Political stress in Saudi Arabia and Iran


Photo by Grace Grelak

On Sept. 14, there was a drone attack on Saudi Aramco’s Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia. Half of the country’s oil supply was compromised, the equivalent of five percent of the world’s supply.

Following the attack, the prices of crude oil increased in response to the shortage. Costs enlarged by up to 20 percent, hitting a peak at $72 a barrel. However, most of the production has since been restored. This occurred much faster than most experts predicted.

Currently, Iran is denying any responsibility for the attack on the Saudi Arabian oil field.

“The critics of the Trump administration are arguing that in many ways Trump has created an environment in which this type of reaction, if it was in fact by the Iranians, was prompted by the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement,” said Derick Hulme, professor of Political Science.

In 2015, the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council— China, United States, France, United Kingdom, and Russia—as well as German, made an agreement with Iran that was to curb their production of missiles. In return, they agreed that other countries would remove economic sanctions on Iran.

In May 2018, President Trump made the decision to pull of the deal with Iran. Recently, this has led to Iran violating the agreement and the United States pressuring other countries to impose sanctions on Iran again.

France, Britain and Germany have been calling for a new agreement to be made; however, it is highly unlikely given how difficult it was to reach the previous agreement.

“It was multilateral diplomacy at its most complicated and ultimately most successful and there was a clear quid quo pro,” said Hulme in regard to the previous agreement. “The idea that Iran will come back to the table is highly unlikely.”

On Sept. 20, Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense, announced that the U.S. would be sending troops to Saudi Arabia to enhance their defense. On Sept. 26, Esper included the addition of two patriot missiles and a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense—THAAD—system.

THAAD is a defense system designed to target incoming missies and intercept them before reaching their target. “Any kind of enhanced assistance to the Saudis comes with significant regional implications,” said Hulme.

“It’s likely that many people don’t know about the situation because it isn’t being as thoroughly reported on and distributed like the impeachment proceedings,” said Destiny Herbers (‘21). She is fairly unfamiliar with the situation occurring abroad knowing not much more than Trump approving more troops to aid Saudi Arabia.

Elizabeth Flatoff (‘21) says she knows what happens but does not know all the details. She hears people talking about it but questions the reliability of their comments.

“I understand in a broad sense we help our allies,” said Flatoff. “Do I think we need to immediately send in troops? No.”

Flatoff said it is important for the Untied States to help their allies but there are other things the country can be doing to also aid in preventing future incidents.

“I think we should be helping Saudi Arabia to a degree because they are our ally and we use their oil, but I do also think we should be denouncing the acts which we are to an extent but not enough,” said Flatoff.

“I don’t think it currently affects me as a student but it could,” said Flatoff.

“I think that students should be aware of it as international conflicts have the potential to impact our lives,” said Herbers.

Schools address gun violence


Graphic by Merek Alam

Apr. 19, 2019 was the 20- year anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School. Since then there have been over 200 incidents national wide. With students returning to school, questions on gun control and safety in classrooms have been raised.

On Sept. 18, Sandy Hook Promise, a non-violence group with the purpose of educating others on knowing the signs of gun violence founded in 2012 by the parents of the Sandy Hook victims, released a back-to-school video.

The video begins with students showing off their newest supplies but then shows a boy running in his new shoes, a young girl using her jacket to hold a door closed and students armed with a pair of scissors and colored pencils near a door.

The video includes a warning regarding graphic content but was made to bring awareness to the situation in schools.

Fruitport Community Schools will be opening a new high school in the summer of 2021 designed to deter active shooters and enhance the safety of the students. This will be replacing their current high school built in the 1950s. The school received a grant for $404,707 from the Michigan State Police to build this school.

The school will have curved hallways to limit to distance an active shooter would be able to see. Concrete “wing walls,” which are slabs of concrete extruding from the wall into a walkway, will be built-in to provide a place for students to hide behind and be protected.

Additionally, the windows will be covered in impact resistant films with the purpose of slowing down anyone who tries to break it. There will also be doors with access control locks that administrators can use to compartmentalize the building to prevent a shooter from reaching other areas.

The design was chosen to minimalize the visual aspects while increasing the safety measures.

On Sept. 9, Addison Community Schools in southeast Michigan in had a public discussion about whether their employees should be allowed to carry guns on school property. It has been a topic for over a year.

The question to follow would be whether guns could be carried open or concealed. The idea is to counter to local police’s slower response times of up to 28 minutes and offer another form of protection for students.

