Positive Updates 2/1/21

LIZZY DERMODY
STAFF WRITER

Animals On the Comeback

Everyone knows the struggle of this past year, but some good may have come from it. As humans have been forced inside, this has made way for multiple species to thrive out in their natural habitats.

  • Almost all the koalas injured in the Australian bushfires have been released back into the wild after 10 months of care and rehabilitation.
  • The last 2 remaining Northern White Rhinos have high hopes for a baby with the help of scientists as their embryo has been found viable.

Stay tuned for more happy news in our next issue J

Athletics in the time of a pandemic

HADEN GROSS
STAFF WRITER

As student’s return to a snow-covered campus, many athletes have begun gearing up for their sporting seasons. While athletics look a bit different this year, proud scots are still ready to go out and give their all for the mighty tartan and maroon. With this sporting season, comes a new insurgence of COVID testing for athletes as they embark on their journeys.

The new wave of COVID testing is divided into roughly two sections, containing various levels of testing the athletes are subjected to. Students who participate in non-contact sports will have 25 percent of their team randomly selected for testing once a week. Those in contact sports will be tested three times a week to ensure maximum safety to those on campus. All student athletes will be tested three days prior to their away games.

The COVID test that the students will take will be the rapid test: meaning students will get their results within 24 to 36 hours of taking it. This rapid test was met with controversy in the past few months as many sources have claimed that the test is less effective.

When asking up and coming football players how they felt about the ramped-up testing, we were met with a few responses.

“I don’t feel as if the rapid testing is nearly as effective as the other tests, but it almost feels pointless considering students are still leaving campus and breaking the rules,” Said Bennett Hendrickson (24’), “However, the test still provides an important safety measure as student athletes begin their seasons.”

Some athletes have already been tested numerous times since their return to campus. Either being tested via the nasal swab, or the saliva tests. Athletes are chosen at random, and then are able to pick from the various time slots to be tested.

“I have been tested three times within the last two weeks, and while it seems a tad excessive, I understand the need for increased testing,” Said Luke Cooper (23’), “As long as we [athletes] get to play this year, I will continue to get tested as much as they need me to.”

Due to the pandemic, outdoor sports such as football have had their seasons moved to the spring, giving their athletes a colder environment then they are used to.

“It sucks that we will be playing in the cold weather, but we as a team will adapt and survive to meet this season’s challenges” Said Hendrickson.

While other sports like cross country have been only able to practice, whereas the various dance team and companies have had to alter their routines in ordinance to social distancing guidelines. Winter sports have been moved back and are now running into the spring sporting seasons. Coupled with these changes, athletes have also had shortened or altered season to reduce the spread of COVID.

“Even though the season is shortened, it still feels great to get to be able to get on the field and play the sport that we love,” Said Cooper, “The school has done everything within their power to minimize risk and it is better to miss a couple of football games than for someone to get seriously ill when it could have been easily prevented.”

Although the sports have been altered to fit the many rules and guidelines of COVID-19, students are still optimistic and hopeful as they embark on their sporting seasons.

“Albeit the strange season, I am so hyped to get some dubs with the boys!” Said Hendrickson, with a laugh when asked if he was excited for the upcoming football season.

It is a hope that all student athletes carry the same optimism that Hendrickson has.

Trump impeached week before end of term

JORDYN BRADLEY
SPORTS EDITOR

On Jan. 13, Donald Trump was impeached for inciting the insurrection that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The impeachment came one week before the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

There have only been four presidential impeachments in U.S. history: Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton in 1998, and Donald Trump twice–first in December 2019 then again just thirteen months later.

“The most recent impeachment comes from essentially the charge that he was leading an insurrection against his own government,” said Professor of Political Science Sandy Hulme.

“I don’t think there are more serious charges that have ever been leveled against a president.”

Hundreds of Trump supporters from across the country stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress was set to begin the process of confirming Biden’s win of the presidential race. Trump has been vocal about believing the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent and led a rally just an hour prior to Congress meeting where he told attendees, “We will never give up. We will never concede. We will stop the steal!”

As Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, many politicians from both sides urged Trump to make a statement to condemn the violent behavior. In a tweet, Trump said, “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order–respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”

He wrote after reminding everyone to support the Capitol Police and law enforcement. However, he still did not condemn the actions that took place. In the insurrection, five people died–including a Capitol police officer–and multiple others were injured.

One week following the attack on the Capitol, the House voted 232 to 197 in favor of impeaching Trump. In that initial vote on Jan. 13, ten Republicans voted for impeachment.

