Alma College celebrates homecoming

EMMA FIGLEWICZ
PHOTOGRAPHER

ALIVIA GILES
LAYOUT EDITOR

10/3/2022

The Alma College community celebrated homecoming with a week full of traditions and activities for current students, families and alumni.

Throughout the week of homecoming, the Alma College Union Board (ACUB) hosted a campus-wide scavenger hunt for all current Alma College students.

The weekend festivities started with alumni events on Friday, Sept. 23. Current Alma College students were invited to meet with graduates for the Student and Alumni Networking Night.

Over the course of the day, the college hosted graduating class reunion events across campus. The cheer and dance teams performed at Art Smith Arena for an official “Homecoming Kick-Off.” The Percussion Ensemble and Pipe Band had a concert in Heritage Center.

On Friday night, ACUB hosted a homecoming dance for current Alma College students at Elks Lodge. The event included a cash bar for students over 21 and free shuttle services to and from Heritage Center.

On Saturday morning, the college held a Chapel Memorial Service and celebrated the Installation of Reverend Alissa Davis at the Dunning Memorial Chapel.

Other Saturday activities included Fraternity/Sorority alumni and current member events all day, the annual Scot Trot 5K race and a parade featuring student organizations on campus.

Ruby Lovasz (’23) helped organize the Scot Trot. “The event went really well,” said Lovasz. “We had a lot more people register than in previous years . . . about 80 to 90 people [ran].”

Following the parade and the event at the chapel, the college hosted a Food Truck Lunch event in the Heritage Center parking lot.

On Saturday afternoon, the Alma College football team played against Martin Luther College. The Scots won the game with a final score of 69 to 0.

Following the football game, Model United Nations and the Academic Department held receptions on campus. Alma College president Jeff Abernathy invited alumni and guests to attend the President’s Reception and Awards ceremony on Friday evening at the President’s House Tent on campus.

The Alma College Choirs performed a concert at Heritage Center on Saturday night, as the Kiltie Marching Band celebrated its 100-year anniversary with a reception at the Dow Science Center.

Abigale Whitford (’25) did not participate in homecoming festivities as a freshman last year but was happy to be a part of it the celebration this year. Whitford was happy that the college was able to hold homecoming events with fewer covid restrictions.

“I wasn’t around for homecoming last year, but I am sure with some covid protocols being lifted this year, homecoming looked much different this year,” said Whitford.

Whitford participated in events with current members of her sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, and enjoyed connecting with alumni throughout the week.

Whitford was also excited to have the opportunity to represent her organization in the parade. “This was my first year being involved with homecoming festivities and participating in the parade with [Gamma Phi Beta],” said Whitford.

Whitford viewed the homecoming parade, not only as a fun activity for her and her sorority sisters to be a part of, but as an opportunity to show other students what programs such as Fraternity/Sorority Life have to offer.

Women’s wrestling to begin in November

9/19/2022

EMMA FIGLEWICZ
PHOTOGRAPHER

DANIELLE NYKANEN
STAFF WRITER

As winter athletes get excited for the start of their seasons, a new team will be preparing for their first season ever. In December 2021 Alma athletics announced that women’s wrestling would be added to the athletics program as the 28th varsity sport. With practices starting on October 10th, the wait is almost over for this new team to take their place at Alma.

The program will begin as a club sport for the 2022-23 academic year but will transition to a varsity sponsored sport in 2023-24. This addition makes Alma the fourth MIAA school to have a women’s wrestling program.

According to the National Wrestling Coaches Association, “since 1994, the number of women who wrestle in high school has grown from 804 to over 28,000 (as of 2021).” The introduction of women’s wrestling at our school allows the opportunity for increased recruitment for girls who want to wrestle at a collegiate level.

Director of Athletics at Alma College, Sarah Dehring, announced Katlyn Pizzo as the first head coach of the new program in March.

In its first year the team will compete within the National Collegiate Wresting Association (NCWA). This is a non-profit association with over 150 wrestling teams and clubs from across the United States and Canada.

The team’s competition season will start on November 1st. As a club team, the program “can potentially wrestle anyone within the NCWA” said Katlyn Pizzo, Women’s Wrestling Coach at Alma College.

Our competitors for this season will likely be a wider variety of schools and may be teams we have never seen before. This will change when the team transitions to a varsity sponsored sport, however, and students may see some teams they are familiar with.

“We will wrestle within the MIAA conference and the NCAA. Making our conference competitors Adrian, Albion and Trine and our national competitors, all the colleges within NCAA divisions 1,2 and 3,” said Pizzo.

