Weekly Horoscopes 3/15/21

KATE WESTPHAL
COPY EDITOR

The Signs as Discontinued Fast Food Items

Aries: Little Caesar’s Pepperoni Crazy Bread. An appetizer, you often hold out for the next best thing to come along. Realize that sometimes nothing appears and you need to make do with what you have.

Taurus: Pizza Hut’s Taco Pizza. Combining two favorites may sound delectable, but you must recognize whether the outcome is something you truly desire. Taking time to reflect is always a good idea.

Gemini: Dairy Queen’s MySTIRy Misty. Just like this slushy, you too change yourself to fit the situation at hand, whether that benefits others or not. Be cautious as to how you present yourself.

Cancer: Arby’s Sourdough Melts. A solid choice, but one that may not appeal to everyone. There is no denying that you have desirable qualities, just focus on making yourself attractive to a wider audience.

Leo: Sonic’s French Toaster Breakfast Sandwich. A gluttonous choice is a foolhardy choice, whether that becomes apparent now or in the future. You have several good aspects but need to recognize when each part should be emphasized.

Virgo: KFC’s Chicken Littles. Simplicity rules your desires, and you aim for minimalism whenever possible. While not entirely wrong, there is more to life than just the simple things.

Libra: McDonald’s McSalad Shakers. You think shaking a salad in a cup is a way to add fun to your day. Please do more things that add joy to your life.

Scorpio: Taco Bell’s Spicy Chicken Burrito. Spicy, hot and addictive become a dangerous when combined. It is said that if the work is put in, you can still be enjoyed.

Sagittarius: Wendy’s Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty. Popular but short-lived, this item describes you in more ways than one. Look inward and analyze how you can increase your social longevity.

Capricorn: Whataburger’s Steak Fajitas. A basic choice, but one that will consistently be there for you. While not picked often, believe that you will still be chosen.

Aquarius: Jack in the Box’s Cheesy Macaroni Bites. It’s a mystery why you aren’t kept around more often. You have all the qualities of a keepsake, but something is off that restricts you from becoming a longstanding figure.

Pisces: Burger King’s Cini-Minis. A perfect appetizer for a short time, but too much will leave you feeling bloated and sick. Understand when restraint is needed.

Disability visibility on campus

EMILY HENDERSON
STAFF WRITER

March is Disability Awareness month. Alma College hasn’t always offered a plethora of information on disability awareness, but this year may be different.

This semester the Center for Student Opportunity has created a reading club for faculty and students. The material concerns disability visibility.

The subject matter for this group was Disability Visibility written by Alice Wong, and it’s a collection of short stories by those with disabilities about their lives.

“We talked about how this book brings light to the lives and narratives of people with disabilities written specifically by people with disabilities,” said Julia Dang, a graduate assistant for the office of diversity and inclusion.

This book was chosen for a myriad of reasons. One reason is that Alice Wong, the author of the highlighted book, will be speaking at the Women’s History and Disability Awareness Month Keynote that will be happening on March 25th.

Not only is March Disability Awareness month, but it is also Women’s History month. The CSO is hoping to celebrate and highlight these together at the end of this month.

This book was also chosen because it offers a closer look into the life of more than one disabled individual.

Throughout history disability visibility has been lacking in all societies, but those with disabilities and their allies are hoping to change this narrative.

“Disability visibility is having those experiences recognized and validated and to have their voices and concerns heard rather than doing what our society is known to do, which is push away the topic of disability and accessibility because it’s difficult,” said Dang.

Disability visibility is important more than just one month out of the year, and is something that has not received a lot of attention through media or other outlets, and when it does it may be from the perspective of a non-disabled individual.

“Oftentimes, we are told about disabilities by medical practitioners or even by media, and it’s really not their story to tell, so we thought it would be really beneficial for our campus to hear about what they have to say about their own community,” said Dang.

Many feel that the only way to know about the oppression that minority groups face is to hear their story from them, without the presence of the majority’s opinion obstructing the truth.

This club has more than one motive. Not only do they want students and faculty to learn about the struggles that those with disabilities face in their lifetime, but they are also hoping to spark a change among those on campus.

“I wanted us to be disturbed about the lack of accessibility that is around us so that we can be fired up to make a change to be more inclusive,” said Dang.

The Center for Student Opportunity doesn’t plan on stopping here. As momentum gains within our academic community, they hope to see more students join them in future meetings discussing other books regarding this topic.

“This was our first book club; however, based on the engagement and success, I’d love to host another one of these in the future,” said Dang.

The CSO is hoping to hold another reading club in the future, and are open to student suggestions on the material that is covered regarding the lives of those with disabilities.

While nothing has currently been planned regarding the next book that will be highlighted in this group, those who partook have a good feeling about the direction the campus is headed in regards to disability visibility.

Education during a pandemic

TAYLOR PEPITONE
STAFF WRITER

COVID-19 has affected every aspect of daily life. Many people lost their jobs, lost their homes, lost their family members and even lost out on educational opportunities. Weforum.org stated that globally, over 1.2 billion students were moved out of the classroom and into a virtual world of learning.

