New clubs approved at StuCo



On Feb. 6, 2023, Student Congress approved four new clubs on campus: IPHS Club, Water Polo Club, Diversity in STEM and Squirrel Club. Typically, only one or two clubs are introduced during constitution committees. This was the largest number of clubs approved at a Student Congress meeting within the last few semesters.

IPHS Club, Water Polo Club and Diversity in STEM are new groups that were created and organized by their respective presidents and Executive Councils. Squirrel Club is a revived group that died out in 2019, previously called the Squirrel Watching Club.

Each club had unique reasons for wanting to become a student organization on Alma’s campus. IPHS Club is separate from the IPHS Honorary which is focused on students that pursue the IPHS program.

“The IPHS club is for all students interested in going into the health sciences, even if they are in a different major,” said Olivia Bunce (‘24), President of the IPHS Club. This organization hopes to build connections between students and the IPHS department.

“This club is important to Alma’s campus because it helps engage all the students in the department,” said Bunce. IPHS Club has current plans for CPR certification, volunteer opportunities and a combined field day event with the IPHS Department faculty.

Water Polo Club has been featured previously but had not been approved as a club until the Feb. 6 Student Congress Meeting. Once their budget is approved, they will start holding events and regular meetings.

“Water polo is [a] personal interest of mine as well as many of my peers and we are interested in introducing one of the best Midwest sports to the north,” said Madison Humphrey (‘23), President of the Water Polo Club. Members of the club stressed that students do not need to know the rules of Water Polo before joining, but it is required that anyone interested can swim 25 yards unassisted.

Diversity in STEM is a club focused on fostering a community for people of diverse backgrounds interested in STEM, as well as people who are interested in volunteering opportunities.

“Our student population here at Alma is growing in its diversity,” Said Rachel Kostrzewa (‘23), President of Diversity in STEM. “Our club aims to act as a support group for underrepresented students that have any interest in STEM.” They hope to host speaker sessions soon, as well as sponsor volunteer opportunities with special education classrooms at Alma High School.

“Many careers in the STEM field require some type of graduate degree, and many of these programs also require or prefer applicants to have volunteer experience pertaining to their field,” said Kostrzewa. By providing volunteer opportunities, Diversity in STEM hopes they can help students acquire the experience they need to go into STEM-related fields.

Squirrel Club’s was revived by Rylee Warchuck (’24) so that students could have a chance to enjoy Alma’s nature around campus. In the future, the club hopes to host a trip to the John Ball Zoo for club members, as well as have a “Nutty for You” Valentine’s event. This would be on top of their regular meetings, which have not been planned yet.

Students react to the Learning Commons




On January 25, 2023, the Greg Hatcher Learning Commons opened for student use after 11 months of construction. Parts of the interior building, as well as the landscaping on the exterior, are still being renovated. However, the basement, first floor and second floor are all open to students.

The Learning Commons held a grand opening celebration on Jan. 25 that gave students the chance to tour the interior for the first time. Since then, students have been actively using the space despite ongoing interior construction.

Several faculty and staff offices moved into the Learning Commons since its opening. The library staff offices are located on the second floor, The Center for College and Community Engagement and Career and Personal Development moved from the Center for Student Opportunity (CSO) to the basement. The Student Success offices, also previously in the CSO, moved to the first floor. The Writing Center has moved from the DOW study rooms back to its previous location on the first floor, occupying the same corner as the Student Success office.

“Students were studying in the library space almost as soon as the doors were open,” said Matthew Collins, Library Director. Students ha ve had few options for study and social spaces since the construction began. Now that the space is available, students ha ve been using it consistently.

Students ha ve had mixed reactions to the Learning Commons since it opened. W hile students have been frequently using study spaces, ongoing construction and supply chain issues have impacted how students are able to utilize the Learning Commons. The most popular concerns among students have been the lack of doors for study rooms, as well as the limited cosmetic designs within common spaces.

“After understanding the need for modernization, I still think that the current Learning Commons could do with more color and decorative aspects throughout,” said Maxwell VanZant (‘23), Learning Commons Student Manager. There are currently plans to implement more college-related decorations, but those changes can only happen after all the construction is nearly complete.

“I hope the rest of the doors come in soon since I think that is the one thing many people have reservations about,” said Victoria LeCureux (‘24), a student worker at the Learning Commons.

Because of supply chain issues, most of the study rooms do not ha ve doors. Because of this, it is difficult to find a private space apart from any public areas.

Doors for study rooms had been ordered well in advance of the Learning Commons opening, but due to national supply chain issues, the order continued to be pushed back. While some of the doors arrived within the last few weeks, most of them have yet to be shipped in.

