What’s up with Scotty?




Scotty has long been a staple of Alma College’s campus community from the days of old when it w as a Scottish Terrier, to a more cartoonish figure to its current state as a masculine Scottish man. These changes over the years reflect a change in branding associated with Alma College the same as switching the school ’s nickname from the Fighting Presbyterians to the Scots in the 1930s.

Across campus students and faculty alike have seen changes in the way in which Scotty has been portrayed across campus this year. From his removal in the Admissions office to his decreased presence at athletic events, everyone has taken notice and formed opinions on the matter.

Nonetheless, students and faculty can rest assured that Scotty is not going anywhere and will retain his current form for the foreseeable future.

“I think the rumors [about Scotty] have been squashed at the cabinet level and Scotty is not going away,” said Sarah Dehring, Vice President and Director of Athletics at Alma College.

Melinda Booth, Vice President for Communications and Marketing agreed with Dehring stating that there are no current plans to phase out or replace Scotty in any way.

The rumors Sarah mentioned were ones started by students who were under the impression that Scotty would change his outward appearance and take on the likeness of a Highland cow or possibly even a squirrel. Posters ha ve sprung up around campus both in favor of and against the squirrel as a potential new representation of Scotty.

All of this comes as schools across the country have been forced to reconsider or outright change their mascot in the name of better reflecting diversity and inclusion.

Some of the pushback against Scotty as he currently stands is that he is not representative of Alma College’s mission of creating a diverse and inclusive community for all students. His overt masculinity is just one example of an aspect of his outward appearance that comes under scrutiny.

Other examples of things highlighted as problematic with Scotty include his Northern European likeness which to some may represent colonial values and oppression.

Jonathan Glenn, Director of Diversity and Inclusion could not be reached for comment on this article.

In terms of utilizing Scotty in athletics, he has never been a key part of any logo and according to Dehring, the Alma College community can expect to see the Plaid “A” being representative of Alma College Athletics.

“We are the Scots, we are in Scotland, USA, I don’t think the Scotty name will ever go away,” said Dehring.

The same may not be true for the Alma College tartan however at other levels in future Alma College marketing. One specific aspect that the Alma College community may see slight changes in is the Alma College plaid or tartan.

“The plaid is not being phased out of all marketing materials,” said Booth, “we have begun to use less of [the plaid] ondigital platforms like web and social media where it can look heavy or a bit dark.”

Others involved in making future decisions about Scotty as well as the Alma College tartan include Raymond Barclay, Chief Operating Officer of Alma College, who also could not be reached for comment on this article.

Despite swirling rumors, it seems likely for now that Alma College’s mascot will remain to be Scotty for the future.

College takes steps to hire new professors




Alma College has multiple openings for professors that are either active or in the process of being filled for the upcoming 2023-24 school year. These openings result from various movements within departments including retirement, professors taking positions at other institutions and departments hoping to expand to better serve future generations of students.

Some of the more notable searches that have reached the stage where prospective candidates are visiting campus include openings for the philosophy and education departments.

Both departments have seen multiple candidates come to campus where they meet with students in an informal setting, receive a campus tour and present to both faculty and students on a topic within their discipline.

Other departments that are in the earlier stages of their search for new professors include the history and physics departments. The history department is looking for someone who can teach pre-1800s European history, and the physics department is looking for an instructor or lecturer of physics and engineering.

The search for new professors is a long one with multiple different steps involving meeting with multiple different peoplefrom across campus. One of the most important steps in the process for applicants is meeting with current students.

“I think it is important for students to be a part of the hiring process because not only are they the ones paying for the salary but are also the ones reaping the benefits of the education,” said Matthew Garland (’23).

This is especially true if it is within your major or minor, as it is extremely likely you will have the prospective professor teaching a class or two in the future.

“Many people maybe qualified, but I do not feel as though the Alma ‘vibe’ fits everyone,” said Garland. “We are a small school that hardly anyone outside of Michigan has heard of and it takes a special type of person to make it here.”

