Alma College staff run for community positions

KYLE SCHECK
PHOTOGRAPHER

CLAIRE WITTLIEFF
STAFF WRITER

11/7/2022

With the election season underway, all eligible voters are having candidates and policies brought to their attention in order for their vote to make the difference they want to see. Keeping this in mind, there are three members of the Alma College faculty and staff who are running for positions within the Alma community.                                                                                           

Stephany Slaughter, a Spanish and Women’s & Gender Studies professor, is running for the Alma School Board. “I am running because I believe in the value of public education and the importance of cooperation between communities and schools,” said Slaughter. “In my role as [a] parent, I began thinking about running for the Board of Education several years ago and began looking at what it might entail.”                                                                                           

Slaughter also stated how her time working at Alma College has contributed to the current campaign.

“Through working at Alma College over the last 14 years I have gained many experiences that will inform how I approach a position on the Alma School Board, including working with complex budgets, developing and implementing curriculum, serving on our Board of Trustees and working with students,” said Slaughter. “The biggest takeaway, however, is consensus building through seeking out a variety of voices on issues.”                                                     

In terms of what students on campus can do to get involved, Slaughter emphasized the importance of voting.

“I encourage students to get registered, get informed and vote their conscience,” said Slaughter. “I sometimes hear students say they aren’t planning to vote, sometimes because they don’t see themselves as political, sometimes because they don’t think it will make a difference. It absolutely will make a difference.”                                              

Running for the position of Alma City Commissioner is Bill Gorton, Associate Professor and Chair of Political Science.

“I’ve been sitting on the city’s parks and recreation committee and the zoning board for a while, and so I started to become familiar with some of the issues that the city faces,” said Gorton.                        

Some changes Gorton would like to make in his possible new role include converting the old Total Petroleum site into a solar array station, creating a commuter rail service, construction of a new bike path that connects the Meijer Heartland trail and the bike path along US-127 and more equitable funding for city parks.                                                                                                  

“The relationship between the college and the city is symbiotic — or, at least, it should be. The college is one of the biggest employers in the city and its students produce a lot of revenue for local business. In turn, the college benefits from being located in a vibrant, thriving city. We both depend upon each other,” said Gorton.                                                                                                  

Also running for the City Commissioner position is Drew Bare, the Assistant Director of Instructional Technology & Support Services at Alma College.

“I feel a calling to more service to the city of Alma,” said Bare. “I live in the city with my wife and kids and it’s important to me that we have people involved in our city commission who care deeply about the success of the city and are willing to work hard towards that.”                                                         

Bare has identified ways in which he as City Commissioner can improve Alma.

“In my door knocking over the past several weeks I’ve heard a lot of concerns including the poor condition of some of our streets, funding for the library, fair distribution of funding for parks and ensuring that the city maintains a reputation of being welcoming to new residents and businesses,” said Bare.                                                                                                                                                       “So much of what I’ve learned working for the college these past 16 years would carry over to being a city commissioner. My top priority in IT through all of these years has been to help develop a reputation for excellent customer service. Serving the residents of Alma would have a lot of similarities to serving the staff, faculty and students at Alma College,” said Bare.                    

The upcoming election is being held on Tuesday, November 8 and students are greatly encouraged to vote.

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 football remains undefeated

KYLE SCHECK
PHOTOGRAPHER

ALIVIA GILES
LAYOUT EDITOR

11/7/2022

Following a 30-10 victory against Adrian College on Nov. 5, the Alma College football team remains undefeated.

Coming back from their 5-5 record in the 2021 season, the Scots have won all nine of their games so far this year. This is the first time Alma College football has gone 9-0 in the program’s 128-year history.

If the Scots win their tenth game on Nov. 12 against Albion College, they will guarantee their spot in the MIAA Championship.

Jason Couch, Alma College head football coach, is happy to see his players’ and coaches’ hard work paying off.

“I think it means a lot, not only to our players but our alumni and campus community.  For the players and coaches, it validates the countless hours of commitment they have given since our last game in 2021,” said Couch.

For Couch, their success this season extends past the Alma College community. “Gaining respect within the conference [is important] and our players do a great job motivating one another,” said Couch.

“There are days I’m tired but when I get out to practice and feel the energy of others I’m rejuvenated. Attitudes and energy are contagious and I love the atmosphere of our practices.”

Zachary Riepma, assistant coach – offensive coordinator is proud of how hard the team has worked toward their goal this season.

“It has never been about the destination, but the process and the journey of ‘climbing the mountain.’ CLIMB stands for Commitment, Leadership, Intensity, Maturity and Belief,” said Riepma.

Finishing his career as a Scot, William Hampton (’23) is excited to be a part of Alma College history.

“I can’t even begin to put in words what a MIAA Championship will mean to me, this program and this community,” said Hampton.

Hampton is proud of the Scots for surpassing expectations. “We were picked preseason to finish 6th in the conference. Alma football hasn’t won a conference championship in 18 years so it would be special,” said Hampton.

Hampton feels that the team owes a lot to Couch for their success this season. “Knowing that I was a part of Coach Couch’s first recruiting class and to get him a Conference Championship would mean the world to me,” said Couch.

“He’s a great coach but, an even better man that wants to see his players not only succeed on the field but as well as off the field,” said Couch. “This would mean so much to past, present and future Scots.”

Sage Kraai (’23) does feel a sense of pressure to finish the season strong, but uses this as motivation.

