ALICE training on campus brings controversy


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


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


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


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.

Fires rage through Australia bush


Fires have been burning through the country of Australia for months. International media outlets finally began discussing the natural disaster in December, with human deaths calculated at at least 27, and wildlife deaths estimated to be over one billion. Roughly 2000 homes have also been destroyed in the mix, along with entire animal habitats.

“I found myself glued to the news reports, unable to focus on anything else,” said Tracy Fuller, an Australian native living in Melbourne.

“Hearing people talk about it, it doesn’t seem real. It’s absolutely devastating to hear [about]”, added Kristy Hospes, another Aussie, who has been in the United States all throughout the time of the fires burning.

Australians are no strangers to fires, as they typically pop up during the dry season, which is their spring and summer. However, 2019 was the hottest and driest year on record, making them more susceptible to larger, more catastrophic fires. New South Wales and Victoria — both states on the southeastern side of the country — are the states that have witnessed the most devastation. New South Wales also happens to be the region’s most popular area for tourists, as the country’s largest city, Sydney, is located there.

“[The fires] are affecting the close surrounding areas to my home. Friends and family have just been cautious to follow the fires and have a plan ready and a place to evacuate [to] if it becomes necessary,” said Hospes.

Over 12 million acres of land have burnt in Australia so far, and it has yet to slow down due to the increasing temperatures. To put this in perspective, the country of Australia is similar in size to the continental United States, and the amount of land that has burnt is comparable to the size of Indiana. Therefore, if a fire of this size occurred in the United States, it would have the potential to wipe away an entire state.

In comparison to other recent wildfires, the California wildfires of 2018 burnt about 2 million acres, and the Amazon fires of 2019 burnt 2.2 million acres.

The government has been largely in question during these times, as many civilians believe they are not doing everything possible to keep them safe.

“People everywhere are talking about the fires, climate change [and] what the government should have done and how we can contribute to recovery,” said Fuller.

The bushfires in Australia have stirred up conversation concerning how their government views climate change, the biggest contributor to the fires. Their Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, refuses to prioritize climate change, and was on vacation in

Hawaii when the fires began to worsen. Many even feel as though Morrison abandoned them when they needed help the most.

Still, Australians are persistent and put up a united front.

“Everybody I know has donated in some way: [whether it be with] money, food [or] supplies,” said Fuller.

She also mentioned that businesses are donating their profits, and nurses and builders are working for no pay to help out. Facebook groups have also been created to help rehabilitate wildlife, some are even sewing pouches for baby kangaroos and koalas who lost their mothers.

“I know people are getting a lot of health issues due to the air quality, so I believe that’s going to be hard to adjust to [once the fires are contained],” said Hospes.

“[However,] the overall sense of community will be stronger, as everyone is doing everything they can to help those in need.”

The country of Australia is going through devastation like none could imagine, but the civilians have rallied together, and others from around the world are sending support, whether that be physical labor or with monetary funds. Still, no money will bring back the lives that have been lost, or the amount of loss that has already occurred.

Responses to New Zealand Shooting


On Friday, March 15, a gunman opened fire in two Christchurch, New Zealand mosques and killed 50 people, with at least 50 injured.

The alleged gunman, 28 year old Australian man Brenton Tarrant, also posted a long manifesto on social media before carrying out the deadly act. In it, he expressed far right, white nationalist views, and targeted Muslims and immigrants.

In the manifesto, Tarrant praised the work of other mass shooters, such as white supremacist Dylann Roof, the killer in charge of the Charleston church shooting where nine black congregation members were killed, and Anders Breivik, who killed dozens of young people at a summer camp for Norway’s left-leaning political party.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, called the mass murder a terrorist attack, and also mentioned that the killer held extremist views that have no place in New Zealand.

Ardern was quoted saying, “Many of those affected may be migrants, may be refugees … They are us … The perpetrator is not.”

