Highland Java employees reflect on changes

By Nathaniel Fryer

Staff Writer

Highland Java was founded by Alma students in 2006, and its purpose was to serve the Alma College community as a student run coffee shop, which had not previously existed.  

Since then, Highland Java has grown and changed into a representation of Alma students in Entrepreneurs in Action (EIA) working together to serve other students.  

The most recent of these changes occurred in the summer of 2017, when Highland Java was renovated, had new appliances installed and built a new bar. Students who are apart of EIA are required to work two hours a week, which gives them the opportunity to connect with the campus community. 

Recently, EIA’s business showcase group made a few connections within the city of Alma, one of which was Carolyn’s Cakes, a shop in downtown Alma. It took a while to build the partnership with the shop,  but now every Tuesday since the beginning of this semester, Highland Java has had a number of cakes for customers to purchase. 

“Initially [last semester] there wasn’t much excitement from the campus community about the cakes, but now that the cakes have been here for a while, people get excited,” said Justin Jones (‘19), a member of EIA.  

“The sales for the cakes has picked up, and that’s been really cool to see, after the semester of implementing it,” he added.  

Highland Java will also be adding another new menu option: iced coffees. This raised the issue of installing an ice machine into the library. 

“I’m a big fan of the drink myself,”said Emma Herron (’18) the President of Highland Java. 

“Whenever we considered the idea, we ran into difficulties with the source of the ice. Most ice machines need a separate water line that connects into the machine. With our location in the library, that kind of construction just isn’t feasible.”  

Herron said that earlier in the year the Highland Java management team made their goal getting iced coffee to Java. They’ve found a machine that can make ice but doesn’t need a water line and can be sorted in the machine. 

Highland Java CEO, Dylan Bergmann (’19) said, “Our current general manager worked at a coffee shop at his high school, and they had an iced coffee machine there. We modeled our proposed ice coffee idea after theirs, ran product tests, and moved  forward with getting iced coffee for Java. 

According to Bergmann iced coffe drinks will be brought into effect within the few weeks.  

Students who have heard the rumors are excited. 

“Oh, I love iced coffee. When Highland Java gets it, I’ll be happy to go there rather than walk all the way to Starbucks,” said Rachel Whipple (’20). 

Carolyn’s Cakes will be sold at Highland Java for the remainder of the semester every Tuesday. 

Tensions rise about service dog on campus

By Brittany Pierce

Staff Writer

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The monthly visits from the therapy dogs are generally highly anticipated on campus, but service dogs have not been getting the same treatment. One student has had her service dog Max on campus for three years, but she often runs into complaints.  

“The teacher informed me that there was a student who did not feel comfortable with Max in class,” said Simerra Jones (’18). “The teacher handled it really well, it’s just that she was like you know ‘do you want to figure out how to handle this?’ We came to the agreement that I would move from one side of the room to the other. 

“What bothered me a little bit was that because we were in a room were the desks are set up in a big square, so Max and I sat in one of the corners in a desk that’s separate. We’re in the back where basically no one else can really see us and the only interaction you could ever get with Max is when I go up the stairs and straight to that chair.”  

According to Jones, the college did not force her into any arrangements. She thinks they (college officials) handled the situation well. 

“There’s students coming up to me like ‘Oh someone’s trying to get Max taken away from you.’ What has he done?’” said Jones.  

She expressed her confusion and anger toward the situation.  

“It’s been three whole years [with him on campus without any issues],” said Jones.  

“Max doesn’t like everybody; he doesn’t want to see everybody and there were so many people thinking he was going to come up to them. 

“He knows when he’s working and he knows when he’s not so when he’s on harness, he’s in work mode and when he’s off harness, he’s just happy.  

She explained that Max never goes further than staring.  

“He’s not going to eat you and he’s not going to attack you; he never does it.” 

Jones has had her service dog for three years, but she has known Max for much longer.  

“I’ve known him all his life, but I’ve had him myself personally for three years. Max was always like Harry Potter is what I call it, because he was just locked in the closet underneath the stairs his whole life. So, he didn’t know how to be a dog when I got him.  

“He was already quiet, he never wagged his tail, never barked, didn’t know how to do any of that so I first taught him how to do that stuff and then I taught him to do whatever it is I felt like I needed him to do, like getting him ready to sit in class and such. Then for whatever I felt like I couldn’t teach him, I sent him to school to learn,” said Jones.  

“Max was actually attacked by a therapy dog on this campus and it was a little therapy dog. He did nothing and that dog came out of it all happy and nice but he (Max) came out it with bruises and scars,” said Jones. 

