Making connections on campus


Helper Helper is a new service on Alma College’s campus. Helper Helper is an app that students can download and it connects them to volunteer opportunities in and around Alma College as well as opportunities outside Alma College.

The purpose of Helper Helper is to make it easier for students to find volunteer opportunities on campus, as well as organize such events for their coordinators. By making it easier for event coordinators to find volunteers and for volunteers to find events, Helper Helper reduces confusion about volunteering on campus.

Opportunities for volunteering on campus are always changing due to the amount of events happening throughout the year, so students are encouraged to consistently look on Helper Helper for new events to volunteer at.

Starfish is a relatively new addition to Alma College’s campus. The role of the program is to make assistance-seeking easier for students and faculty. Faculty and staff members can raise a flag on a student, indicating a concern for that student.

By raising a flag, the student, their academic advisor, the retention team and other academic services will be notified and will be put in contact with the student.

The purpose of Starfish is for faculty to seek assistance for students who are struggling with their academics before it’s too late. Starfish also provides a way for faculty to indicate to students that they should start looking for resources across campus.

Starfish can also be used to express positive feedback in the form of “kudos,” such as “Keep Up The Good Work,” or that they have achieved “Outstanding Academic Performance” on a certain assignment.

As well as expressing concern or giving feedback, Starfish can be used to schedule meetings with a student’s academic advisor. By providing their office hours and other scheduling information online, professors make it easier for students to contact and set up meetings with them.

Handshake is also a way to get involved on campus and connect with Alma College alumni as well. By creating a Handshake account with their Alma College email, students are able to be connected to jobs and internships across the country in multiple fields of study.

Through using the site, students can upload their resumes and have them looked over and critiqued by Career Development staff. In addition, students can search for jobs or internships in specific fields they are interested in and find Alma College alumni in those fields. Handshake can also be used to schedule a meeting with the career development staff in the Center for Student Opportunity or register for career fairs and other events that bring potential employers to Alma College.

By using these programs that Alma College offers, students can expand their network of potential connections in their interested field for opportunities outside of college. These programs are meant to help students and provide the best way for them to get involved in and around campus whether by volunteering or taking an internship.

Order of Omega re-established


The Order of Omega recently held initiations for their newest class. Initiations were open to the public and took place in the chapel.

The Order of Omega is a Greek honorary that rewards Greek men and women who are already leaders within their organization. Membership is extended to leaders who hold junior standing and have been nominated by their organization.

The Order, which was disbanded until this semester, recently inducted its first members since 2016. The group has decided that it is too important of an organization to let it fizzle out. Many of the members have wanted to be a part of the organization for quite a while, so reinstating the Order of Omega was overdue.

Alyssa Mohr (‘19) has been interested in joining the Order since her freshman year. “John, Jelly, myself and Professor Bissell have worked really hard on recreating this organization as something sustainable, something that will help foster good relationships between Greeks and the community, and allow us to serve that community as leaders.”

The Order has not been back on campus for very long, but membership has already done wonderful things for the new members.

“While I have only just recently joined, I have already had the chance to meet some of the incredible Greek leaders on campus. Joining the Order has opened many opportunities to meet and connect with the chapter’s alumni,” said John Stefanek (’19).

Creating a new organization, or reviving an old one, is not a student-only effort. “The re-establishment of the Order occurred as a result of multiple parties with an independent but shared interest coming together in harmony. I was an active member of the Nu Gamma chapter from 2004 – 2006 and served as its president in 2005, so I personally was enthused by my memories of what it had once brought to Alma campus,” said English Professor and faculty advisor Dustin Bissell.

The re-establishment of the Order will impact campus as a whole, not just Greek life. “Considering the current national climate, it is especially important for groups like the Order to exist on our campus, to remind Greeks and non-Greeks alike that Alma College is a place where those with different perspectives and experiences may thrive in harmony and with a shared vision,” said Bissell.

The Order of Omega was created in 1959 by a group of fraternity men at Miami University, who believed that outstanding individuals in the Greek community should be recognized for their service to their school and to their community.

The founder is recognized as Parker F. Enright, the advisor for Greek life at Miami at the time of the Order’s formation. He also believed in recognizing the tremendous amount of good being done by members of Greek life.

In 1964, Enright accepted a position at the University of Pittsburgh and established the organization’s second chapter. Later, the Miami chapter wanted to expand their organization even further and established a third chapter at the University of Southern Mississippi in 1997.

The organization remained an all-male fraternity for the first 18 years of its existence until 1977 when board members voted to make the organization co-ed. There are now over 500 chapters in the U.S. and Canada, with more chapters added each year.

