Alma Confessions faces backlash

JORDYN BRADLEY
SPORTS EDITOR

If you’re an Alma student with a Twitter account, you’ve probably seen tweets shared by Alma Confessions (@scotscandals), an anonymously-run confessions page. Since its debut in January of this year, the page has been the talk of campus for multiple different “scandalous” Twitter threads that have come out of it.

“It was kind of just an idea my friend had and it was supposed to be a fun little account where people post weird and I guess scandalous things about themselves like secrets and whatnot. We did not think that the page would take off or still be active months later either,” said the anonymous person behind the Alma Confessions Twitter page.

The anonymous creator adds that they have been shocked at many of the topics brought up on the page.

Part of the appeal of the Twitter account is how easy it is to post your opinions anonymously without repercussions or people finding out: the account provides a link in a pinned tweet takes you right to the anonymous submission form. However, many students find the easy accessibility and the page in general toxic.

“I do not approve of most of the things that the Twitter page comments on, mainly because it’s not an open-to-discussion type of page,” said Kiersten Rebhun (‘22).

Rebhun added that people use the page to get their opinions across and only their opinions, not to have a discussion about why they believe so or to listen to different opinions.

The Twitter page has seen a variety of posts, from those asking for advice to those fully confessing something anonymously.

In the past, people have asked for advice on their mental health, classes or even relationships; but there have been a variety of posted confessions relating to politics, the COVID-19 pandemic or body image that spark more controversy.

“Not gonna lie, it’s a pretty mixed bag. Sometimes people post funny stuff, others personal, but then recently with all the weight stuff, it can be really toxic,” said Gabe Zerbe (‘21).

The most recent debate that occurred on the page was regarding fatphobia on campus. Many students anonymously took to the Twitter page to shame plus-sized students by calling them lazy and telling them to simply eat healthier. These tweets were met by an array of students supporting plus-sized students and calling the anonymous writers bullies.

“I think it becomes toxic when that’s the only thing being posted. I’d say it’s just someone being a jerk if it were one or two posts, but the sheer amount got absurd,” said Zerbe.

Cyber bullying has gotten very real on the Alma Confessions page–even the creator agrees.

“One person [could send] in an anonymous message about how they are feeling and the next moment I get sent stuff by people that are basically bullying that person because they don’t believe the same thing as [them]” said the anonymous owner of the account.

Yet, the creator still posts what they get sent.

“I understand that we don’t want to do censorship because we are a free country and we have the right to talk about whatever we want [and] that’s a really cool thing that we have.

[However,] talking about it and just saying it to say it and be mean [is] just bullying,” said Rebhun.

“I still post about it, even if I don’t agree with it because that’s what a person who runs this kind of page should do: have their own feelings about the subject but still be unbiased and post everything” said anonymous.

The creator of the page did want to note that there have been instances where they have not posted a tweet that they were sent. However, out of the over 2,500 messages they have received, the number of ones they haven’t posted is around 20. This has been due to names being mentioned, the tweet being too out of bounds or it was on a matter that was posted about too much, all three of which are subject to the opinion of the anonymous account owner.

Even though Alma Confessions posts dozens of confessions, they stress that the opinions are not ones that they hold, and that they just post what is sent.

Regardless of your beliefs on the page, the page still stands and people continue to submit confessions and opinions about things that, to be frank, do not need to be discussed. People have no right to comment on other people’s bodies and don’t get to choose who has the correct political opinions. Each person has a different mindset, and it’s funny that people are surprised at this concept.

Nisbet Hall Renamed in Light of KKK Connection

CHELSEA FABER
STAFF WRITER

Following a review conducted by the Michigan State University Board of Trustees, President Abernathy announced on September 5 that it was discovered that Stephen Nisbet was a member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), a notorious white supremist group.

He went on to explain that in light of these findings, the Alma College Board of Trustees’ Executive Committee have voted to rename Nisbet Hall. Similar action was also taken by Michigan State University after discovering that a building on their campus was named after a KKK member.

Nisbet was an Alma alumnus and who sat on the Alma College Board of Trustees for 40 years in the mid-1900s. He also served on the Michigan State University Board of Trustees as well as holding other positions within the two colleges.

The revelation of his membership was particularly disturbing considering his notoriety within the state of Michigan to be a supporter of many charitable causes.

