Mental healthcare options at Alma College

WESTON HIREVELA
GRAPHIC DESIGNER

MARIA KOLB
STAFF WRITER

9/9/2022

Alma College has a variety of resources on campus with one of those resources being the Wilcox Counseling and Wellness Center.

Here, services include individual, relationship and group counseling. Additionally, walk-in emergency services are available daily for students who are in urgent need of help or crisis intervention.

Counseling is a collaborative experience for both the student and the counselor. With the help of the counselor, the student will develop the skills to manage their mental wellness and will be able to explore their individuality.

Mental health is just as important as physical health. From our capacity to perform academically or athletically to our physical health and our relationships, it impacts every aspect of our lives.

“People maintain mental health in different ways, but it’s very similar to taking care of our physical bodies: eating and sleeping, movement, social wellness, and connection, and if needed working with a mental health provider,” said Anne Lambrecht, Director of Counseling.

In the past years, students have experienced their own mental health struggles on campus. “The most common things are anxiety and stress. However, many students are seen for depression, family issues, adjustment to college and other mental health issues. Students will often over-commit themselves in several areas and it can lead to burnout and stress,” said Molly Pocsi, a Limited License Professional Counselor at Alma College.

Pocsi recommends students should “get out of [their] room, use the resources… that are available to [them], as it is a sign of strength not weakness. Know who your supports on campus are and use them.”

Not only does Wilcox offer mental health support to students, but it also provides activities and events for those on campus. One of these events is the Mental Health First Aid Training offered by the Gratiot Integrated Health Network on Sept. 1.

In this 8-hour course, participants learn the risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations and where to turn for help.

For students who are interested in mental health awareness and want to become more involved, other mental health events are being offered on campus.

Some events being featured on campus are QPR Training, Sept. 6; Stress Less, Oct. 5; Therapy Dogs and Kitty Fun Nights, Sept. 12 & 13; Let’s Talk and Light Therapy M-F Suicide Prevention Awareness (wearing yellow), Sept. 9; Grief Group, Dec. 16.

Students who need counseling are encouraged to schedule an appointment on Alma’s webpage under “Counseling Center.” This counseling is free and confidential. The center’s office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Currently, one of the campus’ psychiatrists has left; however, “in October, the Wilcox Health Center will be welcoming back a new clinician, Stacey Graham, to our counseling staff,” said Lambrecht.

On campus, mental health contributes to a student’s life daily, and as part of Alma’s mission “we pledge to create a climate where everyone is safe and free to grow intellectually, spiritually and emotionally.”

Alma welcomes eleven new faculty members

CLAIRE HIPPS
COPY EDITOR

9/9/2022

You may have been asked to attend teaching demonstrations by faculty candidates last semester, or even asked to eat breakfast with a potential new professor. Given the large number of faculty vacancies, Alma is welcoming eleven new faculty members to campus this fall.

The psychology department is welcoming both Janelle Blazek and Jacob Sawyer as assistant professors of psychology.

Blazek’s work focuses on gender and race in developmental psychology. Sawyer specializes in clinical and counseling psychology and is excited to “work with students on group and independent research projects.”

Beth Spinner is joining the education department as an assistant professor. Spinner is passionate about making education applicable and meaningful to her students. She was drawn to Alma because “it was clear… that students are the center of the college.”

New to the sociology department are two new assistant professors: Emma Bosley-Smith and Dion Campbell.

Bosley-Smith is a sociologist “focusing on sexualities, gender, family and economic inequality.” Her research focuses on “LGBTQ adults [and their] relationships with their parents” as well as economic insecurity for young LGBTQ people.

Campbell researches “community, culture and identity”. Campbell earned his undergraduate degree at Central Michigan and is looking forward to “learning more about the gaming scene [at Alma].”

The Department of Business Administration has three new faculty members.

James Haupt was hired as an instructor. Andrew Sellers, an assistant professor, specializes in sports management and ethics. Since sports ethics is a new concentration at Alma, Sellers is excited to “bring the subject to any Alma student that is interested in the field.”

Sangchul Park has also been hired as an assistant professor of business administration. Having worked as an analyst, marketing assistant and advertisement operator on a global scale, he will specifically teach Business Analytics and Global Strategic Management courses at Alma College.

Mathew Smith is a new assistant professor of religious studies. Smith specializes in the study of “religion, race and colonialism/imperialism in the Americas” while also working on research related to gender, sexuality, and environmental humanities.

Additionally, new to Alma’s Dance department is Catherine MacMaster. Macmaster is an assistant professor of dance who uses choreography to study dance “in relation to space.” MacMaster hopes to “broaden the awareness and appreciation of dance as both an art form and a research methodology” at Alma.

