Update on learning commons renovations

EMMA FIGLEWICZ
PHOTOGRAPHER

MARIA KOLB
STAFF WRITER

11/7/2022

The newly renovated library will soon come to campus in the 2023 Winter Semester. The library-to-learning commons renovation project has been happening since 2021.

The new learning commons will still have the same services but will include some new additions. The first change includes offices and spaces for the Center for College and Community Engagement (3CE) with Student Success and Career and Personal Development.

All three of these offices are being moved from the Center of Student Opportunity (CSO), and it has yet to be discussed what will replace those offices.

Another addition will be a café on the first floor. This will be shared with the College Archives, Library Special Collections and student organization offices. Other spaces within the library will be lounge areas for students.

There will also be a back door that opens towards Superior Street. The Learning Commons will have new entrances from Mac Mall and the northern courtyard. An entrance will be added on the south side of the building, facing the Reid-Knox Administration Building, as well.

Stacks, the oldest part of the library, was demolished due to an increasing number of problems that have been accumulating since it was built in the early 1920s.

The library has turned into a central learning common for students to have better access to resources on campus from all types of offices and services.

“We finally are fortunate to have a centralized physical location on campus, and [to] have more of a student union type of place. [We will also be] getting a better utilization of that space,” said Director of Student Success, Philip Andre.

With offices being moved and changes being done, connections can be lost, and new ones can be made.

“We’re sad to be moving away from all our colleagues in the CSO, but it will be nice to be more centrally available to students. We’re very excited to be only a floor away when the Qdoba comes into the learning commons,” said Assistant Director of Student Success, Betsy Strobel.

This renovation project has brought better accessibility to where “if someone is going to grab Qdoba for lunch and says, oh, I want to talk to someone about this, they can walk upstairs or down the hall or whatever, and go have that conversation,” said Andre.

Other than better accessibility for students there could be room for more resources for the offices. For instance, the CSO may get more testing rooms to provide their services to students on a wider scale.

“We are hopeful that we will have more access to testing rooms, since we only have three currently available in the CSO, and we’ve heard that it might be possible for us to have access to at least six over in the new learning commons. Other than that, we will have all the same services that we’ve had during our time in the CSO,” said Strobel.

Aside from the additions, the services that will be kept from the previous library are the Information and Technology help desk and the Writing Center with a media lab.

“We are all really excited about it, this was a project that was discussed for quite some time… to help and support the students,” said Andre.

Despite the long wait, the library-to-learning commons renovation project will bring a more centralized student commons with the necessary accommodations for student learning and success.

Alma College dancers prepare for fall concert

JORDAN FOX AND ALIVIA GILES
STAFF WRITER

11/7/2022

The Alma College Dance Company and the Kiltie Dance Company are both hard at work preparing for their upcoming Fall Dance Concert set to show this November.

Ben Munisteri, associate professor of dance, is directing the concert. Auditions were held on Aug. 30. The rehearsal process began shortly after.

“Casting was really challenging because we got a record number of people coming to the audition,” said Professor Munisteri. “The audition was Tuesday, Aug. 30, and I had something like 40 people show up, and we cast almost all of them.”

“As a result, we had to create pieces that weren’t too heavy with dancers, so 13 is the most. We had to spread everybody out over seven dances: four Alma College Dance Company dances and three Kiltie dances,” said Munisteri.

This year, the Alma College Dance Company was able to spend a week working with Winston Dynamite Brown, a choreographer from New York, to create an original dance that both faculty and students are looking forward to.

Normally, Brown has weeks to create a piece. The process of choreographing this dance was “daunting” due to the short time frame and complexity of the process.

  “We only had about 18 hours to construct the work, and that’s no small feat because I came in with a blank canvas,” said Brown. “My process is largely playful and collaborative, meaning that I [left] a lot of space for interpretation because I [wanted the dancers] to inject who they are.”

Brown says the work is intended to “evoke and inspire conversation,” said Brown. “I want people when they leave to be inspired by what they saw and want to discuss it further.”

“We were very lucky to get him, and scheduling him was not easy,” said Munisteri. “Working with him was very challenging for the dancers. He has hip-hop, modern, jazz and some contemporary all in one dance.”

