Choir and Orchestra tune up

CLAIRE WITTLIEF
STAFF WRITER

LEX FLINT
COPY EDITOR

10/24/2022

Alma College’s Choir and Orchestra programs have begun practicing for their fall performances and for the rest of the school year to come. Both esteemed programs on campus, the choir and orchestra, are some of the ways Alma College features musically talented students. 

The Choir’s performance this past weekend was focused on works by the German-British composer, Handel, including a treble-focused song. 

Alina Malinowski (’23) has been a choir member during all four years of her college experience. She started in the chorale her freshman and half of her sophomore year. She then moved up to choir the winter of her sophomore year.

“I am most looking forward to being able to travel to Scotland with the choir for Spring Term and singing all across the country in different churches, [along with] exploring different landmarks such as castles and rivers. I cannot wait,” said Malinowski.          

“We have not been able to do this trip for the past 3 or so years because of COVID-19 and it impacting travel so highly,” said Malinowski.

Malinowski is feeling the emotions of this being her last year as a member of the Alma College choir. “I feel it may affect me a bit more during the end of the year and [during] the Christmas concert with those being the biggest and most memorable concerts through the whole year,” said Malinowski.   

However, Malinowski has some advice for the freshman members of the choir. “A piece of advice I would give to the freshmen is to have fun with it, make friends and enjoy all your time in the class. It goes by way too fast, and it will be over in the blink of an eye,” said Malinowski.

The orchestra concert that took place this past weekend featured pieces by Mozart and Arensky. Abby Skerik (’23), the concert master of the orchestra, said some changes had to be made regarding the formation of the orchestra.

“Since COVID-19, we had to adjust to a string-only chamber orchestra, which has given us new opportunities for different types of music to play,” said Skerik.

“I am most looking forward to performing in the upcoming concert, and to keep playing with the orchestra and learning more about the violin and the opportunities that come with playing and working with others,” said Skerik.

Skerik has some advice for new members of the orchestra. “The most important thing is to keep pushing yourself every day and always try new things with music and never get too comfortable with how you play, you can always improve,” said Skerik.                      

The students work hard with each other, a few hired professionals and our community members to produce music for everyone to enjoy at our public concert.

The October concert is a culmination of over a month of work in regular rehearsals and dress rehearsals.         

“I would describe orchestra as one big family that comes together to play amazing music while also encourageing each other to be the best musicians we can be,” said Moranda Johnson (‘22) a former member of the orchestra.

The Alma College Choir’s next performance will be a Halloween concert at 11 p.m. on October 31 and the Festival of Carols on December 3 and 4 at 7 p.m. and 2 p.m. respectively. The Alma College Orchestra’s next performance will be with the Choir at the Festival of Carols concert. Both performances will take place at the Oscar E. Remick Heritage Center.

Gender affirming closet open to campus and community

MEGAN ROBERTSON
STAFF WRITER

10/24/2022

It can be a challenge in a rural town like Alma for queer people to be visible and feel accepted. The Gender Affirming Closet of Alma College exists to help support the queer community express themselves and feel comfortable, offering access to free clothing for LBGTQ+ people on Alma College’s campus and the surrounding campus community.

The Gender Affirming Closet is open to the community Friday from 6 PM to 8 PM, Saturday from 10 AM to 6 PM and Sunday from 2 PM to 4 PM.

The primary goal of the Gender Affirming Closet is to “provide free, safe, equitable [and] appropriate access to clothes to all people.” said Sydney Powers, Americorp VISTA LBGTQ+ Support.

The “hope [in creating and maintaining the Gender Affirming Closet] is that [access to these resources] will inspire our queer community on campus to express themselves and feel that they are supported.” said Kate Stymiest (’22).

The Gender Affirming Closet strives to provide gender-affirming clothing options for non-binary students specifically. The closet achieves this in part by not organizing their clothing in gender-specific sections, a practice that is common in chain stores and boutiques.