Students who take advantage of the various meetings set up with applicants not only play a crucial role in bettering their own personal education but also potentially the lives of Alma College students for generations to come.

Faculty and staff are also highly encouraged to attend these events as they will ha ve more insights into what applicants will be most likely to succeed in their new role, pulling on both their own as well as others’ personal experiences.

Anyone curious about where their academic department is in the hiring process is encouraged to reach out to their department chairs. While most information will be kept confidential, they can still tell students about upcoming events related to the hiring process.

For the philosophy department in particular, there is a lot of buzz around who will be tapped as the newest addition to the department. A longtime professor of philosophy, as well as the department head, Dr. Nicholas Dixon, is retiring at the end of the 2022-23 academic year following a 37 year long tenure at Alma College.

“I feel as though someone like him, someone open to discussion who teaches by listening to students rather than absorbing content from the textbook and spitting it [back] at them would be the best option,” said Garland about whom he would like to see replace Dixon.

While the final decision is ultimately left up to the provost and individual departments, the hiring of new professors is still an important thing for students to pay attention to.

Sean Burke named new Alma College Provost



On Dec. 14, 2022, Alma College announced that effective Jun. 1, 2023 Dr. Sean Burke will be the new Provost and Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs at the College.

The announcement came after a months-long search that saw many different candidates apply for the position. The application process included meetings with both faculty and students on campus as well as receiving a campus tour.

Currently Burke is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies as well as an Associate Provost at Luther College, a liberal arts college located in Decorah, Iowa. He has also served as a professor at the college since 2007. 

Burke will replace the outgoing interim Provost Dr. Jamie Diels who has held the position for the duration of the 2022-23 academic year. Dr. Diels will be returning to her previous position as Associate Professor of Communications following her tenure in the role. 

One of the focuses Alma College has set forth to set itself apart from other colleges and universities is its unique approach to education by coupling both traditional in the classroom learning with experiential study. Much of that approach starts with the provost. 

“I am drawn to a specific kind of education that combines foundation in the liberal arts with attention to vocation [including] both how you prepare for work but also how you prepare for being intentional about the rest of your life,” said Burke.

The Provost is an important position at Alma College because they are the individuals who ultimately decide which classes are offered at the college. In addition, they also make important decisions such as which programs are added and cut each academic year. 

The provost’s office is located on the first floor of SAC closest to the Learning Commons. Their hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. 

Students can utilize the office for various academic related inquiries including things related to completion of their major or minor, course scheduling, and credit bearing internships. The office also helps professors when developing course schedules for upcoming semesters as well as developing major tracts. 

Some of the more recent programs to have been added at Alma College include the addition of an engineering major as well as the addition of two graduate programs. The first graduate program added was a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative writing and the second was a Masters of Science in Communication and Technology.

“Are there majors that could be reimagined, are there maybe some that [are not] drawing as many students as they used to, but could if they were reimagined,” asked Burke in response to what programs he saw being worked on in the future. 

Alma College has cut multiple majors within the last few years including Anthropology, Religious Studies, French, and German, citing a lack of interest in the programs.

Dr. Burke also said he hopes to look into adding programs that would help students who are transferring in with some previous college credit but have not yet completed their undergraduate degrees. 

Alma College has sought to create a more welcoming environment for transfer students within the last few years including offering competitive scholarships and creating a transfer-specific living learning community.

One of the first things Burke hopes to work on during his first six months in the position is connecting with students and becoming a part of Alma College’s campus community. 

“One of my priorities is to be a presence whether at Student Congress, athletic events, or other things to just really focus on connecting with students,” said Burke.

FSL recruitment underway



With the start of the Fall semester underway, Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) is in full swing preparing for recruitment. This year will look slightly different though as both fraternities and sororities are allowing freshmen to rush during their first semester. Historically only sororities have allowed students to rush during their first semester.

