Alma Confessions faces backlash

JORDYN BRADLEY
SPORTS EDITOR

If you’re an Alma student with a Twitter account, you’ve probably seen tweets shared by Alma Confessions (@scotscandals), an anonymously-run confessions page. Since its debut in January of this year, the page has been the talk of campus for multiple different “scandalous” Twitter threads that have come out of it.

“It was kind of just an idea my friend had and it was supposed to be a fun little account where people post weird and I guess scandalous things about themselves like secrets and whatnot. We did not think that the page would take off or still be active months later either,” said the anonymous person behind the Alma Confessions Twitter page.

The anonymous creator adds that they have been shocked at many of the topics brought up on the page.

Part of the appeal of the Twitter account is how easy it is to post your opinions anonymously without repercussions or people finding out: the account provides a link in a pinned tweet takes you right to the anonymous submission form. However, many students find the easy accessibility and the page in general toxic.

“I do not approve of most of the things that the Twitter page comments on, mainly because it’s not an open-to-discussion type of page,” said Kiersten Rebhun (‘22).

Rebhun added that people use the page to get their opinions across and only their opinions, not to have a discussion about why they believe so or to listen to different opinions.

The Twitter page has seen a variety of posts, from those asking for advice to those fully confessing something anonymously.

In the past, people have asked for advice on their mental health, classes or even relationships; but there have been a variety of posted confessions relating to politics, the COVID-19 pandemic or body image that spark more controversy.

“Not gonna lie, it’s a pretty mixed bag. Sometimes people post funny stuff, others personal, but then recently with all the weight stuff, it can be really toxic,” said Gabe Zerbe (‘21).

The most recent debate that occurred on the page was regarding fatphobia on campus. Many students anonymously took to the Twitter page to shame plus-sized students by calling them lazy and telling them to simply eat healthier. These tweets were met by an array of students supporting plus-sized students and calling the anonymous writers bullies.

“I think it becomes toxic when that’s the only thing being posted. I’d say it’s just someone being a jerk if it were one or two posts, but the sheer amount got absurd,” said Zerbe.

Cyber bullying has gotten very real on the Alma Confessions page–even the creator agrees.

“One person [could send] in an anonymous message about how they are feeling and the next moment I get sent stuff by people that are basically bullying that person because they don’t believe the same thing as [them]” said the anonymous owner of the account.

Yet, the creator still posts what they get sent.

“I understand that we don’t want to do censorship because we are a free country and we have the right to talk about whatever we want [and] that’s a really cool thing that we have.

[However,] talking about it and just saying it to say it and be mean [is] just bullying,” said Rebhun.

“I still post about it, even if I don’t agree with it because that’s what a person who runs this kind of page should do: have their own feelings about the subject but still be unbiased and post everything” said anonymous.

The creator of the page did want to note that there have been instances where they have not posted a tweet that they were sent. However, out of the over 2,500 messages they have received, the number of ones they haven’t posted is around 20. This has been due to names being mentioned, the tweet being too out of bounds or it was on a matter that was posted about too much, all three of which are subject to the opinion of the anonymous account owner.

Even though Alma Confessions posts dozens of confessions, they stress that the opinions are not ones that they hold, and that they just post what is sent.

Regardless of your beliefs on the page, the page still stands and people continue to submit confessions and opinions about things that, to be frank, do not need to be discussed. People have no right to comment on other people’s bodies and don’t get to choose who has the correct political opinions. Each person has a different mindset, and it’s funny that people are surprised at this concept.

Nisbet Hall Renamed in Light of KKK Connection

CHELSEA FABER
STAFF WRITER

Following a review conducted by the Michigan State University Board of Trustees, President Abernathy announced on September 5 that it was discovered that Stephen Nisbet was a member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), a notorious white supremist group.

He went on to explain that in light of these findings, the Alma College Board of Trustees’ Executive Committee have voted to rename Nisbet Hall. Similar action was also taken by Michigan State University after discovering that a building on their campus was named after a KKK member.