The Gender Affirming Closet aims to give queer people options and encourages shopping without feeling pressured to conform to a particular gender. The closet stocks clothing for queer people of all shapes and sizes.

“The clothing supply is abundant and versatile. [We are] trying to cater to all styles, occasions, and body types,” said Stymiest.

The Gender Affirming Closet has been open for over a year as a part of the Alma College AmeriCorps Vista program.

Previously located in Highland Blush, a coffee shop in downtown Alma, the Gender Affirming Closet was recently moved to Tyler VanDusen. The closet is now located across from the Center for Student Opportunity (CSO). The move into Tyler VanDusen creates easier access for students.

Students are excited about what the Gender Affirming Closet offers to the campus community. “I think that it is amazing that the Gender Affirming Closet is on campus. I truly believe that this resource can be used to better the lives of the queer community.” said Sam Bjordal (’23).

The affordability of “fashionable” clothes is often a barrier to access for queer people. The cute, gently used clothing available at the Gender Affirming Closet is a great way for queer people to express themselves without overspending.

The Gender Affirming Closet is in need of a few specific types of donations.

“We do have a need for more binders, unopened cosmetics, jewelry, paper bags and tote bags for ‘checking out’,” said Powers. “Otherwise, we have more than enough clothes.”

If you are looking for a local volunteer opportunity, the Gender Affirming Closet relies on volunteers. Volunteers can help with several of the closet’s different functions.

“I had the…opportunity to volunteer at the Gender Affirming Closet,” said Jacob Keeley (’23). “[I helped with] washing clothes, organizing their inventory and locating resources for the [communities served by] the closet.”

To sign up and explore volunteer opportunities with the Gender Affirming Closet, please visit Alma Connect or reach out directly to Sydney Powers in the CSO. You can also drop off any donations for the Gender Affirming Closet to the CSO.

Alma College Theatre presents “The Imaginary Invalid”

MARIA KOLB
STAFF WRITER

10/24/2022

The Imaginary Invalid is coming to campus! The show opens on Oct. 27 and runs through Oct. 30. The show will occur at 7:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. at the Remick Heritage Center.

This production is based on Miles Mallesons’s adaptation of the play by Moliere, who was writing for the theater in the 17 century.

“He poked fun at society a lot, and the idea of the play is about a guy named Argan, who is a hypochondriac, and he comes up with this great idea that if he marries his daughter off to a doctor, he’ll get free medical care,” said Director Scott Mackenzie.

Fortunately, at the time, Argan’s daughter fell in love with a young man that she wants to marry. The fun ensues when Argan finds a doctor, who was a dim-witted charlatan, for Angelica to marry off to.

“However, Argan’s clever housemaid, Toinette… manages to work things out so that the young lovers get to be together and Argon… gets his free medical care,” said Mackenzie.

It has taken 8 weeks for the production to happen under Director Scott Mackenzie. Terry Jachimiak II worked on the scene for sound and light design. Heather Brown worked on costume design for all the characters in the production.

It would not have been possible to make “The Imaginary Invalid” come alive without the efforts of the student actors and backstage crew.

Besides all the fun experiences the students had in this production, they also had a few challenges to overcome.

“As this is my first show in college, the college theater experience is something new to me…One reason it is so new and different from my previous acting experience is because I am understudying two roles. This requires me to be familiar with two characters’ lines and blocking, which is a bit more challenging,” said Caedmon Applegate (‘26).

“I can’t tell you how many times I accidentally said one character’s line when I was supposed to say the other’s during rehearsal,” said Applegate.

Another student actor also had a challenge to face that required extra determination in the making of the play.

“Before we had our first blocking rehearsal, I [fell ill with] covid and was taken out for 7 days… Luckily, I have been able to start my own character work, and I find myself learning something new about my character every time we rehearse. Even for someone without a lot of stage time, Dr. Diaforus is a big presence and I hope to do him justice as we approach the show dates,” said Wiley Delisa (’24).

