Gossip Squirrel 3/2/21

Dear GossipSquirrel,
I have a lot of questions and concerns for allot of the policies and rules at Alma but don’t really know how to address them.
-trying to ask the school

Dear trying to ask the school,
I would make sure you are searching out all possibilities to be able to talk with the school. Make sure you know when town hall meetings happen with President Abernathy and also be aware of when he hosts his office hours. You can find this in the emails the administration sends out. I’d also have conversations with students and faculty so you are all aware of concerns and can share concerns if you are able to relate.

Dear GossipSquirrel,
I feel like there’s nothing going on during the pandemic on campus. I want to have fun but I’m trying to be safe and follow guidelines. What should I do?

Dear boredaf,
It can get hard not being able to do everything that was allowed pre-covid but the school and students are doing their best to give the students a great time at Alma with events throughout the semester. Follow ACUB on social media so you are aware of all the super fun events they are hosting. Also be on the lookout for events that clubs are having and fun fundraising events that Greek life is having!

A taste of victory


In the section “From Our Boys in the Service,” writes Major Frank Knox, alumni of Alma College in the November issue of The Weekly Almanian. On September 21, 1918, Knox led a 150 square mile offensive into French territory held on by the German army since 1914. Despite the resistance, the Yankees brought fresh soldiers onto the Western Front—a sight that the British and French were more than ecstatic to witness by this point in the war.

Major Knox had experienced combat on the Western Front for the first time, but this was far from his first war. Knox left Alma his senior year and joined Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War in 1898. As an experienced combat officer, he writes a letter about his offensive in Europe.

He describes his first battle as “a wonderful experience [and] quite impossible to picture on paper.” Major Knox was on the ground with the first offensive actions by the United States against the German army since entering the war.

“Thank God I lost no men killed and only a few sent to the hospital without exaggeration I think I may say I have lived my greatest hour. A second battle can hardly come up to the first in the wealth of experience given.” By this point in the war, the German Spring Offensive had failed to bring a decisive victory in the Western Front before the Americans could arrive. Morale among German soldiers had reached its lowest point since the beginning in 1914.

Major Knox was confident with his judgment and the men he oversaw. “Our boys are employing their natural skill in baseball in handling grenades. They use a short arm quick throw like a catcher trying to nip a runner at second—and their aim is deadly.”

The concept of a round hand grenade—from its conception—was designed around the size and shape. Until the second World War, they were made to simulate a baseball for physical familiarity among soldiers. Perhaps, Knox may have had some bearing on this concept in practice. One may speculate, but we may never know for sure.

Major Knox’s infantry battalion in the camp away from the fighting. “Our camp is pitched in a woods which forms a part of our front and we find at least some security from shells and bombs by sleeping in holes in the ground.”

Artillery accounted for a majority of the casualties in The Great War. Arguably, only second to disease, such as the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. A reality of the human condition that is all too familiar to the people of the modern world.

Major Knox had an enormous responsibility on his shoulders. He and many other United States officers have been handed problems that the Allies have been struggling with since the war began. Only with this new help and the German War economy’s wearing down can the United States make a difference to end the bloodshed.

Spectators bring controversy to campus


On Feb. 15, the Alma College athletic department announced that, starting Feb. 17, limited spectators from outside the Alma community would be permitted to attend indoor sporting events.

Every student-athlete will be allowed to have up to two parents or guardians at home contests in Art Smith Arena. These spots are non-transferable, meaning that only parents or guardians are able to utilize them. They are required to reserve their spots for upcoming games ahead of time.

Alma College students, staff and faculty are also permitted to attend home basketball and volleyball games. Only 30 campus community members are allowed into the arena, with 60 parents allowed.

The Alma College spirit squad and dance team are also allowed in the arena and able to perform when the teams aren’t occupying the court.

“When I heard that there would be a bit of spectators allowed, I was excited to be honest,” said Emma VanDeusen (‘22), a member of the spirit squad.

