threads that have come out of it.

“It was kind of just an idea my friend had and it was supposed to be a fun little account where people post weird and I guess scandalous things about themselves like secrets and whatnot. We did not think that the page would take off or still be active months later either,” said the anonymous person behind the Alma Confessions Twitter page.

The anonymous creator adds that they have been shocked at many of the topics brought up on the page.

Part of the appeal of the Twitter account is how easy it is to post your opinions anonymously without repercussions or people finding out: the account provides a link in a pinned tweet takes you right to the anonymous submission form. However, many students find the easy accessibility and the page in general toxic.

“I do not approve of most of the things that the Twitter page comments on, mainly because it’s not an open-to-discussion type of page,” said Kiersten Rebhun (‘22).

Rebhun added that people use the page to get their opinions across and only their opinions, not to have a discussion about why they believe so or to listen to different opinions.

The Twitter page has seen a variety of posts, from those asking for advice to those fully confessing something anonymously.

In the past, people have asked for advice on their mental health, classes or even relationships; but there have been a variety of posted confessions relating to politics, the COVID-19 pandemic or body image that spark more controversy.

“Not gonna lie, it’s a pretty mixed bag. Sometimes people post funny stuff, others personal, but then recently with all the weight stuff, it can be really toxic,” said Gabe Zerbe (‘21).

The most recent debate that occurred on the page was regarding fatphobia on campus. Many students anonymously took to the Twitter page to shame plus-sized students by calling them lazy and telling them to simply eat healthier. These tweets were met by an array of students supporting plus-sized students and calling the anonymous writers bullies.

“I think it becomes toxic when that’s the only thing being posted. I’d say it’s just someone being a jerk if it were one or two posts, but the sheer amount got absurd,” said Zerbe.

Cyber bullying has gotten very real on the Alma Confessions page–even the creator agrees.

“One person [could send] in an anonymous message about how they are feeling and the next moment I get sent stuff by people that are basically bullying that person because they don’t believe the same thing as [them]” said the anonymous owner of the account.

Yet, the creator still posts what they get sent.

“I understand that we don’t want to do censorship because we are a free country and we have the right to talk about whatever we want [and] that’s a really cool thing that we have.

[However,] talking about it and just saying it to say it and be mean [is] just bullying,” said Rebhun.

“I still post about it, even if I don’t agree with it because that’s what a person who runs this kind of page should do: have their own feelings about the subject but still be unbiased and post everything” said anonymous.

The creator of the page did want to note that there have been instances where they have not posted a tweet that they were sent. However, out of the over 2,500 messages they have received, the number of ones they haven’t posted is around 20. This has been due to names being mentioned, the tweet being too out of bounds or it was on a matter that was posted about too much, all three of which are subject to the opinion of the anonymous account owner.

Even though Alma Confessions posts dozens of confessions, they stress that the opinions are not ones that they hold, and that they just post what is sent.

Regardless of your beliefs on the page, the page still stands and people continue to submit confessions and opinions about things that, to be frank, do not need to be discussed. People have no right to comment on other people’s bodies and don’t get to choose who has the correct political opinions. Each person has a different mindset, and it’s funny that people are surprised at this concept.

The debate regarding the UPSPS

JORDYN BRADLEY
SPORTS EDITOR

The United States Postal Service (or USPS) has undergone many changes in
the last few months that have sparked debate and frustration across political parties, as well as with the general public. The Coronavirus Pandemic has also not been helpful in keeping the postal service alive.

Louis DeJoy, who is a major donor to the Republican Party and an ally to President Trump, was appointed Postmaster General in May of this year. This was controversial for multiple reasons, one being the fact that DeJoy has large financial interest in many of the Postal Service’s private competitors.

DeJoy has implemented numerous changes since taking over that affect the general public, including reduced hours of operation and the removal of many of their letter collection boxes. Shipping time has also increased, causing important mail such as medications, paychecks and bills to be late or to never arrive.

Because a variety of USPS’s services are being reduced or eliminated completely, many people are panicking.

“If [USPS] is abolished or even defunded, it would hurt a lot of people. FedEx and UPS rely on the USPS to deliver packages to more rural areas. Without the postal service, we would most likely have to pay to get mail, which would really affect the lower class,” said Em Bolam (‘22).

The post office is a service available to small, rural towns where the nearest UPS or FedEx locations are multiple miles away. The post office has kept their word since they started: to always deliver to someone, no matter how rural the location.

The Washington Post says, the Republican Party has been trying to privatize
the post office for decades, which would cause it to no longer be a union-operated business, taking away benefits from its workers and causing its consumers to have to pay significantly more to send and receive mail.

