Former MI governor, others facing charges


On Thursday, Jan. 14, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office announced they would be charging former Michigan governor Rick Snyder for his role in the Flint water crisis.

Along with Snyder, seven former officials and one current Michigan official are also being charged for their roles in the crisis. Together, they’re all facing 42 counts, ranging from perjury to misconduct in office to involuntary manslaughter.

Former Republican Gov. Snyder is facing two counts of willful neglect, both of which are misdemeanors which will lead to a maximum of one year in prison and a fine up to $1000. This is the first time in Michigan’s history that a current or former governor is facing charges for alleged misconduct while they are in office.

According to NPR, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said the investigation included pouring over “literally millions and millions of documents and several electronic devices.”

“Our work on this case begins with the understanding that the impact of the Flint water crisis cases and what happened in Flint will span generations and probably well beyond,” said Worthy.

The Flint water crisis began in 2014 when the city switched its water supply. Almost immediately, the residents began complaining about the quality of the water, but city and state officials denied for months that there was a serious problem. By then, the supply pipes had gone through major coercion and lead was making its way into the water of Flint, a city where about 40 percent of residents live in poverty.

Finally, after preliminary testing revealed “dangerous” amounts of lead in the water, and an increase in lead levels being found in the children of Flint, the city reverted back to the old water supply. Unfortunately, the damage made to the pipes was irreversible. In Jan 2016, then Gov. Snyder declared a state of emergency in Genesee County, and shortly after then President Barack Obama declared a federal state of emergency, authorizing additional help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

But the damage had been done. It was estimated that 6,000-12,000 children in Flint were exposed to lead, and the whole crisis left 12 dead and over 80 sick with Legionnaires Disease.

Snyder’s attorney referred to the charges to the Detroit Free Press as “a politically motivated smear campaign”. The Detroit Free Press also reported that Snyder entered a not guilty plea that same Thursday from a Genessee County jail booth, appearing with his attorney over Zoom.

When asked about their thoughts on the charges, students at Alma College had many strong feelings.

“The Flint water crisis is still a relevant issue that this city is facing, as many people in the community were impacted,” said Maria Vostrizansky (‘24). “Even though this event took place seven years ago and was under a different administration, it doesn’t mean that those who neglected to take responsibility cannot still face the legal consequences.”

“The Flint water crisis was a tragic, easily avoidable time period caused directly by the actions of former Governor Snyder,” said Brenna Smith (‘24). “After contaminating a city with nearly 100,000 people, the punishment Snyder will only potentially be facing is laughable. Flint’s population is largely made up of people of color, many of whom already face difficulties due to housing, discrimination, poverty, and more. Snyder’s negligence was both intentional and destructive to a community struggling under the effects of systemic racism.”

On Jan 25, Snyder’s attorneys filed a formal request to dismiss the charges against him. According to the Michigan Attorney General’s office, the next court appearance for the other defendants is Feb 18.

“A $1000 fine and a year in prison is not nearly enough accountability for a man who effectively poisoned an entire city,” said Smith. “His meager punishment is a prominent display of white privilege. Snyder must have more accountability for the life-long effects his actions have caused for the people of Flint.”

Biden-Harris Inaugurated


After a tense election, followed by opposition from outgoing President Donald Trump and his supporters, Joseph R. Biden and Kamala D. Harris began their first term as president and vice president on Wed, Jan. 20.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic and concerns of another event like the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the inauguration committee was tasked with creating a smaller, safer celebration.

Security at the event was top priority, with over 25,000 members of the National Guard on duty for the inaugural ceremony and many areas of downtown Washington fenced off.

Tickets for the ceremony were limited and a public art exhibition on the National Mall took the place of the usual crowds.

The 59th Presidential Inauguration began with a prayer service at Saint Matthew’s Cathedral, the Catholic church where President John F. Kennedy’s funeral was held. Bishop William J. Barber II delivered the homily, joined by musical guests: Josh Groban, Patti Labelle and the Clark Sisters.

The Inaugural ceremonies began at about 10:30 a.m. Lady Gaga sang the national anthem, followed by a rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” performed by Jennifer Lopez.

The event went on to welcome Amanda Gorman, who recently became the first national youth poet laureate. Gorman read an original piece entitled “The Hill We Climb”. Country artist Garth Brooks also contributed to the celebration with his performance of “Amazing Grace”.

The new president and vice president were sworn in shortly before 12 p.m. Vice President Kamala Harris was delivered the oath of office by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of color to serve on the Supreme Court.

Harris was sworn in using a Bible that had belonged to Supreme Court justice and icon of the Civil Rights Movement, Thurgood Marshall.

As vice president Harris is the highest-ranking woman in United States history. She is also the first black person and first person of South Asian descent to hold the office.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administered the oath to Biden, who was sworn in using his family’s 128-year-old Bible.