During some moments in the rehearsals, student actors came up with better humor for their characters than what was originally planned. “I always like it when a student does something that I smile at or laugh at that I had never expected,” said Mackenzie.

Besides acting, there are many other aspects of the show that are needed in order to make it happen. This includes costume design production.

“My process is based on the type of performance, the director/choreographer, the budget, the labor pool–so much goes into it all… In this case, the director gave me two ideas to work with… From there, I went forward with research[ing], drawing, painting, pulling [and] procuring,” said the Costume Designer, Heather Brown.

“A single costume, for me that means one complete look, socks to nose ring, can take anywhere from four hours to one hundred hours to make.”

“The Imaginary Invalid,” a quick-paced classic comedy, is a production that took time and effort to create.

The admission fee is free to students, staff and those under eighteen years of age. For those who are adults, it is fifteen dollars. It is seven dollars for senior citizens.

Everyone is invited to enjoy the show. If anyone is interested in future productions, they can contact Scott Mackenzie for further information.

Guest speaker invited to bring gun violence awareness

EMMA FIGLEWICZ
STAFF WRITER

10/3/2022

On Oct. 6, Alma College is set to host guest speaker, David Hogg at 7 p.m. in the Dunning Memorial Chapel. Hogg is one of the speakers chosen for the Presidential Speaker Series. Hogg will speak to the student body and faculty on the subject of community through the lens of gun violence in schools.

Hogg is a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, FL. Using his experience with gun violence, Hogg co-founded the March for Our Lives protest and co-wrote the book, “#NeverAgain.” He promotes activism and voting through numerous social media platforms, where he has more than one million followers.

Alma College’s Presidential Speaker Series is an event that the campus holds annually, which brings in people of various backgrounds and ideological beliefs.

“It is run through the Center of College and Community Engagement. This group brings in speakers who help guide discussions on civil responsibility and what that looks like at all levels of leadership,” said Andrew Pomerville, Assistant Vice President for Community Engagement.

“This year’s Presidential Speaker Series focuses on some important questions about our place within a community and how individual responsibility affects community responsibility. Hogg’s experience that he will share is an excellent fit within that theme, given the tragic circumstances that led to his national platform,” said Jeff Abernathy, president of Alma College.

Gun violence is an issue on the rise, and the discussion of gun rights is a disputed matter on all levels of government.

Recently, the House of Representatives passed a bill banning assault rifles with a 217 to 213 vote. The bill will be sent to the Senate to be voted on if it shall be passed or not in American legislation.

In June, President Joe Biden signed a gun safety bill into law. This law seeks to expand background checks. It also expands upon an existing law that prevents previously incarcerated people of domestic abuse from owning a gun.

In the wake of the Uvalde, Texas shooting, David Hogg responded to the situation in an interview with MSNBC. “We need to figure out what is the one thing that we can agree on to move forward not as democrats and republicans, but as Americans who actually address the situation,” said Hogg.

Gun violence is an issue that can occur in any community at any time. Staying informed may open useful conversations that can give people the resources to help the fight against gun violence.

“David’s talk encourages us to understand our responsibilities amid the conversation about gun violence. I believe awareness is already there about gun violence. Knowing that shootings happen is not the goal; the goal is knowing our role implicitly,” said Pomerville.

Alma College has made tickets accessible to all students. Tickets can be found online. Faculty and staff have been spreading the word around campus in hopes of a big turnout.

“Tickets are free, and there are about 100 seats currently available. Two-thirds of ticket sales are set aside for students, staff and faculty. Students can find tickets which are on the Alma Connect website,” said Pomerville.

“Peace and safety are the responsibilities of all our citizens. We all need to talk openly about how we can get there, and by having speakers like David come in, conversations can commence,” said Pomerville.

Alma College offers fall alternative breaks

LEIA LEHRER
GRAPHIC DESIGNER

REYNA EDWARDS
STAFF WRITER

10/3/2022

As the first academic break of the year is coming around the corner from Oct. 13 to Oct. 16, most of Alma College’s students are getting ready to go back home to see their families, friends and pets.