Other measures have been put in place at the school including film over the windows and 60 additional security cameras with a grant from the Michigan State Police.

After the public forum, the school’s safety committee will meet to make a decision. It will then go the school board for a vote. Addison County would be the first district in the state to allow teachers to carry if approved. In July 2018, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled it was up to the district to make a decision on whether or not guns are allowed on the premises.

Alma College is taking their own measures to ensure students’ safety in the case of an emergency. Karl Rishe, Vice President of Student Affairs, became ALICE certified in 2018 to teach others. Staff and faculty have been trained through a 30-minute online course and then a hour in person training session.

Students will receive ALICE training through a seven-minute video the school will send out. It will outline the “Run, Hide, Fight” model.

ALICE is a nationally renown program used to educate people on how to respond in an emergency. It stands for “alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate” and is used to replace the traditional lockdown procedures.

Last spring, there was an active shooter drill for those trained without students to become familiar with the program. There will be a drill with students in the upcoming months working with Alma as well as Michigan State Police.

“ALICE is reactionary. [The] counseling center, all of our reach out, all of those things are precautionary,” said Rishe.

This is part of a two-year plan, with a grant from the Michigan State Police, for two local counties for all the schools ranging from Alma College to Alma High School and Bridge Port. Once the drill with students is completed the school will be a ALICE certified institution.

“ALICE training is really encompassing of almost anything we could want,” said Rishe. It includes safety kits in every classroom ranging from first aid and tourniquets to mechanisms to lock doors.

Greek Life confronts alcohol concerns


Crossover, traditionally, occurs the night before classes start and is when the first parties of the school year occur. For such events to happen on campus, there are rules in place specifically to protect students’ safety.

On Sept. 3, Greek organizations on campus attended a training required to host events on campus with alcohol. It was put on by Matt Jones, assistant director of Greek life, and was similar to the training Resident Assistants and First Year Guides received prior to the start of school.

Topics discussed included intoxication risk factors— such as weight, gender, rate alcohol was consumed as well as others—and behavior cues. The cues started at lowered inhibition and increased to loss of judgement, slowed reactions and loss of coordination. Members were also advised on what action to take when someone is at each level.

All campus organizations are required to follow Alma College’s policies, which are in the student handbook under “Alcohol-Related Events Policy” and the alcohol policy. A few rules in place include hours events are allowed, the banning of drinking games, the requirement of security at events that have alcohol as well as color-coded wristbands representing those attendings’ ages.

Additionally, each organization has their own security measures in place and have to follow the local laws. This includes no drinking under the age of 21.

The fraternities on campus range in the number of parties they have from one a year to one or two a month depending on their organization. They are subject to the same rules regardless of frequency.

“Our risk manager will assign brothers to security for the party a week in advance, and then the day of the party, all of the brothers will meet and go through a run through on how we want the party to go,” said Tait Morrissey (’21), president of Sigma Chi, on how they prepare for events.

During gatherings, brothers at Sigma Chi are stationed around the house watching for safety issues. They also count those who come in and out to stay below capacity and have a brother stationed on the front porch.

Colin Englehart (’20)¸ president of Phi Mu Alpha, said his fraternity reaches out to alumni for events like homecoming when there are more brothers around for additional help. They also have sober brothers in every room that is occupied to watch out for safety hazards. “I personally feel that we make safety our number one priority, especially when it comes to parties,” said Matt Leppien (‘20), president of Delta Gamma Tau. Before parties, they have a meeting to establish who is working security as well as go over plans in case of an emergency before preparing the house.

As the event occurs, the brothers of Delta Gamma Tau communicate frequently through their phones. They are constantly on the lookout for unsafe situations and occasionally walk around to make sure “nobody is doing anything they aren’t supposed to be doing while in our house,” said Leppien.

Englehart, Leppien, and Morrissey suggest going out with a group of friends that you know. “I would say trust your gut and know your limits. If you feel like something is wrong, chances are it probably is,” said Leppien. Englehart suggests having a plan with friends before going out, including if there will be any drinking before it happens.

“As college kids, we all know people will drink before coming to parties but be responsible,” said Morrissey. “It is important to know limits and keep track of what has been consumed because it will assist in getting the right care,” he said.

“Don’t be afraid to communicate with whoever is running the party in a situation where you may need some assistance,” said Leppien.

The Almanian has no more story ideas


As of Mar. 25, 2019, the Almanian has ran out of stories to report on. This has put the future of the newspaper in jeopardy as well as those who work for it. There has been a new push to find topics from the dark side of campus, however, those discovers cannot be disclosed at this time.