Nisbet was an Alma alumnus and who sat on the Alma College Board of Trustees for 40 years in the mid-1900s. He also served on the Michigan State University Board of Trustees as well as holding other positions within the two colleges.

The revelation of his membership was particularly disturbing considering his notoriety within the state of Michigan to be a supporter of many charitable causes.

The space formerly known as Nisbet Hall has been temporarily named Brazell West until a new name can be confirmed. Nearly every reference to ‘Nisbet’ has since been changed to reflect this change—including outdoor signage, directory references and housing assignment listings. The purging of any reference to ‘Nisbet’ is the first step in a long journey of reevaluating many aspects of our campus.

In the official statement, President Jeff Abernathy stated, “Alma College denounces racism in all forms and is committed to creating a climate where everyone is safe and free to grow intellectually, spiritually and emotionally. We will move forward in these efforts together.”

In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, colleges across the nation have begun to reevaluate who is memorialized, why they were important and who they were in the greater scope of the world. Alma College has begun its own audit process in which they will review the campus environment in relation to diversity, inclusion, and equity.

This process is led by administration and students working on the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board and aims to make our campus a more equitable space.

“There are representatives from student organizations as well as faculty in order to have a voice on what is happening,” said Darian Jones ’22. Jones also explained that the goals of the audit reach past evaluating the climate of Alma College. She said she hopes students can “have harder conversations, understand and see perspectives that have been overlooked and not heard for a long time. Our campus is very specific in not hearing specific voices, and we as a campus have decided we are no longer okay with that, which is great, but I think we can push it even further.”

Students are being invited to join focus groups as well as other activities within the audit so that the auditors can gain a complete picture of how students view the campus environment in terms of equity and inclusion.

Beyond diversity and inclusion efforts done by administration, students are being called upon to learn about how to create a more just campus and take personal steps to become more aware of these issues.

“Students should take their own initiative to learn and understand what these things mean. It’s been easy in the past to write things off and ignore them, but it is time to call things what they are and get to the point as soon as it happens to change the culture,” said Jones.

Students who are interested in joining the aforementioned focus groups or other diversity efforts should contact Dr. Blake or any Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board member for more information.

Mental health in the age of COVID-19

BAILEY LANGBO
STAFF WRITER

The idea of mental health has long been placed on the backburner of our current society, often ignored in favor of illnesses that can be seen. The idea of an unseen illness can be too easily brushed off by those that go unaffected.

However, with the emergence of self-isolation in the age of COVID-19, mental health has become a pressing problem for people all over the world. While the circumstances of disease prevention have become stricter as the pandemic progresses, all of humanity has found itself quickly adapting to change.

While this might prove easy for some people, few could be prepared for the months spent in quarantine while the world as we knew it fell apart. With little to no warning, COVID-19 took over our daily lives and disrupted our plans—the aftereffects of which can still be felt around the world.

As college students, we know all too well the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when considering the lives we gave up earlier this year when we were forced home in the middle of the semester. Despite the fact that students have been allowed back on campus, things are still not back to normal, thus causing added stress.

“I feel like being back has only made [my mental health] worse,” said Abigail Zerbe (’23). “It sucks that now I’m so near my friends, but I can’t actually spend any quality time with them.”

The newest issue within our campus community is keeping each other safe. While mandatory health screenings have become a part of our everyday lives, wearing masks and social distancing have become the new norm in classes, meetings and events. These measures, however, have caused debate among students, faculty and staff alike; whether or not they’re necessary has suddenly become a hot topic.

“Keeping people healthy and safe has become politicized,” said Natalie Walsh (’22). “It’s scientifically proven that social distancing and wearing a mask can save lives. A lot of people tend to think this is false and will only wear a mask if it’s being required by law but will complain the entire time. A lot of people that associate with the Republican party think COVID-19 is a hoax and refuse to wear a mask or will wear it incorrectly. I would like to add that not everyone who is Republican believes that, but I’ve gotten into arguments about whether or not we should wear masks, when it’s a health issue, not a political one.”