The space formerly known as Nisbet Hall has been temporarily named Brazell West until a new name can be confirmed. Nearly every reference to ‘Nisbet’ has since been changed to reflect this change—including outdoor signage, directory references and housing assignment listings. The purging of any reference to ‘Nisbet’ is the first step in a long journey of reevaluating many aspects of our campus.

In the official statement, President Jeff Abernathy stated, “Alma College denounces racism in all forms and is committed to creating a climate where everyone is safe and free to grow intellectually, spiritually and emotionally. We will move forward in these efforts together.”

In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, colleges across the nation have begun to reevaluate who is memorialized, why they were important and who they were in the greater scope of the world. Alma College has begun its own audit process in which they will review the campus environment in relation to diversity, inclusion, and equity.

This process is led by administration and students working on the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board and aims to make our campus a more equitable space.

“There are representatives from student organizations as well as faculty in order to have a voice on what is happening,” said Darian Jones ’22. Jones also explained that the goals of the audit reach past evaluating the climate of Alma College. She said she hopes students can “have harder conversations, understand and see perspectives that have been overlooked and not heard for a long time. Our campus is very specific in not hearing specific voices, and we as a campus have decided we are no longer okay with that, which is great, but I think we can push it even further.”

Students are being invited to join focus groups as well as other activities within the audit so that the auditors can gain a complete picture of how students view the campus environment in terms of equity and inclusion.

Beyond diversity and inclusion efforts done by administration, students are being called upon to learn about how to create a more just campus and take personal steps to become more aware of these issues.

“Students should take their own initiative to learn and understand what these things mean. It’s been easy in the past to write things off and ignore them, but it is time to call things what they are and get to the point as soon as it happens to change the culture,” said Jones.

Students who are interested in joining the aforementioned focus groups or other diversity efforts should contact Dr. Blake or any Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board member for more information.

Mental health in the age of COVID-19

BAILEY LANGBO
STAFF WRITER

The idea of mental health has long been placed on the backburner of our current society, often ignored in favor of illnesses that can be seen. The idea of an unseen illness can be too easily brushed off by those that go unaffected.

However, with the emergence of self-isolation in the age of COVID-19, mental health has become a pressing problem for people all over the world. While the circumstances of disease prevention have become stricter as the pandemic progresses, all of humanity has found itself quickly adapting to change.

While this might prove easy for some people, few could be prepared for the months spent in quarantine while the world as we knew it fell apart. With little to no warning, COVID-19 took over our daily lives and disrupted our plans—the aftereffects of which can still be felt around the world.

As college students, we know all too well the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when considering the lives we gave up earlier this year when we were forced home in the middle of the semester. Despite the fact that students have been allowed back on campus, things are still not back to normal, thus causing added stress.

“I feel like being back has only made [my mental health] worse,” said Abigail Zerbe (’23). “It sucks that now I’m so near my friends, but I can’t actually spend any quality time with them.”

The newest issue within our campus community is keeping each other safe. While mandatory health screenings have become a part of our everyday lives, wearing masks and social distancing have become the new norm in classes, meetings and events. These measures, however, have caused debate among students, faculty and staff alike; whether or not they’re necessary has suddenly become a hot topic.

“Keeping people healthy and safe has become politicized,” said Natalie Walsh (’22). “It’s scientifically proven that social distancing and wearing a mask can save lives. A lot of people tend to think this is false and will only wear a mask if it’s being required by law but will complain the entire time. A lot of people that associate with the Republican party think COVID-19 is a hoax and refuse to wear a mask or will wear it incorrectly. I would like to add that not everyone who is Republican believes that, but I’ve gotten into arguments about whether or not we should wear masks, when it’s a health issue, not a political one.”

While many people struggled with the idea of self-isolation during quarantine, others used the time for some much-needed R&R, taking time to check out new recipes, work on crafts or binge the newest Netflix series.

“I’m an extreme introvert. I really have to plan out my people time accordingly because there will be a point that I hit a wall and need to go into hiding,” said Nicole Yost (’21). “I was given so much alone time for schoolwork that I really had the chance to improve my mental state. After school was over, I was able to do nothing with no other commitments that I needed to give my time to, which really helped me recharge. It really helped me feel the best I have since freshman year.”