Each week, every member of the staff is responsible for contributing at least one idea to a forum that is kept on the dark web where it cannot be found without a special link. One theorized reason for the lack of content is that people are losing access and are afraid to admit it. This cannot be confirmed.

Members of the Almanian have their own ways on finding stories. Kate Westphal (’21), stated that she uses a Magic 8 Ball and an Ouija board to find stories students would be interested in and if they are worth writing about. “I’ve tried meditation and opening my third eye in order to get [new] story ideas, but the only thing I got from that was the realignment of my chakras,” said Westphal.

Hank Wickley (’20), a sports writer for the Almanian, said that trying to find stories just became too much for him. “I used to go to every single sporting even both home and away no matter where they were…I had to cut back.” He has recently been recruiting others to travel and take notes for him.

When asked how Wickley used to determine the stories he would report on, he said, “[I write] what’s most interesting to me. Not really sure how important it is to the rest of my readers. If it’s interesting me in the athletic world then that’s what I’m going to write about.”

For Emily Henderson (’21), she started struggling to find stories after being bitten by a vampire bat. While she used to run to get ideas, being in the sunlight has been causing allergic reactions, so she has started to sleep upside-down to get ideas.

The writers’ block has increased for Henderson to the point she struggled to answer some interview questions. She claimed that her previous article might have been her last and said, “I can no longer come up with things to say.”

Last month, the Almanian struggled to narrow down which stories would be published because there were many ideas such as exploring Punxsutawney Phil’s connection to the squirrels on campus and the heartbreaking truth about the Valentine’s Day on campus. These are no longer relevant given the time that has passed.

Students will now have to find other ways to catch up on the news from around campus and the outside world. Wickley said students will now have to go to all sporting events to know what is happening. Westphal has heard rumors that the squirrels around campus will share the important news if caught; she has not been successful in this endeavor.

The future of the Almanian is currently unclear. Kate believes that it will only exist as a legend in the upcoming years. Wickley would like to turn it into a publication of fictional sport novellas he writes to replace the traditional news. It is possible that the end of the semester will mark the end of the Almanian.

The future of some of the staff is not as clear. Westphal intends to continue writing to satisfy the deal she made with the spirits, while Wickley will work on short stories. As for Henderson, and many other writers, photographers and editors, they will have to find other forms of income such as selling platelets

To replace the weekly stories, the next publication will include articles published in Klingon, Spanish and Binary code. The weekly Sudoku will still be included. As for graphics, there will be political propaganda published in the paper from the 1800s. Articles will be repeated from the 1990s and Hallmark movie reviews will be on the front page.

The early retirement plan explained


Recently, Alma College announced that they would be offering select staff an early retirement plan. It is a voluntary opportunity that involves a cash incentive to retire earlier than they might have been able to otherwise.

The personnel affected includes staff, meaning the employees that are not faculty (those that teach various courses), but people who work in areas such as maintenance and administration. This group included people from “all areas of the college—from senior leadership to hourly employees” said Ann Hall, vice president for planning and chief of staff.

To be eligible to participate, they had to meet certain criteria to receive the offer. First, they could not be temporary employees and have to work at least half time. Additionally, the staff member has to have been at Alma College for at least ten years with “a combined years of service and age equal to at least 65 as of Apr. 1, 2019” according to Hall. This affects 57 members of the Alma College staff.

These cuts are coming after an increase of expenses at the college. There is no single cause of the rising expenditures, but rather, there are many, such as the rapidly rising price of health care. Hall also mentioned that they hired more staff recently which added to the costs.

At the moment, the college is “financially healthy,” but there is a need to cut the current costs to keep it strong, according to Hall. This, along with other cost-cutting measures, could potentially cut the college’s expense by four percent.

Staffing has not been the only attempt at cutting costs, “all cost areas have been under review,” stated Hall. Outside contracts have been reduced recently, which saved the school about $1 million, and there have been “energy efficient features” installed with new construction to lower that expense.

There have been a variety of reactions to this new opportunity. Some of the eligible staff have been accepting and see it as a beneficial experience. There are also others who do not necessarily see it in the same light and are not ready to consider their retirement. Hall says that “a voluntary retirement offer is considered the fairest, least impactful way to reduce staffing expenses.”

The college has been trying to ease the decision by providing different services to those that are considering the option because they recognize the impact it could have on their lives. There have been large group discussions, as well as individual ones, to provide the staff with more information so they can make the decision that best suits their life. Their main goal is to be able to answer the questions so they can make the most informed decision possible.