While many people struggled with the idea of self-isolation during quarantine, others used the time for some much-needed R&R, taking time to check out new recipes, work on crafts or binge the newest Netflix series.

“I’m an extreme introvert. I really have to plan out my people time accordingly because there will be a point that I hit a wall and need to go into hiding,” said Nicole Yost (’21). “I was given so much alone time for schoolwork that I really had the chance to improve my mental state. After school was over, I was able to do nothing with no other commitments that I needed to give my time to, which really helped me recharge. It really helped me feel the best I have since freshman year.”

When faced with something that cannot be changed, it’s often best to take it in stride and look at the positives. This could be, for example, taking time to relax after a stressful semester at school, or using quarantine to learn a new hobby or read a book you’ve been putting off to the side. While a global pandemic is stressful for a variety of somewhat obvious reasons, it’s important to remember the good. A global pandemic won’t go away on its own, but it can be slowed down by students remembering to follow safety precautions.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to lean on friends and family for support (while still adhering to social distancing regulations). With a combined effort, the spread of COVID-19 can be slowed and life can return to normal.

Theatre department prepares for upcoming show

ALIVIA GILES
STAFF WRITER

With the new school year in swing, the Alma College theatre department is preparing for their first show of the season, Ron Carlson’s, Bigfoot Stole My Wife (and Other Stories from News of the World). The show will be performed four times, with two separate casts each performing twice. In total, the production will feature 18 students.

For most theaters, COVID-19 has put a halt on productions, but for Scott Mackenzie, Professor and Director of Theatre, this was an opportunity to do something a little different. Bigfoot Stole My Wife is not written as a traditional play, but rather as a series of monologues.

After watching his sister perform in a production of Bigfoot Stole My Wife at the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre in 1988, Mackenzie knew it was a show he had to direct. This opportunity finally came in 2006, while he was serving in Iraq with the Army Reserve.

Mackenzie wanted to direct a show and he needed one that would accommodate the hectic schedules of the performers. “I [had] to find something that could still go on, even if a performer was called out on a mission during rehearsal, which did happen, or during a performance, which did not – thankfully,” Mackenzie said.

With that experience in mind, Mackenzie knew Bigfoot would be a great option for this year’s unique situation. With the show being entirely in monologues, each actor will be on stage alone, making social distancing easy.

Along with that, the preparation for this show has been very different from that of past productions. This year, rehearsals are held every night for three hours, with each performer coming in to work on their monologue for a half hour two days a week.

Bigfoot Stole my Wife will be Lucy Woods’s (’24), first show at Alma College. Woods plans to major in English Education and Theatre. As a Freshman, Woods has used this production, not only to strengthen herself as an actor, but also as an opportunity to make friends. “I have only been able to meet some of my fellow [cast members], but the ones I have met are all very sweet and cool people,” Woods said.

Being unable to rehearse with the entire cast has been new for Woods, and while it has been difficult, it has also come with surprising perks. “It’s exciting because the rest of the show will be fresh for me as I watch from backstage,” Woods said, “I have seen a couple ‘sneak peeks’ of the [other performers’ monologues]. The show is going to be fantastic.”

Woods will be performing the monologue, “Baby Born with 2,000-Year-Old Bracelet”. In this piece, Woods plays an obstetrician. “My character talks a little about [the baby] and a little about life,” Woods said, “It is one of the more serious monologues in the production.”

According to Woods, the most rewarding aspect of being involved with this production has been seeing herself improve as a performer. “Dr. Mackenzie gives me lots of immensely helpful pointers and advice,” Woods said.

David Troyer (’24) will also be making his Alma College theatre debut in Bigfoot Stole my Wife. Troyer plans to major in Biology and Theatre. Troyer is excited to get back into theatre after taking a break from acting for a year. “Now that I’m in Bigfoot, it feels like I’m making up for those lost opportunities,” Troyer said.