Finally, Matthew Kinkel is joining the economics department as an assistant professor, specializing in labor economics and sports economics. He has researched labor market dynamics, “public policy in the construction industry,” and “labor union activism in sports.”

Candidates for Alma College faculty “are evaluated on three criteria – teaching, scholarship and service,” said Janie Diels, Interim Provost. Coming from diverse backgrounds to contribute to seven departments, all new faculty members cited the community feel and emphasis on the student body as reasons for coming to campus.

The reality of Tartan 101

RAUL RIVERA
PHOTOGRAPHER

EMMA FIGLEWICZ
STAFF WRITER

9/9/2022

As summer wraps up, Alma College again opens its doors to the incoming freshmen class of 2026. To welcome the students to their new homes for the next four years, the college holds an annual freshmen orientation program called Tartan 101.

Tartan 101 is a four-day orientation program that offers numerous resources and activities to acclimate the new students to their new environment. Before the academic year, the students are divided into groups. Each group is led by their first-year guide [FYG] to help show them through the orientation schedule and answer any questions freshmen may have about Alma College.

Tartan 101 differs from many other college orientation programs in numerous aspects. Typically, a college or university holds freshmen orientation for one or two days, usually lasting 8-10 hours. Tartan 101, on the other hand, can have students participating in activities for 10-12 hours all four days.

Though many fun events are offered throughout the four days to help keep students engaged and interested, Tartan 101 primarily has students sitting in what I recall being boring lectures and presentations for the majority of the time. By the end of the orientation, students are typically burnt out and do not want to participate in the fun events scheduled on the last day.

On average, a student will have spent over fifteen hours in both lectures and presentations during orientation. Though these experiences can provide safety and essential information about the school, many students mentally check out. They go on their phones instead of paying attention to the presented material.

Nevertheless, freshmen orientation may have its drawbacks; it is an important event that serves an essential purpose for the school. Tartan 101 establishes the foundation for a successful career at Alma College by giving incoming students the resources and tools they will need to excel. Orientation allows students to explore their new home, tour around downtown and introduce them to how classroom lectures will be set up. 

The events of Tartan 101 offer an excellent way for incoming freshmen to meet other classmates and faculty before the school year begins. For most students, college is the first time being away from home, away from the peers they have grown up with. Tartan 101 allows incoming students to meet and converse with their peers with whom they may have classes over the next four years. Seeing a familiar face walking into a classroom or the dining hall on the first day of classes can be a major anxiety reliever for countless students.

“Tartan 101 was an amazing experience that introduced me to many of my friends. When I came to Alma College, I knew no one here. My FYG was amazing as she was always eager during our check-ins. And I could continuously say hello to her in the hallways during the first week of school. It was always great to see a friendly face!” said Brent Triehl (’26).

One change I believe would make Tartan 101 a more enjoyable experience is shortening the activity days by one or two hours. This change can be implanted by starting orientation at 9 am instead of 8 am or ending earlier than the typical end time. Another proposal is to extend lunch and dinner by 30-60 minutes. This will allow students to eat and get some rest between scheduled events.

Overall, the goal of Tartan 101 is to create a welcoming and exciting experience for the incoming freshman class; the program usually ends as a tiring week process that many will look back at, glad they will never have to participate again.

Joe’s closed for the fall semester

RAUL RIVERA
PHOTOGRAPHER

EMMA FIGLEWICZ
STAFF WRITER

9/9/2022

As students return to Alma this year, they will notice many changes to the campus and its facilities. One of the significant changes will be the closure of the popular dining service, Joe’s.

Joe’s Place was a dining service located in Tyler VanDusen which offered dining options such as burgers, wraps, salads and more.

It was a popular location on campus for its late-night hours and various snacks and drinks. For many students, Joe’s was a second option if their practices ran late or if the menu of Hamilton Commons was not appealing to them for that day.

Many students would stop by in between classes to pick up a quick meal when the dining hall was closed.

At the end of summer, the school found Joe’s Place to have a plumbing issue leading to the facility being shut down for the fall term. This unexpected situation has created a stir among the student body as students are now only given one option for their meal swipes.

The school has created Joe’s Retail Store inside Hamilton Commons to remedy the situation. This store will be selling candy, snack food and cold drinks. However, unlike Joe’s Place, there will be no hot food served and a limited variety of snack food offered.

The retail store provides later hours like Joe’s Place did, allowing students to find snack food later in the day once the dining hall closes after dinner. Though this is an excellent attempt to solve the issue of the closure at Joe’s Place, numerous problems still aren’t fixed.