The MIAA and Alma athletics emphasize that student-athletes should be students first and athletes second. Athletes on our campus are expected to bring their all to practice and class. This will be no different for the new women’s wrestling team as they are “looking for good people that want to push themselves both academically and athletically,” said Pizzo. 

This season will allow Pizzo and her team to lay the groundwork for future teams, but it will not be easy. “This coming year will set the tone for the future of Alma Women’s Wrestling team. We will demand hard work from our athletes both in the classroom and the wrestling room,” said Pizzo.

Sports teams often provide things beyond the sport, such as friendships, life skills and character building. A goal for this year is that “the team will develop a culture that cultivates resilience, hard work, love and support,” said Pizzo. This is especially important because “the athletes this year will be next year’s leaders.”

Like all new programs, the women’s wrestling team will take time to grow. “We will be working in preparation for the full recruiting class of student athletes coming in for the 2023- 2024 season,” said Pizzo. The upcoming year as a club team will allow the time to develop the program before it takes off as varsity sponsored.

 Students who are interested in joining the women’s wrestling team should go to the Alma Athletics website and submit the women’s wrestling recruitment form. This will enter you into the recruiting portal for the program.

Kiltie Marching Band celebrates 100 years

CLAIRE WITTLIEFF
STAFF WRITER

9/19/2022

This fall season, Alma College’s Kiltie Marching Band celebrates its 100th anniversary. The band held its first performance of the season at the Alma College football game against Manchester University on Saturday, September 10.

Dr. David Zerbe, Alma College’s Director of Bands and Percussion Studies, began his career at Alma in 1988. ​“When I started Fall Term 1988, I had three lesson students and taught percussion pedagogy.  There was no active percussion ensemble at the time, but I formed one Winter Term of 1989.  That said, the department was thriving.  The Bands, Choir and Orchestra were very established performing ensembles,” said Zerbe.              

In the 34 years Dr. Zerbe has worked for Alma College, much has changed. “The Eddy Music Building was renovated and substantially increased in size.  The percussion and band program has continued to grow and gain a reputation for excellence,” said Zerbe.

Along with the percussion ensemble performing at many prestigious music festivals and going on tour, the Kiltie Marching Band has also hosted a high school marching band competition and continually travels to play in exhibition at other high school marching band competitions.

This year’s performance is a Scottish-themed show titled ‘Dualchas Linn’, a Celtic term that translates to ‘Heritage of the Century’. “The show for this fall is a Scottish themed Show and is a celebration of the band’s storied past, our present achievements, and a salute to all those who have contributed to the success of the Kiltie Marching Band over the years,” said Zerbe.

Alex Herin ’24, who is in his third year as a member of the Kiltie Marching Band, is a keyboardist as part of the front ensemble as well as a cymbals player. “There’s a strong sense of community in the band.

Because we’re such a small school, the numbers aren’t quite what you’d see at a large university, so it’s nice that you know everyone in the band and that it’s tight knit,” said Herin.

“Our wonderful band director has prepared a beautiful show that’s supposed to truly encompass Alma’s Scottish heritage. I hope the alumni really enjoy it.” Herin is thrilled to be a part of the 100th anniversary and believes it’s a very exciting time to be involved with the band.                                

Overall, Dr. Zerbe is looking forward to the Kiltie Marching Band’s 100th anniversary, especially the opportunity to celebrate a once in a lifetime event with both current and former band members. “I’m looking forward to continuing to polish our show and to be able to present it in its entirety for the Alumni at Homecoming 2022.  I’m also looking forward to concert band season winter term and the opportunity to dig into some fine concert band literature.  In general, I am humbled to be the director at such an auspicious point in the band’s history.  Fortune has granted me an opportunity not afforded to most people, and I plan to enjoy every moment and every memory,” said Zerbe.

As library evolves, history is uncovered

KYLE SCHECK
PHOTOGRAPHER

CLAIRE HIPPS
COPY EDITOR

9/19/2022

Among Alma’s distinguished faculty and staff is Matthew Collins, the director of the Alma College Library and occasional adjunct faculty member in the religious studies department, where he specializes in disambiguating the meaning of the New Testament.

The library-to-Learning Commons renovations have posed some challenges for the library staff. The library will only occupy the third floor after the renovations. The resulting need to consolidate has given the staff opportunities to purge duplicate or antiquated texts, although physically moving large portions of the collection has been tedious.