Education has changed drastically since the coronavirus became a widespread problem. Many students are now at home, learning in a virtual setting because of that constant fear of the virus.

“Adjusting to learning online has not been super difficult because I am very independent in my learning style,” said Brenna Kilby (‘24). “There have been challenges with motivation, and it can be very frustrating because technology does not always work, but for the most part it has not been too bad.”

Not only have students had to adjust to this change, teachers and educators did too.

“Teaching online is different, and for me, it is far less satisfying and for more stressful,” said Laura Von Wallmenich, a professor of English. “I have realized I need to design class in a totally different way. It is working, but it does not feel the same. I do not get the same sense of joy from the energy of a great discussion.”

Weforum.org stated that there has been an increase in retention of information being taught and learned, and that it takes less time to go over new material. With moving online though, students do not have to be in person to do their homework or even possibly take tests, which could constitute cheating or lead to finding the answers online instead.

There has been discussion of permanently implementing hy-flex courses in schools. With research finding that students seem to be learning better online, this is likely going to become an option. There is still some uncertainty among students and teachers about whether learning and teaching online has been completely beneficial.

“If a teacher is not good with technology or is just disorganized in general, it becomes extremely difficult to learn online,” said Kilby. “On the other hand, if a professor is organized, it makes it easier to go back and watch lessons and to understand the material even more. In the end, the difficulty of learning virtually really depends on the professor.”

Before COVID-19 spread throughout the world, the market for edtech investments was $18.6 billion in 2019. It has since been projected to reach $350 billion by 2025. It has been predicted that this is due to online educational programs, virtual tutoring and video conferencing apps.

Because of this surge of online learning, many academic software businesses have offered their programs for free to the public. Since then, programs like BYJU have seen a significant increase in their number of students.

While moving classes to a virtual setting has its benefits, it also has negative impacts. Many students do not have internet access in their homes, and while some schools are providing those students with the options of either being completely in person or receiving paper copies of their work, it still takes away from their education as a whole.

Moving to a virtual setting has taken away a lot of social interaction between students and teachers. Everyone is required to remain six feet apart, and some people are even completely isolated because of the possibility of getting sick. This has affected both mental and physical health.

In.style.yahoo.com stated that parents have also had to become teachers for their children. Because so many classes are now online, parents are having to find time to help their kids during class or are even teaching their kin themselves. Before COVID-19, many parents were not as involved in their student’s education as they are now.

Although the virus has affected education in many different ways, it has required many to overcome any obstacle that they face. In the end, students and teachers are learning how to be resilient and conquer anything that challenges them.

Syrian Civil War reaches decade mark

ZACH CARPENTER
STAFF WRITER

WESTON HIRVELA
GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Following a recent escalation in violence Syria is again in the spotlight of world politics. On Feb. 27 President Joe Biden ordered an airstrike on two locations in Syria in response to an attack carried out by Iran against U.S. backed forces in Iraq.

One of the two airstrikes was called off at the last minute by Biden after intelligence received a report that there were women and children present at the location. The attack that was carried out left one ISIS fighter dead and another two injured.

The airstrike marks the first time Biden has chosen to use military intervention overseas and comes at a time where he is trying to keep the delicate balance of power within the region.

Congressional Democrats were quick to criticize Biden for authorizing the attacks while Republicans applauded the action. Progressive Democrats have called for a deescalation of U.S. involvement in the Middle East citing the staggering cost of life caused by the seemingly never ending wars.

Biden defended his decision to go ahead with the airstrike citing that he did not wish to further escalate tensions in the region but did wish to protect U.S. interests in the region.

The U.S. has had a long history in the region going back to the first invasion of Iraq following their takeover of nearby Kuwait in 1990. More recently ISIS has dominated the region, specifically Syria, creating a major humanitarian crisis and displacing millions from their homes.

According to the International Red Cross 13 Million Syrians currently rely on humanitarian aid for survival, a staggering three-quarters of the war torn country’s population. Many have been forced to become refugees in far away European countries.

Recent reports from Save the Children a not-for-profit organization that focuses on humanitarian aid for children reported that 33% of children interviewed in Syria would rather live in another country and 86% do not wish to return to their home.

Complicating efforts for a deescalation of violence in the region is the growing threat ISIS once again poses. Although their physical Caliphate was defeated in Dec. 2018 following a yearslong offensive by U.S. backed Kurdish forces to reclaim large swaths of land that had been captured in 2014 and 2015 by ISIS fighters.

The Syrian Civil War itself began in 2011 as a facet of the greater Arab Spring movement in Northern Africa and the Middle East. Protesters across the region rose up against oppressive dictatorial regimes, resulting in the overthrow of some and violent responses by others, such as Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria.

In recent years, the U.S. has faced an uphill battle containing the spread of ISIS and attempting to stop the Assad regime from committing more human rights violations against the residents of Syria.

The U.S. has also had the support of such allies as Britain and the greater European Union but other countries such as Russia have complicated efforts by backing the Assad government.

On Mar. 7 a Russian warship bombed an oil drilling site in Northern Syria further complicating peace efforts in the already delicate region. At least four people were killed in the blast and 24 others were injured.