“The USPS is a service that is provided to everyone, and it should stay that way,” said Emmett Kelly (‘22).

President Trump has been in the process of trying to defund or fully eliminate the postal service in efforts to make the United States more money. Trump also believes mail-in voting could be fraudulent and harmful to his re-election efforts.

“Having access to resources like the post office shouldn’t be a political debate.” said Kelly.

“Everyone should have equal access to that resource, no matter what their views are.”

Since being appointed to the position of Postmaster General, DeJoy’s
administration has issued a warning that mail-in ballots will no longer automatically be sent as priority mail. Many believe that this is due to his close ties with the Trump Administration.

Not only are mail-in ballots being affected by these changes, but DeJoy and his administration also removed high-speed letter sorters, which help process absentee ballots. Because of these statistics alone, college students who wish to vote in the election this November will most likely have to change their addresses to their school address to vote from school, or go home to vote.

“My polling station is two and a half hours from Alma and I can’t drive, so [voting] would be very inaccessible [without mail-in voting],” said Bolam.

In addition to college students, those who are elderly, immunocompromised or without a method of transportation would also be ostracized if mail-in ballots go obsolete due to the newest administration. Many people still don’t feel safe enough to leave their houses, due to the Coronavirus Pandemic
still infecting hundreds of people in our country a day.

In a recent update, DeJoy was threatened with a subpoena by Democratic Representative and Chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, Carolyn B. Maloney. This was for documents she said DeJoy withheld from
Congress that related to communications with the Trump Presidential Campaign as well as mail delays. If the administration does not open up soon about what has been happening behind the scenes, Maloney is prepared to go through with the subpoena.

With things regarding the United States Postal Service constantly changing, updates relating to the status of DeJoy’s subpoena and the postal service itself are inevitable.

ALICE training on campus brings controversy

JORDYN BRADLEY
SPORTS EDITOR

On March 3, students and faculty alike received a call alerting them that an active shooter was on campus and to execute the procedures that they were informed of. Of course, it was just a drill that everyone was emailed about ahead of time to prepare, but nobody knew when it would happen.

The ALICE training is an active shooter training, and is represented by an acronym that stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evade (or Evacuate). Alma College adapted their own version of this and sent a PowerPoint presentation campus-wide that explained the steps of what to do if a situation arises, along with a video. The email also stated the college’s two evacuation points: Alma First Presbyterian Church and Alma First Church of God.

“I think they should have made a more detailed PowerPoint to go with the email or had [professors] take–even just a little–class time to make sure everyone knew what was going on beforehand. The PowerPoint did a good job of explaining what to do, but not a good job of explaining when to do it,” said Katie Bailey (‘22).

She added that during her training as an FYG she was also trained how to go about the ALICE training, and was still confused then.

The drill occurred during the 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. time slot. If students did not have class, many were in bed, or at least in their dorms.

“I was in my room when it happened and I just stayed [there] and locked my door— but should I have left?” said Bailey, who was getting ready for class and wasn’t sure what to do.

Students were concerned about only being alerted by a phone call, especially if they were in their rooms or asleep.

“I got one phone call; I feel like two would have been cool,” said Mackenzie Hetzler (‘22).

Some people did not even receive a phone call and only knew about the training if their friends told them. Additionally, some professors were unaware of the training–despite the emails–or where to evacuate to.

“I heard from some friends who were in SAC at the time say that their [professors] had them evacuating by just going down the stairs. I know [one] step is to always try to escape, but if there was actually a shooter, I don’t know if anyone would actually risk the stairs,” said Bailey.

Students were also concerned about walking to the evacuation centers, as this would force them to walk in open areas unprotected, and lead to them being an available target for any danger if it did ultimately occur. Additionally, the fact that many people did not understand what to do–even after being sent the emails–led to frustration.

“There should have been a debriefing so that we could discuss what happened versus what should have happened or what could be improved in the future,” said Hetzler, who

even suggested campus sending out a survey to see what was understood and what was not.

“I feel like without the debriefing it’s not training; it’s just a thing that happened that the majority of campus didn’t even care about.”

Hetzler even commented that boys were outside her dorm room screaming, rather than taking part in the drill.

Even with the chaos and dissatisfaction of students and faculty at the way it was depicted, people on campus still understand the importance of the drills, just wish for improvements.

“I understand that it’s needed. I like that we do [ALICE training] instead of lockdowns like they used to make us do in high school,” said Bailey.

Regardless of whether it feels legitimate or not, everyone should still take these drills seriously. Although they are only drills, they are implemented to help prepare in case a tragedy does happen. School shootings are unfortunately very common today, and even though nothing can truly prepare you for the worst, practicing these methods and understanding the steps of Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evade could potentially save a life.