“[Working with Winston] was a very collaborative process,” said Sydney Lopez (‘24), a member of the Alma College Dance Company. “He created two longer phrases, and then had each dancer create a ‘solo’. From there he sliced and reorganized the movements throughout the piece.” Lopez said.

As a returner to the dance company, Lopez is looking forward to continuing to connect and bond with the other performers.

“My favorite part of preparing for this concert is, honestly, getting to bond with my fellow dancers. The people I have met through the dance department have allowed me to create a familial bond and a home away from home here at Alma,” said Lopez.

On the Kiltie side, the dancers will be performing three dances. “Two of them are Scottish meets contemporary, and one is a traditional Scottish piece,” said Munisteri.

As a company, we decided we wanted to broaden our dances,” said McKenna Lindsay (‘24), a member of the Kiltie Dance Company. “We have a couple that are out of our comfort zone, and we also have a traditional piece.”

This is McKenna’s third year as a Kiltie dancer at the college. She has always loved performing for an audience and, like many others, is looking forward to showing off the new dances at the concert.

“I am looking forward to performing. I love dancing… Dancing in front of a crowd, and possibly giving them joy or entertainment, makes it that much better… [It] is one of the best feelings,” said Lindsay.

Lindsay and many of her fellow dancers enjoy the challenge of learning new dances and the satisfaction of watching her hard work come to life.

“My favorite part about preparing for the show is learning new choreography and watching it all come together as a group,” said Lindsay. “I am excited to watch [the pieces] all come together on stage next weekend.”

The Fall Dance Concert performances are set for Nov. 11 to 13. Tickets are available on the Alma College webpage; seating is reserved. 

Winter registration brings excitement and stress

LEIA R. LEHRER
GRAPHIC DESIGNER

EMMA FIGLEWICZ
STAFF WRITER

11/7/2022

With the Fall Term wrapping up, the beginning of registration for the Winter Term begins. This period can be stressful and chaotic for many students; however, there are many ways to make registering for classes easy, efficient and effective.

Many advisors email their advisees to schedule a meeting time to discuss which classes will be best for the upcoming semester. Most of the time, advisors are chosen based on a student’s academic field of interest. This helps them understand a student’s major or minor requirements.

All advisors have different attitudes and methods regarding advising. This can significantly affect the advising experience.

“I switched advisors after I changed majors. This switch allowed me to understand how different advisors have different advising styles. I feel as if I connected better with my current advisor than I did with my previous one. [This] has allowed me to have a great advising experience over the years,” said Andrew Smith (’22).

For many underclassmen still deciding what major they want to pursue, registration can be stressful as there is no set list of distributive requirements.

“Going into registration, I didn’t know what course plan I wanted to undergo. I am still contemplating my major, and picking classes has been a struggle. My advisor helped relieve most of my stress, and with his help, we made a plan that I wouldn’t have been able to create myself,” said Kylie Demarets (’25).

Those still determining their academic path should seek the help of their advisors to devise an interesting path in different classes. This may help spur interest in a subject area. 

There are four time periods students can register for classes. Those with 90 or more credits pick on Oct. 31. Students with 56 or more credits pick on Nov. 2. Anyone with 25 or more credits picks on Nov 7. Finally, all remaining students can decide on Nov. 9.

These dates were chosen to allow upperclassmen to choose first, which will enable them to stay calm about getting a seat in classes necessary to graduate. First-year and second-year students must usually work around this factor, understanding some classes they want to take will fill up.

“My classes are always planned far ahead, making it less stressful. As an upperclassman, registering early has been a huge stress reliever, so now I don’t have to worry if classes I need to graduate fill up,” said Marissa Luzac (’24).

“Picking out classes has been very stressful for me. As an underclassman who picks last, it is nerve-wracking knowing that certain classes I need to take might not be available due to limits on class sizes,” said Sofia Flores (’26).

If first-year and second-year students aim to get the classes they want, they should have a line-up of different class options from other subject areas. If students do not limit themselves to one or two subject areas, they allow themselves to be open to an extensive array of classes to choose from.