This is not the first time the college has offered this as an option to their personnel. The most recent happened in 2012 for faculty. Prior to that, the last offer was about 20 years ago for staff.

A similar early retirement plan could be offered to faculty, coming as early as after the next academic year. The goal is to keep the budget balanced and limit the effect that students experience.

Hall commented, “the outlook for Alma College is strong. Alma has operated balanced budgets for decades. While the emerging higher education landscape presents new challenges, we are confident that making there types of decision now ill better align with out strategic goals and puts us in an even stronger position moving forward.”

Tucker Carlson comes under fire


Tucker Carlson has recently been the center of a controversy involving a series of demeaning comments he made years ago. Media Matters for America — a nonprofit organization focused on monitoring the press for inaccurate or unreliable information — released the interviews on Mar. 10, 2019.

Carlson started out as a print journalist in the 1990s before becoming a political commentator and being hired by Fox in 2009.

He has worked for Fox News since 2016 hosting, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” a politically driven talk show that airs nightly.

The comments that led to the hashtag “ # Fi r e Tu c k e r C a r l s o n” occurred between 2006 and 2011. Carlson would call into a radio show called, “Bubba the Love Sponge Show,” to discuss various topics, typically related to political issues to voice his opinions. The earliest reported was Apr. 4, 2006.

The subjects of his comments frequently varied but were mainly targeted at minorities. There were many dealing with race, gender, and even the Warren Jeffs case — a legal case in which Jeffs paid a 14-year-old girl to marry her cousin. He also used derogatory terms to refer to women such as Michelle Obama and Samantha Bee.

Among his misogynistic statements, he claims that white men were responsible for “creating civilization”.

Then, several times throughout a five year period, he made racist remarks about former President Barack Obama. Additionally, there were many negative statements made about the war in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries.

The hashtag “ # Fire Tucker Carlson ” started trending on Twitter shortly after these audio files resurfaced. People became angry that Carlson is still employed by Fox News without any sanctions. They feel that his opinions should not be publicized on his own show when they are demeaning to certain populations.

There has also been a call for advertisers to stop sponsoring his nightly show or risking being boycotted by consumers.

In recent months, he lost a total of 34 advertisers such as Samsung, IHOP, and Pacific Life Insurance as a result of his speech.

It is unclear what, if any, other companies will pull their advertisements.

His misogynistic and racist comments continued since being hired by Fox. Recently, in Dec. 2018, he made anti-immigration remarks during his show stating immigrants made the country “poorer and dirtier”.

In Dec., Fox supported Carlson’s opinion on the matter. On the latest clips, Fox has not made any comments.

It seems unlikely that Carlson will face any repercussions over this controversy and will continue to have his show.

Carlson is claiming no responsibility for what he said. In an interview with Variety, he says that it happened more than a decade ago, and his views can be seen on his show.

He also defended himself by saying, “anyone who disagrees with my views is welcome to come on [to his show] and explain why.”

This is not the first time that media figures have made such remarks. Jeanine Pirro, host of a show on Fox News, questioned Representative Ilhan Omar wearing a hijab.

Fox said they would handle the situation regarding her behavior with her directly. Megyn Kelly had her show canceled on NBC after making a racist remark in Oct. 2018.

This string of incidences brings into question how people should deal with news outlets allowing their personnel to make the comments such as Carlson’s and if there should be punishment, even if those comments happened over a decade ago.

The reasons why Carlson has not yet been removed from his position are unclear, as other people in similar positions of power have been removed from their spotlights due to similar comments.

Alma choir tours Florida to sing


Over Spring Break, the Alma College Choir spent time doing a series of concerts through out Florida. They traveled to various cities and churches to perform their program under the direction of Dr. Will Nichols and accompanied by pianist Anthony Patterson.

The tour started on Feb. 21 in the Heritage Center where they performed their setlist for campus before departing on Saturday. Their final performance was at Universal Studios on Mar. 1 before returning to Michigan the next day.

On Feb. 24, the choir sang in Naples beginning. They then traveled Marco Island, Fort Myers Beach, Dunedin, Lakeland, and Orlando. Up until the final location they performed at local Presbyterian churches.

“It was definitely different than singing at churches like we are used to but it was a fun experience” says Caroline Smerdon (‘20) discussing what it was like to sing at Universal. Alma College Choir alumni came to these performances in order to support the ensemble.