However, there are some students who may be interested in other opportunities to fill their Fall Break. For the students that are interested in an alternative option, Alma College offers a variety of different opportunities to participate in.

Fall Alternative Breaks have been offered through Alma College since 2003. They have gained more popularity each year among students and faculty alike.

These Fall Alternative Break opportunities are a great way for students to become more involved. They allow students to make a difference within the Alma community and the greater Gratiot community.

“What I like seeing in the volunteers that I have worked with is seeing people willing to take time out of their schedule to address a need in our community,” said Katherine Garlock, the AmeriCorps VISTA member for Food Security at Alma College.

There are four Alternative Break opportunities available for the 2022 Fall Recess: Food Security with the Gratiot Community Garden and Greater Lansing Food Bank, Environmental Stewardship with the Friends of the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail, LGBTQ+ Support with the Gratiot Gender Affirming Closet and Disability Support with Day Dreams Inc.

The Food Security Alternative Break with the Gratiot Community Garden and Greater Lansing Food Bank will work to alleviate food insecurity within the mid-Michigan area.

In this alternative break, students can expect active outdoor work completing end-of-season maintenance at the Community Garden. This will include garden take down, as well as sorting donations and assisting with food distributions to the Gratiot community.

“20% of Gratiot County is living in poverty, and hunger does not end after going to a food pantry a few times. We need volunteers who are willing to work and encourage their peers to engage with the community on a weekly basis,” said Garlock.

The Environmental Stewardship Alternative Break with the Friends of the Fred Meyer Heartland Trail will include service to and upkeep of the Fred Meyer Heartland Trail in Gratiot County. This break would be a perfect opportunity for students who love the outdoors and being active.

The LGBTQ+ Support Alternative Break will include sorting, washing and organizing clothing and accessory donations for the Gender Affirming Closet at Alma College. This alternative break seeks to provide gender-affirming clothing and accessories to the Gratiot County community.

“I am volunteering for the gender-affirming closet because I want to be a part of minimizing gender dysphoria on campus, and the clothes that we wear often have a hand in shaping how others perceive us and how we feel about our own identities. The closet offers students a place to find clothes that fit their preferred identity to lessen this dysphoria,” said Sophie Flater (’23).

The Disability Support Alternative Break will involve sorting donations and organizing merchandise at the Dream Works Resale Shoppe. This is a non-profit organization that was established to provide and support occupational and social opportunities for adults with disabilities. Students who sign up for this alternative break will aid them with that mission.

To sign up and find more information regarding this year’s Alternative Break opportunities, visit Alma.edu. Registration is open now.

Alma College celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

RAUL RIVERA
PHOTOGRAPHER

CLAIRE HIPPS
COPY EDITOR

10/3/2022

Americans celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) every year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate Americans who have ancestry traced to Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Hispanic Heritage Week was first celebrated in 1968 under Lyndon Johnson. In 1988, the observation was expanded by Ronald Reagan to an entire month. Sept. 15 is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

“Many people celebrate their heritage by preparing traditional dishes, playing music and hosting dances, and most importantly, spending time together,” said Alejandro Salais, graduate assistant in Alma College’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (DI Office).

To celebrate on campus, the DI Office is holding many events for “all students, faculty and staff in the Alma Community,” said Salais.

Central to these events is the Hispanic Hall of Fame, viewable between Sept. 19 and Oct. 15 in the Rotunda of Tyler Van Dusen. This self-guided tour introduces you to Hispanic American historical figures and their contributions to American society.

“My personal hero [is] Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor,” said Stephany Slaughter, professor of Spanish and women’s and gender studies. Sonia Sotomayor, a Puerto Rican woman born in the Bronx, became the first Hispanic person and the third woman to serve on the Supreme Court in 2009.