Before funerals could finish being planned for victims, the country was already banning military – style semi automatic weapons, and holding stricter laws on the purchasing of other firearms.

“On [the day of March 15], our history changed forever. Now, our laws will, too,” said Ardern.

Every semi automatic weapon used in this terror attack is now banned from their country. These weapons include ones still legal to buy and own in the U.S., and ones that were used in mass shootings, such as those in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and teachers died while at school, and Las Vegas, where 58 people died attending a concert.

“Personally, I think that making gun laws stricter will help the situation greatly, and New Zealand has already taken those measures,” said Martin Betancourt (‘21).

“No matter how you lean on gun control, you have to admit that the government taking some kind of action to at least try to make a change instead of simply sending their thoughts and prayers is something that we need to see more of all around the world, including here in the United States,” added Nathan Fetter (‘22).

New Zealand is predominantly a farming country, and many farmers use guns for pest control, as well as to hunt their food. The government recognizes that, so exceptions were made for .22-caliber rifles and for shotguns commonly used for duck and rabbit hunting. However, these guns can have magazines that hold no more than 10 rounds. Exceptions were also made for law enforcement officers.

Fetter suggests the U.S. listen to what New Zealand’s government has done regarding gun laws and regulations.

“At the best of times, some of our politicians seem as if they believe that they are above us and don’t need to listen because they are under the impressions that they know more than we do. It’s time that the voices of Americans crying out to push for some real change in our country be heard, when speaking about gun reform or any kind of action.”

But this issue is not only about guns. The killer that carried out this attack was avid about being against immigrants, and attacked two Muslim mosques.

“It stems from hatred and discrimination toward people of color and people of different religions,” said Betancourt.

“I’d like for the world to be more accepting, but it’s not that easy; I don’t have any solutions for long term hatred.”

Smollett’s story under scrutiny


The Almanian covered a story last month regarding the alleged hate crime that occurred against the Empire actor, Jussie Smollett. Since then, a change in the story has been brought to the attention of the media.

Smollett told the police he was attacked by two white assailants wearing ski masks in Chicago, who beat him with their fists, feet and teeth, doused him in chemicals and tied a noose around his neck. He claimed these acts were an alleged hate crime against him; Smollett is not only an African American actor on a show with a cast of predominantly African American actors, but he is also a homosexual man.

Smollett also reportedly received a threatening letter prior to the supposed attack, where a stick figure was drawn and the letter read, “Smollett, Jussie. You will die.” The word “MAGA” was also written on it, as Smollett is quite vocal about being against the Trump Administration.

However, Chicago police say that there was no reasonable ground for believing that [the hate crime] had been committed against Smollett.

Two African American brothers even came forward and claimed that Smollett paid them to pretend to carry out these acts. These men worked as extras on the show, Empire, and were seen at a store buying ski masks and other supplies before the incident allegedly happened. The brothers also reportedly asked if the store carried MAGA hats.

With this new break in the case, Smollett is pleading not guilty of 16 felony counts of false reporting: 8 for the alleged false reports he gave to the police the night of the incident, and 8 for “lies” he later told the detective in the case.

Because The Almanian broke this story when it originally was in the media, the paper decided to touch base with those that were interviewed initially, and see if their outlook on the case has changed.

“I’ve been reading up on [the changes in the case] trying to find relatively unbiased information which is unsurprisingly pretty difficult with something this heated,” said Blake Jonassen (‘22).

Jonassen said he has been having a difficult time finding information on the case that does not swing one way or the other.

“I think it’s difficult to find a believable side to the story because most media sites these days all have a political side they believe over another or tend to be more critical than others,” said Jonassen.

Some broadcasting companies are known for wording their information to appeal specifically to the far left or the far right.

“[Because of this,] a lot of information is reported in different manners which causes some information to be misconstrued or ignored,” said Jonassen.

Many are not dismantling Smollett’s claims until anything is proven by more than heresay or he says so himself.