Another factor complicating the civil war is COVID-19. The virus has struck the entire world sparing no one, including war-torn Syria. On Mar. 8 both President Asad and his wife tested positive for COVID-19. An additional 26,000 people have been recorded as positive in the country and a little over 1,000 have perished.

Although the numbers seem low it has been difficult for officials to compile accurate numbers due to competing forces controlling different regions within Syria’s borders. Vaccine distribution has also been slow in the country due to the competing factions.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonia Guterres on Mar. 10 called the situation in Syria a” living nightmare” and highlighted the need for more humanitarian aid to go to the region, especially during the pandemic.

Covid-19 Relief Bill set to pass

ELLA BRIGHT
STAFF WRITER

The United States Senate voted 50-49 in favor of passing the final version of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill on Saturday, Mar. 6.

The voting session lasted for 24 hours. Of all the votes, every single Democrat in the Senate voted for the bill, and every single Republican in the Senate voted against it. Republican Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska was absent for the vote due to being away at a family funeral.

The relief package, also known as the American Rescue Plan and one of Biden’s largest campaign promises, is set to provide a new round of payments to Americans struggling financially due to the pandemic.

The package is also set to provide an increase to the child tax credit, and an extension of supplemental unemployment benefits lasting until Sept. 6, 2021. The bill is currently being prioritized due to the fact that current federal unemployment benefits are set to expire Mar. 14.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stressed how important bi-partisan support on the bill was in order to “save lives and livelihoods” on Saturday. However, bi-partisan support is extremely scarce. Most all Republicans in the Senate have ruthlessly criticized President Biden’s relief package, as well as the Democrats’ strategy of pushing the bill to the Senate by way of budget reconciliation, passing the package without the support of any Republicans.

“Democrats decided their top priority wasn’t pandemic relief,” said Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in an interview with CNBC. “It was their Washington wish list. It was jamming through unrelated policy changes they couldn’t pass honestly. A colossal missed opportunity for our nation.”

Despite this criticism, President Biden is thrilled with the passing of his bill.

“When we took office 45 days ago, I promised the American people that help was on the way,” said Biden. “Today, I can say we’ve taken one more giant step forward in delivering on that promise.”

Biden also stressed the importance of the package, noting the unfortunate milestone of 500,000 American lives lost to COVID-19. He also noted the closings of hundreds of small businesses, millions of American citizens out of work and so many families struggling to pay for food and rent.

“It obviously wasn’t easy, it wasn’t always pretty, but it was so desperately needed,” said Biden.

The Senate version added a provision to the bill that makes any student loan forgiveness passed between Dec. 31, 2020, and Jan. 1, 2026, tax-free, instead of treating the forgiven debt as taxable income.

Over $128 billion in grants to are set to go to state educational agencies, with 90% of this money allocated to local educational agencies. $39 billion is set to go to higher education institutions, like Alma College.

“I think [the bill] is a step in the right direction,” said David Troyer (‘24). “I’m glad about it. I know a lot of people didn’t get a lot of income this year, because no one really knew what was going on, through no fault of our own.”

Though getting it to pass through the Senate was the big hurdle, the bill has not reached the end of its journey. It is set to be taken up by the House of Representatives the week of Mar. 8, then to President Biden’s desk for his signature.

“I find it considerate that the government is trying to help,” said Troyer. “They’re trying to make sure that us ‘common folk’ are alright, especially those of us who are trying to get ourselves educated in an economy that’s becoming more increasingly demanding.”

Gossip Squirrel 3/15/21

Dear GossipSquirrel,
I feel like I did so awful on my midterms and just feel like me being in college during a huge
pandemic was such a mistake. I started school not being in a pandemic, so I don’t really want to
halt my college experience. How do I stay motivated to be in college?

-Covid College Student

Dear Covid College Student,
Being in college right now can be a stressful thing. Having to deal with the new campus
regulation while also dealing with different class formats and also not being allowed to be social
is definitely really unfortunate. Social interaction is one of the biggest ways we as college
students can have fun and grow but we can’t right now because of Covid-19. By following the
rules and being hopeful we can slowly move towards being a safer campus and not jeopardizing
the health of other students. I know it sucks but hopefully soon we will be able to go back to a
semi-normal way of doing college.

-GossipSquirrel

Dear GossipSquirrel,
During these first two semesters at Alma, I have felt the most unorganized I have ever felt in my
life. How do I change that when I feel like I’m already so badly organized?

-A Big Mess

Dear A Big Mess,
It is so hard to stay organized right now. Dealing with online classes, so many assignments, and
canvas can be really stressful. I have a couple suggestions for you. First, you want to make sure
you are planning ahead. Maybe you have to take a day out of the week (maybe the weekend)
where you plan out your week. It might be a good idea to plan to focus on your due dates so
you can see what needs to get done first. Another thing you could do is find a way to visually be
able to see what you have to do. Maybe this looks like having a to-do list on your desk or even
on your phone. Getting a visual reminder throughout your day on your desk could be a
motivator to get at least a little bit more work done.

-GossipSquirrel

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