Political organizations pop up on campus

WADE FULLERTON
STAFF WRITER

Graphic by Weston Hirvela

As campus adapts to the changes of hybrid student life, many of the former – and some new – political organizations have begun to meet and plan for future events.

Despite many of the recent restrictions, the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) and Students of Liberty have made an effort to make an impact on campus politics.

YSDA has come into the new semester after a string of successful events following the campus shutdown. Although most are virtual, they have seen a great amount of success with their latest endeavors.

“We have to be more flexible to the changing rules on campus due to social distancing, but having virtual events can be effective,” said Tanvi Sharma (’21), YDSA Co-Chair.

YSDA holds their meetings at 7:30 every Thursday on the Chapel Lawn. Their meetings are welcome to all students interested in the political process, and ideas of socialism. The YDSA is among the most active clubs on campus and hosted a fruitful fundraising event over the summer.

“We had a successful conspiracy themed event that was entirely virtual. It was incredible to see the effort our members put into their presentations, and we were able to raise so much money over Zoom!” said Sharma.

The Conspiracy Night event was conducted entirely online, and members were able to raise over $500 for R.I.S.E. Advocacy. The YDSA has worked with R.I.S.E. in previous semesters, and intends to hold further Conspiracy Night fundraisers in the future.

As prior established groups make plans, a recent political student club has formed to hold open discussions.

A new student political organization – Students for Liberty – has been approved by Student Congress to move forward in the process of becoming a permanent campus group. Students for Liberty is a local political organization organized by students of multiple political positions, and has plans to establish themselves in the campus community in the near future.

The organizations aim to welcome students of all backgrounds to their discussions. Students of Liberty meet Monday nights at 9:45 in DOW Science Center.

Students for Liberty was organized by several students over the summer to provide an outlet for third party ideas on campus.

“When you come to college, it’s the time to explore who you are as a person. Understanding who you are before you get involved in the election process is important,” said Austin Popp (’21), Students of Liberty Co-Founder.

“The aim of our group is to not force libertarian values on campus. It’s to help students find their beliefs,” said Popp.

“We are not exclusive to libertarians. We want to accept people of all creeds and have them feel welcome. The goal of our group is to have conversations about modern issues,” said Ethan Zalac (’22), Students for Liberty Co-Founder.

Students for Liberty plans to set up tables for voter registration on campus before the 2020 election in November. The Students for Liberty also plan to work closely with YDSA to open voter registration tables to encourage the voting process.

As November draws closer, YDSA and Students for Liberty will plan on hosting regular meetings and encouraging students to venture forth and continue developing their political philosophies.

Covid-19 policies change campus life

ELLA BRIGHT, KATE WESTPHAL
STAFF WRITER, LAYOUT EDITOR

GRAPHIC BY WESTON HIRVELA

Students returned to campus in late August with several new policies in place, the most important of which address guidelines for COVID-19. These guidelines include social distancing in all indoor places, masks worn at all times and the restriction of visitors on campus. Although these policies may appear strict, students agree with the choices Alma College has made regarding COVID-19.

“I’m pretty impressed with the way Alma is handling COVID right now. I think it’s smart to start out stricter and go from there,” said Amelia Earl (‘22).

“I am very pleased with the with preparedness of Alma College in regards to the safety guidelines in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The mandatory mask mandate and encouragement to practice social distancing makes me feel safe while on campus,” said Sydney Lopez (‘24).

Alma College has also updated their guidelines regarding COVID-19. In an email sent to the campus community on 1 Sept., President Abernathy discussed the local emergency order in place for Isabella County. The emergency order is due in part to a large number of new COVID-19 cases at Central Michigan University.

In the campus-wide email, President Abernathy states that Alma College students are not allowed to visit any campus housing at Central Michigan University or attend any gatherings of 25 or more people in Isabella County. This is to protect the Alma College’s campus community and resist the spread of COVID-19 in the surrounding areas.

Furthermore, off-campus travel should be limited and avoided when possible. President Abernathy stated this is due to an increase in potential COVID-19 exposure when students traveled home over the weekend. President Abernathy reiterated that guests and visitors are not allowed in students’ rooms, as well as prohibiting students from visiting on and off campus student residences that are not their own.

In response, Wiley Delisa (‘24) said “I believe that the protocols Alma College has in place are very smart and have made our campus way less likely to spread [COVID-19]. While some of them are disappointing and frustrating, like not being able to have guests in the dorms, it’s all for the greater good.”

While overall most students appear to agree with Alma College’s handling of COVID-19, frustration about aspects of the new policies still linger. “My biggest concern is how overcrowded Hamilton Commons is and how people don’t social distance but there is no staff policing that, especially in food lines,” said Earl. “I do think the rules on masks outdoors while over 6 ft apart are a bit strict, but I understand where they are coming from.”

With the new policies, students are hopeful that the policies will be updated and eventually lifted due to the work of the campus community. “I have high hopes that wearing our masks and sticking with our roommates will eventually allow some of the mandates to be lifted,” said Delisa.

“I am proud of how seriously the students and staff are taking these safety measures, and I truly believe that Plaid Protects,” said Lopez.

As of 2 Sept., Alma College has reported only four cases of COVID-19. Those who tested positive for COVID-19 have been placed in quarantine and contact tracing is in effect.

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