While Troyer has enjoyed being a part of this production, he has also been faced with some obstacles. “I think the most challenging thing is trying to find a unique way of presenting the character,” Troyer said, “I’m not the only one who has this role, so I try to find little things that make my interpretation of the character my own, which isn’t always easy.”

While difficult at times, having another actor playing the same role has also been beneficial for Troyer. “Since I have a partner, so to speak, we both get to try different things, and we learn from each other,” Troyer said.

Under the direction of Dr. Mackenzie, Troyer feels that he is beginning to break his habit of changing lines. “In high school, I was notorious for adding little things here and there to make it ‘flow better’,” Troyer said, “[In this production], I [have been] encouraged to find the flow in the words that are there and how I say them.”

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, performances of this show will look very different from productions in previous years. Normally, the Strosacker Theatre can seat about 190 audience members, but at this time, that number is down to about 30.

Auditorium seating will be limited to Alma College students, faculty and staff. The production will also be livestreamed, although, at this time, Heritage Center management has not decided on a streaming platform.

Performance dates for Bigfoot Stole my Wife are set for Oct. 1-3 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 4 at 2:30 p.m.

Alma proceeds with second round of COVID testing

ELLA BRIGHT
STAFF WRITER

New rounds of COVID-19 testing for students, faculty, staff and contract workers began on Monday, Sept. 14 and continued into Thursday, Sept. 17. The testing was conducted on the Dunning Memorial Chapel lawn and was held each day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Testing was split between students alphabetically according to last name. It was conducted in the same way it was when students moved onto campus: polymerase chain reaction via a nasal swab. The testing was completely free to students and mandatory to attend.

Similar to the first round of testing, students would not be informed if they tested negative. They would only be informed if they tested positive for COVID-19. Students who are attending Alma solely online and are not student athletes were not required to be tested.

This new round of testing was not a surprise to most students at Alma; though necessary, it was not necessarily welcomed with open arms. “The first time we did it, I had my mom to hold onto,” said Mishaye Hearn (‘24). “[The test] became so painful to the point where I was physically taking his wrist off me.” When asked how she felt about this new round of testing, Hearn honestly said, “I’m terrified!”

Kara Sutherland (‘24) shared some of the same fears. “[I’m] nervous,” said Sutherland.

She also shared how she felt these tests were necessary. “[It’s] necessary to make sure that the measures that have been taken to protect the students are accurate and proven effective,” said Sutherland. “I am ready and capable to be tested again.”

Hearn also shared that, despite her fears, she felt this new round of testing was extremely important. “It’s a 50/50 thing,” said Hearn. “I know it’s necessary, so I’m okay with it.”

The testing followed an email from President Jeff Abernathy on Friday, Sept. 11, that stated there was recently an increase in likely cases. The email said that while ‘unfortunate’, this uptick in cases was ‘not entirely unexpected’ after the Labor Day weekend.

As of Sept. 17, there were 17 positive cases on campus. As a result of the recent uptick in cases, all non-classroom activities were limited to no more than 25 people. President Abernathy stated in the email that once all the campus-wide testing results were received, this restriction will be reviewed.

At the end of his email update, President Abernathy stressed the importance of social distancing, wearing face coverings, washing hands, completing the daily health screening form and staying home if you are feeling sick.

“It’s up to those of us who are not in isolation or quarantine to stay focused and serious about COVID-19, so as to not overwhelm our campus resources and the local healthcare system,” said the email.

With rising cases in schools all over Michigan, this campus-wide testing will provide a clearer picture of what further steps Alma needs to take in order to ensure the safety of students, staff and community.

“I think that if we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing and what we’re told to do, we should be able to get back to some sort of normalcy,” said Sutherland.

September is Suicide Prevention Month

CLAIRE HIPPS
STAFF WRITER

In accordance with the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, September is Suicide Prevention Month—a time to circulate mental health resources and engage in discourse regarding suicide in order to help those struggling understand that they are not alone.