According to Jones, that therapy dog is still allowed on campus.  

“I’ve had people come up to him and touch him without my permission which causes him to back up. That’s when they think ‘he’s going to eat me because I did this.’  

He knows that he’s not supposed to be touched so he’s just moving to the other side. They also ask me ‘is this a movement to show or prove how Pit bulls are not evil and stuff?’ 

“Little things like that are annoying especially because all we’re trying to do is live our lives and go places,” said Jones. 

“It has come to a point where I don’t want that much interaction with anyone else’s dog and other people,” said Jones. 

Jones believes that the campus and the community would benefit from educational forums about how to act appropriately in the presence of service dogs.  

Jones also wants to emphasize the difference between service dogs and emotional support animals.  

“Service dogs are trained to do a specific task, and you must have a disability that hinders you from the real world. A service dog is there to make sure that they can mitigate those [disabilities]. 

“If you can’t see, those are your eyes. If you can’t pick anything up, those are your hands. That’s what they do; they are trained to do a job, not just sit there and be well behaved in public.”   

“Emotional support animals are meant for people with mental disabilities…if you have something like depression, or [another] mental disability,  [emotional support animals] help you with that,” said Jones.  

“Service dogs are allowed to go everywhere the public is allowed. They are allowed to live in any housing because they are the equivalent of like a wheelchair or a walker. They are classified as medical assistance equipment; they are not pets,” said Jones.  

“Emotional support animals are your pets, it’s just that if you live in no-pet housing, you are allowed to have them because they actually help you do something so you need them there.” 

Jones also mentioned how to know whether or not a service dog in public is real or fake.  

“You must name a category in order for your dog to actually be a service dog. It could be multiple categories as well, like if you had a medical or mobility dog. But you can tell if they’re real or fake by if they’d name a label, or if they go ‘it just helps me with my emotional support,’”said Jones.  

“Real service dog handlers know that you don’t have to describe your disability to everybody because that’s not for them to know. It’s annoying to have to keep answering everyone who asks that quesiton every three seconds because all you’re trying to do is just live your life.” 

“[Max] is a wheelchair, he is a walker, he is a cane, he is medical equipment and that’s it. There’s nothing else; there’s nothing else I have to answer to you for. Just let me walk,” said Jones.  


Superhero movies lack diversity

By Samantha Anteau

Staff Writer

When people think of superheroes, they often think of attractive white men saving the world. It’ll usually take a couple rounds of “name a superhero” before someone says a woman (though, admittedly, the “Wonder Woman” movie helped change this a little; more on that later) and even longer for them to get to a person of color, if they ever do.  

If we’re just going to look at blockbuster superhero movies, this is pretty intensely reinforced. In the first wave of blockbuster superhero movies, we got “Iron Man”, “Wolverine”, “Batman”, “Superman”, etc., all falling snugly into the category of “white men saving the world.”  

Were there female side characters? Did people of color occasionally make an appearance, including the rare woman of color? Of course. However, being a top-tier superhero tended to fall on the white, male characters.  

That’s not to say that those who create superhero movies don’t have a lot of sources to pull from. Though the comic book industry is notoriously male-centric and white, there are plenty of notable female superheroes and superheroes of color. There are already introduced characters to pick from, like Black Panther, Storm, Black Widow, Heimdall (Idris Elba edition), Jubilee or Falcon.  

There are also plenty of characters who haven’t appeared who would make great choices. John Stewart’s Green Lantern, America Chavez, Bishop, Danielle Moonstar. If you haven’t heard of them before, it really doesn’t matter; after all, who even knew that the “Guardians of the Galaxy” existed before the movie came out?  

Studio executives can’t say that movies featuring women and/or people of color in leading roles wouldn’t sell. “Wonder Woman” is the fifth highest grossing superhero film of all time, and the highest grossing film in the DCEU. “Black Panther” has the highest pre-release ticket sales of any superhero movie ever and is predicted to make at least $400 million at the box office.  

There simply is no excuse, monetary or otherwise, for these movies not to be made. Are the studios getting better about being inclusive? Yes, of course.  

Wonder Woman’s second film is in pre-production, “Black Panther” is coming out this week, and “Captain Marvel” is set to come out March of next year. But to have three out of thirty-nine solo superhero movies in the last ten years (including ones that are set to come out in the next two years) be centered on a woman or a person of color is absolutely abysmal.  

Honestly, I’ll just say it: I’m bored. I’m bored of the same generically good looking white actor playing some guy with a tortured background but the heart of a hero, I’m tired of women and POC having to play love interests and sidekicks to their white male counterparts.  