“The vast majority of Republicans did not vote to support impeachment, which I think is troublesome, because if what Trump was accused of doing actually is the truth–and if the charge of inciting an insurrection is not an impeachable offense–then literally there is no such thing as an impeachable offense,” said Hulme.

“It is very problematic that only ten Republicans supported impeachment.”

In fact, on Jan. 26, all but five Republican senators backed the former president, which might lead to the second acquittal for Trump since 2019.

Trump’s impeachment trial isn’t set to begin until Feb. 9, but proceedings began on Jan. 26. Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul objected to the charges against Trump, arguing that impeachment is for removal from office, and Trump’s presidency has already ended.

Others also question whether impeaching the former president would do good at this point.

“My initial thoughts were that it was a ridiculous waste of time and money that the House would consider impeachment,” said Brenden Kurtze (‘24).

“It [would be] a waste of money and time because the only thing impeachment will accomplish is furthering the party divide in this country.”

Although he has already left office, Trump being charged with impeachment could still affect him and his potential future in politics. If the Senate votes to convict him–which requires 67 votes, or

two-thirds of the Senate–he will not lose his security detail because his term of office was terminated by the election and swearing in of Joe Biden, not by a conviction of an impeachment.

If convicted, however, the Senate could disqualify him from holding any federal elective office in the future, which means it would prevent him from running for president again in 2024.

“In 2016, Trump [brought] in people to vote who had never participated [before]. If Trump is effectively removed from the Republican party, those people are at risk of never voting for the Republicans,” said Hulme.

In 2020, voter turnout was at an all-time high. People went to polling locations who had never voted before. Many people who voted for Trump in either election weren’t previously affiliated with the Republican party; they voted for Trump, not the party. If Trump is unable to run again because he is convicted of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol–or he just chooses not to run again–many of those voters may not ever vote in a presidential election again.

A lot of information will be brought to the forefront in the coming weeks as the trial approaches.

“How [the Senate] chooses to [conduct the trial] will be based on the type of information that is developed between now and the beginning of the trial,” said Hulme.

“My sense is that if investigators begin to find connections in relationships between Trump and the insurrectionists between now and then, you are going to see an actual trial.”

Whether Trump ends up getting convicted or acquitted, this trial is an opportunity for the American public to learn information about the insurrection that is unknown at this point.

Campus honors MLK day with events

JORDYN BRADLEY
SPORTS EDITOR

On Monday, Jan. 18, groups and organizations across campus hosted events to honor the life of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 53rd year since his death.

Events that were held included: a multi-denominational worship service that used King’s words, writings, and favorite scripture, Lunch and Learn: Community Conversation on the Capitol Insurrection, Red Cross Blood Drive, Keynote Address with social justice educator, Jen Fry, MLK Day clothing drive, Living His Legacy: Advocacy and Activism in Healthcare, MLK Speech Screening with alumni from 1967-1969, The Pursuit of Racial Progress Workshop, MLK Vigil: Tribute to Black Lives and the MLK Virtual Poetry Night.

Events were hosted by multiple organizations, including the Black Student Union, Multicultural Student Union and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

“I think it’s incredibly important to participate in events like these ones and learn about not just MLK but other black activists who helped fight against inequality,” said Amelia Earl (‘22).

The Black Lives Matter movement and themes of police brutality, racial disparities in healthcare and justice were at the forefront of this year’s MLK Day events. The intention of the day was to keep the conversation about race going and reflect on King’s impact throughout history and today.

“Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a prominent and profound voice in the history of the movement for Black Lives, and it’s [important] that we cherish his legacy because there’s still so much we can learn from him,” said Mx. David Parnell III (‘21).

The term “Black Lives Matter” was first created in 2016 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who killed 17 year old black man, Trayvon Martin. After news of Zimmerman’s acquittal was public, #BlackLivesMatter trended on the internet.

However, the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s showed similar themes, and King preached about the same things over 50 years ago.

According to a study done in 1968–the year King was assassinated–nearly 75% of the American population disapproved of the civil rights activist. In a similar poll done 50 years later in 2018, results showed that over 90% of Americans now approve of his ideas and beliefs (Smithsonian).

“When I was in highschool, MLK day was used to make us think that we had fixed racism and that MLK was loved and respected in his time–but he wasn’t,” said Salem Gray (‘23).

“It wasn’t until years after his death that he was seen as a hero, and I didn’t learn about that until I started going to these events and hearing about his legacy from POC and not from the public school system.”