“We really try to hype up the crowd, which then hopefully hypes up the players. [Performing on Feb. 17] definitely felt different than [pre-pandemic], but it felt as close to normal as anything has in almost a year.”

The spirit squad performed in the bleachers at the men’s basketball game against Hope College on Feb. 17. The dance team also had their separate area in the arena, and in an effort to promote social distancing, neither group intermingled.

“My coaches, the dance team coaches, Sarah Dehring and Kiana Verdugo have all worked really hard to make sure we are in a space dedicated just to us to ensure we are kept safe,” said VanDeusen.

“With the extensive testing that is done, I do feel safe. Sports teams are being tested three times [a week], which feels like a lot but it’s to make sure we can participate in sports safely.”

The Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association voted on Feb. 12 to grant institutional discretion to allow spectators at indoor venues. Alma College athletics must follow rules and regulations set by the MIAA.

Despite the leniency granted to athletics, performing arts do not have to comply with these same policies. Dance company, theatre, choir and band performances are still not permitted to have audience members outside the campus community, as per Alma College. Instead, these events are live-streamed for parents and guardians to watch.

Some events in the arts have been able to have members of the campus community watch in-person, but others have not.

“Honestly, it’s been really difficult [because] up until this year, my family has never missed a dance concert of mine,” said Meredith Bowles (‘21).

“It’s weird not seeing them in the audience.”

Spectators being allowed at indoor sporting events but not at the performing arts has created a divide on campus.

“I’ve seen a lot of controversy, so I want to start out by saying I’m not blaming the sports or attacking the sports in any way,” said Bowles.

“I know it’s not the athletes’ fault. However, it’s personally really frustrating to me that the school didn’t even consider approving outside people to come to [performances in the arts] the same time they approved sporting events.”

Some students are wondering if allowing spectators on campus will add to the spread of the Coronavirus, as the expectations of the spectators aren’t outlined to the campus community.

“Now [that] they’re allowing parents on campus for events, are they getting tested?” asked Leo West (‘22).

“Are they even gonna be held to mask rules?”

Additionally, students are upset that sports teams are able to travel off-campus for games and matches, but students who aren’t involved in athletics are not permitted to travel more than 10 miles outside of Alma.

“Baseball can go to Louisiana, but I can’t go to my friend’s dorm room,” said West.

“I have nothing against the baseball team, but the policy that allows them to do all that is backwards.” As coronavirus cases on campus are currently low, the campus community hopes that numbers remain this way despite spectators being allowed on campus for events. If numbers remain low, the potential grows for audience members to be able to attend performing arts events in the future, and for students to be able to travel outside the Alma community.

Host of The Bachelor under fire for racism


Chris Harrison, the host and face of ABC’s The Bachelor franchise, is under fire following racist comments he made regarding a contestant on this season of The Bachelor.

Harrison, who has hosted the show and its spinoffs since the start of the franchise, was in an interview with the show’s first black bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, on ExtraTV on Feb. 9.

In the interview, Lindsay asked Harrison about his opinion regarding racist allegations that were brought up surrounding a contestant on this year’s season of The Bachelor, Rachael Kirkconnell. Since her appearance on the show, photos have surfaced of Kirkconnell attending an antebellum-plantation-themed ball hosted by a fraternity who embraces Confederate General Robert. E. Lee as its “spiritual leader.”

The fraternity, Kappa Alpha at Georgia College and State University, throws their annual ball during what they call “Old South Week.” This week celebrates the confederacy and was previously held on southern plantations.

Harrison comes to the defense of Kirkconnell, stating the photos are old and that they do not speak for Kirkconnell’s character.

Lindsay tells Harrison that the photos are not a good look, to which Harrison asked, “Is it [not] a good look in 2018, or is it not a good look in 2021?” as if the times were different. However, these photos were taken less than three years ago, and Kirkconnell has also since liked photos of her friends with Confederate flags in the background.