Alma College currently has five social fraternities: Delta Gamma Tau, Phi Mu Alpha, Sigma Chi, Tau Kappa Epsilon and Zeta Sigma. Alma College also has five social sororities: Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Xi Delta, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Iota and Phi Sigma Sigma. All of them will host a variety of events in the upcoming weeks and the best way to stay up to date is by following social media accounts for the various organizations.

Two accounts in particular are worth following on Instagram, @ac_ifc and @acpanhellenic. On both of these accounts, updates will be posted about upcoming events as well as access to sign the rush list.

Some examples of events that have already occurred are the FSL Movie on the Lawn which was Aug. 26 and the Meet the Greek BBQ which was Aug. 28. Both of these events allowed for Alma College students to go out and get to meet some of the FSL members on campus.

“I think freshmen looking at going through sorority recruitment should look forward to the experience of it all,” said Madison Hall (‘23), and President of Panhellenic Council. “[Students] can learn about philanthropy and service, leadership, alumni connections, friendships, [and] DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion).”

For freshmen students hoping to join fraternities, the long debated topic of their ability to rush during their first semester of college came to an end following an Inter Fraternity Council (IFC) vote last April. The vote came one year after Panhellenic Council voted to allow students to rush sororities during their first semester on campus.

“I hope that letting freshman rush [fraternities] will be a net positive,” said Sawyer Hill (‘23), IFC Rush Chairperson.

“It used to take place in the second semester because it gave [freshmen] time to think about their place on campus, however, I think that by allowing them to rush the first semester, it will help them find their place on campus earlier,” said Hill.

A topic that many new students may be concerned about is the “cult-like” atmosphere that many have seen on apps such as TikTok. Trends such as ‘BamaRush’ have cast a bad light on Greek life on campuses across the country.

“There is ‘BamaRush’ on TikTok [but] the chapters on Alma’s campus are definitely not like what that side of social media shows,” said Hall.

Many members of FSL on Alma College’s campus highlight important factors when looking to join a fraternity or sorority such as leadership and networking opportunities. Alma College students also tend to highlight the importance of giving back to the community.

“[Students] thinking about rushing should look into the great ways [they] can hold leadership positions and also give back to the local and campus communities,” said Anika Ried (‘23), a sister at Gamma Phi Beta.

Anyone looking into FSL is encouraged to check all of their options by both IFC and Panhellenic Council. In the coming weeks more events such as house walkthroughs for potential new members and other events will occur for people to begin getting a feel for FSL at Alma College. 

Signing the rush lists through Panhellenic Council and IFC will help potential new members keep informed about upcoming events as well.

“Listen to upperclassmen, especially upperclassmen that are involved in [FSL], they will help to answer all of your questions and point you in the right direction,” said Hill.

Alabama abortion law discussed at Alma


On Mar. 10, Dr. Wasserman, Associate Chair of the History Department and Dr. Blanchard, Chair of the Religious Studies Department had a spirited discussion about abortion hosted by the Chapel. Their discussion comes at a time when it seems as if everyone has an opinion on the issue and they hoped that their open dialogue would spark more discussions between people in the future.

Dr. Blanchard defended the pro-choice point of view throughout the discussion while Dr. Wasserman defended the pro-life point of view. Both of them believe that just because two people have opposing views does not mean that they cannot come together and have a civil discussion between one another.

Their discussion comes at a time where the abortion debate has again entered the forefront of political discourse in the United States following the passage of a near total ban on abortions in the state of Arkansas.

The law, which does not have exceptions for incest or rape would ban all abortions in the state of Arkansas. It also includes penalties of 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine for any woman who has an abortion. The law is currently slated to go into effect on Aug. 2 barring any judicial intervention.

“Taking away women’s resources doesn’t stop abortions, it just stops safe abortions, and in those instances you’re losing two lives rather than one,” said Abigail Zerbe (‘23).