Following George Floyd’s death last summer and the Black Lives Matter movement being at the forefront of conversation, some people questioned whether King would condone the protesting and rioting that took place.

“I feel like [King] would fully support the protests now,” said Lauryn Bishop (‘23), who added that 93% of the Black Lives Matter protests were peaceful.

“I believe [King] would have [participated] in protests, campaigns and efforts rooted in his theological tradition that called him to speak up for the marginalized, persecuted and oppressed,” said Chaplain and Director of Spiritual Life Andrew Pomerville.

Though King preached non-violence and strived for peace, he also recognized that Black people had to fight for their freedom and their rights, and pushed the Black community to do just that.

“Through the years, this framing of King’s legacy has been used against his own community to invalidate, confuse and disrupt the present efforts of the movement for Black Lives,” said Parnell, referring to the recent protests and riots and the way society framed them.

“Our 2021 observance of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Day shows we have successfully disrupted this gaze to include the complex truth of King’s legacy—not by totally expelling these distracting thoughts but acknowledging them as not the whole truth.”

Many students, faculty and staff believe the MLK Day events help keep the conversation about racism and discrimination going, and show that even though King died over 50 years ago, the topics he discussed are still relevant today.

“I think if we don’t continue to participate in events like these we risk becoming complacent and stop fighting for more equality,” said Earl.

“We, as students and citizens of this country, should continue to learn about Dr. King for the same reason we engage with Anti-Racist work in our era,” said Parnell.

“Black people have consistently saved our republic through our blood, labor and contributions to society, while simultaneously dehumanized, unjustly slain and neglected by public health institutions, and our culture and contributions undermined by the racism left unaddressed everywhere from within our education systems to our federal legislation.”

It took 15 years to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national holiday, with many states choosing instead to celebrate Confederate leader, Robert E. Lee. However, MLK Day is celebrated on the third Monday of January to honor the work the civil rights activist put in during his time on Earth, as well as the work that has happened because of him.

Unpacking the COVID-19 Vaccine

CLAIRE HIPPS
STAFF WRITER

Pfizer and BioNTech produced an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine found to be 95% effective in November. Despite the existence of this vaccine, many Americans are apprehensive about receiving it. According to AP/University of Chicago, 35% of Americans aged 18-29 said that they will not received the COVID-19 vaccine; another 22% said that they weren’t sure.

Despite potential mistrust of the vaccine in the student body, President Jeff Abernathy states that “We expect students, faculty and staff to receive the vaccine before the fall term. As with the flu vaccine, there will be exceptions for individual circumstances. The science is clear that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and that it saves lives”

COVID-19 has a “wide range of infection outcomes, ranging from asymptomatic to fatal,” said Timothy Keeton, an associate professor of biology here at Alma College focused on microbiology.

While the CDC outlines certain COVID-19 risk factors, like age or preexisting conditions, there are rare deaths amongst college students. The chronic effects following an infection are also unknown.

“I suspect we will discover that the virus causes more serious illness in individuals who unknowingly carry a certain version of a [presently unidentified] gene,” said Keeton. “Many fatalities are associated with an apparently hyper-active immune reaction, which ultimately causes most of the damage which kills the patient.”

The COVID-19 vaccine uses mRNA technology to combat the virus, which “utilizes modern genetic cloning technology to manufacture the genetic sequence of the desired target,” says Keeton. give your immune system directions on how to defend against the infection without introducing the virus itself, said Keeton. “None of the COVID-19 vaccines developed for human use involves live virus.”

That being said, mRNA vaccines cannot alter your DNA. “mRNA molecules do not survive long inside or outside your cells, [nor do they] gain access to your genetic ‘vault’ in the nucleus of your cells,” said Keeton.

As with many vaccines, there are some mild side effects that may occur when the vaccine is administered. “A common side effect to date with the mRNA vaccine is soreness at the injection site and sometimes general aches and pains, [as well as a] mild fever for 24 hours or so, especially following the booster injection,” said Keeton. “If you have known severe allergies, notify the clinic where you plan on getting your vaccine beforehand. They may have special instructions.”

Side effects are normal. “Know that [side effects] happen to many people and monitor your temperature for high fever. In most people this only lasts about 24 hours,” said Keeton.

Receiving the vaccine is integral for protection against the unknown effects of the virus. There is not enough evidence to determine whether or not exposure to the virus provides adequate immunity, as initial immune responses are oftentimes weak.