“Someone in the Latino community that I look up to is Roberto Clemente—the first Latino inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame,” said Salais. “[His] dedication to community service and giving back to others is what has always made him a role model for me.”

“It is no [surprise] that Benito Antonia Martinez Ocasio, also known as Bad Bunny, is one of my idols,” said Krystal Urena (’23), president of the Alma College Hispanic Coalition. “He is true to what he believes in [and] has broken so many stereotypes of machismo.”

Bad Bunny, who is Puerto Rican, has won two Grammy Awards, four Latin Grammy Awards and eight Billboard Music awards amongst other achievements in music and television.

Puerto Ricans are contributing to American society in major ways, but their situation is unique. Puerto Ricans are U.S. Citizens, and have been since 1917, but are disenfranchised.

“Puerto Rico deserves particular attention, not only because of the continued colonial relationship between the island and the continental US… but because of the current situation [in which they are] recovering from Hurricane Fiona,” said Slaughter.

One of the ways the community celebrated HHM is by inviting Puerto Rican artist, Omar Cruz, to the DI Office’s HHM Painting with a Twist event. This event took place on Sept. 29. According to his website, Omar Cruz is “one of the most sought-after portrait photographers among celebrities.”

On another note, there are many ways to get in on HHM celebrations on Alma College’s campus.

“On campus, the [DI Office] has an event planned [on Oct. 7] that will include Ballet folclórico and food for our campus community,” said Slaughter. “I’m excited to participate!”

This event will take place in the chapel, featuring the Ballet Folclórico del Luz, Central Michigan University’s award-winning folclórico group.

On Oct. 13, there will be a showing and dialogue around the East LA Walkouts. This event will be cohosted by the DI Office and History Club in the chapel basement.

“The purpose of [the showing and dialogue] is to shine some light on the history of [the American] education system,” said Urena.

On Oct. 18, the Hispanic Coalition and iGem are cohosting an event on Latinx Voices in STEM in SAC 113.

“As a Latino graduate student and young professional, it means so much to me to be surrounded by a community here at Alma College that cares so much about learning about different cultures and social identities,” said Salais.

Alma College brings new perspectives through Art Prize

KYLE SCHECK
PHOTOGRAPHER

MARIA KOLB
STAFF WRITER

10/3/2022

The annual Art Prize has come to bring art to campus. This year’s theme is “May you Live in Interesting Times.”

The annual Art Prize reflects what students believe are the ideas or concerns of the theme. The students bring these ideas and concerns to life through art.

“This theme was ‘borrowed’ from the 2019 Venice Biennale,” said Jilian Dickson, visiting assistant professor in drawing and painting. “We encountered such powerful work, I wanted to piggyback off that momentum. In previous years, the theme was a single word, [like] ‘electric tape’, ‘recycle’, ‘reuse’.”

With this reflection surrounding the Art Prize theme, students have the freedom to explore through different mediums. This can range from acrylics to woodwork. Even though Art Prize has a theme to be followed, you can find ways to showcase everyday experiences and controversial issues.

“Students used this opportunity to examine the ‘interesting’ circumstances we find ourselves in. There is a piece in reaction to Roe V. Wade. There is another piece…that examines accessibility on campus,” said Dickson.

One of the small groups participating in this year’s competition has created an artwork called “Out of Reach.” The team members are Willis Heiney (‘23)Starr Koon (‘23)Emily Diener (‘23) and Lauryn Bishop (‘23). They have created a twelve-foot-high staircase sculpture to explore ideas about disability, inaccessibility and the struggles students face due to inequalities on campus.

“We chose stairs because they are commonly overlooked as a functioning passageway and rarely thought of as a blockage,” said Koon.

It is not only the ideas explored in a creative way. The artworks are also intentionally positioned on campus where they invoke their message best.