“A student should have a number of classes that are interesting to them that are different. There should be various classes so that your studying is diverse enough to be done well,” said Dr. Hulme, professor of political science.

If students have any questions regarding winter registration, they should reach out to their advisor as soon as possible, as registration closes on Nov. 13.

GSD, DI and PAGE present Murder Mystery MasQueerade

WESTON HIRVELA
GRAPHIC DESIGNER

SALEM GRAY AND HANNAH STIFFLER
STAFF WRITER

11/7/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Student-wide CSO resources

EMMA FIGLEWICZ
PHOTOGRAPHER

DANIELLE NYKANEN
STAFF WRITER

11/7/2022

The Center for Student Opportunity (CSO) has support services aimed to enrich students’ time at Alma. These services, along with other programs hosted within the CSO, focus on fostering both academic and personal success.

Study tables hosted by a King-Chávez-Parks First Year Mentor (KCP mentor) is one option available to students on campus. These are hosted every Thursday and Sunday from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm in the CSO.

“Study tables [are] open to all students on campus, they do not have to sign up or do anything prior; just show up,” said Chetara Knight (‘24), the KCP mentor who hosts the study tables.

“My goal is to provide a space for students to feel comfortable studying together and getting work done,” said Knight.

The library renovations have limited the study spaces on campus, making this a great alternative for people who like to work alongside others. “It can be a silent time for students, but we also encourage everyone to work together and make the environment warm, easygoing and productive,” said Knight.

This is currently a small group of students, so if you think it would be a good fit stop by. “We usually have the same turnout of about 4-6 students. We are looking for more students to attend,” said Knight.

The Office for Student Success is here for students seeking academic support or disability services. Personalized plans can be set up for students’ success.

“We help students with study strategies and time management techniques and can meet one-on-one regularly to help students stay accountable,” said Virginia Blandford, Academic support coordinator at Alma College.

Tutoring is also available through this department, free to any student. “Our hope is that [tutee’s] benefit from having a peer who has ‘been there’ to answer content questions and offer advice on how to be successful in the course,” said Blandford.

The Office of Career and Personal Development also has set up various resources to help fit students’ needs.

“Career and Personal Development offers a variety of ways to connect, including workshops, alumni networking, career fairs and other events,” said Brittany Stoneman, Associate Director of Career and Personal Development at Alma College.

“For individualized appointments, we offer a broad range of appointment types on topics such as resumes and cover letters, mock interviews, personal statement prep, job search strategies or even major and career exploration,” said Stoneman.

In addition to scheduling an appointment on Handshake, Drop-in Career Peer hours are available. Located in the CSO, Library or Starbucks, this option allows students to drop in during designated times Tuesday through Friday. 

“Drop-in sessions are open hours staffed by our Career Peers, and typically cover document review and support. The primary difference is that with scheduling an appointment via Handshake, you pre-arrange the meeting time and appointment type (topic),” said Stoneman.

These services are completely customized to the student’s needs, and you can be at any stage in the process to reach out for help. “We work to meet students where they are, whether they have no idea where to start or they are seeking feedback on finished materials,” said Stoneman.

If you aren’t sure where to start or are scared about reaching out keep in mind these resources are here and meant for students use.

“Asking for help is never a sign of weakness, rather a sign of wisdom to know when your limits are being tested,” said Blandford.

“I think the first step is to reach out – come to an event, stop by, or schedule an appointment to begin the conversation. College is a time of exploration in so many ways and it really is okay to not know where to start. For personal development, two tools we highly recommend are CliftonStrengths and PathwayU,” said Stoneman.

Students can access CliftonStrengths and PathwayU here: https://www.alma.edu/live/forms/490-cliftonstrengths-code-request-form Links to an external site.

https://alma.pathwayu.com/

Water polo club coming to Alma College

EMMA FIGLEWICZ
PHOTOGRAPHER

MEGAN NEELEY
COPY EDITOR

10/24/2022

Alma College has numerous athletic teams, clubs and other extracurricular activities available to students. In the coming weeks, Alma College will introduce a water polo club.

“Interested in water polo? You should be,” the recruitment flier said. “We welcome any level of water polo experience.”