Following the drama between Harrison and Lindsay, Kirkconnell issued an apology on her social media, but only after being pestered for weeks by fans of the show.

“I think Rachael’s [prolonged] silence speaks volumes, and Chris defending her was pretty disappointing because he didn’t have to defend her to this extent,” said Sarah Sheathelm (‘22).

Fans of The Bachelor franchise quickly came out to ridicule Harrison for telling people to show Kirkconnell “a little grace, understanding and compassion” despite her past. Rather than condemning her actions, Harrison made Kirkconnell seem like a victom of a cyberbullying.

Harrison also spoke over Lindsay throughout the entirety of the interview. She alleged that he didn’t listen to what she had to say—he only cared about what he wanted to say next.

On Feb. 10, Harrison released what fans called a cop-out of an apology where he promised to do better and apologized to Lindsay for, “not listening to her better on a topic she has firsthand understanding of.”

As someone who reportedly has an annual salary of $8 million, Harrison has every resource to learn about equity and how to respond to situations such as this one. He has been the host and face of The Bachelor franchise since 2002, which means the things he says and does directly represent the show, even if it is unintentional.

Some people have been praising the franchise for including more BIPOC leads and contestants, but to many, this seems like the bare minimum. As mentioned previously, the first Black lead was Lindsay, and that did not come until 15 years after the start of the franchise.

This season of The Bachelor had the most diverse cast in the show’s history. The lead, Matt James, was the franchise’s first Black bachelor, and 25 women who identify as BIPOC were contestants.

However, this is not enough when the rich, white man who hosts the show spews off his ignorance, then tries to issue a disingenuous apology to save his career.

“I kinda feel like he’s hiding from it instead of admitting what he did was wrong, which is disappointing,” said Sheathelm.

Ultimately, on Feb. 13, Harrison posted on his Instagram that he would be taking some time away from the show and would not be appearing on a segment of the show that airs after the finale, titled After the Final Rose. Harrison said he will use the time away to educate himself more about the weight his words can have.

It is uncertain whether or not Harrison will return as the host for future seasons, and many fans think it is time for the franchise to find a more diverse host who could add much more to the show.

“He’s been such an icon to Bachelor Nation for so long but he really trashed his reputation,” said Sheathelm.

“He let down a lot of people and offended even more.”

Only time will tell what’s in store for the franchise, but here is to hoping for some positive, more diverse change.

Weekly Horoscopes 3/2/21

The Signs as Books from High School English Class

Aries: The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Your short temper can quickly snowball and lead into false accusations. Be able to take a step back and look at multiple perspectives before speaking.

Taurus: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. You may like to be by yourself, but loneliness can come if you don’t reach out to others. Interaction is a vital part of maintaining happiness.

Gemini: Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Who you are perceived to be and who you truly are don’t align at times. Focus on acknowledging the truest aspects of yourself and bring them into reality.

Cancer: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. You can be swept up in your emotions but be careful to acknowledge the long-lasting risks of your actions. Sometimes what you see isn’t the truth.

Leo: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Valuing individuality is important, but too much so can lead others in believing you’re self-centered. Accept that you can be yourself while allowing others to shine as well.

Virgo: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. You tend to be overly critical of others, but we all contain flaws. Look within yourself and recognize which ones are not worth obsessing about.

Libra: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Removing yourself from situations allows for an outsider’s perspective. While detachment isn’t always best, utilize that power to maintain a stable playing field.

Scorpio: Dracula by Bram Stoker. You consider yourself a true friend, but your stubbornness can be a boon at times. You don’t always have to place yourself in harm’s way for others.

Sagittarius: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. You resist conformity and control, and actively try to shape your world. These are admirable traits but there’s a limit to how much your world can be molded.

Capricorn: Night by Elie Wiesel. You might be overlooked sometimes, but not all foundations are meant to be noticed. Your innate sense of responsibility and strong discipline help alleviate other’s burdens.