When faced with something that cannot be changed, it’s often best to take it in stride and look at the positives. This could be, for example, taking time to relax after a stressful semester at school, or using quarantine to learn a new hobby or read a book you’ve been putting off to the side. While a global pandemic is stressful for a variety of somewhat obvious reasons, it’s important to remember the good. A global pandemic won’t go away on its own, but it can be slowed down by students remembering to follow safety precautions.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to lean on friends and family for support (while still adhering to social distancing regulations). With a combined effort, the spread of COVID-19 can be slowed and life can return to normal.

Theatre department prepares for upcoming show

ALIVIA GILES
STAFF WRITER

With the new school year in swing, the Alma College theatre department is preparing for their first show of the season, Ron Carlson’s, Bigfoot Stole My Wife (and Other Stories from News of the World). The show will be performed four times, with two separate casts each performing twice. In total, the production will feature 18 students.

For most theaters, COVID-19 has put a halt on productions, but for Scott Mackenzie, Professor and Director of Theatre, this was an opportunity to do something a little different. Bigfoot Stole My Wife is not written as a traditional play, but rather as a series of monologues.

After watching his sister perform in a production of Bigfoot Stole My Wife at the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre in 1988, Mackenzie knew it was a show he had to direct. This opportunity finally came in 2006, while he was serving in Iraq with the Army Reserve.

Mackenzie wanted to direct a show and he needed one that would accommodate the hectic schedules of the performers. “I [had] to find something that could still go on, even if a performer was called out on a mission during rehearsal, which did happen, or during a performance, which did not – thankfully,” Mackenzie said.

With that experience in mind, Mackenzie knew Bigfoot would be a great option for this year’s unique situation. With the show being entirely in monologues, each actor will be on stage alone, making social distancing easy.

Along with that, the preparation for this show has been very different from that of past productions. This year, rehearsals are held every night for three hours, with each performer coming in to work on their monologue for a half hour two days a week.

Bigfoot Stole my Wife will be Lucy Woods’s (’24), first show at Alma College. Woods plans to major in English Education and Theatre. As a Freshman, Woods has used this production, not only to strengthen herself as an actor, but also as an opportunity to make friends. “I have only been able to meet some of my fellow [cast members], but the ones I have met are all very sweet and cool people,” Woods said.

Being unable to rehearse with the entire cast has been new for Woods, and while it has been difficult, it has also come with surprising perks. “It’s exciting because the rest of the show will be fresh for me as I watch from backstage,” Woods said, “I have seen a couple ‘sneak peeks’ of the [other performers’ monologues]. The show is going to be fantastic.”

Woods will be performing the monologue, “Baby Born with 2,000-Year-Old Bracelet”. In this piece, Woods plays an obstetrician. “My character talks a little about [the baby] and a little about life,” Woods said, “It is one of the more serious monologues in the production.”

According to Woods, the most rewarding aspect of being involved with this production has been seeing herself improve as a performer. “Dr. Mackenzie gives me lots of immensely helpful pointers and advice,” Woods said.

David Troyer (’24) will also be making his Alma College theatre debut in Bigfoot Stole my Wife. Troyer plans to major in Biology and Theatre. Troyer is excited to get back into theatre after taking a break from acting for a year. “Now that I’m in Bigfoot, it feels like I’m making up for those lost opportunities,” Troyer said.

While Troyer has enjoyed being a part of this production, he has also been faced with some obstacles. “I think the most challenging thing is trying to find a unique way of presenting the character,” Troyer said, “I’m not the only one who has this role, so I try to find little things that make my interpretation of the character my own, which isn’t always easy.”

While difficult at times, having another actor playing the same role has also been beneficial for Troyer. “Since I have a partner, so to speak, we both get to try different things, and we learn from each other,” Troyer said.

Under the direction of Dr. Mackenzie, Troyer feels that he is beginning to break his habit of changing lines. “In high school, I was notorious for adding little things here and there to make it ‘flow better’,” Troyer said, “[In this production], I [have been] encouraged to find the flow in the words that are there and how I say them.”

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, performances of this show will look very different from productions in previous years. Normally, the Strosacker Theatre can seat about 190 audience members, but at this time, that number is down to about 30.

Auditorium seating will be limited to Alma College students, faculty and staff. The production will also be livestreamed, although, at this time, Heritage Center management has not decided on a streaming platform.

Performance dates for Bigfoot Stole my Wife are set for Oct. 1-3 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 4 at 2:30 p.m.