It physically exhausts me that Batman had twelve movies before Wonder Woman had even one, and that up until Wonder Woman, no female superhero ever had a solo film.  

People of color suffered the same fate, with the first superhero of color with a solo movie being the upcoming “Black Panther” while a white Spiderman got to be rebooted and told in virtually the same way three separate times. We need to do better.  

If this is something that you want to see as much as I do, encourage those you know to go see “Black Panther” or “Captain Marvel”, to tweet about how much they want to see more diversity in films.  

The only things that will ever be made are the things the studios think are going to sell, so support these movies in every way you can. Once we prove that this is the content we want to see, we can take a step forward towards a cinematic universe that offers more diversity than a bevy of white guys named Chris.   

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Morris avoids traps of pop, does it right

By Paige Daniel

Thoughts Editor

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Rae Morris is new to the pop that her second album, “Someone Out There,” is steeped in – but she is familiar with good songwriting. When those two elements come together, Morris obliterates the sophomore slump into mere myth.  

I had not become acquainted with Morris until she started promoting “Someone Out There” with its second single, “Do It.” For such an outright pop song, Morris seems unconcerned with the regular trappings of a pop career – no flashy music videos replete with synchronized choreography or outlandish scenarios, no attempts to hurriedly solidify an “image” that is somewhat forcibly induced, unintentionally drawing themselves into an aesthetic or sonic box.  

Pop musicians are rightly concerned with the extras (or, alternately, the expectations) that come along with the job, especially when it comes to the American market. 

It’s just refreshing to see Morris confidently tread the path without the extras. Where some may have to rely on those extras to bolster or supplement the music they are putting out, Morris’ music is strong enough without them.  

Her first album was cluttered with one too many ballads, in the vein of the singer-songwriter genre that saturates the waters across the pond. Morris herself is British, but she wrote and recorded much of “Someone Out There” in Los Angeles, California.  

She breaks away from the balladry to offer more variety on this album, and finds herself tipping into keyboard synths instead of the strings and piano of her previous work.  

There is a wide-eyed buoyancy to “Someone Out There,” a quality Morris shares with many other pop artists singing about the foibles of being young and looking (or not looking) for love. Morris is not solely servicing that genre expectation, though. There is a maturity and a sincerity embedded in Morris’ pop that is, to evoke the cliché, a breath of fresh air.  

“Push Me to My Limit” is a glacial opener that serves the same auditory purpose as an orchestra tuning up. It is a brief preface to one of the centerpieces of the album, the marching “Reborn,” which has its production values focused on a hypnotically repetitive pattern that recalls the electronic experimentation and grandeur of Björk.  

The fizzy “Atletico (The Only One)” finds her trading out the driving vocal plateaus required by “Reborn” for a nimble vocal delivery that hops up and down the scale, making it not only a talented feat on Morris’ part but the most sheer fun of the whole tracklist.  

The middle section of the album slips appropriately into mid-tempo contemplation; “Wait for the Rain” is enveloped in the best kind of pop catharsis: an extended water metaphor that ends in Morris’ steely tones reaching skyward.  

“Lower the Tone” is a touchingly vulnerable slow burn, vocoder lending the song a hushed timbre that further diversifies the album. “Physical Form” and “Someone Out There” are perfectly okay ballads, but they end up falling short of the great left-field pop songs “Dip My Toe” and “Rose Garden.”  

Where “Dip My Toe” has a persistent beat, “Rose Garden” exemplifies an effective and surprising tonal shift between the verse and the chorus, and it supplies the most experimental song structure Morris plays with. If the production on “Rose Garden” wasn’t striking enough, the empathic subject matter gives it a discernible heartbeat.  

None of the tracks are filler; Morris means what she says and her earnest vocals back her up on that. The lyrics can be ham-fisted at times, but that is easy to forgive upon arriving at the closing track, “Dancing With Character,” the inspiration for which she culled from her best friend’s grandparents. 

What works for her on every song is the healthy balance of innovative pop and sincere emotion. When every song is doing something unique, that is hard to pull off – but she does it.  

MacCurdy sponsors new events on campus

By Cassie Florian

News Editor

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Alma College’s on-campus women’s aid center, the MacCurdy house, has been very active this year, having held events such as the slut walk and a house meet and greet that members hosted in the fall.  

This month, MacCurdy is sponsoring two more events that, like those it has hosted in the past, help to promote equal rights among people of all genders on campus.  