Aquarius: Into the Wild by John Krakauer. You may struggle with your beliefs of how to be accepted, and how self-love can conflict with societal expectations. Have faith in yourself, as acceptance comes with time.

Pisces: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Trusting too much will eventually lead to your demise. It’s okay to be cautious, as long as fear doesn’t overtake you and ruin potentially good outcomes.

Health screening emails and leaving campus


A change to the COVID-19 guidelines the Winter 2021 semester at Alma College included students remaining on campus for the entirety of the semester with the exception of the three weekends granted by the school for students to visit back home. To ensure that students are following the new protocol, Alma College is using students’ daily health screenings to determine the location of the students.

If the college’s data shows that a student has left campus, they are sent an email from the COVID-19 Student Conduct and Compliance Assistant, Shelby Shawl. Within the email, it states that if the student has left campus they must begin to self-quarantine, which includes all meals to-go and avoiding in-person activities.

If the student received the email by error, then they can disregard the email. If the student’s device is not connected to Alma College’s Wi-Fi when the health screening form is filled out, this can result in error in data. Director of Residence Life, Alice Kramer, said “The best way to avoid this is to make sure your device is connected to Wi-Fi before you submit the form each day.” She adds “All the student needs to do is reply to the email. Again, we encourage students to be honest about their situation so we keep our campus safe.”

Kramer said that besides the daily health screenings, the other way in which the college recieves information about students leaving campus are students self-reporting. She adds “I have been impressed with our students’ honesty and commitment to keeping themselves and our campus safe by letting us know when they need to leave campus.”

This change on campus has become a concern to students who have family emergencies and appointments outside of the greater Alma area. Emma Keith (‘23) had to leave campus for a medical appointment. Keith said “I called Shelby Shawl. If it is for a medical appointment, you are allowed to leave campus as long as you are going to that appointment and come right back to campus. As long as you only go to those two places then you do not have to quarantine or get tested when you arrive back on campus.”

“All of our decisions have been grounded in what we learned about COVID-19 spread on campus last semester. When we analyzed our case information, we found that COVID spread at Alma College when students left campus, caught the virus, returned to campus, and spread it to their roommates and other close friends” said Kramer.

Since the pandemic is still evolving, there is little knowledge as to how much longer Alma College will have to continue tracking students through health screenings. Kramer adds “We are committed to evaluating the situation regularly and making changes when it is safe to do so.”

Bus accident in India leaves 46 dead


India, a country of almost two billion people, uses buses as one of its primary mode of transportation. Currently, 1.6 million buses are registered in the country which transport approximately 500,000 people to and from work every single day.

In light of this mammoth task at the hands of India’s transportation departments and the fact that India is known to have some of the world’s deadliest roads, with over 150,000 people killed in accidents in 2019, the safety and security of these buses and the qualifications of their drivers come in to question time and time again, as they did on the Feb. 16’ 2021.

On Feb. 16, a bus carrying more than 60 people in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh plunged off a bridge and fell into a canal. Several eyewitnesses to the crash have come forward to tell the police that it seemed as though the driver lost control of the vehicle and in an attempt to regain control, hit the boundary of the bridge before falling into Sharda canal.

Officials have reported that seven passengers and the driver managed to swim to the shore where rescue teams have successfully treated them. On the other hand, a vast majority of the passengers remained missing in the water body for long after the crash as rescue teams ramped up efforts to bring them out.

By the end of the day, 46 dead bodies were recovered from within the canal.

As the news of the accident spread across the country, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, the Chief Minister of the state of Madhya Pradesh, took to his social media account to offer his condolences to the families affected by the crash and announce that two other minsters had left for the crash site to oversee rescue efforts.

By evening that day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi the announced that would be made available to the families affected- rupees two lakhs (approximately $2,500) from the Prime Minister Relief Fund for families who lost a member to the crash and rupees 50,000 (approximately $700) for those who were severely injured.