Alma proceeds with second round of COVID testing

ELLA BRIGHT
STAFF WRITER

New rounds of COVID-19 testing for students, faculty, staff and contract workers began on Monday, Sept. 14 and continued into Thursday, Sept. 17. The testing was conducted on the Dunning Memorial Chapel lawn and was held each day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Testing was split between students alphabetically according to last name. It was conducted in the same way it was when students moved onto campus: polymerase chain reaction via a nasal swab. The testing was completely free to students and mandatory to attend.

Similar to the first round of testing, students would not be informed if they tested negative. They would only be informed if they tested positive for COVID-19. Students who are attending Alma solely online and are not student athletes were not required to be tested.

This new round of testing was not a surprise to most students at Alma; though necessary, it was not necessarily welcomed with open arms. “The first time we did it, I had my mom to hold onto,” said Mishaye Hearn (‘24). “[The test] became so painful to the point where I was physically taking his wrist off me.” When asked how she felt about this new round of testing, Hearn honestly said, “I’m terrified!”

Kara Sutherland (‘24) shared some of the same fears. “[I’m] nervous,” said Sutherland.

She also shared how she felt these tests were necessary. “[It’s] necessary to make sure that the measures that have been taken to protect the students are accurate and proven effective,” said Sutherland. “I am ready and capable to be tested again.”

Hearn also shared that, despite her fears, she felt this new round of testing was extremely important. “It’s a 50/50 thing,” said Hearn. “I know it’s necessary, so I’m okay with it.”

The testing followed an email from President Jeff Abernathy on Friday, Sept. 11, that stated there was recently an increase in likely cases. The email said that while ‘unfortunate’, this uptick in cases was ‘not entirely unexpected’ after the Labor Day weekend.

As of Sept. 17, there were 17 positive cases on campus. As a result of the recent uptick in cases, all non-classroom activities were limited to no more than 25 people. President Abernathy stated in the email that once all the campus-wide testing results were received, this restriction will be reviewed.

At the end of his email update, President Abernathy stressed the importance of social distancing, wearing face coverings, washing hands, completing the daily health screening form and staying home if you are feeling sick.

“It’s up to those of us who are not in isolation or quarantine to stay focused and serious about COVID-19, so as to not overwhelm our campus resources and the local healthcare system,” said the email.

With rising cases in schools all over Michigan, this campus-wide testing will provide a clearer picture of what further steps Alma needs to take in order to ensure the safety of students, staff and community.

“I think that if we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing and what we’re told to do, we should be able to get back to some sort of normalcy,” said Sutherland.

Alma College changes Venture program

ALIVIA GILES
STAFF WRITER

Alma College recently updated their Venture Program to provide additional funding and simplify the application process. The program, which was created in 2013, provides funding for travel and other applied learning opportunities.

This change serves as an expansion of other successful travel opportunities such as the Posey Global Fellowship and Gazmararian Scholarship. Students will now be able to apply for two types of Venture experiences, including the “Think Critically” Junior Year Applied Experience Venture award and an additional opportunity through the college’s “Serve Generously, Lead Purposefully, Live Responsibly” Venture awards.

Every year, Alma provides applied learning opportunities for about 200 to 300 students. Most of these students opt for a spring term travel course, while others study abroad for Alma academic credit during the regular school year. Many students choose to travel for service, research or internship programs either in the United States or abroad through Posey Global or Alternative Breaks.

Carla Jensen has served as Director of Career and Personal Development at Alma College for the past seven years. In addition to working with international college students, Jensen oversees the administration of the Alma Venture Program and Off-Campus Study (study abroad and academic
internship programs).

Jensen feels that these adjustments will be very
beneficial to Alma students. Students will now be able to apply for multiple awards without reducing the maximum Venture award they are eligible for. There will also only be one application form, and deadline for “Serve Generously, Lead Purposefully, Live Responsibly” awards.

“I hope that these funds will encourage students to engage with the world in ways they might otherwise have been able to do – to have a positive impact and also to use these experiences to explore the type of person they want to be and the shape of their life’s work.”

Director of Career and Personal Development, Carla Jensen

Ellen Laurenz (‘22) used her Alma Venture Grant in Jun. 2019 to travel to Sydney, Australia, where she volunteered at St. Lucy’s School, a Catholic school for children with disabilities. Through the Posey Global program, Laurenz was also able to travel to Sierra Leone, Africa for eight weeks, working in a local hospital.