Madison Humphrey (‘24) is President and Calvin Huggler (‘24) is Vice President. “I would say my hope as [Vice President is] to help create a foundation for the club that will ensure future Alma College students will be able to participate in these sorts of activities,” said Huggler.

“I’m most excited . . . to learn a sport that’s new to me and offers [me] an opportunity to connect with other club members in a competitive environment,” said Huggler.

The mission statement of the Alma College Water Polo Club is “to create a comfortable and enjoyable social organization in which Alma College students can be introduced and become well versed in the fundamentals of water polo as a sport.”

The mission statement also emphasizes that students will “display sportsmanship and encouraging attitudes, especially when playing in a competitive and goal-driven atmosphere.”

If you are an Alma College student, there are two requirements to become a member. First, all members must demonstrate swimming ability. This can be done by swimming a full, twenty-five-yard length of the pool without any assistance.

It is also required that all members have their own swimwear. Members should utilize a full-piece swimsuit rather than two-piece swimwear. The constitution adds that swim caps are also highly recommended.

As stated in the club’s constitution, no dues are required for membership. However, “members are required to attend the club meetings at least two times a month to be considered a full-time club member.” Attendance will be factored into a member’s playing time if the club were to take part in a game or scrimmage.

Many students are very excited by the opportunity to participate in the Alma College Water Polo Club. “It will be a nice throwback to my high school days of playing water polo for Groves,” said Jack Knoper (‘26).

“It feels like a little piece of home is being brought to campus.”

“As a member of the swim team, I cannot wait to try water polo. It seems like a fun game-style extension of my sport,” said Andrew Ludden (‘24).

Although many are excited, the club leadership might have a difficult time encouraging Alma’s extraordinarily involved student body to make time for water polo.

“I have a lot of prior obligations,” said Kylie Demarets (‘25). Other students like Demarets explained water polo may be lower on their priorities of clubs to join because it is not viewed as strongly as a resume builder.

“Although the teamwork and goal orientation of the club would be great to add to my resume, I just do not believe that I have time to add this club to my already busy schedule. I look forward to seeing their meeting times, though,” said Ryan Gray (‘25).

Regardless of the doubts in terms of scheduling, many students are looking forward to trying water polo for the first time or reliving their high school game days.

Students hoping to join the Alma College Water Polo Club can visit their Instagram page, @almawaterpoloclub, for more information.

Insight into Alma College interfaith program

KYLE SCHECK
PHOTOGRAPHER

EMMA FIGLEWICZ
STAFF WRITER

10/24/2022

Alma College has numerous clubs and programs that allow students to connect with peers and faculty. The Interfaith program on campus seeks to bring students, staff and faculty together through the practice of spirituality, religious identity and spiritual exploration.

“Alma’s Interfaith program gives students a community to activate their spirituality and curiosity about faith. Students at Alma come from many different backgrounds, and we want to support every person’s exploration and discovery,” said Reverend Alissa Davis.

Though Alma College is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, the campus encourages religious diversity and holds various programs for students to practice and discover different religious faiths.

“The Interfaith program acknowledges this diversity and hopes to offer space and resources for people who are Muslim, Jewish, Atheist, Hindu and other faith traditions. The Interfaith program makes it a goal to teach how these various faiths can interact and work together for a common goal, “said Reverend Katrina Pekich-Bundy.

The Interfaith program works explicitly to bring community engagement activities in which preachers and speakers explore and dissect spiritual life at Alma College.

“Sometimes guest speaker conversations are held in person, and sometimes they chat with people further away in a zoom call,” said Davis. “Interfaith will also travel occasionally to visit different worshipping and cultural communities.”

The program holds numerous activities to welcome new students, such as t-shirt dying and kick-off events. Alongside their bi-weekly meetings every Thursday, the group also takes trips outside of campus.

“This semester, we hope to take a trip to Lansing to the mosque where Imam Sohail Chaudhry is the faith leader,” said Pekich-Bundy.

As of Nov. 3, 2021, Revered Alissa Davis returned to Alma College, where she now holds the title of college chaplain. Almost a decade after she graduated from the campus, she returned to her alma mater.

“I chose to come back because I’m grateful for my experiences (friendships, travel, personal growth and a great education) through Alma and want to be a part of offering that to the next generation,” said Davis.