“We know that humans who have been infected usually are producing antibodies, but we do not know if those antibodies are protective,” said Keeton. “There is evidence which indicates

some people who have been infected may in fact be immune to a second debilitating infection but can still carry replicating virus in the respiratory system [and can thus transmit the virus to others].”

It is imperative that students take the vaccine within the guidelines outlined by the CDC. “You DO in fact need both doses,” said Keeton. “Some of our best vaccines provide long term or even lifelong immunity, but many do require periodic boosters. Be prepared to [receive boosters after the initial vaccine and] down the road.”

Although many compare COVID-19 to influenza, they are not the same infection. “Your flu shot from the fall will do NOTHING to help you against COVID-19,” said Keeton.

Despite the idea of herd immunity, “only those who are truly immune through vaccination or prior infection are truly protected,” said Keeton. “There will always be a small percentage of individuals who, due to pre-existing health conditions, cannot be vaccinated safely.”

The vaccine will likely be available to Alma College students in the summertime, according to Abernathy, although that estimate is subject to change.

COVID-19 has changed our lives in unimaginable ways. Serendipitously, each of us have the opportunity to prioritize our health and the health of others by receiving the vaccine in the recommended way.

Rioters storm the Capitol

AISHWARYA SINGH
STAFF WRITER

209 years ago, the United States saw one of its most violent attacks on what was symbolically the most significant building standing on its land- the US Capitol. The British knew the importance of the building, chose to burn it to down after looting it for that very reason.

209 years passed since the attack, and the nation protected and revered its Capitol with all of its might. It housed elected representatives that changed the course of American history, it was the venue chosen to draft documents that helped define the very essence of America, and it stood as a representation of American democracy.

209 years later, on the morning of Jan. 6’ 2021, history repeated itself.

Thousands of supporters of the now former President Donald J. Trump collected in front of the Capitol on Jan. 5 and 6 to protest the declared victory of Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

While outside the Capitol, the rioters changed “Hang Mike Pence” for the Vice President’s inability to reject the final vote of the electoral college. Eventually, the protestors broke police barricading, claimed the walls protecting the Capitol, broke its doors and windows and entered to vandalize the building, loot the votes stored within and possibly hold hostage the officials present inside since many of them were carrying handcuffs.

Pictures from the time the rioters spent inside the building prove most invaluable in depicting the dystopian reality of what has come to be called an insurrection attempt on the American democracy. They show rioters hang from the balcony of the Senate Chambers, a weapon carrying protestor sitting on the desk of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and a protestor with a Trump cap carrying a lectern with the Speaker’s seal on it.

Eventually, the ordeal ended with law enforcement successfully evacuating the officials within the building, firing tear gas, and even entering an armed confrontation with the protestors which resulted in four casualties, and one critically injured individual.

However, the incident wasn’t an impulsive reaction by a mob fueled by group think and polarization.

For months now, the rhetoric that the elections are rigged, will yield an illegitimate result, Trump’s loss will simply not be accepted have made the rounds of even the most prominent right wing circles. Had the former President, and his cabinet denounced these rumors early on, the situation may very well have not escalated. While the riots went on, the President failed to denounce the rioters effectively leading to him being banned from several of the world’s biggest social networking platforms, including Twitter and Instagram.

Post what the country saw on the morning of Jan. 6, many were certain the lawmakers, even those belonging to Trump’s cabinet, would move swiftly to impeach him. However, they have been left disappointed for more reasons than one.

“To me the most disturbing thing about the capitol violence was not the assault on the capitol — although that was very troubling — but rather what happened after the assault. About two-thirds of Republicans in the House voted against certifying the electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania,” said William Gorton, Associate Professor of Political Science. This signaled that they were quite possibly willing to nullify the results of a free and fair election. That’s the sort of thing that happens in failing democracies and autocratic regimes. One wonders what would have happened had the Republicans controlled the House and Senate. Would they have nullified Joe Biden’s win? Unfortunately, it’s quite imaginable that something like that might happen in future presidential races. American democracy is in a very precarious state.”

The tweet that broke the camel’s back

ARYAAN S. MISRA
STAFF WRITER

“I do not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban @realDonaldTrump from Twitter” – Jack Dorsey

This was taken from a Twitter thread (ironically enough) tweeted by the cofounder of Twitter regarding their decision to remove President Trump from Twitter. That is a lot of ‘Twitter’ for one sentence, but I can’t help myself. It is as though Twitter is to discourse what Cajun seasoning is to a potato salad— the ingredient that enlivens an otherwise “meh” undertaking. Especially, since most discourse takes place on it.