“[These opportunities] meant a lot to me, and I’m thankful to attend a school that truly cares about their students. The staff at Alma College went above and beyond to help see my visions come to life,” said Laurenz.

Laurenz has always loved traveling, and she was drawn to Alma for this reason. “I found it very fascinating that Alma offered such a variety of scholarship opportunities to support travel experiences,” said Laurenz.

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, it is challenging to predict what this year might look like for travel experiences. International travel is on hold, while domestic off-campus studies must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the school’s Travel Risk Assessment Committee.

“We are trying to take things one day at a time and assess plans on a case by case basis,” Jensen said.

Jensen feels that every student should take advantage of the opportunities the Alma Venture Program provides. “I would encourage [students] to make an off-campus experience part of their academic plan for their time at Alma College,” said Jensen. “You have a lot of support to make your dreams a reality.”

According to Jensen, planning for Venture Program experiences usually begins at least a year in advance. Although students will not be able to travel very far this semester, it is not too soon to plan for future off-campus adventures.

To find more information on Alma’s Venture Program or to set up an appointment with Carla Jensen or another member of the Career and Personal Development team, students are encouraged to log into their
Handshake account (alma.joinhandshake.com).

Masks for all is new campus policy

EMILY HENDERSON
STAFF WRITER

PHOTO BY RAUL RIVERA

The CDC has asked that all Americans over the age of two and those without certain health conditions wear face coverings while out in public, or in an area where social distancing is virtually impossible.

Alma College has adopted these policies as part of their reopening process this fall. This rule states that students must wear face coverings when not in their dorm room.

Many have questioned whether face coverings are able to slow the spread of this virus, or if we’re simply told to wear them to offer ourselves peace of mind during this global pandemic.

“Several studies have now been conducted that demonstrate wearing masks helps to decrease the transmission of the virus from infected individuals to others,” said Assistant Professor of Biology, Eric Calhoun.

Some fear that wearing a face covering may cause a buildup of carbon dioxide, which can be deadly to the wearer. There has been no evidence that this is the case, so mask wearers can rest easy knowing that when they exhale their CO2 isn’t lingering in the cloth.

Another reason why some without underlying conditions are choosing not to wear a mask during this pandemic may be due to comfort. Face coverings were often ditched in summer months due to hot days and swampy masks. They have also been causing a new phenomenon — mask acne.

While those may be the case, there are some that are unable to leave their home without fear of falling ill with the coronavirus.

“Data show that if I contract COVID-19, I’m twice as likely to die than the average patient. [If you] take into account my age, that increases the odds of death even more.”

Instructor of Geology and Environmental Studies, Murray Borrello

The use of face coverings does not just affect the user, but those around them as well. Those of high risk of death include individuals over the age of 85 and those with underlying health conditions.

“More than 186,000 people have died in the United States due to SARS-CoV-2. This is not a hoax.”

Assistant Professor of Biology, Eric Calhoun

New studies on this virus are coming out each day, and with them a breadth of knowledge not known beforehand. A recent study conducted by the CDC found that many individuals guilty of spreading this virus were asymptomatic. The importance of wearing a mask in public is becoming more evident through time, as experts still do not know everything about the novel coronavirus.

There are many different types of face coverings on the market as of late. From the traditional surgical mask to neck gaiters, and everything in-between, individuals have a plethora of options to choose from when mask shopping. Not all face masks are created equal, however.

The CDC, as well as other health organizations, have done a myriad of studies to discover which face coverings work the best in the face of the novel coronavirus.

“With the cloth or surgical mask, the distance the droplets traveled was significantly reduced; down to right around only a foot from the mask,” said Calhoun.

The use of a face covering has been proven through various scientific studies to be a good combatant in the fight against COVID-19.

Some may not refute this data but have other reasons as to why they feel as though they should not Masks for all is new campus policy be told to wear a mask while in public or around others.

“Some people feel that being asked to wear a mask, or required to wear a mask, is an infringement of their individual rights. And they would be wrong,” said Borrello.

The use of a face covering is important in the fight against the novel coronavirus, and all students must adhere to the Alma College policies and continue to wear their masks when not in their dorm rooms.

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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