The first event that they are hosting is a production of “A Memory,  A Monologue, A Rant, and
A Prayer” or MMRP for short. “[An MMRP] is a collection of monologues written by or inspired by real people,” said Ishijah Johnson (‘18).  

They were put together by Eve Ensler, who also did the Vagina Monologues, which MacCurdy has also performed in the past.  

The Vagina Monologues are episodic plays that discuss topics such as body image, consensual and nonconsensual sexual experiences and several other topics as seen from a woman’s perspective.  

Although MacCurdy has been doing Vagina Monologues for a while now, the group felt that it was best to make the switch over to MMRP.  

“A few of us in the house [did] not like the idea of acquainting women with vaginas,” said Johnson, so we switched to MMRP, which is more inclusive and raises awareness to certain issues.” 

Although the dates to audition to be in the performance have already past, Alma College staff and students can still watch the monologues get performed and support their fellow students.   

The production will take place Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the chapel and students are encouraged to come and listen.  

“It will be eye opening,” said Johnson.  The second thing that MacCurdy is doing this month is a dress drive throughout February and into March.   

“The dress drive is a collaborative project between MacCurdy house and the Career Closet here in Alma, run by the Women’s Resource Center of Gratiot County,” said Audrey Karr (‘18).   

Items that can be donated include gently worn prom dresses, accessories, shoes, jewelry and strapless bras of all sizes and designs, according to Karr.  

Donated items can be dropped off at the MacCurdy house, 701 W. Center Street, or the Career Closet, which is located at 150 W. Center Street.  

“This is a new project growing out of the need for local high school students who cannot afford the enormously expensive necessities of prom season,” said Karr.  

The dresses that are donated go to the students here in Gratiot County so that they can have them for prom.   

“It is important to donate and participate in events like this because it brings the campus and local community together for a great cause,” said Karr.  

She said everyone deserves to go to prom and enjoy themselves, and not being able to afford all of the components for a successful prom is an unfair reason to have to miss out on such a special night. 

For students who are interested in doing more with the project, MacCurdy welcomes anyone who wishes to help out with the drive.  

If any students are interested in volunteering their time at the Career Closet or wish to assist in any other way with the project, they are encouraged to contact Karr, who is the current MacCurdy house manager. 











Amnesty International teaches nuclear preparedness

By Caden Wilson

News Editor

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On February 8, Alma College hosted Amnesty International’s nuclear preparedness simulation, an event where students were invited to see exactly how prepared they would be in the event of a nuclear strike.  

After the four corners of the room had been labeled A,B,C and D, Megan Finkbeiner (’19) addressed the gathered students and explained that the United States was under attack and a nuclear explosion had been confirmed in the vicinity.   

At the front of the classroom four options were projected, one for each alphabetized corner which participants would walk to after having decided on their answers. Through a series of chosen responses, participants learned what to do if a nuclear missile were to strike the U.S.   

Much of the public fear of nuclear war is a result of tensions, sometimes expressed via twitter, between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Amnesty International’s Alma event poked fun at this in its public advertisement as it referenced one of the pesident’s January tweets.  

“Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” Trump tweeted.  

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the first major concern would be to those directly in range of the blast. Intense heat and fire would surround the impact site, while a shockwave would destroy everything in the vicinity.   

As roughly one-third of the participants guessed, the best chance of survival for people outside in the open would be to lie face down on the ground with their hands over their head.   

FEMA reports that fallout and radioactive material are more dangerous than the initial nuclear blast. Finkbeiner explained that the primary goal of an individual trapped by fallout should be to find a brick or concrete building to take shelter in within 10 minutes.   

While moving in the open, it is necessary to cover the eyes, mouth and nose with cloth or another respiratory system to prevent radioactive particles from entering the body.   

To prevent long exposure to radiation, it is imperative to remove and seal clothing in a plastic bag before wiping or washing exposed skin clean. It is also important to remain inside with a radio or cell phone to listen to FEMA reports about outside conditions.  

After learning the proper procedure for the hours following the blast, students were asked to assess which supplies would be the most important from a given selection. FEMA’s recommendation is to remain indoors for two weeks after the initial detonation.   

“It was entertaining to see what supplies other people placed higher value on,” said Eric Ferrara (’18). Ferrara added that he was glad to have been a part of an updated rendition of nuclear preparedness, citing the antiquated methods of the past. “Duck and cover is a joke. It hardly does anything.”