Wifi changes frustrate campus


Alma College students lost the cable in dorm rooms, instead supposedly giving them faster internet. However, they say that the wi-fi has not improved and many are not happy.

“I would much rather have my cable back than have faster internet because the internet is the same if not worse than before,” said Samantha Squires (‘20).

The decision was made over the summer and students were only informed of this by a campus email. The cable is no longer in the rooms but only in common areas such as lobbies.

Many things had to be improved on campus before the large freshman class arrived on campus, particularly the internet. The purpose of the change was to establish a more reliable connection for all students.

“The computers requiring access on campus has increased by a third in most buildings,” said Kyle Warner, Director of Information Technology on campus. If the enrollment rate continues to increase every year, this more than likely will not be the only change that in implemented. “The bandwidth caps have been eliminated from ACWLAN/ACRegistered and raised for ACGuest.”

“I never used the cable here when we had it, but I recognize that was a way many Alma students had their ‘stress less’ time,” said Lauryn Kranz (‘21). After the work is done for the day, people like to decompress by watching television in the comfort of their own room. This is not a possibility anymore.

“Without the cable in our dorm rooms, my roommate and I are missing all of our weekly shows,” said Squires. “I do not have the opportunity to watch my shows in the common areas because other people are trying to watch what they want.”

If multiple programs are playing at the same time, students would have to fight over who gets to watch their program.

Many students also use common areas for studying or doing homework. If that is the only place people can get cable, it eliminates a space for people to study.

“We have lost our cable but did not get anything in the trade,” said Caitlin DeZwaan (‘19).

One aspect of the improvements is to be better equipped for gaming. “By the end of 2018, game consoles will have improved Network Address Translation (NAT) services supporting more reliable connections for Internet gaming,” said Warner.

Main campus may have gotten some improvements but what about the small housing on campus? “I honestly feel [cheated]. The connection in small housing is worse than last year and needs to be fixed,” said DeZwaan.

Though there are not as many people in a specific house, they still need a reliable connection to do work and connect their devices.

The Greek Housing and Small Housing run on their own WiFi connection. The WiFi networks may not have as much traffic but they still need to be fast enough for the students who live in that specific house.

“We have also added ACRegistered which will help support consumer networks and gaming devices,” said Warner.

As Alma College updates their campus with better buildings, they will also be updating their wireless connection.

“Additional buildings are expected to see increased access point densities as part of future renovation projects,” said Warner.

Alma College is growing every year, this means that the WiFi will slow unless the college continues to update they system as we grow. Alma College is doing it’s best to listen to students and improve what they are asking.

Jazz ensemble rocks Heritage Center


Last Tuesday the Alma College Jazz Ensemble performed at the Presbyterian Music Hall. The students involved with the band had the opportunity to show their hard work and dedication to their art.

Students participating in the performance came together to showcase a wide variety of jazz tunes.

The concert promoted the hard work of student musicians on campus and exposed the student body to a unique style of music. “The band really gave an enormous energy to everyone in the audience. The hard work that they put into the performance showed off,” said Logan St. John (‘19).

Student audience members enjoyed the performance. “The band showcased a wide variety of lesser known jazz from all over the planet. I appreciate what the band was able to pull off that night,” said Jared Sisson (‘22).

Every week, the Jazz Ensemble meets for two hours in the evening, and they had five rehearsals before the concert. “The people that are in the band are very committed and frequently practice outside of the classroom,” said Sarah Garrod (‘20), a bassist in the Jazz Ensemble.

The show provided a variety of jazz styles for their performance. Students in the ensemble conducted their own research of the music played and presented that knowledge to the audience.

Throughout the performance, the student with the best summarization would introduce the song to the audience. This way, the students could have a better understanding of the music they performed. “Each week, we would write a paragraph about a piece and [Profecssor Jeff Ayers] would decide which was the best summarization,” said Garrod.

The pieces that the ensemble performed varied in their genre and origin. The musicians did their best to educate their members on a wide assortment of jazz pieces.

“For every classical piece, a staple piece for jazz, there will include a different style of jazz. One of my favorites was La Fiesta, which is more of a Latin American piece. It’s different, but it’s also fun to include the different types into our performance,” said Garrod.

The ensemble members researched the composers of the pieces to not only educate themselves but to understand the piece’s style and history. “You don’t realize the unique lives of the people writing these tunes. One person who essentially, brought the Bossa Nova style to the United States from South America was very influential to modern jazz,” said Ben Elliot (‘19), a trumpetist in the Jazz Ensemble.

The students participating in the Jazz Ensemble reflected on the pieces they performed. The ensemble gave off a lot of energy that resonated with the band members and the audience.