“Yes, we have reduced space, but there was a lot of the collection that we were just carrying and didn’t need to carry anymore,” said Collins.

Overall, the renovations are a positive to Collins, although he misses being at the center of academics on campus.

“The space is going to look so much different,” said Collins. “All of the light from the windows will come in, and the space will look and feel much [more open]. I think that is pretty exciting.”

The renovations also gave librarians the opportunity to excavate a time capsule, placed in the building’s cornerstone in 1964. The capsule, made of copper, was difficult to open. With the help of the facilities team, Collins and Katie Crombe (’11) and the director of alumni and family engagement, opened the time capsule.

The capsule contained a few copies of Almanian editions from the time, yearbooks and some other documents. The Almanian articles discuss an elementary school sponsored by the college in Nigeria and beating Calvin College, as well as the new library.

The capsule also contained a book from 1807, the oldest book in the library collection at the time. Two golf ball were also found, as Alma’s Men’s Golf Team won the 1963 championship.

When asked what his favorite item found was, Collins said “either the old book or the golf balls.”

“My favorite thing was reading the student handbook [found in the capsule],” said Crombe. “The rules back then were much different.”

Just as a new library was built in 1963, the Alma librarians have also been building a library digitally. In fact, one of Collins’ points of pride from his three years at Alma is the digitization effort Alma’s library staff began undertaking in Spring of 2020.

The digital institutional repository includes digital copies of every edition of the Almanian, every yearbook and the digital archives. The archives include “8500 photographs, documents [and] videos,” said Collins.

“There are almost 12,000 [items] in the repository,” said Collins. “It represents a huge step for us. It’s also something that a lot of small colleges don’t have.”

Although electronic resources are widely preferred to physical texts nowadays, libraries and our librarians are here to stay for their unparalleled insights into research and writing. Our librarians can help with any research question students might have, so if you need a book, a topic for a paper or help evaluating the trustworthiness of a source, the library is the place to go.

If you would like to see the time capsule, there is a video on YouTube of the capsule being opened. It is also in the library, currently located in Tyler Van Dusen.

South campus neglected

REYNA EDWARDS
STAFF WRITER

9/19/2022

Alma College’s campus has been experiencing Michigan’s 5th season, construction, for countless months now; however, the college is not focusing on the actual problem at hand south of Superior St. 

Many students believe that South campus housing has been neglected by the school. While the learning commons and the chapel are undergoing construction and beautification, residential buildings on the south side of campus are wasting away into ruin. 

With health and safety concerns reported by numerous students living in these buildings, it is concerning that Alma College is prioritizing other projects that were unnecessary to the betterment of residential life. 

Our small housing opportunities like the FSL (Fraternity Sorority Life), MUN (Model United Nations) and Pride houses are a staple living space for many of the students at Alma College. They allow our students to get involved within the community, make new friends and create lasting memories. 

Unfortunately, those living there are dealing with a multitude of health concerns. “In our house we have mold issues, insect issues, we have a reoccurring bat issue and overall lack of up-keep” said Bailey Allison ‘23

One of the most recent small housing buildings, Zeta Sigma Fraternity, may not experience these problems to the frequency that the older buildings have, but those living there have pointed out the unhealthy/ unsafe conditions of our small housing opportunities. “With our house being the newest on campus, I feel comfortable living here. I have been in most of the other south campus houses, and I have seen the neglect of the college. If I were living in one of the older houses on campus, then I would not be comfortable living there” said Jade Harbert ’23

Not only are these students living in a biohazard, filled with known allergens and creepy crawlers, but they are also concerned for their safety. These residents have submitted their worries to facilities through work orders and have received little help, if any.

The apartment style resident buildings Brazell and Bonbright/ Carey deal with similar issues to that of small housing. “I don’t feel comfortable living on south [campus]. Especially when the doors to buildings don’t adequately lock or close. Some of the doors on both Brazell and Bonbright/Carey are never locked despite work orders I know are pending. Work orders take an extremely long to get done, if at all” said Anika Reid ‘23

With the wellbeing and safety of Alma’s students at risk, it is shocking to see the school focus on less pressing matters such as the learning commons and chapel. Without the students, a school has nothing; therefore, it is concerning that Alma College is prioritizing putting fresh paint on the chapel instead of making sure intruders cannot get into our rooms.

As if the living conditions of these buildings could not get any worse, broken furniture and fastenings are a staple here at Alma College as well. “I have a friend who lives in Brazell, and their bathroom door is quite literally falling apart and doesn’t close. The solution is duct tape. They live in the same exact room this year and over the summer the school did absolutely nothing about it, despite originally saying that Brazell would be renovated.” said Anika Reid ’23.