India’s yearly death rate by accident is the highest anywhere in the world and proportionate to population, it stands above the global average with men and women between 18-40 years of age making up 70% of the accidents. In these accidents, more than 300,000 people are permanently disabled every year.

Many believe that the high rate of accidents in India are owing to the lax implementation of driving laws and underage driving while others believe the rate isn’t incredibly high to begin with. Considering India’s population, the second highest in the world, many claim India’s accident rate which is only slightly higher than the global average is no anomaly.

“For the government, each life is precious, whether poor or rich, urban or rural, male or female. The situation is alarming. There are more deaths by road accidents than by COVID-19,” said India’s Minister for Road Transport and Highways Mr. Nitin Jairam Gadkari.

He went on to say that the government was carrying out a “safety audit” of 40,000km (24,854 miles) of highways to find out whether there were any design deficiencies which were contributing to the accidents in light of the fact that in India, as high as 44% of households in rural areas reported at least one death after a road crash compared with 11.6% of households in urban areas. The report, done in collaboration with SaveLIFE Foundation, a non-profit group working on road safety, said more than 75% of poor households in India reported a decline in their income as a result of a road traffic crash.

Violence against Asian Americans


Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the harassment of and violence against Asian Americans has reached an all time high, giving rise to a twisted rhetoric against them.

The rhetoric of politicians and figures in power, including that of former President Donald Trump, have not helped the cause of the Asian American community, which is trying hard to fight the image making rounds in the country.

The Asian American community has reached a “crisis-point”, said Judy Chu, a California congresswoman who chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Community members were “terrified by the alarming surge in anti-Asian American bigotry,” she said. Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition documenting anti-Asian bigotry during the pandemic, said the organization had received more than 2,808 firsthand accounts of anti-Asian hate from Mar. 19 to Dec. 31. According to the same organization’s data, physical assaults comprised 8.7% of these incidents, while coughing/spitting comprised 6.4%. Verbal harassment constituted 70.9% of these incidents; and shunning or avoidance were 21.4%.

An Asian American student from Alma’s campus came forward to tell their experience of racism in the pandemic’s environment, albeit anonymously. “At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, I remember receiving unwelcome stares. Not all stares are bad, obviously, but as an international student, I’ve learnt to distinguish the good ones from the bad ones. I had never experienced that at Alma. But as the pandemic progressed, merely standing in line at Saga became an ordeal. It made me feel out of place and unwelcome when I would notice people mumble something in their breaths after seeing me”. Their experiences are shared by many more international students, green card holders and first general Asian Americans across the country whose integration into American society is hampered by the fixed characteristics of their ethnicity. On Jan. 28, security footage of 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee was shoved to the ground while taking his morning walk in San Francisco, an assault just two days after which he died. For the crime, nineteen-year-old Antoine Watson was charged in what many have come to consider an example of a hate crime against Asian Americans in the wake of the pandemic.

The assault caused widespread distress in the Asian American community and protests in San Francisco where citizens gathered to protest against and condone racism. Protests also took over Massachusetts where the Asian American community in particular took to the streets in an attempt to voice their opinions. Signs like “my ethnicity is not a virus”, “racism: the greatest pandemic” and “its time for facts, not fear” were seen soar across the streets.

The Asian American community has come to the United States in many waves, after having dealt with incredibly harsh conditions in their countries of birth. Upon their arrival, they’ve contributed to the American economy by becoming one of the highest earning minority groups and contributed to the American society by bringing in beautiful, diverse and colorful customs and practices. Today, there are countless of them that feel ‘un-American’ due to the rhetoric against them and the statistics represent this change in feeling.

It will require leaders and policy makers in positions of power to undo the damage done and take a stand against the words of their fellow leaders but it will also take ordinary citizens to change the way society has come to to view the pandemic and, in extension, members of the Asian American community.


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