“The solos in Perpetual Commotion gave off a lot of energy. There was a tenor sax solo and a trumpet solo that were really good. I really like that piece because it had a funky groove to it and in the middle, there was a jazz interlude that complimented the piece,” said Elliot.

Every piece had a jazz soloist that either volunteered or was picked to play in the performance. The ensemble members and the audience supported every soloist and their confidence showed.

“I think – for the most part – every soloist did very well that night. All of us had some good, shining moments that evening that resonated with the audience. I think as a band too, we came together, and something clicked that night,” said Elliot.

Farewell to the Almanian


As I enter my last week of my undergraduate career, I would like to take this time to reflect on my time at Alma College and with the Almanian. After spending three and a half years on Alma’s campus, it seems still too soon to be leaving. It’s an over-shared sentiment, this feeling, but as cliché as it is, it’s incredibly true.

The students and faculty at Alma College have made a lasting impact on my life and have truly shaped the person that I have become. Though I have only been working for the Almanian for one semester, the experiences that I have gained here speak to the experiences I have gained from Alma as a whole.

The Almanian taught me that sometimes, you get to say yes, but also that sometimes you need to say no. Jelly has become one of my closest friends, mostly due to this experience, and she can attest that I would not have been able to handle the Almanian if I didn’t have this knowledge. If I can only impart this one piece of wisdom that Alma College has taught me, it would be enough. We all know how over-committed we all are. but as rewarding as it is to know that you are spending your time valuably, it is even more important to know that you are taking care of yourself. This is something I wasn’t able to learn until very recently, and I am incredibly grateful for Jelly and the rest of the paper for teaching me this. The Almanian staff are some of the most caring and considerate people I know, and I am sad that it wasn’t until my last semester that I was able to know this.

The P.C. debate


A huge debate in the political sphere recently is concerning politically correct speech. Many public figures are being called out online for their potentially offensive language and their ignorance when refusing to adapt their language to an ever-changing world.

Mistakes can be made, especially when one is raised in a different environment than you are currently in. However, being purposefully inconsiderate towards someone who have politely asked you to change your language is ignorant.

Many people who are not effected by bigotry and hate in this country do not understand the need to be conscious of our language. This is a huge learning curve for many, but putting the effort into altering your language can make you a person who can help those in need, and someone who is leading the wave of equality in this country.

There is a big debate in this country about the validity of changing to a more politically correct language, mostly because people claim that it will make the next generation weak and incapable of handling criticism. However, the purpose of politically correct language is the help all humans on this earth thrive and feel comfortable in their society.

For many years, the verbiage for people with disabilities has become more accepting and standardized. Instead of calling someone “the handicapped man”, it is better to refer to someone as “the man with a handicap.” This small change in word order puts the person first, validating them and ensuring that that person is more important than their disability.

Gender identity has been a big movement in the 21st century. People are more open and accepting about who they are, and that has resulted in more publicity around changing pronouns. People are changing their identity, and would prefer to be called different pronouns that make them feel more comfortable with their identity.

It takes a lot of courage for transgender and non-binary people to come to terms with their own identity privately, let alone showing that identity to the entire world. When people blatantly disrespect the wishes of these people to be referred to by different names or pronouns, it is ignorant and extremely disrespectful.

I do know, however, that there are some in this community that take advantage of people’s efforts to transition to calling someone a different name/pronoun. It is important to recognize people that are putting in the effort to change their mindset and be more accepting of the changing world around them.

If you have questions on what someone prefers to be called, the best thing to do is to ask them. Most people will really appreciate the effort into correcting their mistakes. As long as you are trying to change your mindset surrounding these issues, your effort should be seen, acknowledged and appreciated.

Freshmen settle into campus life


As fall semester comes to an end, students on campus have settled into their routines as undergraduates. Freshmen have started to learn the ways of navigating the Alma area, academics, and social life in general.

A few months ago, four freshmen were featured in a “Campus Comment” segment that focused on what they wanted to achieve looking forward at their lives as Alma College students.

Each student mentioned how excited they were to meet new people, take classes related to their majors and partake in featured clubs on campus.

Now, several weeks into the semester, we checked back in with those students to catch up with how they have been adapting to the college lifestyle.

“I’m happy with the person that I am. I feel the same, just in a more mature environment with a lot more people who have like mindsets to me, so I would say I’m way happier here overall,” said Brad Skellenger (‘22). Previously, Skellenger had mentioned that he was excited to meet new people who were as dedicated to music as he is.

Skellenger participates in band, choir and a small student-led vocal group called “Off Kilter” on campus.

