COVID-19 updates on campus



As the school year continues, policies regarding COVID-19 have adapted both statewide and here at Alma College. While some restrictions have been eased across the state, measures from within the college have been further reinforced.

At the beginning of October, news spread that a group was filing a lawsuit against Governor Whitmer saying that the policies implemented to combat COVID-19 over the summer were unconstitutional and an overreach of her power.

The Michigan Supreme Court overturned many of Whitmer’s policies, including social distancing measures and mask policies. Courts drew the line between safety protocol and total government control.

“I completely understand that she was in a hard spot, but at the same time, I think that there were other alternatives that she could have gone with that would have caused fewer restrictions and fear,” said Nicki Crump (’23). “I do feel she overstepped her powers, but I can also see how she was doing her best in a bad situation.”

The conflicting opinions on these policies are not just a statewide concern, but a concern of our own community.

”Alma Public Schools set the state record for K-12 outbreaks,” said Kathryn Blanchard, professor of religious studies. “And there’s been a huge spike in state cases, which seems to have come about 2 weeks after the court struck down the governor’s authority; lots of people seem to have taken that as a sign that they didn’t have to wear masks or practice social distancing anymore (if they ever did).”

While the statewide regulations have become less restrictive, Alma College has reverted to Phase 1 of the Return to Campus plan. Immediately after the move back to Phase 1, the third round of campus-wide testing resulted in 31 current positive cases on campus.

“The third round of testing was a wake-up call,” said Blanchard. “Alma students, like people everywhere, are getting “Covid fatigue” and not being as careful as they were before. I guess we’ll see if this wake-up call changes people’s behaviors or if it’s just the beginning of a bigger spike in cases.”

While many are very concerned about the number of cases, many students have brought up the impact the Return to Campus Plan has had on their mental health.

“They are hurting the students more than helping,” said Crump. “We are stressed, tired, and lonely enough as it is, the policies are only making it worse. We want our freedom back.”

This past week, President Abernathy released a statement saying that the campus had run out of quarantine rooms for students. Students that have been exposed will not be asked to quarantine for 14 days at home, rather than keeping them on campus.

While the campus looks for answers to all of these problems in the last 4 weeks of the semester, some believe that there is no perfect solution.

“I know the administration is doing its best, and campus-wide testing is a very good thing, but we already ran out of quarantine space once and students were forced to move; I suppose that could happen again,” said Blanchard. “I’m also not sure that small housing is a good idea, because if one person tests positive, a whole house full of people can’t go to class for two weeks. That’s really disruptive.”

The staff of The Almanian encourages all Alma College students to continue following the Phase 1 guidelines and keeping our campus safe from any further outbreaks. Daily temparture checks and following the rules are the best way to guarantee we can continue classes on campus this year.

Senior Staff Farewell: Maddison Luebke

Dear Almanian,

It has been a crazy ride over the past 2.5 years. I was brought into the editor’s office on a whim and you trusted me to help put together a newspaper within a week of working there. The Editor in Chief at the time saw that I was willing to do just about anything for The Almanian, and I did just that. I worked and assisted with every job at my time at the paper and loved working for this group. I’ve written more articles than I can remember, some last minute; I took pictures; I saw articles go from concept to draft to final copy to printed in a newspaper.

This job was always about the writing, but the bond formed between the current editing staff is unmatched. We have all grown together since we were sophomores/juniors, and we have worked our tails off to make The Almanian better every semester. These people are a family to me, and I’m so sad to see my time with these people over.

The Almanian has never been a perfect system, and it will never be a perfect system. There will be articles missed, deadlines forgotten, and miscommunications among the entire staff. We are a college newspaper, we cant be perfect, but we can try every semester, every edition, every day to make The Almanian a way to bridge the gap between Alma College and the real world. That was always the goal, and I hope future generations of Almanian employees will continue this work that seems unimportant, but is almost essential to the crazy times we are in.

Thank you for giving me a place to learn, to teach, and to grow as a person. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to work with this organization, and I will take everything you taught me and move into the world.

All my best,

Maddison Luebke

TikTok under political fire



Disclaimer: The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Almanian or Alma College.

Over the course of this summer, we saw a new wave of social media influence take over the lives of young people. With nothing else to do, our phones became the only form of social interaction most young people had. TikTok, an already popular video creation app, lead the pack as it gained popularity over the past few months.