With all of these known concerns, Alma College needs to listen to its students who are suffering under these conditions and fix these resident buildings in order to make them safe and secure. “This project seems to have been moved to the back burner in order prioritize the learning commons and repainting the chapel…among other things,” said Anika Reid ’23.

New clinics offered for upcoming flu season

LEIA LEHRER
GRAPHIC DESIGNER

EMMA FIGLEWICZ
STAFF WRITER

9/19/2022

As summer wraps up and the air becomes colder, the dreadful cold and flu season again comes to Alma. Luckily, the campus offers students the opportunity to get a flu vaccine at the Wilcox Health Center’s walk-up, no appointment flu vaccine clinic.

Students are welcome to come to the clinic on Sep. 27 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and Oct. 5 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Clinics will be held on the first floor of the Hogan Center, where students can receive the Sanofi Fluzone vaccine. The price of the vaccine will be billed to the student’s insurance card that is provided before the shot is administered.

Wilcox Medical Center will offer a clinic for the Monkeypox virus on September 19. The second dose will be offered in October.

“The benefits of receiving the annual influenza vaccine are reducing the risk of getting influenza, reducing the risk of hospitalization, and reducing the risk of influenza-related death. In addition, research has shown that the vaccine can reduce the severity of the illness,” said Anne Lambrecht, director of counseling, health, and wellness.

Many students on campus are interested in getting vaccines. However, many have not been informed about the upcoming clinics.

“I went to Walgreens for the flu shot this year, and I regret it. It took thirty minutes for my shot to be administered, and I felt that I could’ve better utilized my time by getting my shot on campus,” said Ryan Gray (’25).

“Now that I know that Alma gives flu shots to students, I’ll be getting one here. As a student who is highly involved with the campus, it’s hard to find time in my schedule to get my flu shot this year. Having this clinic on campus is very convenient for me and I wish more students knew that they could get their influenza shot on campus,” said Jon Beerbower (’24).

With many students in close contact in the dorms, disease and sickness quickly spread. Though some students still choose to wear masks around campus, most of the student body does not. Without this added protection, the chances of students contracting the flu increase significantly.

“The best way to stay healthy this year is by getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, exercising, washing hands and taking the time to do things that make you happy,” said Dr. Keegan Thomas, family nurse practitioner at the Wilcox Health Center. “The Wilcox Health Center is here for students to help them when they are ill.”

Alongside the flu, students must not forget that the COVID virus is still spreading around Gratiot County. Unfortunately, at this moment, Alma College is not offering a COVID-19 booster clinic on campus. However, the college does encourage the student body to get the booster if eligible. Information on where to find facilities offering the COVID-19 booster shot can be found at alma.edu.

To mitigate the threat of COVID-19, if a student feels sick, they must not assume it is the flu. Getting tested for COVID-19 will help to ensure the safety of everyone in our campus community. Additionally, the COVID booster shot can help students avoid contracting the virus.

“COVID and influenza have similar symptoms. Therefore, the only way to tell the difference between influenza and COVID is by getting tested,” said Thomas.

If a student tests positive, safety precautions will occur like last year. Alma College details the procedures if a student tests positive at alma.edu.

Alma College adds graduate programs and new core curriculum

MEGAN NEELEY
COPY EDITOR

9/19/2022

Alma College has recently introduced two graduate programs. These include a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing and a Master of Science (MS) in Communication and Information Technology.

The MFA in Creative Writing is a “vibrant program, built on the foundation of Alma’s strong 136-year commitment to the arts,” said the website.

Based on the website, the goal of the program is to write for the 21st century by studying writing skills in a discussion-based manner while utilizing current events in a literature-based curriculum.

“The Alma College MFA in Creative Writing is a two-year graduate degree in which students learn, via their participation in a vibrant artistic community, to read deeply… and hone one’s writing,” said Sophfronia Scott, director of the MFA program in Creative Writing.

The MFA in Creative Writing is a program meant for students with an undergraduate degree from all levels of writing experience and “from all walks of life,” said Scott.

This Alma College program is unique from other graduate programs because of the diversity of those teaching and those learning. “each residency includes outdoor activities” to allow students to write with a “deep understanding of one’s physical location,” said Scott.

Additionally, the MFA in Creative Writing from Alma College is unique because Alma allows students to be seen as people rather than just numbers. “It speaks to the spirit of our community. Our students love that we are collaborative, not competitive,” said Scott.