Otaku and Gamers hosts Almacon

By Rose Cyburt

News Editor

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The Alma College Otaku and Gamers (ACOG), an active club on campus, has been preparing for this year’s AlmaCon since the end of the convention last year. The three-day event included everything from Cosplay & Cons 101 to a charity auction and even guest speakers.  

Along with the panels, there was also a Fire Emblem character café, Super Smash Bros tournament, vendors and artists selling fandom items and a gaming room.  

“I have worked the table top room for the past two years,” said Matthew Nagy (’19). “Basically, I organize the Dungeons and Dragons sessions, make sure nobody steals anything and bring other games like Cards Against Humanity.”  

The table top room is in the Rotunda, so it is often used as a relaxation room. “The con goes until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and it is pretty common for people to be playing games until it closes,” said Nagy.  

ACOG has been hosting AlmaCon for about a decade. “Our attendance last year was around 800, so we were expecting similar numbers for this year,” said Kai Harrison (’19).  

“While the convention continues to grow as we get more word out about it, every year it is different,” said Nagy.   

“I can’t compare the years because they aren’t carbon copies of each other. There are always different panels and artists.”  

ACOG budgets the convention into its escrow through Student Congress. “Usually most of the proceeds, if not all of it, goes toward Relay for Life,” said Alyse Townsend (’18) the president of the group.  

“Sometimes we take some of the money to give to another charity. Two years ago, we took part of the profits and donated water to the Flint water crisis.”  

With an organizing staff of 15 people, the convention was spread throughout campus. There was also a diverse group of people who attended.  

“One of my friends from middle school moved to Michigan in 8th grade and then I ran into her at AlmaCon,” said Eli Yoder (’21), who is from Corvallis, Oregon.  

“Being apart of the convention and ACOG has been an amazing experience,” said Nagy. “It has made me become more involved and I’m looking forward to seeing it continue to grow in the future.”  

Active Minds spreads mental health awareness

By Sasha Dudock

Staff Writer

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Last Wednesday, Active Minds put on the event Create Your Own Coping Toolbox where students were invited to make and paint personalized recovery tool boxes.  

The recovery toolboxes contained coloring pages, stress balls, tea, chocolate, mini notebooks, crayons and other relaxing items.  

Active Minds, the sponsor of the event, “is an organization that works to spread mental health awareness and to fight the stigma on mental illnesses,” says organization president Mandy Menosky (‘18).  

“The goal [of Active Minds] is to break the stigma on mental illness and to allow people to feel comfortable with themselves and sharing their stories.”  

Active Minds has done many events on campus this year prior to Create Your Own Coping Toolbox.  

It put on Cupcakes for a Cause and Suicide Prevention week that included the Field of Flags, depression screening and Question, Persuade, Refer suicide prevenion training, as well as having speaker Alison Malmon, the founder of Active Minds, make a visit to campus.  

“Create Your Own Coping Toolbox was our most successful event . . . we got a lot of positive feedback.” added Menosky. 

“It was so successful that we are going to be doing it again in April before finals.”  

Students also felt that recovery toolbox building was a success. 

“I thought this event was awesome. Not only did it promote mental well-being, but it was also a great opportunity to get together with a group of people and have fun,” said attendee Julia Ettema (‘21).   

Some students even felt that programs like these should be more commonplace around campus.  

“I thought it was a fun experience and I enjoyed meeting new people.” said Rebecca Fredenburg (‘21). I think the campus should do more events like this and open them up to more people,”   

Active Minds is putting on more events later this year, next being the screening of a movie relating to eating disorders on Feb. 20. Later in April it will sell butterfly tattoos to provide awareness and support to self-harm survivors.   

There are many resources on campus that promote and restore mental well-being, the best being the Counseling and Wellness center.  

Students can make appointments and talk to professionals in a safe environment for free.  

Confidentiality is maintained and visiting the Counseling and Wellness Center does not hurt a student’s academic profile in any way.   

The Counseling and Wellness center works in tandem with Active Minds to provide resources on various different mental illnesses and coping methods that are always available to students and the community.   

Another less formal way to relieve stress and meet new people is to visit the therapy dogs and cats that come to campus once a month, courtesy of the Counseling and Wellness Center.  

With midterms quickly approaching, stress is at an all-time high and staying mentally healthy can be challenging.  

There are many simple ways to combat stress on campus without taking up too much study time.  

Buying a hot chocolate from Highland Java, going on a walk on the community trail or playing card games with a group of friends can all help with mental health.  

“We want everyone to be educated and to feel like they are able to talk about their mental illness and what they are going through.” said Menosky. 

We want people to start the conversation about mental health and stop feeling shame,” said Menosky.


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