“Being undefeated is a lot of fun, but it places a large target on us. Everyone wants to beat us and is doing everything in their power to beat us,” said Kraai. “I don’t think it creates too much stress for us players. We like to have the chip on our shoulders. We have been preparing for this moment.”

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.

Letter to the editor: Student Employment Committee

YOUNG DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS OF AMERICA

10/24/2022

Since the beginning of the fall semester, the Young Democratic Socialists of America have been meeting regularly to discuss important topics such as voter registration and the conditions of student workers on campus.

Encouraging young people to vote is a focal point for YDSA. We will continue to have a table in the lobby of Hamilton Commons leading up to the midterm elections where students can register to vote.

The key focus of YDSA moving forward will be supporting the new Student Employment Committee. The committee was established to give on-campus workers a collective space to voice concerns about the conditions of working for the college.

Using the afflictions brought to light by its members, the Student Employment Committee has drafted a report on the dire conditions of student employment at Alma College. Some of the recommendations given in the report include the creation of a feedback system for employees, standardized scheduling systems, wage raises, and adequately staffed and fairly treated workers. This report was shared to administration earlier this month with the outline that further action would be considered if administration did not respond to requested changes to student employment policy within two weeks. The committee is still waiting for a full response to their demands.

On Monday, October 17th, the two-week deadline, the College’s Vice President of Student Affairs, Damon Brown, met with the committee to discuss the concerns in the report.

Following this meeting, Brown attended the student congress meeting, also on October 17th, at which any students could ask questions in respect to actions to be taken by administration to address the report. This student congress meeting was incredibly well attended, maxing out the seating in the chapel, and many Alma students were given the opportunity to hear the moderate and hesitant approach that administration is taking to repairing the appalling practices currently in place for our student workers.

The Student Employment Committee is expecting a more specific response to each aspect of the report by the next Student Congress meeting on October 31st.

Between acting as mentors for underclassmen as Resident Assistants and First Year Guides, to directing on campus activities as ACUB and Recreation Center workers and even keeping the college prosperous for years to come by providing individualized tour experiences for prospective students in Admissions, student workers are what makes life here at Alma College possible.

YDSA and the Student Employment Committee are confident that the Administration will think critically and follow the recommendations of our workers and implement the necessary changes so that we all may once again feel supported as members of the Alma College family.

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.

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 community reacts to Yik Yak

MEGAN ROBERTSON
HANNAH STIFFLER
STAFF WRITER

10/3/2022

Yik Yak, all drama or useful? Lately it has caused quite a stirrup on Alma College’s Campus. Yik Yak is an anonymous social media app that is used by many students here on campus to post things such as: student success, Fraternity Sorority life drama, Sports drama and dining successes and challenges in Hamilton.

Yik Yak has been popular on campus since Winter 2022 semester. Students most frequent Yik Yaks are about parties, complaints with the school or random blurbs.

“I do have Yik Yak and I might spend about 10 mins a day on it at the most” said Sawyer Hill (‘23). Hill is not the only student who is using this app often. Julis Gotaas (‘24) said “I have a Yik Yak and use it a few times per day.”

Hill said that he believes Yik Yak has led to behaviors in students such as “talking about issues students have with the school, which if faculty see that, [it] makes it a little easier for us to be heard.”

Gotaas said “Fraternity, sorority, and sports teams fighting each other are some of the behavioral patterns I observe most frequently on Yik Yak.”

“I think Yik Yak is just a vessel for common issues that occur at college campuses everywhere, especially small ones. Social media can promote misinformation and negative gossip just as much as it can allow for the sharing of news that people should know. The ability for Yik Yak to be anonymous just increases that tendency.” said Swalve.

Hill, who is the New Education Director of Sigma Chi, addressed the drama surrounding fraternities. He said “It serves very little purpose to see organizations having issues on the app. Many of us involved in fraternities are committed to the idea of [Fraternity/Sorority Life (FSL)] unity.”

Not only is there drama within the FSL organizations there are also arguments among sports teams.

“I don’t believe the conflicts between the sports teams on Yik Yak are reasonable because they frequently disagree on important issues,” said Gotaas, who is a member of the cross country and track teams.

Most students may not realize that Yik Yak does not only affect students but faculty and staff too. Natashia Swalve, Associate Provost and Associate Professor of Psychology, she said “I have heard of Yik Yak but I personally don’t have one. My students bring it up a lot in class.”

When asked, Swalve believes that faculty do have a right to be on Yik Yak. “Social media is not private and Yik Yak is no different, even though it’s anonymous. I could see it being useful to make sure that there isn’t an emergency others need to know about, or extreme misinformation being spread.”

It is faculty and staff’s right to have Yik Yak. Yik Yak is a social media platform just like any other. While students have to “worry” about their posts on there it is our chance as students to have a voice and not worry about the repercussions.

Yik Yak is appealing to students due to anonymity, drama and college updates.

On Yik Yak, users can upvote and downvote depending on your feelings of the post. Once a post gets downvoted five times, the post is removed. Like on other social media plastforms, the user is able to report posts to be removed.

However, some students refrain from getting it. “I have never had Yik Yak before, I didn’t know what it was. I haven’t heard anyone around me talk about Yik Yak” said Kennedy Case (‘25).

Case is adamant in the fact that she herself has never heard of anyone around her talking about Yik Yak or the posts contained on Yik Yak. Many Alma College students spend a considerable amount of time on the app. While Yik Yak has some controversy, it serves a purpose to campus life. Some drama, somwhat useful.

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