The MFA in Creative Writing also offers international residencies, although COVID-19 has delayed the start of these. “We’re aiming for 2024 to have optional residencies in Venice, Italy and Oxford, England,” said Scott.

As mentioned above, Alma College now also offers an MS in Communication and Information Technology.

This program allows students to “be on the forefront of cybersecurity [and] find new ways to set up networks, utilize the cloud and be a trusted source for IT insights,” said the website.

Seeing as the program is taught by industry experts, the degree creates the IT authorities and leaders that organizations and companies look for. The MS program also allows students to grow their network with the flexibility of online learning in combination with the familiarity of personal professors.

The MS program at Alma College “creates a tight community [for students] on campus through the [available networking],” said the website.

In addition to the graduate programs, Alma College has reformed the general education distributive requirements. The first-years on campus are the first to experience the new core curriculum that has been enacted.

“Schools have to do more to show they are assessing their curriculum. The old system was not built to make that easy,” said Laura Von Wallmenich, co-director of the implementation team.

Von Wallmenich said the new system has been “built around a set of common learning outcomes” and is structured with more scaffolding than the old system to show and encourage growth in students.

“The new system took shape around the idea of a tree–reinforcing the idea of growth and the ideas that students need different things in different stages of the curriculum,” said Von Wallmenich.

Many first-years have had positive experiences with the new system. “I like that it allows you to try a wide variety of subjects so you can explore different fields that are interesting to you,” said Grace Ludema (‘26).

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.

“If you already know what you want to major in… [the new system] makes it hard to graduate early or to double major without taking multiple courses outside of the school year,” said Ludema.

The new system is allowing for a common base for teaching and learning that is unique to Alma. Alma is growing and expanding its boundaries with both the addition of the graduate programs and the shift away from distributive requirements towards the new core curriculum.

Travel opportunities return to Alma’s campus

DANIELLE NYKANEN
STAFF WRITER

9/19/2022

Alma College is unique in the variety of opportunities for experiential learning, and the Venture program often helps students to plan and fund these opportunities.

Venture day is an annual required event for second-year and transfer students that explains the ins and outs of the Venture program. On Sept. 8 and 9, the first in-person Venture Day since 2019 occurred.

“The connections that students are able to make at events like the Venture poster and resource fair are so much richer in-person. It was wonderful to see students who had recently returned from their Alma Ventures connecting and sharing with those planning and exploring,” said Carla Jensen, Director of Career and Personal Development & Associate Director of CCEE at Alma College.

The hope is “that every participant can envision a Venture experience and know where to start and get support to make that vision a reality,” said Jensen. Based on the feedback received, this has been the case.

“In addition to more than 94% of responding participants reporting that we achieved our learning objectives, 89% indicated that the Alma Venture program will change the opportunities that they choose to pursue during their time at Alma College, suggesting that the program is succeeding in reducing barriers and enabling more experiential learning opportunities for Alma students,” said Jensen.

All students at Alma have the opportunity to use the Think Critically Junior Year Experience grants which “are for experiences that help individuals to further personal, professional or academic goals that will prepare them for success after Alma,” said Jensen.

Students can also apply for a grant in the Serve Generously/Lead Purposefully/Live Responsibly category. This “includes a variety of experiential learning grant programs that have the shared goal of helping students take what they are learning at Alma and apply it in the world for the good of others,” said Jensen.

Travel spring terms have also opened up this year, and students have a much wider range of options to choose from. The spring term period is something few other schools do, and something Alma excels at. Travel opportunities give students the chance to immerse themselves in their lessons and learn from other cultures.

It can be daunting to think of traveling to another state, or country with other faculty and other students but the experience “gives you a sense of perspective you cannot get in the United States” said Britt Cartrite, Charles Dana Professor of Political Science at Alma College.

“These courses are unlike any other trip you can take” said Professor Cartrite, “They are much more than tourism with a professor, they are an experience you can’t get anywhere else.” Spring terms combine travel with class. The location you are in often correlates with what you are learning.

Many students cannot rationalize the price of travel spring terms. This is understandable because the travel courses have a significant fee attached to cover the costs of travel, room and board.

“It is hard to focus on the value when you only focus on the price,” said Professor Cartrite. However, “it is such an incredible and worthwhile investment.” Yes, the cost may be high but the experience you will receive is well worth it.

Applications for travel spring terms have already closed. Venture grant applications for spring terms are due Oct. 6.

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