Suicide is extremely deadly amongst college populations. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, “suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-34,” yet there is a significant stigma against mental health in America.

“[The] Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM)…gave the impression that mental health was based on controllable behaviors [when it was published in 1952],” said Linda Faust, a licensed master social worker in the Wilcox Center for Counseling and Wellness. “Mental health has been viewed as more personal or negative than a physical illness would be.”

Stigmatization of mental disorders has had numerous consequences.

“[Stigmas have lead to a] reluctance of seeking treatment, bullying or intimidation of others [and] difficulty getting health insurance to cover treatment,” said Faust.

Unsurprisingly, many individuals experiencing suicidal ideation do not reach out for help. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, only 46% of suicide victims have been diagnosed with a mental disorder while 90% of suicide victims experienced symptoms of mental disorders. It is therefore important to be aware of how suicidal ideation comes about, and how we can best support ourselves and those around us.

In addition to common risk factors, such as chronic pain or a family history of mental disorders/substance abuse/suicide attempts, college students face additional stressors.

“In college age populations, that being 18-22, there is quite a bit of transition going on,” said Maggie Magoon, a lecturer in the psychology department. “Changes can be [positive] or negative and can cause stress. There is also sometimes a cultural shock, coming to campus and being away from friends, family and ‘normal’ structure.”

Some college-specific stressors facing students include heightened independence, alienation from peers and increased access to illegal substances. There are also many traumatizing and dangerous experiences that may or may not take place in college.

Knowing these things, action can be taken in order to nurture positive mental health practices. Internally, suicidal ideation and tendency can occur as the result of many different forces.

“Since mental illness can manifest itself in many different ways, I think it is important to pinpoint your struggles and be honest with yourself,” said Asia Patterson (’21).

According to the Suicide Prevention Center, up to 87% of suicides are impulsive (unplanned) attempts.

“Even right now is hard, understand that it won’t be that way forever,” said Patterson. “Emotions are temporary.”

It can also help to foster positivity. “If there is something negative happening, it is okay. We have negativity in our lives,” said Magoon. “The problem occurs when you begin to ruminate or obsess about that negativity. A positive viewpoint in life can help in so many ways.”

Lastly, understand that productive mental, physical, and social practices are key in managing stress and combating suicidal ideation.

“It sounds very simplistic, but the top three recommendations for being mentally healthy are sleep well, eat well, and exercise,” said Magoon. “Additionally, social contact is a protective factor against suicidal ideation.”

Remember to be kind to yourself, and find someone you trust to confide in.

“Whenever I find myself [struggling with something], there is a lot of realizing that… I can’t always change it but I can learn and grow from it,” said Ryan Calhoun (’24).

As human beings, we often underestimate the impact our lives have on those around us. All human lives have intrinsic value and those struggling with mental illnesses are no different.

Our Student Chapter of Active Minds is a club focusing on Mental Health Education, Awareness and Suicide Prevention. September 21 at 7 pm via Zoom, Active Minds will feature John Tessitore of the JCK Foundation, who will discuss his mental health journey.

If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal ideation, know that there are resources for you. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text HELLO to 741741. The Counseling Center is open Monday – Friday 8:30 – 5 pm, closed from noon – 1pm for lunch.

They offer free sessions, up to 14 an academic year and it is completely confidential. With having three full-time counselors, students can typically get am appointment within the week. If it is a more urgent matter, there are 2 crisis hour appointments offered per day. Simply email Wellness@Alma.edu or call 989-463-7225.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

LIZZY DERMODY
STAFF WRITER

September is the month for “National Happy Cat Day” and “National Talk Like a Pirate Day”, but what makes it most special is that it celebrates Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. It is a time to recognize and support the children and families who have been affected by this disease and emphasizes the importance of research for the cure. Cancer is bad enough without it affecting children who already cannot advocate for themselves. Cancer affects everyone in some way – you or someone you know has most likely received a cancer diagnosis. I was a kid with cancer. I was fourteen when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had a front row seat to the effects of this disease. I underwent both chemotherapy and radiation treatments over 6 months and was declared cancer-free! I was lucky, but many children are still in the fight for their lives. It is up to us to help find the cure! I encourage you all to donate to the American Cancer Society. Something as simple as wearing gold for childhood cancer or the ribbon color of a cancer that has affected you, can make a difference. Go Gold for the Cure! Scan the QR code to donate now!