One major issue arising from Joe’s closure is the topic of meal swipes. Before each term, every student is asked to choose between a few different meal plans. Some focus more on meal swipes, while others focus more on munch money. With Joe’s being shut down, students are now forced to use more munch money, disproportionately affecting those who chose the meal swipe-based plan. 

Students spend thousands of dollars on meal plans per year, and it is frustrating when one of the two options to use our meal swipes is taken away. Many students struggle to spend their meal swipes already with two options. Now, with only one chance to use our meal swipes, numerous people will be left with many more unused meal swipes compared to when Joe’s was open.

Though the dining hall offers a variety of food options, some people are picky eaters and will not want to eat what is served on the menu. These students are now forced to choose to use their munch money or their personal money and eat off campus. With food prices on the rise, this option will not be available to many.

Until winter term begins, students will have to learn to adapt to this unfortunate situation. In the coming months, Alma College will continue to update the study body on the state the facility is in. Luckily this change is not permanent and will be fixed in the next few months.

Alma College COVID-19 policy changes

MEGAN NEELEY
COPY EDITOR

9/9/2022

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, college students have had to adapt and persevere through the hardships, hazards and COVID-19 restrictions that were necessary to keep staff members and students safe through these challenging times.

Over time, Alma College has changed its COVID-19 policies in line with recommendations by local, state and national health officials. This is the first time since 2020 that COVID-19 policies at Alma College are looking more relaxed.

To start, face masks are no longer a requirement on campus. Faculty, however, can still require students to wear face masks to their individual classes if they wish to stay masked this semester.

“I continue to require masks in my class,” Patrick Furlong, professor of history said. “Due to my age and health issues that leave me vulnerable to serious complications from a breakthrough COVID-19 infection, I need to [do] what I can to avoid contracting the disease,” Furlong said.

Furthermore, the email regarding the updated COVID-19 policies explained that quarantine and isolation after exposure to someone positive is only necessary if the affected individual is symptomatic.

Students and staff exposed to a positive case will need to be tested regardless of being asymptomatic and must wear a mask for ten days past the date of exposure.

The email emphasized in bold that “if you test positive for COVID-19, feel generally sick, or are exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please notify the college by filling out the Health Screening app.”

Relaxed regulations mean a return to normalcy, to some extent. An email from Damon Brown, the Vice President of Student Affairs, stated that Alma College “will begin the 2022-23 academic year without restrictions on food service, events and gatherings or guests and visitors.”

Many students have accepted relaxed regulations.

“I think the new COVID-19 policies are fine until cases start ticking up again,” said Ryan Gray ’25.

“I think this is great for the school because it will allow students to get the full FSL rush experience, which is something I am looking forward to. Plus, it will be the first almost normal year since I have been at Alma College,” Jon Beerbower ‘24 said.

As the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be coming to a close, the monkeypox virus has begun to raise concerns about another mass public health issue. Alma College has made it clear that they are working closely with public health officials to monitor the situation.

“I suspect it is only a matter of time before monkeypox becomes an issue on campus, spreading from high-risk groups to the general student population and beyond,” Furlong said.

In contrast, Gray said that he does not “think Monkeypox will spread like COVID-19 did… There are already vaccine strategies ready to mitigate the threat.”

Although more relaxed COVID-19 policies promise a more normal college experience, Alma College will continue to observe the situation in order to “make the best decisions related to our COVID-19 policies and… will continue to do so this term.”

FSL recruitment underway

ZACH CARPENTER
STAFF WRITER

9/9/2022

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.

Library-to-learning commons renovation at Alma College

RAUL RIVERA
PHOTOGRAPHER

ALIVIA GILES
LAYOUT EDITOR

9/9/2022

As Alma College welcomes students back on campus for fall classes, “the library-to-learning commons” renovation project continues in McIntyre Mall.

The project is set to be complete by Spring 2023. The new “learning commons” will retain some elements of a traditional library, while also providing different spaces for students such as a café and lounge area. The building will also have a back door that opens toward Superior Street.

All library books will be located on the top floor of the new learning commons; this is also where all the library staff will be.

The main floor will have study spaces as well but will not be designed to be as quiet as the top floor.

The Writing Center, which has been temporarily moved to Dow, will be located on this floor, along with Academic Support from the CSO. An IT help desk and a media lab will be located on this floor as well.

The Andison Center and the Center for College and Community Engagement (3CE) are also set to have offices on the main floor of the building. The organizations also plan to have events in the space.

Viktoria Lamley (’25) has fond memories of spending time in the library with her friends as a freshman last year. They enjoyed having a convenient place to meet up and study together.