“It’s unsettling when there are so many other people being believed from the beginning,” said David Parnell (‘21).

Smollett’s case has been questioned since it first broke, and many have been quick to claim he made up the hoax in order to be paid the amount of money he may believe he deserves.

“The amount of energy put into disproving victims is kind of unsettling,” said Parnell.

“I am not going to be fully against Smollett until all of the information is presented,” said Jonassen, agreeing with Parnell’s claim.

The case is still being investigated, and Smollett is back in the courtrooms on April 17.

Cases like this are thought to be why hate crimes are only taken with a grain of salt, no matter how serious.

“I hope that his egregious act–if proven–doesn’t translate to people that they should not come out and seek repercussions for assaulters and abusers, because that act is disgusting,” said Parnell.

Students discuss safety when traveling abroad


Students at Alma College are no strangers to studying other cultures or being among them. During their time here, many students take time to study abroad, whether it be on their own, with a spring term or for a research opportunity.

Otto Warmbier was in a similar situation in 2016 that many Alma students face.

Warmbier attended the University of Virginia and knew he wanted to study abroad in a new, unique place. He chose Young Pioneer Tours to sketch the outline of the trip he was going to take.

This company, who specialized in taking students to “destinations your mother would rather you stay away from,” took Warmbier, along with other students from around the world, to Pyongyang, North Korea. The purpose of the trip was to show students the difference between the safety of their home countries and turmoil ridden North Korea.

Warmbier found himself in trouble during the trip when he decided to take a political poster hung in the country’s capital as a souvenir. North Korean officials took Warmbier into custody and claimed the act was due to spying for the enemy, as the U.S. is a South Korean ally.

Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in a detention facility, but was released to his family after them not seeing him for a year and a half. When he was returned, Warmbier was unresponsive in a vegetative state and his family didn’t recognize him. His father even said his teeth looked like they had been taken out of his mouth and rearranged.

Warmbier died soon after being returned to the U.S. at the young age of 22.

Warmbier’s story is one that makes many college students weary about traveling to a new place with a completely different culture than they are familiar with. Still, Alma students travel all over the world for various reasons.

“I traveled to South Korea for study abroad,” said Karley Daniels (‘20).

She mentions the importance of understanding the culture of the place that you may be traveling to. “[Travelers] need to make sure they research a little about social rules.”

Daniels discusses how there are different ways to address people in South Korea depending on their age, as well as how there were certain ways to handle money.

“Also, I think people need to understand that they might not have the same thoughts or feelings on a certain topic as you do,” said Daniels.

Alma College also has a pool of students who are from different cultures, and moved to the U.S. to better their education. Prarthita Nath (‘22) is from India, and discusses the difference in culture.

“The culture [in the United States] is different in a lot of ways from India. Whether it’s how the religious festivals are celebrated or how your friend circle is. I feel even the way we are brought up is different,” said Nath.

Another point of view is from someone with a cross cultural background.“I was born in Santiago, Chile but grew up in San Luis, Argentina due to my father’s work,” said Michelle Malkowski (‘21), who’s mother is Chilean and father is American.

“I grew to love all cultures and now, as an adult, I’m forever grateful to have all three cultures (Chilean, Argentinian, and American) a part of me.”

Malkowski also had the opportunity to study abroad in Japan last summer. She said she would give anything to go back again- -just maybe instead with a friend and not alone–and that her experience among the locals was incredible.

Many students travel abroad each year, and media tends to portray only the bad situations, such as Warmbier’s time being imprisoned in North Korea. Still, Alma students stress the importance of not becoming too overwhelmed or lost in the thoughts of danger.

“Try not to get too overwhelmed because [being] in a different country is hard to begin with, away from your family. Take time for yourself and figure out how the surroundings are around you, and always ask for help, because it helps a lot,” said Nath, regarding what to do when you are visiting a new place.

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