President Biden completed the oath of office at 11:48 a.m., with his term officially beginning at noon (the 20th Amendment states that “terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of Jan.”).

Post-inaugural events followed, including the traditional “Pass in Review,” a ceremony that reflects the transfer of power to the incoming president.

The historic day finished with a primetime special hosted by actor Tom Hanks. President Biden and Vice President Harris delivered remarks. The special featured appearances from John Legend, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato and more.

The program acknowledged frontline workers and other Americans who have given back to their communities throughout the pandemic. The event also featured the first American to receive the Covid-19 vaccine outside of clinical trial.

Almost 40 million people tuned in to President Biden’s inaugural address, including Alma student Heather Kaatz (’24).

One of Kaatz’s favorite parts of the inauguration ceremony was listening to Amanda Gorman speak. “I thought [her poem], ‘The Hill We Climb,’ was very inspiring,” Kaatz said.

For Kaatz, the event brought a mix of excitement and relief. “As a country, we still have tons of work to do, but I feel we are taking a step in the right direction toward unification,” Kaatz said.

Kaatz is interested in how the new administration will approach the Covid-19 pandemic, “I think added restrictions and mask mandates will help allow us to get ‘back to normal,’” Kaatz said.

Samuel Nelson (’21) made sure to catch some of President Biden’s inaugural ceremony live. “[What I watched live], combined with coverage I saw through the day, struck me with a strong sense of trying to create something ‘normal’ again,” Nelson said.

For Benjamin Schall (’24), one of the best parts of the inaugural ceremony was the sense of optimism it inspired, “[It] made me feel hopeful that this administration will lead to true healing,” Schall said.

Schall is looking forward to President Biden’s approach to climate reform. “Biden is America’s current best hope for our future on this planet, and I hope that he leads the other Democrats in discussion and eventual action with finally implementing a Green New Deal,” Schall said.

Pandemic affects mental health


COVID-19 has easily taken so much from everyone. Indoor dining in restaurants has been restricted, public and recreational facilities are closed and some schools have moved their students online. Because of these limitations, many people are stuck inside of their homes to prevent spreading or catching the coronavirus.

While it is important to stay home when feeling ill, physical health is not the only health COVID-19 has affected. Studies are showing that mental health has been greatly altered. stated that more than 50 percent of people have reported substantially high levels of distress specific to the pandemic.

Looking into specifics, research shows that more people are panic buying, excessively avoiding public places, and using unhelpful coping mechanisms, such as overeating and overusing drugs and alcohol. The pandemic has also been linked to a significant increase in anxiety and depressive disorders. explained that university students show high levels of depression and increases in stress and loneliness.

“I believe that COVID-19 has, at times, negatively impacted students mentally,” said Kaelyn Wojtylko (’22). “Many students, especially those without roommates or a solid friend group, seem to be the ones impacted the most.” conducted a study where they found that students are more easily bored, anxious, and frustrated during their now mostly virtual classes. It is evident that many students have lost or forgotten what their education means to them.

“So many students are having a lot of trouble learning with an online setting versus in person,” said Megan Hope (’24). “It is a lot more to keep track of.”

Many students struggle with trying to find motivation to keep up with classes and extracurricular activities. Having to keep a distance of at least six feet, constantly wearing masks, and avoiding large crowds or contact with others has caused many to feel much more disconnected from the world.

“It is super stressful trying to find ways to hang out with friends without getting in trouble for something that would normally be fine,” said Hope.

Schools and universities have had to implement restrictions and rules that many students are struggling to keep up with. It is hard to tell if these constraints will be permanently implemented, or if they are just a temporary approach to combat the coronavirus.

“I honestly hope that the restrictions are only for while we are learning more about COVID-19 and that we can go back to normal one day.” Said Wojtylko. “I find myself thinking about how things were last year compared to this year, and it kind of makes me sad.”

Not only has COVID-19 caused many students a lot of stress and mental deterioration, but it has also caused a decrease in enrollment for higher education. It is apparent that many students do not feel the need to continue to undergraduate or graduate school.

“Enrollment will likely decrease because of students not being able to keep up with the difference in learning,” said Hope. “I know some do not find going to college worthwhile if they cannot learn in person or be able to hang out with friends.”

With all that has been affected, researchers are coming out with more methods people can use to help cope with these new restrictions. The CDC released an article that provided healthy ways to

handle stress. They contributed methods like taking deep breaths, meditating, getting plenty of sleep, and taking time to unwind.

While it is very important to take care of yourself during these unprecedented times, it is also important to check in on friends and family to see how they are holding up. Although in-person contact is not recommended, things like phone calls or video chats can really help a loved one feel less lonely. Try to be there for those who have loved and cared for you.

Positive Updates 2/1/21


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


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


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


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.

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