“Abortion is a healthcare and fundamental right for all women…the government has no place in a woman’s reproductive system,” said Brenna Smith (‘24).

“The first point I think is at the root of abortion is about personhood; the personhood of a fetus,” said Blanchard in her opening statements.

“The second question is who should be responsible for making a decision, who gets to decide whether a person can have an abortion?” said Blanchard.

The issues of personhood and individual choice go all the way back to the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973, which formally legalized abortion across the United States. Since its passage Roe has faced many legal challenges including Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992 which was the last direct challenge to the ruling.

“Abortion is a very difficult topic to discuss,” said Wasserman in his opening statement.

As Wasserman stated, abortion has remained a very contentious issue that many people have very strong beliefs about. Because of its direct implications on people’s lives, many people harbor strong feelings one way or the other about the issue.

“I think that people often forget the difference between pro-life and pro-choice is that pro-choice is about the choice. It’s not about having an abortion but about being able to choose to do what’s best for you,” said Anika Reid (’23).

“If life starts at conception then terminating a pregnacy is the same as taking a [human] life,” said Wasserman in his defense of the pro-life argument.

The discussion between Wasserman and Blanchard continued in a civil manner and even featured questions from a few of the students who tuned into the event. The event was also moderated by Dr. Andrew Pomerville (Class of ‘01) and Chaplain of Alma College.

“I think [the topic of abortion] is necessary to model a dialogue between people who disagree on something that isn’t just spewing hatred,” said Blanchard following a student question on the importance of having an open discussion between two sides.

“We really need to step out of our personal beliefs and try to see from the other side’s point of view in order to have productive dialogue between both sides,” said Smith.

“I thought that it was important to show that with controversial [issues] like these we should be able to talk about them with one another,” said Wasserman in his concluding statement.

The event concluded with both Wasserman and Blanchard challenging others to begin a dialogue between each other on issues even if you do not agree with the other side.

Syrian Civil War reaches decade mark



Following a recent escalation in violence Syria is again in the spotlight of world politics. On Feb. 27 President Joe Biden ordered an airstrike on two locations in Syria in response to an attack carried out by Iran against U.S. backed forces in Iraq.

One of the two airstrikes was called off at the last minute by Biden after intelligence received a report that there were women and children present at the location. The attack that was carried out left one ISIS fighter dead and another two injured.

The airstrike marks the first time Biden has chosen to use military intervention overseas and comes at a time where he is trying to keep the delicate balance of power within the region.

Congressional Democrats were quick to criticize Biden for authorizing the attacks while Republicans applauded the action. Progressive Democrats have called for a deescalation of U.S. involvement in the Middle East citing the staggering cost of life caused by the seemingly never ending wars.

Biden defended his decision to go ahead with the airstrike citing that he did not wish to further escalate tensions in the region but did wish to protect U.S. interests in the region.

The U.S. has had a long history in the region going back to the first invasion of Iraq following their takeover of nearby Kuwait in 1990. More recently ISIS has dominated the region, specifically Syria, creating a major humanitarian crisis and displacing millions from their homes.

According to the International Red Cross 13 Million Syrians currently rely on humanitarian aid for survival, a staggering three-quarters of the war torn country’s population. Many have been forced to become refugees in far away European countries.

Recent reports from Save the Children a not-for-profit organization that focuses on humanitarian aid for children reported that 33% of children interviewed in Syria would rather live in another country and 86% do not wish to return to their home.

Complicating efforts for a deescalation of violence in the region is the growing threat ISIS once again poses. Although their physical Caliphate was defeated in Dec. 2018 following a yearslong offensive by U.S. backed Kurdish forces to reclaim large swaths of land that had been captured in 2014 and 2015 by ISIS fighters.

The Syrian Civil War itself began in 2011 as a facet of the greater Arab Spring movement in Northern Africa and the Middle East. Protesters across the region rose up against oppressive dictatorial regimes, resulting in the overthrow of some and violent responses by others, such as Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria.