“Even with the heavy construction, the Lower Level remains the location with the highest amount of student traffic and is used for a myriad of events and activities,” said VanZant. Despite complaints they had about the space, students still use the Learning Commons as a vital resource.

Ever since the height of the COVID pandemic, students ha ve struggled with finding spaces to gather and form a community. The Learning Commons building has also served as the ‘heart of the campus,’ both in its location in the center of campus as well as its function as a social hub for students. Hopefully, construction will be near completion by the Fall 2023 semester.

Thinx period underwear faces lawsuit



Near the end of last year, a class-action lawsuit was settled against Thinx period- absorbing underwear. Class members accused the company of lying to customers by advertising their underwear as a non-toxic and safe alternative to traditional period productsdespite the presence of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAs) in their products.

The lawsuit was filed in May of 2022 when it first gained traction online through social media outlets. At the time, the common misconception was that the lawsuit was against the use of PFAs in their underwear. The lawsuit instead focused on how the products were advertised.

“It was more of a marketing lawsuit than about the actual toxins,” said Kimberlyn Hollon-Morseau (’23). “[Thinx] never actually admitted that there were toxins or that it was harmful.” Increased exposure to PFAs has been linked to medical issues such as cancer, thyroid issues and reproductive problems.

Thinx has denied these allegations but is still offering refunds to anyone who purchased their product between Nov. 12, 2016 and Nov. 28, 2022. The company is offering cash reimbursement for up to three pairs of purchased underwear, or up to a 35% discount on future purchases.

“So, you’re trying to market when you have a lawsuit,” said Hollon-Morseau. “I don’t know, it just felt icky to me.” Offering discounts on products, as well as denying that their underwear can cause any long-term harm, has affected consumers’ confidence in the brand. Anyone who is refunded for their purchases must sign an agreement that they will not take any further legal action against the company.

“Menstruating people’s health was never their main concern when it should have been their top priority,” said Carina Andrews (‘24). Although Thinx has taken steps to correct their image, their actions have left many customers disappointed and unwilling to support their products going forward.

“Unfortunately, things like this that sound too good often disappoint us,” said Dr. Chih-Ping Chen, Co-Director of the Women and Gender Studies Department at Alma College. “I think it’s probably a wake-up call for [some] people. It will happen again with another company as long as people are willing to buy.”

“Research into the risks of dermal exposure is pretty limited because it is difficult to measure,” said The Washington Post. PFAs are understood to be dangerous in high amounts, and they can commonlybefoundinanywater- resistant garment on the market.

“I’m not [going to] willingly buy something… especially when it’s going near my vagina,” said Hollon-Morseau. Although PFAs are commonly found in products today, experts have recommended that people try to avoid them as much as possible since their negative effects happen with increased exposure.

One of the main points of frustration from customers and supporters of the brand has been how they marketed the product versus its actual effects. According to the plaintiffs in the case, Thinx capitalized off of menstruators’ desire for non-invasive and safe products.

“[Thinx] sees that they don’t have to back off, they don’t have to regulate themselves more, they can still make that much money- -why do they want to bother changing?” said Dr. Chen. Thinx has vowed to change their products and make them safer, but some are questioning if this will lead to any real change.

The trouble with Metz



Ever since Metz Culinary Management took over as Alma’s dining vendor this fall, some students have been hoping for massive improvements from Sodexo’s subpar food and services. Unfortunately for the student body, Alma’s campus has been left with few food options and few improvements have been seen. 

“In this industry, it takes time to transition between contractors,” said Micah Braman, General Manager of the Food Service Management Team at Alma. 

This transition has been difficult for some students because of the unpredictability of the quality of food and what’s being offered. 

Part of the issue with Metz has been a lack of food choices both in Hamilton Commons and in Joe’s. After Joe’s old location was shut down due to plumbing issues, Metz had to quickly turn around and open a temporary location in the Thistle Room to accommodate students’ needs.

Despite this temporary location being opened so quickly, the lack of products in the store left students with little more than snacks and drinks to spend their Munch Money on. In Joe’s previous location, there was a variety of options available including simple grocery items, snacks and drinks. 

“We’re struggling with, as the industry is, trying to find consistent products,” said Braman. Due to supply chain issues from Metz’s distributors, products like the grocery items in old Joe’s are harder to order and keep on the shelves. 

I’m understanding of supply issues and how it leaves the Alma College Food Management Team with few options, but it’s difficult as a student to understand these struggles when we have gone through multiple semesters with few food options.

Also, while understanding why Joe’s is so limited in its merchandise, it has left those on the senior meal plan without many other options besides light snacks and candy. Even then, switching back to the 210 meal plan isn’t feasible for many students given the reduced meal options in Hamilton Commons. 