The inability to vote frustrates young voters

JORDYN BRADLEY
SPORTS EDITOR

The Michigan Primary took place March 10. This particular primary was crucial in the Democratic presidential race, as Michigan is a swing state, making the voting results here particularly important.

However, voting for younger voters proved difficult during the primary due to issues with absentee ballots and limited precinct options in larger areas.

In the couple days leading up to the Michigan Primary, students on campus (and all throughout Michigan) still hadn’t received their ballots in the mail, or their applications weren’t processed.

“I was confused when [my absentee ballot] hadn’t arrived as late as the day of the election, but as I was walking back from the mailroom to see if it arrived, I got a call from my county clerk saying they would not process my application,” said Caden Wilson (‘21).

College students took to Twitter about their issues with absentee ballots, describing how it seemed like young voter suppression. The majority of college students are only able to vote absentee due to them being too far away from home.

“It started becoming more and more apparent that most of my friends who applied to vote via absentee ballot didn’t receive them,” said Emma Wood (‘20), who created a Twitter poll to see how many people were genuinely able to vote absentee.

The results were staggering.

“It felt like I only knew 1 person out of 8 that managed to vote absentee,” said Wood. “I was curious to see how that compared on a larger scale, so I made the poll on Twitter and asked friends to retweet it to try to go beyond the Alma campus.”

Based on the 62 people who responded to Wood’s poll, 50% were able to vote via an absentee ballot with no issues. With those statistics came the other 50%, who were unable to vote due to their ballots arriving late or not arriving at all.

Some students were able to go to their home precinct and vote that way, but many had to forgo voting entirely, due to night classes, work or other prior obligations. The Alma College Young Democratic Socialists of America (or YDSA) even offered rides to students who still needed to vote.

This was not only an Alma campus issue. Michigan State University was scrutinized for having limited precincts for their 50,000 students, making it impossible for every vote to be counted in time for the polls to close. MSU began trending on Twitter, as time-lapses began circulating of the students in line to vote. Many who did get their votes in had to wait upwards of three hours, yet many had to leave to make it to their classes or to work.

Students should not have to choose between their education or being able to cast their vote in the election. Both things affect their future, as well as their current lives.

“I felt confused and frustrated,” said Wood. “I felt so terrible for all the other people who were so excited to vote and couldn’t.

Students concerned about pipes bursting

JORDAN BRADLEY
SPORTS EDITOR

Students are worried about their belongings being compromised due to floods happening on campus.

Two different instances have occurred to warrant these concerns: a pipe connection failure in Brazell Hall and a lavatory valve failure in Bonbright Hall. Students are still worried that they will be the next affected.

“When the pipe burst, the room started flooding with hot iron-colored water. It started coming out from the sides and under the door of the bathroom,” said Brooklynn Jonassen (‘20), who had valve failure in her bathroom on the first floor of Bonbright.

This was the first instance this semester. An alarm went off in Bonbright and Carey, evacuating everyone from the buildings.

“We were told to grab anything we would need for at least 48 hours,” said Jonassen.

She and her roommate were then moved into Newberry. Facilities told them to grab things for at least 48 hours, but they were notified they could move back in later in the week.

“We went and looked [at the room], and it was not cleaned at all,” said Jonassen, who decided to stay in Newberry instead.

The second instance this semester was on the second floor of Brazell Hall, where there was a failure in the pipe connection. This was due to the overnight winter temperatures.

“As the water within the pipe froze, it expanded and pushed apart the solder joint (what holds two pipes together).

There are hundreds of miles of piping on this campus and hundreds upon thousands of connecting joints [and] valves everywhere on this campus for heating and domestic water. It only takes one perfect scenario for a piece of infrastructure to fail,” said Ryan Stoudt, associate director of facilities.

With this being an interior issue based on outside temperatures, students cannot do anything to keep this from happening.

“When a situation happens, it is unfortunately inevitable for the people in the immediate area [to be affected],” said Stoudt.

The majority of the floor was flooded, along with some of the first floor, as well.

“There were 21 students affected during the Brazell incident,” said Stoudt.

“I was in my room just chilling when I heard a girl yelling in the hall, so I got out of bed and walked to my door, only to step into water,” said Katie Wilder (‘20).

She opened her door to see water flowing from the room across the hall.

“It took security [around 10] minutes to show up, and then they called facilities. At this point, the water was moving pretty fast, so I put some towels down in an attempt to delay the flow. Overall, it took an hour and 20 minutes for facilities to show up and turn

the water off. [Campus officials] will now be training security on where the water mains are and how to shut them off in all the buildings on campus, since they apparently didn’t know how to do that before.”