In recent years, the U.S. has faced an uphill battle containing the spread of ISIS and attempting to stop the Assad regime from committing more human rights violations against the residents of Syria.

The U.S. has also had the support of such allies as Britain and the greater European Union but other countries such as Russia have complicated efforts by backing the Assad government.

On Mar. 7 a Russian warship bombed an oil drilling site in Northern Syria further complicating peace efforts in the already delicate region. At least four people were killed in the blast and 24 others were injured.

Another factor complicating the civil war is COVID-19. The virus has struck the entire world sparing no one, including war-torn Syria. On Mar. 8 both President Asad and his wife tested positive for COVID-19. An additional 26,000 people have been recorded as positive in the country and a little over 1,000 have perished.

Although the numbers seem low it has been difficult for officials to compile accurate numbers due to competing forces controlling different regions within Syria’s borders. Vaccine distribution has also been slow in the country due to the competing factions.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonia Guterres on Mar. 10 called the situation in Syria a” living nightmare” and highlighted the need for more humanitarian aid to go to the region, especially during the pandemic.

Trump acquitted by Senate


Donald Trump’s second articles of impeachment were taken up by the United State’s Senate on Feb. 9, for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol in Washington D.C.

Trump had already been impeached in the House of Representatives on Jan. 14 while still in office.

Trump was charged for having, “threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power and imperaled a coequal branch of government.” On those grounds, in a 232-197 vote that included 10 GOP Representatives who chose to vote to impeach Trump. The articles of impeachment were then sent to the Senate to be taken up at trial at a later date.

The trial began with a debate on whether or not the trial itself was constitutional, with House Impeachment Managers arguing it was constitutional to impeach a former president and Trump’s defense arguing it was not. Following eight hours of debate the Senate voted 56-44 to continue forward with the impeachment trial based on the legal precedent it was constitutional.

“The purpose of impeachment is to either expel a person from federal office if they are seen as dangerous to the Republic because they’re corrupt or because they’re dangerous to democracy itself,” said William Gorton, Associate Professor of the Political Science department.

In the case of Trump, Impeachment Managers appointed by the House of Representatives attempted to make the case before the Senate that Trump’s words were directly responsible for inciting the violence at the Capitol. They also argued that because of Trump’s outsized role in the leadup to the riot he should be disqualified from serving in future federal office.

Prosecutors opened their argument by saying that in his Jan. 6 speech at the Ellipse in Washington D.C., Trump addressed his supporters saying, “if you don’t fight like Hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” They also argued that statements such as that directly motivated his supporters to march towards the Capitol building in order to stop the certification of the Electoral College vote.

The subsequent hours saw the death of four people directly as a result of the violence and occupation of the Capitol by pro-Trump supporters.

Trump’s defense team argued that his words alone did not incite the riot and that the rioters acted on their own accord, having planned it in advance of Trump’s speech. They also argued that Democrats had been attempting to remove Trump from office since the beginning of his presidency and this was just another attempt to prevent him from holding the office in the future.

“I think that the second impeachment of Trump was just political theater and a useless waste of taxpayer’s money,” said Sawyer Hill (‘23).

Following a combined 32 hours of arguments from Impeachment Managers and Trump’s defense team the Senate had to decide whether or not to call witnesses in the trial. They ultimately decided not to, paving the way for a vote on whether or not to convict given all the evidence.

“After carefully listening to all the evidence presented in this trial, it is overwhelmingly clear that Donald Trump violated his oath of office by inciting a violent, deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol

and our democracy,” said Sen. Gary Peters (‘80) (Local 4 News). Both Sens. Peters and Stabenow of Michigan voted to convict Trump.

In a final vote of 57-43, the Senate voted to acquit Trump on the charge of inciting a riot. The vote marked the first time in U.S. history that a president has been impeached and acquitted twice. The vote also shows the loyalty many GOP Senators still have for Trump, even after he has left office.