“If I’m being honest, the quality of food isn’t fantastic,” said Faron Grossman (‘24). Although Alma students were told there would be an increase in [the] quality and variety of food, Metz hasn’t been able to deliver. “They both seemed really bad [at] the moment,” said Grossman when asked to compare Metz to Sodexo. 

“I’m vegetarian and can’t eat meat. When I go to get vegetables, half of the time they’re just dripping in oil,” said Grossman. A regular meal plan at Alma costs $2,900, and yet many students are struggling to find safe and healthy meals at the only place that serves hot meals on campus. 

“There was one time earlier this semester when we got lettuce from the salad bar and there were worms in it. Not just a few, it was teeming with worms,” said Grossman. This seems to have happened more than once, as videos have been uploaded to Yik Yak and shared over social media at least twice throughout the last semester.

Hopefully, with the opening of the new Joe’s-esque store in the Learning Commons, students will go back to having a variety of meal options and having more control over what they eat. However, we’ll have to wait until March 6 for this new location to officially open.

Club Q shooting in Colorado




Approximately ten minutes before Midnight on Nov. 19, 2022, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich allegedly opened fire inside Club Q, a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, CO. At 11:56 PM, the Colorado Springs Police received a 911 call, and within six minutes, Aldrich had been subdued and taken into custody. 

Richard M. Fierro, a retired Army Major, worked with Thomas James to restrain the gunman shortly after the second round of shots could be heard within the club. Before police arrived at the scene, five people were killed and 17 were injured. Of the 17 injured, seven were hospitalized and have since been released from medical care. 

The five victims consisted of two bartenders and three club attendees – Ashley Paugh, Kelly Loving and Raymond Green Vance. Vance was the boyfriend of Fierro’s daughter who was at Club Q to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Daniel Davis Aston and Derrick Rump were bartenders working the night of the shooting. 

In the wake of this tragedy, many people online are comparing this event to the Pulse Nightclub shooting that occurred in 2016 in Orlando FL. Club Q, like Pulse, was a center for queer community in Colorado Springs. The community is currently handling the loss of these five people as well as an important space that provided safety and belonging for LGBTQ+ people. 

“Mass shootings like this show that it is okay to shoot people because you don’t like them,” said Emma Adams (25’), DEI Chair for Phi Sigma Sigma. “I think most queer folk always have a sense of fear that they will not be accepted or that they will fall victim to hate crimes just for being who they are. Events like this just increase that fear,” said Adams. 

“Anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and laws embolden hateful people to do hateful things,” said Kia Blysniuk (24’), Diversity and Inclusion Chair for Kappa Iota. Many connections are being drawn between hate crimes like these and the rise of anti-queer rhetoric across the United States. “I believe this sort of thing sets a precedent for similarly hateful people to do similar things.” said Blysniuk.

“I heard about it the way I think most people hear news these days, through social media. I think in this specific instance it was an out of context TikTok I looked further into,” said Blysniuk.

Many folks learned of the shooting through social media and through TikTok, then researched news articles from there. 

“I first heard about the shooting at Club Q immediately after worship that Sunday morning. I saw it on social media and immediately looked up news articles to see what was happening,” said Rev. Katrina Pekich-Bundy, Associate Protestant Chaplain at Alma College. 

“Violence in our country has become too frequent and that violence affects BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities the most,” said Rev. Pekich-Bundy. Learning about this shooting was heartbreaking for many, but violence against queer folks and people of color has so heavily normalized that people are not shocked to hear of hate crimes like this. “I was saddened, angry, and upset by the shooting, but unfortunately not surprised because these acts of senseless violence happen too often,” said Rev. Pekich-Bundy.

“I will say I am infuriated that there are still so many mass shootings in the United States and that the number keeps going up,” said Adams. Queer folks across the country have been affected by news of this shooting, many dealing with the burden of handling news of another shooting. 

“The way that this sort of thing has become the norm, media barely even covers shootings anymore. Real action has to be taken,” said Blysniuk.

Local and travel Winter Alternative Breaks




With winter break coming just around the corner, Alma College students are deciding what their plans are after this semester ends. Alternative Breaks have been offered to students for a chance to engage in local and travel opportunities for community service and outreach. 

“It’s a great way to meet other students who are like-minded or care about the same topic you do,” said Carla Jensen, Director of Experiential Learning. “It’s a great way to connect with students you might not already know who share the same interests and passions.” 

Coming up, there are three Traveling Alternative Beaks for the month of December. Applications for these breaks have already closed. Each of the travel breaks will be happening from Dec. 10 to 17. There is also one local opportunity to help with Food Insecurity in mid-December. 

The Environmental Sustainability Alternative Break will be happening at Everglades and Biscayne national parks in FL.

Participants of this break will be working on trail maintenance, outdoor maintenance, and cleanup projects. Sophia Romain (‘23) and Ava Fredrickson (‘23) are the students organizing this break, and Tessa Williams is the staff organizer.