“My favorite…. had to be this town called Dunedin which is like a Scottish heritage town in Florida,” says Hannah Tardiff (‘19), explaining that it was her favorite audience to perform for. The church even decorated with the tartan.

Smerdon enjoyed Lakeland the most of all the locations. She explained that it was the last full performance on the trip for the seniors, giving it some sentimental value. Tardiff says that she will miss seeing everyone everyday and that it will not be the same.

While in their evenings were spent performing, they had some free time during the days when they were not traveling. When given the chance some would go to the beach. As a group, they stopped and visited the Everglades and a flea market.

At night, the choir would stay at home stays, which were one of Tardiff’s favorite parts. She explained that they were usually older couples but that everyone was extremely nice to them when they stayed. She enjoyed being able to talk to them and get to hear the things they have done, especially with groups like their church choirs.

It has been a longstanding tradition for the choir to tour. In past years, they have performed along the East Coast and then the Mid-West. Traveling for the choir is not limited to the states. In May 2018, they traveled to Scotland and in May of 2020 they will be traveling to Ireland for a two week tour. Sam Lindeman (‘20), called the previous international tour “a once in a lifetime opportunity” and is looking forward to potentially going to Ireland.

This year’s program included a diverse group of songs starting with “Assurance” arranged by John Ness Beck and finishing with “Highland Cathedral” arranged by Nichols and Patterson. They also performed “Song of Democracy” composed by Howard Hanson which contained works of Walt Whitman. “Supermarket Flowers”, performed by Ed Sheeran, added to the wide variety of songs they performed.

The choir is mainly made up of sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have had the opportunity to sing in other groups on campus first. As Tardiff explained, there are a lot of students with different backgrounds and majors as well ranging from music to economics to history to math.

Students seem to agree that one of the best parts, besides the travel, is getting to know the others on those trips. Traveling gives them the chance to get to know people better that they might not have otherwise. Tardiff says that even though they can sometimes get sick of each other, which was not as much of an issue this year, it is a great chance for bonding.

Technology advances campus life


Society is moving at a faster pace than before because of the advancing of technology, expectations and a shift in priorities. People are constantly in motion and performing activities and not taking the chance to slow down for a moment, especially students. Multi-tasking has become a common practice.

When getting to college, students have the chance to join various groups on campus from Greek organizations, to sports, to the arts, to other clubs. This is in addition to their class load which can range in credits and intensity based on majors and interests. There might also be a job, on campus or off, for extra spending money or to pay fees.

Living at a slow pace gives people the chance to step away from the everyday activities, specifically with electronics to take a break. These activities can include going for a hike, reading for pleasure or even taking a nap.

Even in times of constant activity there are moments to slow down. It is necessary to take “me-time.” Jennifer Kowalczyk (’20) fills out her planner and checks off what she has done to keep life from being too busy.

There can be negatives to this life style such as the constantly full schedule or getting limited time for oneself, but the idea of progress motivates some people to continue their actions rather than pausing. When there is always something else that needs to be done, it is easy to keep busy.

“I often times fill the hour where I’m supposed to do nothing with something,” said Eli George (’20). He might sit down to work on something rather than going somewhere, so it is a bit slower. There are still some moments when he does nothing.

Social media is said to be a contributor to living at a higher speed because of the quick connections to others. Asiel Clark (‘20) finds social media to be distracting when she is trying to focus on something but uses it to connect to people when she needs to because of her position in Student Congress.

George says he does not post what he is involved with to Facebook because he “doesn’t feel the need to advertise everything I’m involved in.” Kowalczyk remains active on social media but does not let it play a big role in her life.

Being constantly on the go can have an effect on maintaining relationships in life. “I’m really fortunate to have people in my life who understand how busy I am and don’t mind when I need to take extra time for myself,” said Clark. Having a support system and people who understand can make life less stressful.

“It can destroy but it can also create [relationships] if you can find somebody who is willing to work with that,” said George. He also says that those you understand are usually also living a fast-paced life. For Kowalczyk, she prioritizes her family and friends.

There are pros to living at a faster pace. By constantly doing something, more is getting done. “I am way more productive when my life is more busy,” said Kowalczyk. By not taking a break, more progress can happen.

Students in this case have chosen to live this way. “I can’t control a lot of things about life, but I can control myself,” said Clark. She wants to meet and go beyond expectations, but says that she can define what her own success is.

“Outside pressure comes from what do I need to put on my resume…but it is also my will to want to do it,” said George. He would not be as involved in as many activities if he did not want to be. There would always be something more for him to do even if he slowed down, he said.


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