Whenever an app becomes so integrated into how we communicate, it has the capability to be weaponized as a political force. TikTok uses interest groups and watch times to evaluate what kind of content people like, so it was easy for political activists and popular figures to find the community that resonated with their message.

With this kind of algorithm, TikTok has created a platform of hyper-personalized media consumption. This personalization for the user shows that they have the information accessible to be able to figure out information about focus groups across the globe.

TikTok poses an interesting threat to the government, and more specifically this presidential regime. Trump’s campaign was blatantly anti-China, and TikTok was created by the Chinese media company Bytedance.

Some claim that TikTok is stealing U.S. Citizen information and selling it to foreign governments. As a college student with minimal knowledge of politics and no knowledge of data analytics, I can’t claim to know how all of this works; however, it is important to know that TikTok isn’t the only part of our lives that can be tracked.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube: all of these apps for your phone have capabilities of tracking what you interact with. All of our devices we depend on—especially in an environment of all online classes—are manufactured and programmed in Asian countries.

Even at home in the United States, as soon as a child is born, they are given a birth certificate and a social security number— two things that are used by people for the rest of their lives.

In a recent interview with Gray Television’s Greta Van Susteren, Donald Trump said that banning TikTok in the United States was one of many options the country could take to “punish” China for the coronavirus. Banning an app in order to blame an entire country for a global pandemic that is almost under control in all countries besides the United States seems to be a reelection move if I had ever heard one.

In the age of new media, we plaster our faces, our birthday’s and our private information on the internet on a daily basis. It is an active decision on our part to participate in these online mediums; however, banning the internet as a political move goes against the United States past policy on internet censorship.

The United States has always been a country that pushes for freedom of information. We don’t want the government to be able to censor what news were seeing. We are a democracy that believes all of the people here have a right to know.

If Trump bans TikTok, it sets us down a path of governmental restriction of media consumption. They could make listening to non-American musicians’ illegal. They could ban foreign films. We would be stuck in a media bubble made up of exactly what our government wants us to see—blind to the outside world.

I make TikToks, not to be famous, but to have a creative outlet when all of my other forms of creativity have been cancelled. With coronavirus, we are living in a world where social media interaction may be the only interaction.

Mariah Carey remains an icon


On Nov. 3rd, Mariah Carey released the 25th anniversary edition of her Merry Christmas album. The original release of this music proved to be history in the making, as “All I Want for Christmas is You” became one of the most popular Christmas songs of the 21st century. Carey is a Christmas music titan, her voice flooding the airways of every radio station.

Carey has remained popular for a very long time, while maintaining a relatively positive public image. During the live New Year’s Rockin’ Eve show in 2017, she was clearly lip syncing to one of her songs, and eventually walked off stage in the middle of a song because she was off. This caused a lot of people to question her legitimacy as a musician. Much of her career since has been proving herself as a musician.

While people’s opinions of Carey as a vocalist may have been stirred during that performance, nobody can doubt her skill as a businesswoman. She has manufactured herself as more than just a person. Mariah Carey is now her own brand. Her relevance in pop culture has adapted as culture has adapted itself.

I will not argue that Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas is anything less than iconic; however, the re-release of this album can raise some questions. In a time where all music is released digitally and is online forever, why publish an album again 25 years after its original release?

A possible explanation for the re-release of the album is a money grab by the artist. This culminates in multiple different opportunities for an artist to increase their wealth.

Carey knows the influence this Christmas album has had. Die-hard fans will buy the physical album as soon as it drops, and people who missed out on the original release of the album will want it to add to their collection. This is a tactic used by a lot of artists, but now that all music is released on Apple Music, Spotify or any other streaming service, the income for artists has changed.

Re-releasing the same music will increase an artist’s overall plays on streaming services and on YouTube. It will also save money on production, as none of the original songs are being re-recorded. Carey is a performer, but is also an entrepreneur. She knows how to make money and keep her name relevant, and that is exactly what she is doing with this album.

Carey is a businesswoman first and foremost. She has established herself as a brand, distancing the person Mariah Carey really is from the performer. This happens a lot in the entertainment industry. Sometimes it happens when artists have done something to damage their public image, but they still want people to consume their art. Carey experienced that to an extent, but her execution of the business perspective it spectacular. Not every artist that was big in the 90’s has a Tiktok account. She has made herself relevant for over 30 years, and will continue to be relevant for future generations if she continues adapting with popular culture.