Christina Harbin (‘24) and Matthew Hanson (‘24) will be leading the Disaster Recovery Alternative Break with Brianna Harfmann as their staff organizer. This break will be working with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) in support of hurricane recovery efforts in New Bern. Participants will be helping with various projects led by PDA. 

Abby Wohlfert (‘23) and Dylan Kast (‘24) will be leading the Children’s Health Alternative Break with Brittany Luckett as their staff organizer. This break will be working with St. Judes’s Children’s Hospital and Serve901 in Memphis, Tennessee. It is in Partnership with Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE). 

The Food Security break will be focused on sorting food donations at local pantries, as well as assisting with food delivery programs at First Presbyterian Church of Alma and other locations. There are two date options for this alternative break. It is taking place on Dec. 12 and 13, or Dec. 14 and 15. Students may sign up for one session or both.

“Some of the planned activities include going to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan in Flint, volunteering at homeless shelters and distributing food at local distributions, including the First Presbyterian Church of Alma just off campus,” said Katherine Garlock, AmeriCorps VISTA Member for Food Security. This Alternative Break still has spots open for any students that are interested.

The Alternative Breaks Club has been working with the Center for College and Community Engagement to prepare students for engaging within their communities.“With Alternative Breaks being supported by the Center for College and Community Engagement, there is a renewed focus on ‘how do we bring what we’ve learned back to our community?’” said Jensen. 

When students return from their Alternative Breaks, they now go through reorientation events that help establish how they can use this experience to positively affect Alma’s community and any community that they choose to work with.

While applications for winter Alternative Breaks have closed, aside from the Food Security break, Spring applications are opening on Monday, Dec. 5 at 7:30 A.M. 

The applications opening are for Housing Security with Habitat for Humanity, Animal Welfare with Horse Creek Animal Sanctuary and Environmental with Joshua Tree National Park. Applications can be found on the Alma College website.

GSD, DI and PAGE present Murder Mystery MasQueerade




A yearly tradition returned once again, the Murder Mystery at the MasQueerade is back. GSD (Gender and Sexuality Diversity) worked with PAGE (Pop culture, Anime, Gaming, and Entertainment) and Diversity and inclusion to host their yearly masquerade. It was held in the Zimmerman Hall in the Opera House this last Saturday, the 5th.

The previous masquerade happened in 2019, GSD chose to work with other groups to help revive traditions that had been lost to COVID. Usually, GSD is the sole host of this event, but this year they co-hosted with D&I and PAGE.

“This year one of our EC’s general goals is to reach out and collaborate with more on campus groups,” said Angela Mish (’24), GSD’s president. At the MasQueerade, students were encouraged to attend wearing formal attire to dance, have snacks and beverages and participate in a murder mystery hosted by PAGE.

“We will also have a gallery walk that kind of coincides with the murder mystery that adds the educational component to the event which features some classes we have at Alma College that are queer related, some keynotes we’ve had, some spotlights of queer folks and some general factual queer awareness information,” said Julia Dang, Alma College Assistant Director of Diversity and Inclusion.

They also had a voter information table with information about upcoming elections. This MasQueerade not only marked the continued revival of the yearly event, but the creation of new traditions in the wake of COVID-19.

“Masquerade has been an event the club has hosted for many years, however, many of the traditions were lost during the peak of COVID when we could not have large gatherings such as this,” said Mish. While the Masquerade was hosted last year, attendance had to be limited to comply with COVID-19 guidelines.

To prepare for this event, GSD, DI and PAGE held an event for people to craft masks to wear to the MasQueerade.

Mask Making with DI: The Masks We Wear as Queer, Neurodiverse People was offered for people to decorate masks while listening to presentations about ways that queer and neurodiverse people have to “mask” in day-to-day life.

PAGE presented about how queer and neurodivergent communities often crossover into communities like TTRPG and cosplaying. Each group that hosted helped in facilitating conversations about the topics presented and offered to hear stories and examples of masking from people in attendance.

GSD and DI will be hosting more diversity-related events this semester. DI will be hosting NAHM Drum & Dance Presentation on November 9th, NAHM The Real Thanksgiving on November 16 and NAHM Native Craft Night. These events feature guest Hannah Bartol, member of the Hannahville Indian Community, who will be educating event attendees about native traditions and misconceptions about native history and the first thanksgiving.

GSD will be hosting an event with the Career and Personal Development Office that centers around networking with LGBTQ+ alumni. All students that are interested in more info about these events can find it on the Alma college Calendar.

“It’s been so much fun planning this event with the two groups. I’m extremely proud and impressed by the work that everyone’s put into it,” said Dang. If you didn’t make it to the MasQueerade this year, keep an eye out for it next November.

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