When renovations began, Lamley and her friends lost their favorite study space. “Winter semester was lonely with less group studying options, so I [worked] in my dorm which was twice as hard because I had to put way more energy and focus into staying productive and on task,” Lamley said.

The library has been temporarily moved into Tyler Van-Dusen, but for Lamley, it’s not the same. “I only ever went to the TVD library when I had something to print since the dorm printers couldn’t do front and back,” Lamley said.

Lamley has mixed feelings about the learning commons project. “It seems a little frivolous, but I know I’ll appreciate having [Qdoba on campus],” Lamley said.

The “Stacks,” which are one of the oldest parts of the library building, constructed in the early 1920’s, has been a favorite study space among students over the years. Lamley is disappointed that students will no longer have these spaces when the renovation is complete.

“I also feel for all the students upset over the loss of the Stacks, several felt that to be the most productive space and just something cool to know we had,” Lamley said.

As a freshman last year, Lottie Carman (’25) also enjoyed studying in the library. Like Lamley, Carman feels that no longer having that space has had a negative impact on her study habits.

“My study habits have changed a lot since the renovation of the library. During the first semester last year, I spent every day in the library studying with friends,” Carman said.

“[Most of the time] I study in my room, unfortunately. Studying in my room is not a comfortable and relaxing place to study, nor is it productive. I have not used the library in Tyler Van Dusen, mostly because it feels too crowded,” Carman said.

Not only is Carman personally looking forward to the “upgraded version of the library,” she thinks the unique space is something high school students will take into consideration as they are deciding which college to attend.

“As someone who experienced working as a tour guide over the summer of 2022, I think that students will be very interested when it gets built and see that space as a hang out area, hopefully,” Carman said.

“There are a lot of amazing things about Alma, but I think this building will show more of what we can offer with the larger space,” Carman said.

New dining vendor arrives to Alma College campus

MEGAN NEELEY
COPY EDITOR

9/9/2022

After a year of extensive deliberation, Sodexo’s contract has come to an end and Metz Culinary Management has integrated the new dining options into the Alma College campus as students move back in for the start of the 2022-23 school year.

“Our goal is to create a superior program for you,” the Metz Culinary Management website reads. “When you step into our dining locations, you will see it in our locally sourced ingredients, our fresh and flavorful menus, our emphasis on scratch prepared foods, and our friendly and personal service,” the website elaborates.

Metz Culinary Management promotes that their dining reflects ethnic and authentic flavors and tastes while providing gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options everyday. This is something many students would argue Sodexo never provided.

“I think [Metz Culinary Management] is a step up from last year. I feel that there is more variety in what they are serving and it has more depth,” Matt Arrigoni ‘24 said.

Furthermore, Metz Culinary Management was attractive to Alma College because of its locally sourced ingredients. It is now known that Metz Culinary Management locally sources vegetables, fruits, eggs, bread and bakery items within a 150 mile radius of campus.

One thing that is also great about Metz Culinary Management is the more flexible hours they are offering. While Sodexo was known to have confined hours to tight meal times, Metz Culinary Management is offering Continental between breakfast and lunch and soup and salad options between lunch and dinner.

“The updated hours allow students to work nutrition into their schedules easier than last year with the brunch times as well as the soup and salad times,” Luc Lawson ‘24 said.

However, it has been noted that there is no after dinner dining option anywhere on campus at this time. Lawson expressed that “one thing [he] would change is [how] they still close decently early for a college campus dining facility which inconveniences a lot of athletes and other students with night classes.”

A rather obvious change is that there is no longer a Mongo station, as Metz Culinary Management has swapped this for a Southern Kitchen option. Other meal options can be seen on a posted weekly menu.

“The only thing that I miss about Mongo was that it was an easy way to get protein as an athlete. Now we seem to have one less protein-full option in SAGA,” Arrigoni said.

Another addition with Metz Culinary Management is the new campus dietitian, Kim Griffin. “I am very excited to work with students this year! My goal is to be a resource for students’ nutritional needs and assist with eating healthy on campus,” said Griffin.

When asked about what Metz brings to the table, Griffin added that “our Metz team has a lot of heart with many talented and gifted culinarians. We are blessed to have this partnership and look forward to creating options to suit everyone’s tastes.”

The website for Metz Culinary Management mentions seasonal promotions, contests and giveaways that will be offered throughout the year. This has yet to be experienced as the semester has only just begun.

Ultimately, the website highlights that “Metz Culinary Management is proud to bring Alma College the best on-campus food program with a variety of tastes that are sure to please.”

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