Students who had damage to their rooms were put into temporary housing while their rooms were cleaned and were let back in throughout that week, most being back within 24 hours.

Stoudt stressed that though this may seem like a large amount of people being affected by these instances, this was only two incidents campus-wide; they just happened to both be on south campus.

“This is a really low number in comparison to the amount of piping we have through the campus. Any and all areas on campus are subject to [failure]; this does not just pertain to south campus,” said Stoudt.

If students are wondering what precautionary actions they should take in case a situation like this happens to them as well, Stoudt recommends students read the Housing Agreement Terms and Conditions under article 19 to become better informed. To be brief, this states that Alma College is not responsible for damage to or loss of property for any reason, which includes flooding. Many parents’ homeowner insurance policies may also cover a certain amount of damages, but students would need to look more into that themselves.

The Housing Agreement also strongly recommends that residents on campus look into and secure renter’s insurance to protect themselves against something like this happening, because it can happen at any time without warning.

“Make sure cords, backpacks [and anything else] are off the ground because you never know when something might happen and if you’ll be here to react to it,” said Wilder.

Ruckus in the Royal family

JORDYN BRADLEY
SPORTS EDITOR

In early January, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex negotiated a deal with Queen Elizabeth II to become financially independent from the Royal Family. With this, Harry and Meghan will surrender many of their royal “privileges” to instead spend the majority of their time in North America.

Prince Harry will be forced to renounce his honorary military rankings, and he and Meghan will no longer be considered Commonwealth Young Ambassadors, a title that they both hold very close to their hearts. Buckingham Palace also announced that Harry and Meghan will be repaying at least $3 million in taxpayer money that they used to renovate their residence at Windsor Castle. The couple also will sacrifice their most well-known title: His and Her Royal Highness.

With this deal, Harry and Meghan will still be the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as that was the title enthralled on them by Queen Elizabeth II when they were married in 2018. Harry will also remain a prince, and 6th in succession for the crown, after his father, Prince Andrew; his older brother, Prince William; and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s children: George, Charlotte, and Louis.

Because they are part of the royal family, Harry and Meghan received funding from taxpayers. Because they are becoming financially independent, this will no longer happen. Still, the couple has a large sum of money to fall back on. Harry’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, left him a trust. He also earned quite the sum by being a caption in the British Army. As for Meghan, she is said to have earned over $3 million for starring in the television series, Suits.

Still, Harry and Meghan will not be financially supported by public funding anymore, which equates to the majority of their earnings. It is believed that they will be funded by Prince Charles through his private estate, the Duchy of Cornwall. It is unsure how long the Prince of Wales will be privately supporting them.

As for who will be paying for the couple’s security while they are in North America, that question is still up in the air. Buckingham Palace has yet to comment on this.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been in the public eye since the two went public about their relationship. Tabloids have even compared Meghan to her sister-in-law Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, for years.

“You can definitely see the bias when papers and media outlets talk about Meghan versus Kate,” said Carolina Reagan (‘20).

Meghan was scrutinized for resting her hand on her pregnant stomach while in public when Kate was praised for being a great mother. Kate was looked at as elegant and cutting-edge when she suggested having her favorite scented candles at her and

William’s wedding ceremony. When Meghan wanted air fresheners at her and Harry’s ceremony, she was called “dictatorial” and the royal staff declined her request. At this point, the media was just looking for something to scrutinize her for.

Prince Harry has often spoken about the similarities between his wife and his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. Diana constantly received media attention–both positive and negative–due to her impact on the world before her untimely passing in 1997, when Harry was 12. Harry, along with many others, contributes his mother’s death to the paparazzi, who were chasing her, her partner, bodyguard and driver, who ultimately lost control and crashed their car, killing them all except for her bodyguard.

Though Meghan and Harry aren’t followed to that extreme, the tabloids still seem to be on her for everything.

“It’s eerily similar to how Diana was treated, in my opinion,” said Reagan.

What the media fails to cover about Meghan is her contribution to conservation and humanitarian work. Meghan has spent time in Rwanda, Malawi, Delhi, and Mumbai with various charities, and she recently sealed a voiceover deal with Disney, understanding that they will then donate to an elephant conservation fund.

Nonetheless, Meghan was an established woman before marrying into the royal family. She’s an American biracial actress who was raised by her single mother, which goes completely against the typical face of a royal. The royal family is built on tradition, and the Duchess of Sussex breaks that mould. Because of this, Harry and Meghan have had enough, and are choosing to step away.

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