Renovations move to progress campus



It seems that over the past few years Alma College has taken a lot of initiative when it comes to updating the infrastructure on campus. In the time the senior class has been at Alma, they have redone all the North Campus dorms, Dow lobby, and built the new Zeta Sigma House.

These renovations have done some serious updating to North Campus. I lived in Newberry and Mitchell Hall, pre-renovation. Now that I’m living in Mitchell again, these updates to the North Campus dorm buildings were truly beneficial.

Besides some minor complaints about shower drains, Alma College provided North Campus dorms with the best the college had to offer when they renovated. The changes to Mitchell Hall made it a truly different living experience than when I lived there Freshman Year.

The newly planned renovations to the chapel and Swanson Academic Center are next in line to be renovated and updated for the 21st century. The updates to these buildings were announced over Homecoming weekend and caused a lot of commotion.

I think these renovations are really going to be beneficial to a large majority of campus. An updated Library and Chapel allows the college to expand in a genuinely positive way, but I can’t help but think about if these renovations are the most urgent.

I lived on South Campus for two semesters while I’ve been at Alma College, and I can’t help but notice the deterioration on those buildings: whole tiles missing in bathrooms, semi-functioning heat and general signs of decay.

South campus housing has its perks. Suite style living appeals to a lot of students, and its location proves to be convenient; however, people can be reluctant to live there because of the overall deterioration of the dorms.

While I lived there, I experienced missing bathroom floor tiles, shower water that was tinted yellow and flooding in the laundry room—a laundry room that was already creepy and inconvenient. The college facilities department was on speed dial, and while they were not always expedient in fixing things, the job always got done.

South campus needs some serious updating from the college. What was done to Newberry and Mitchell last summer should come to the south campus dorms sooner rather than later.

Many students have had complaints that all of the underclassmen dorms have been renovated, while a solid majority of junior and senior students live in the oldest housing on campus. Some students—including myself— have found ways to keep living on North Campus even though they are an upperclassman.

Everyone can argue that what is important to them should be the first one to get renovated. Humans naturally put themselves ahead of others, so that’s what students are going to do when they think they are smarter than administration.

Homecoming events entertain


Photo by Allison Woodland

The events of Alma College Homecoming events filled the campus with the arts, sports and reunion.

There were reunions being celebrated, and families of Alma graduates coming together in celebration of Alma College.

The big event that took place the morning of the 20th was the Homecoming parade. Groups from all over campus marched to show their Alma pride. Sororities, fraternities and clubs joined the parade, but the largest group participating was the Kiltie Marching Band.

“My favorite event of homecoming weekend is the parade,” said Elijah George (’20), one of the drum majors for the Kiltie Marching Band. “I love the excitement and representation from all the different groups on campus.”

Homecoming king and queen were announced at pregame of the football game. “Everyone who is on court is such an amazing person, so I feel like we have a great group people representing Alma on Homecoming Court. It’s going to be fun getting to spend some of the day tomorrow with everyone,” said Jennah Davis (’20).

Jacob Headlee (’20) was crowned homecoming king and Bridget Flanery (’20) was crowned homecoming queen.

“Having the opportunity to participate in Homecoming in such a unique way was amazing,” said Flanery. “Everyone on court was incredibly kind and fun-loving, this showed itself especially as we tried to “row” the boat down Superior St. I’m thrilled to be recognized by fellow students as queen but I’m so much more excited to continue to enjoy my last year at Alma enjoying the love, kindness, and respect my Alma family is generous enough to share with every member.”

The Homecoming football game has proved to be one of the highlights of Homecoming weekend. Alma won 51-16, winning Homecoming for the second time in three years.

The football team wasn’t the only group putting on a show at the football game on Saturday. Performances from the Kiltie Dancers, Pipe Band and more filled Balkhe Field.

George says that leading the Kiltie Marching Band in front of the homecoming audience is one of the highlights of their season.

“Conducting in front of a large audience has to be the coolest feeling I have ever experienced,” said George. “When I step onto the podium, I feel the emotion and excitement of the band. I love to conduct and conducting in front of a large audience truly enhances my appreciation for conducting and music.”

Homecoming week was capped off by an event in Presbyterian Hall, a combination of the Alumni Awards and a performance by the Alma College Choirs.

Campus emphasizes self care


As fall semester enters its third week, Alma College students are forced to put their summer clothes away and get back into the school schedule. Many students can be affected by the drastic change in schedule, causing their mental health to deteriorate as the semester goes on.