“…We intentionally placed it at the center of campus to resonate with the message. We wanted our staircase to obstruct the pathway and allow viewers to feel the same disruption and blockage that students with disability face,” said Koon. “We also made the base of the platform to start at five feet tall to further highlight the daunting and overwhelming feelings of struggling students and students with disabilities.”

A key aspect of Art Prize that is often overlooked is the learning experience and the collaborations being done with other artists on campus, especially when some of the participants are not art majors.

Art prize is open to all students from various disciplines. This year, however, only students that are art majors, minors or are participating in an art class have taking an interest. The Art Prize can also be done as a group or individually.

In the “Out of Reach” group, “everyone came together, communicated and took on separate roles to complete our piece,” said Koon. “Whether it was staining the wood, [cutting] and sanding, or solving problems during assembly, I’m extremely impressed with our teamwork.”

Students who are not related to the art discipline are welcomed to participate and expend the knowledge from their own disciplines.

“We’ve had students from a variety of disciplines participate,” said Dickson.

While this new system greatly enhances Alma’s liberal arts education, this system offers less flexibility because of the structured requirements. It has been expressed that this is something that will continually be worked on.

Student’s safety: Unlocked doors on south campus

DANIELLE NYKANEN
STAFF WRITER

10/3/2022

Student’s safety is a top priority for many college campuses and Alma is no different. Recently, however, a safety concern arose as students reported doors on south campus being left unlocked.

All student housing requires either a pin or key card to gain access, making it easy to restrict access to students and their guests. Certain doors on south campus were not requiring students to scan their ID, meaning anyone could walk in.

“I’ve seen the side door to Carey be unlocked. I haven’t heard about any other doors, but I could be wrong,” said Ruby Lovasz (‘23). Unfortunately, this has been an ongoing issue since the second week of classes.

“The first few weeks of school, it was only on the weekends, but last week, there were a few weekdays it happened as well. It’s been a week since I’ve seen anything unlocked so I’m guessing the issue is fixed,” said Lovasz.

“I’ve seen the doors unlocked, and most of the time it was during the day. It has happened at random all through September. They will be locked on some days and unlocked on others” said Julia Gotaas (‘24).

With the doors cycling between locked and unlocked it made it hard for students to know when the door was actually fixed. A few days could go by with no issues and then the door would be unlocked again.

“We did have an issue with the two main entrances of Carey not locking as there was some issue with the card swipe access readers, but I believe we resolved the issue in working with Campus Safety and Facilities” said JD Copus, Assistant Director for Residence Life at Alma College.

This issue was very unsettling for many students living on south campus. Luckily, the issue should be resolved, and doors should be locked from here on out.   

“I don’t have any exact dates, but I noticed the doors unlocked on 9/11/2022 and then followed up with Facilities and Campus Safety that week” said Copus.

“There had been issues with the doors over the [first] several weeks and trying to ensure that the doors stayed locked. I went over to Carey Hall today and all doors were locked correctly as of 9/28/2022.” said Copus.

The main concern many students had with the doors being unlocked was their safety. Without limited access anyone could walk into the building.

“Living in a building with unlocked doors makes me feel quite unsafe. Particularly considering that since our dorms are located on the southern part of campus and are nearer to the community homes,” said Gotaas.

“I definitely feel safer on the days that I see the doors are locked; however, I haven’t felt particularly unsafe. Although there was an issue with the doors not locking, there are always cameras facing the doors, I feel that the area is pretty well lit, and campus safety makes multiple rounds every night,” said Lovasz.

This is a great reminder that we do have various precautions on campus to ensure students safety. While locked doors are a major concern other monitoring systems are in place to keep us secure.

“Students should contact Campus Safety at 989-463-7777 if they have issues with doors being unlocked or issues getting into buildings” said Copus but, “if students still have concerns or notice that doors aren’t locking properly, they can contact me directly as well.”

“If students ever don’t feel safe on campus, Campus Safety is there to provide that assistance. Campus Safety does a lot of great work like escorts around campus, jump start vehicles, allowing students into buildings, etc.” said Copus.

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