“I think [the impeachment] was super predictable,” said Anika Ried (‘23). “He should have been convicted if only to stop him from holding federal office ever again.”

“[Trump] remains very popular with the Republican base…I imagine he’s going to start holding rallies again in anticipation of running for president again in 2024,” said Gorton.

Since the acquittal Trump has also been permanently banned from most social media platforms including his previous go-to Twitter, potentially complicating future campaigns.

Moving forward with the investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Congress has created a bipartisan investigative committee focused on understanding how rioters were able to get past security and into the Capitol. More hearings are scheduled for the near future.

Abrams among Nobel Peace Prize nominees


Stacey Abrams–who rose to the forefront of American politics during the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election–was among nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize. The award is given out yearly to the person or organization deemed to have done the most to promote peace and democracy around the world.

Throughout the 2020 General Election, Abrams worked tirelessly through her non-profit, Fair Fight Action, which sought to increase voter turnout around Georgia, specifically with minorities who have long been oppressed within the state.

Through her efforts, Georgia flipped from Republican to Democrat during a presidential election for the first time since 1992 when Bill Clinton beat George H. W. Bush.

Additionally, she helped to lead Democrats John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock to wins in their January 2021 runoff election over incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, respectively.

“[Abrams] is being nominated for her work with voter registration…Voter suppression is illegal in this country, and there isn’t much, if any in Georgia in the year 2020,” said Matt Garland (‘23), a resident of Georgia.

“Were there to be legal voter suppression against American citizens and she did something about it, I’d feel a lot better about the nomination being given.”

According to Fair Fight’s website, they seek to, “promote fair elections in Georgia and around the country, encourage voter participation in elections and educate voters about…their voting rights.”

“I find it inspiring that her loss in [2018] drove her to start Fair Fight Action and become the face and facilitator of promoting crucial nonviolent change via the ballot box in 2020,” said Maya Dora-Laskey, professor of English, when asked her thoughts on the nomination.

Abrams was nominated by Lars Haltbrekken, a leading member of the Socialist Party of Norway.

Rounding out the list of others nominated for the award were: The Black Lives Matter movement for their role in fighting for racial justice and spreading racial awareness in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police (among others), Greta Thumberg for her role in spreading awareness about the dangers of climate change, Alexei Navalny for standing up to an oppressive regime in Russia and Jared Kushner for normalizing relationships between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, as well as other Middle Eastern nations.

“The shortlist isn’t usually prepared until March, so this is the unfiltered list and presents us with a contradictory range simultaneously grim and risible,” said Dora-Laskey.

“On this year’s list we have Stacey Abrams and Donald Trump who have been public with their disagreements and do not concur on issues and policies from the confederate flag to taxation or voting rights.”

Previous winners of the award from the United States include Barack Obama in 2009, “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Additionally, Al Gore won the award in 2007 and Jimmy Carter won in 2002, rounding out the winners from the United States during the 21st Century.

Beyond holding the distinction of being among few who have been named throughout history, the award also comes with a payout of 10 million Swedish Crowns (about 1.4 million dollars), a medal and the title, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

“The Nobel Peace Prize announcement is definitely a world-event and confers a lot of attention on the recipient(s),” said Dora-Laskey.

However, with a list of 210 people and 107 organizations nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize this early, that list has the opportunity to grow even more before the winner is announced in October.

“Given that thousands of people, including university professors, are able to nominate candidates, the nomination itself doesn’t account for much,” said Dora-Laskey.

“When we hear about the nominees it’s usually from the nominees or nominators–not from the Nobel committee, so the evidence to support their claims are somewhat circumstantial.”

Still, the list of nominees that was made public on Feb. 1 is drawing the attention of people around the world.

With 2020’s election results still looming, eyes are on Abrams to see what is to come. According to close allies of Abrams, she is strongly considering another run at Governor of Georgia in 2022, likely setting the stage for another election against current Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who won by a mere 50,000 votes the last time the two faced off.


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