Students have different ways of taking care of themselves with a busy school schedule. “When I get overwhelmed, I shut down,” said Kirstyn Cotton (’21).

“I try to take half an hour every day to listen to music and chill. It helps me destress when school stuff becomes a lot to handle.” Students are encouraged by staff members to reach out for help in order to achieve academic success. That assistance can come from signing up for a tutor, going to professors’ office hours and making an appointment at the Counseling and Wellness Center.

Kali Prillwitz (‘21) takes a different approach to balancing her busy schedule. “I tend to go into a routine. I schedule my showers, and I make sure I go home after lunch to relax. I make sure that even though I might have a lot of stuff to do, that is my time,” said Prillwitz.

Sometimes simple things can help you manage a busy semester. “Keeping a planner is always good,” said Prillwitz. “I bought a watch last year; I use it to keep track of my time and stay on schedule by setting alarms and timers. I also take Sundays to do my homework, but I don’t touch it on Saturdays. I like to keep my Saturdays open for friends, football games and extracurriculars.”

There are a variety of things students can do on campus to relieve stress: going to therapy cat/dog night, going out with friends or just taking a little extra time before bed for themselves.

Sometimes students need a little extra help when it comes to taking care of themselves. David Weir from the Counseling, Health and Wellness Center encourages students to reach out for a variety of situations.

“Students at Alma College seek counseling for a variety of reasons,” said Wier. “These include stress, anxiety, homesickness and adjustment concerns, perfectionism, depression, grief, drug and alcohol concerns, suicidal thoughts, relationship and roommate issues, sexual and gender identity, intimate partner violence and sexual assault and abuse.”

Fears can emerge within college students when they think about making an appointment with a counselor. Wier hopes students who are nervous about making their first counseling appointment can view their mental health the same as they do their physical health.

“If you have a physical illness or break a bone, you go to the doctor without hesitation,” said Wier. “If you’re feeling down, struggling in an area of your life, or just don’t feel like yourself, a counselor can be a great resource to help you identify the problem and develop solutions to it.”

Even though many students have not been to the Counseling and Wellness Center, they know that it can benefit them. “I’ve never been, but I’ve thought about going often,” said Prillwitz. “I think it would be nice to have another person to talk to outside of my professors.”

The Wilcox Medical Center has gone through some updates this summer, which includes the combination of the Medical Center and the Counseling and Wellness Center. Students can contact the Counseling and Wellness Center Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. –5 p.m. at 989-463-7225

Taylor Swift: Love it or leave it?


Taylor Swift’s most recent album—Lover—was released Aug. 23, 2019. This is her 7th studio album and is the next iteration in her progression as a musician.

Most of the songs on this album are exactly what we expect out of Swift. “The Archer” and “Soon You’ll Get Better” have teenage girls teary-eyed. “You Need to Calm Down” and “ME!” are the radio pop anthems that just scream ‘drunk party girl.’

The music on this album is what I assumed it would be at this point in Swift’s career. Her transition from country to pop was gradual, but now she is essentially the pop vocalist of our generation.

“You Need to Calm Down” became the white girl anthem for Pride 2019. While we love this kind of representation for marginalized communities, the source being Taylor Swift makes the conversation a little more complicated.

Swift has been criticized for preaching a non-inclusive type of feminism that excludes members of the LGBTQ community. This kind of accused feminism has been known on the internet as ‘white feminism’ for its exclusion of people who are marginalized for race, gender or sexuality.

There are a ton of easter eggs hidden throughout this album, and many die-hard Swifties have claimed that Swift is trying to tell listeners more about her sexuality. As soon as this became a popular idea, people immediately came in to criticize her for taking advantage of the LGBTQ community.

Some people think that she is using this album to try and take back the mistakes she has made over her career. She is trying to reach a bigger audience by focusing her songs around more diverse topics, but it reads to a listener as, “here are songs about the same things, but we’re gay now!”

This is not me saying that I hated this album. Sometimes I can bop to some Taylor Swift when I’m getting ready in the morning; sometimes a bubblegum pop song puts the pep in my step before my 9:40 class.

As a society, we just need to remain critical of the media we consume. Is it authentic, or is it major pop stars pandering to the new trend? It seems like Swift and her writers think being gay is the new trend.

Social context aside, “Lover” is a decent pop top100 album. It hits all of the basic pop requirements, but I think it might be time for us to expect more out of Swift.

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