Water sold in Joe’s despite Nestle ban

CLAIRE HIPPS, JACOB SMITH
STAFF WRITERS

Many years ago, Alma College students worked together to ban Nestle products from our campus. Today, many products produced by Nestle and the companies they own, such as Ice Mountain water and Kitkats, are sold on campus.

Nestle, the multi-billion dollar food conglomerate, has participated in more than its fair share of controversy. According to the Guardian, the Associated Press and Mighty Earth, Nestle has greenwashed, participated in forced labor in impoverished countries and contributed to deforestation in Ghana
and the Ivory Coast. Their former CEO, Peter BrabeckLetmathe, expressed in a 2013 interview that water is not a universal human right and should therefore be privatized (Nestle now claims that this quote is frequently taken out of context).

A controversy that hits particularly close to home regards Michigan’s abundant freshwater supply and how Nestle has been able to cheaply mine water in Michigan, which has destabilized wetland ecology in Evart, MI.

“As a result of [the company’s belief that water is not a human right], Nestle is taking extremely good quality groundwater in west/ southwest Michigan and bottling it. They are doing this at an excessive rate – many people feel it is a rate that cannot be replenished within a reasonable amount of time,” said Murray Borello, professor of environmental science. “The data I have seen supports this conclusion.”

Nestle’s consistent ethical controversies encouraged Alma students in the early 2000’s to enact a ban on all Nestle products, including Ice Mountain water, through the Student Congress.

“The process began on campus in 2001 or 2002, shortly after we learned that Nestle was going to start production [of Ice Mountain Water] in Michigan.” said Edward Lorenz, an emeritus professor of history and political science.

The ban on Nestle products coincided with another initiative to ban bottled water in the name of sustainability on Alma’s campus.

“President Abernathy – and now Provost Dougherty have been very adamant about not allowing bottled water on campus. That made it pretty easy to ban Ice Mountain, ” said Borrelo.

This ban, however, did not withstand the test of time.

“After the group of students from [early 2000s ban] graduated, the college
reintroduced bottled water in vending machines and used the reasoning that we got a ‘deal’ as a ‘Pepsi Campus,’” said Lorenz in reference to the 2012 Pepsi deal.

The aforementioned Pepsi deal details that our campus will be provided with Pepsi-brand products, amongst other things.

“The agreement provides equipment and general support for the college and provides recycling support provided by Pepsi. The agreement does not mandate which specific beverages are sold,” said President Jeff Abernathy, who, after his 2020 inauguration as President of Alma College, oversaw the Pepsi deal.

Along with the general support provided by the deal, Alma’s administration is considering sustainability when making decisions about the allocation of Alma’s resources.

“Our strategic plan focuses on the college’s impact on the environment and on working to ensure that we are lowering our carbon footprint. We have for the past ten years prioritized renovation rather than new building projects for this reason,” said Abernathy.

Implementing a complete ban on water bottles (and perhaps Nestle products by extension) is complicated, and the 2019 COVID-19 outbreak has added nuances.

“We have not yet achieved a ban on water bottles— the pandemic makes that difficult since we cannot serve water to the public in other ways—but I remain committed to moving in that direction,” said Abernathy.

Although the pandemic has complicated day to day lives, the Alma College mission statement calls on its students to “live responsibly as stewards of the world they bequeath to future generations.” As students, consumers and citizens of the world, there is all individual power.

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