Davis’s primary goal as chaplain is to create a safe and welcoming place for all people.

“I know many people have had poor experiences with faith communities, and we’re trying to undo some of that by taking a posture of hospitality. Even if you need a place to sit and process or talk through something, the chaplain team is here to support you,” said Davis.

To become involved in interfaith, students can find information about the program through Facebook and Instagram. Students can also reach out to chaplains or the Interfaith student leaders: Allyson Ehlert, Matthew Garland and Mariem Hamdi.

Religion can be a topic many students can struggle with as they begin to start adulthood. Even if students are unsure about attending church services or joining interfaith, leaders in the program always encourage students to try it out and ask questions.

“I tell students the same thing about any program: you won’t know until you try,” said Davis. “If you’re unsure, chat with Rev. Katrina or me and we can help answer specific questions.”

All of the leaders in the program are prepared to help any students when it comes to reassuring any uncertaities when it comes to interfaith life. 

“If you are ever unsure about joining the program come and visit an event or a Thursday interview. Have a conversation with someone involved in Interfaith, come and ask as many questions as you need,” said Pekich-Bundy.

Title IX concerns at Alma College

ALIVIA GILES
LAYOUT EDITOR

10/24/2022

While several Alma College students have voiced concerns about how the college handles Title IX cases, it is also important to consider how misuse of the Title IX system causes victims to suffer. 

One student who chose to remain anonymous has seen their peers resort to filing Title IX cases in instances where they felt it may not have been appropriate. 

“I have witnessed many situations in which friends [or people in relationships] find themselves in an argument . . . and instead of solving these issues interpersonally or even through third-party mediation, one person will choose to file a Title IX case. This usually leads to the second person counter-filing a case.” 

This person believes fewer students would misuse the system if the college was more transparent about what Title IX really is. 

“[The college should teach students] the severity and weight of Title IX. These situations are not jokes, petty fights or minor disputes,” they said. “These are cases of genuine discrimination or abuse.” 

Another student who filed a Title IX case and wishes to remain anonymous also commented on misuse of the system. 

“When students abuse or manipulate the system for their own gain or advantage, it makes it so that legitimate cases are not taken as seriously and are more heavily stigmatized,” they said. 

“I can remember shortly after . . . my Title IX investigation…[people believed] I was lying . . . just for going to Title IX,” they said.

Aware of these students’ experiences, Alma College has made significant changes to the Title IX system. The college recently announced a partnership with Grand River Solutions and appointed a new Civil Rights/Title IX coordinator, David Blandford.

The college also expanded from two to four Deputy Title IX Coordinators: Alice Kramer, Kelley Peatross, Jonathan Glenn and John MacArthur.

“I oversee the process and make sure that we are doing our best to provide supportive measures, ensure the process is fair and timely and I also assign investigators, hearing officers and advisors as needed,” said Blandford.

Blandford wants students to know that they have options when filing a Title IX case. Students filing Title IX cases can choose to undertake a formal investigation, alternative resolution or seek supportive measures without formal action.

“. . . Alternative resolution, which isn’t always appropriate, brings people together to agree on a resolution and requires the parties to work together,” said Blandford. “Formal investigation is a long process that can require people to retell their story and is often the hardest; it is also the option that holds the greatest accountability and has the least amount of flexibility.”

While Blandford does not see misuse of the Title IX system as a major problem at the college, he understands why some students have concerns about it.

“I do not feel this is currently an issue on campus, but I can understand why students may feel that way,” said Blandford. “The process is very prescribed on handling false information and retaliation, and those things are taken very seriously.”

“This process also does not allow for any punitive measures to be taken against a responding party until [a verdict has been reached] at the end of a hearing,” said Blandford. “It does allow supportive measures to be put in place at any time to help support both reporting and responding parties.”

“All complaints filed with the Title IX office must be followed up on, and we will take every report seriously, regardless of what else is happening. We also investigate claims to make sure they are valid,” said Blandford.

For more information about the Title IX system, students can talk to Civil Rights/Title IX Coordinator David Blandford in the Center for Student Opportunity (CSO).

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