Twitter: It’s What’s Happening (company slogan). Seemingly, it’s what’s always happening. It is this omnipresent, and arguably omnipotent, nature of Twitter that made the social media giant’s decision to remove the incumbent Commander in Chief of the world’s most powerful military from its platform international headlines.

What started with a platform which permits 280 characters rippled through corporations across the board— Facebook, Amazon and Snapchat— leaving many astonished that the billionaire President had Snap in the first place. But it wasn’t just social media companies. Visa, AT&T and Marriot all suspended their ties with Mr. Trump.

In light of this domino effect, many wondered if Trump just got #cancelled. Well, on Nov 4 President Trump was cancelled, democratically. The events of last month however, ranging from the Capitol riot to the rampant deplatforming of Trump, weren’t remotely democratic.

In Twitter’s defense, the company took several steps to warn @realDonaldTrump that his account was in jeopardy since his actions were directly in violation with the ‘terms of conditions’ he had voluntarily accepted. Twitter first disabled the ‘retweet’ feature on his tweets, then deleted specific tweets, then temporarily suspended his account (after which he continued tweeting from other accounts). His last tweet which called the rioters “lovely people” broke the camel’s back, and Twitter finally banned him.

But what about Amazon? Is the despicable insurrection attempt sufficient grounds for former POTUS to not receive 1-day Prime delivery?

While legislators debate the legal nuance of ‘incite’, they can do virtually nothing about Trump’s voice being sequestered. The Constitution protects private organizations from falling within the purview of the First Amendment. While Twitter and other companies didn’t do anything illegal, legal acts can be immoral.

I wager that free speech is as much an American value as it is a protected right, and it is the responsibility of American corporations to preserve that value. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stood against the decisions of tech giants saying, “President Trump can turn his press team or Fox News to communicate with the public, but others – like many Black, Brown and LGTBQ activists who have been censored by social media companies – will not have that luxury.”

“The key distinction between deplatforming Trump and traditional forms of censorship is that instead of the state restricting speech (such would be the case in China for example) restrictions on free speech are guided by media conglomerates,” says Luke Losie (’23). To allow corporations to wield such power is to set a daunting precedent, one which will be far more unjust for minority voices. Just because Mr. Trump is an unlikeable character, we rejoice that the online public sphere has become a saner place. But if Twitter existed in the Reichstag, Nazis would too have rejoiced at the suspension of Otto von Habsburg’s (Prince of Austria and an ardent anti-fascist) Twitter account.

“Partly it’s a monopoly problem,” said William Gorton, Associate Professor of Political Science. He adds, “Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon simply have too much market power. Perhaps Congress could look into regulating social media outlets via anti-trust legislation.” Regulating social media companies might be the key, and in fact anti-trust cases and allegations of monopoly marketing have been brought to the courts, but it will be a long time before Congress can reorganize the structure of such companies.

Nobody ever imagined 280 characters typed by the person with nuclear codes would determine foreign policy. Nobody ever imagined social media to become the dominant form of public discourse for every faction of the political spectrum. Twitter has more authoritarian leaders tweeting every hour, should they

be banned too? We are trudging through a new swamp, one that cannot be drained by banning @realDonaldTrump.

Weekly Horoscope 2/1/21

KATE WESTPHAL
COPY EDITOR

What the Signs Need to Hear

Aries – You’re too petulant. At some point people will grow tired and stop coddling you.

Taurus – Your stubbornness will get you nowhere except backwards. You can’t sulk forever.

Gemini – Your impulsivity will lead you down many paths. Recognize which of those are worthwhile.

Cancer – Your pursuit of perfection is often in vain. Know when to give up.

Leo – You steamroll over others without a care and neglect other’s thoughts. Understand that not everyone shares your beliefs.

Virgo – Your love of approaching things from an analytical perspective will only take you so far. Not everything can be sorted into neat categories.

Libra – You strive for diplomacy, but understand that being non-confrontational results in no good compromise. Realize when you need to choose a side.

Scorpio – You pride yourself in being secretive, but you need to realize that comes at a cost. Not all secrets are worth holding onto.

Sagittarius – You are the cause of most the problems in your life. Try to be more introspective and maybe things will change.

Capricorn – People see you as forgettable for a reason. You need to stop hiding in the shadows or you’ll fade away.

Aquarius – You can’t repress your emotions for the rest of your life. At some point, they will implode and cause more destruction.

Pisces – You’re not always right. Accept your wrongdoings and stop pulling the wool over your eyes.

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