Irene Collins (’22) found that her excitement about singing with the choirs was validated. “Chorale is my favorite class because singing makes me incredibly happy and [Will Nichols] is a wonderful professor,” said Collins. “My FYS (Time Travel in Science and Literature) is a close tie because the class is incredibly interesting and Dr. Jensen is a wonderful and incredibly thoughtful educator and person.”

Students can meet new people by joining clubs, engaging in their classes, going to on campus events and more. Every week at Alma, there is at least one event happening that has been put on by a student led group. These are made aware to the student body through posters around campus and emails sent to your Alma email address.

“My favorite thing to do on campus is attend sporting events and perform with the dance team,” said Alexandra Mithen (‘22). She had expressed in the earlier edition that she was excited to perform with the dance team this year, especially at sporting events. Mithen is heavily involved with the dance team as well as taking classes pertaining to dance on campus.

Moving into a new school with people that are unfamiliar can be challenging as an incoming freshman. However, as we move further into the fall semester, people around campus are starting to find their homes, friend groups, favorite classes and more.

“My favorite class is probably my FYS, which is Dance in the Humanities,” said Gina Dossantos (‘22). “I love learning about different forms of movement and how aspects like culture and history influence [them].”

Dossantos mentioned previously that she was excited to join clubs that celebrate different cultures. “I haven’t engaged in as many clubs as I had hoped to. However, I think now that I’ve seen all the different opportunities I have, I can pick the ones I’m drawn to most,” she said.

During the first semester of freshman year, a major life shift occurs. This can create a push towards large life changes in a short amount of time. Being away from family, living on your own and having to create new friendships and bonds comes along with that change.

“I [learned] that nothing will come easy here, everything, even the little things, require self-motivation and discipline,” said Dossantos.

For any incoming college students, Skellenger advised them to “[not] be shy. Talk to people even though you know you’re terrified to because it’s so much easier to be yourself once you’ve branched out already.”

Skellenger encouraged his fellow students to exceed their boundaries and make friends to have a much more enjoyable experience in college.

Alma LEAPS towards a green campus


Keeping Alma’s campus green and reducing the college’s carbon footprint is what the organization LEAPS focuses on achieving. LEAPS, which stands for Leaders for Environmental Awareness, Protection and Sustainability, is a student-run organization that focuses on ways to help students use less wasteful products in their everyday lives.

“LEAPS’ mission is to combat current environmental issues and injustices through a campus perspective,” said Hunter Wilson (’20), the president of LEAPS.

Wilson continued, “LEAPS is devoted to generating awareness of environmental issues through campus education and opportunity, encouraging environmental stewardship, and promoting consistent sustainable practices on campus.”

On Wednesday, November 28 LEAPS, along with Active Minds and members of the McCurty House, held a “Green Me Up” event in Van Dusen. Students were taught different ecofriendly techniques from how to make their own toothpaste and laundry detergent to making healthy face masks and body scrubs.

Advice was also given to students about ways to be greener in their everyday lives, such as watching the products they use, especially when it comes to feminine health care.

Recycling is a big part of what LEAPS does as well. The members, like Christopher Nouhan (‘20), help promote better awareness of what can be recycled and what cannot.

“A lot of people think you can recycle pizza boxes, [and] you cannot recycle pizza boxes,” said Nouhan. “They’re dirty, they have food on them and byproducts are not allowed to be recycled.” Douglass Dice, Head of Facilities, agreed with Nouhan.

Nouhan went on to explain that all plastic one recycles, such as milk jugs, should be thoroughly rinsed about before being placed in the bins. “Straws [and lids] are a large portion of plastic waste, especially in the ocean and landfills,” said Nouhan. “I personally never use straws or plastic lids.”

However, if a recycling bin has been contaminated with food or byproducts, then the college is forced to throw it out. Dice explained that the reason for this is because of the recycling company that the college works with, whom does not allow for food products of any kind to be sent to them.

Dice and the members of LEAPS have provided advice for students to help reduce campus waste. Turning off lights when they are not needed, watching food waste and using the compost bins, as well as using fewer plastic straws and lids from Joe’s were all mentioned.

Wilson suggested the dorms having energy wars where the dorm that uses the least energy wins a prize. One way to do this is to make sure that your room windows are latched shut and not just closed.

“We find that students will close their windows, but they won’t latch them a lot of times,” said Dice. “When you latch a window, it actually works that compression strip as a weather seal and helps keep the windows efficient.”

One of the biggest waste issues mentioned by members of LEAPS is at the end of the year when student throw out usable furniture and other products. A suggesting is too take unwanted furniture to a thrift store rather than just throwing it out.

“Campus swap meets at the end of each semester would be beneficial in preventing waste such as furniture and appliances, school supplies, e-waste, etc.,” said Wilson.

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