Atlanta shooting and anti-Asian hate crimes

ALIVIA GILES
STAFF WRITER

Eight people are dead following shootings at three Atlanta-area spas. Six of the victims were identified as Asian American women, raising concerns that the murders were racially motivated.

The first shooting took place shortly before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 16 at Young’s Asian Massage located in Woodstock, Georgia, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta.

The individuals killed have been identified as Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan and Daoyou Feng, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim and Yong Ae Yue.

A GoFundMe has been made for Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, the only surviving victim of the attacks. He is reportedly in intensive care after being shot in the forehead, lungs and stomach.

Authorities arrested a suspect, 21-year-old, Robert Aaron Long. According to the agency, the FBI was “assisting the local investigations.”

Long was a customer of at least two of the massage parlors he attacked. Capt. Jay Baker of Cherokee County brought to light the murderer’s self-described “sex addiction,” and his claim that the attacks were not linked to racial motivations.

Baker faced criticism for appearing to sympathize with Long, stating that the attacks had been the result of “a really bad day for him.”

Long has been charged with eight counts of murder as well as one count of aggregated assault. He is being held at the Cherokee County jail.

Anti-Asian hate crimes continue to be on the rise in the United States, the UK and Australia. Tensions rose as politicians – most infamously former president Donald Trump – placed blame for the COVID-19 outbreak on China.

According to the research forum Stop AAPI Hate, there were nearly 3,800 anti-Asian hate incidents – including shunning, slurs and physical attacks – reported over the past year. At 68 percent, women make up the majority of the reports.

Growing up Asian-American, Kristina Her (’22) has often felt surrounded by racism. Her serves as the president of the Chinese club and was president of the International club for two years. She is also currently working on an Anti-Asian debrief panel with faculty members from the college.

The first time Her remembers experiencing racism was when she was in the first grade. In high school, Her noticed that her teachers were quick to insinuate her good grades were due to her race, rather than her studying habits.

Over the years, Her noticed how often her friends would joke that she was “rich” or “perfect.” “These stereotypes that seem inherently complimentary implied I do not struggle and live a perfect life,” Her said.

When Her first began her time at college, she wasn’t sure Alma was the best place for her, “Personally, I felt like Alma College did not offer anything for Asian students and was seriously considering transferring because I felt so alone.”

Her feels the best way to be an ally to the Asian community is by listening to your Asian friends and family, “Let them know you are aware what is going on [and] offer support … Give space and time for Asian Americans to mourn, to process everything that has happened [and] heal.”

“I advise you to become more self-aware of how you view Asian Americans,” Her said, “Do not wait for a person of color to teach you about white terrorism, Anti-Asian violence, xenophobia etc.”

Her’s next project is starting an Asian Student Union here at Alma. Her encourages anyone interested in joining to reach out to her. “To my fellow Asian students, do not allow others to minimize and invalidate your feelings,” Her said.

On March 24, Alma College President Jeff Abernathy sent out a statement via email in support of a message put out by the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board and Women’s Issues Advisory Board.

“We must, as a country and as a community, condemn hate and violence against one another,” Abernathy said, going on to add “Every member of our community is valued, and I am committed to ensuring Alma College is a welcome and safe place for all.”

Almost heaven, Alma College

WADE FULLERTON
STAFF WRITER

John Denver performance poster in the October 6, 1969 edition of the Almanian Newspaper. John Denver performs with acoustic guitar [LEFT]. His lyrics to his album Rhymes and Reasons [RIGHT]

A rumor has circulated campus for far too long without a clear answer. Did John Denver perform at Alma College? Did he perform Country Roads for the first time here? The answer to both of these questions is yes. And he performed not just once, but multiple times from 1969 to 1971. Although his arrival was a rumor, we can now look back and confirm his impact on campus life over fifty years ago.

American Icon, John Denver, launched his solo music career by performing in small venues and college towns across the United States. Remarkably, John Denver made one of his earliest debuts at Alma College in the Fall of 1969.

John Denver led music concerts across the United States at the height of the Vietnam War. One of those performances was right here at Alma College. In October, he performed his album Rhymes and Reasons live. A room of 800 spectators in Alma, Michigan, watched history unfold before them as John Denver sang music inspired by friendship and love. Words that would eventually work to bring home a generation fighting a war few wanted.

His lyrics were meaningful, and the Almanian called him a “poet” and “sensitive to human emotions.” John Denver was so well-received at Alma College that he would return in the Spring of 1970. There, he would play Rhymes and Reasons again. An album that exploded in popularity upon its release the previous year.

Times were changing, and the campus felt different, politically. Especially towards the war in Vietnam. Students had been conscripted into the war, and peace seemed like a distant memory. When Americans grew to oppose the war, musicians became the voice of change. Musicians like John Denver picked up their guitars and played at venues and parks to protest the war. Students especially were highly receiving of this entertainment and a cause to end the violence.

The Almanian writers – in the same edition of the newspaper – directly opposed the war in Vietnam. “The Vietnamese people have fought a long time against western imperialism. People in America must realize and condemn this imperialism to effectively oppose the war.”

John Denver sang words etched in the memory of those who remember protests against the war. “For the children and the flowers are my sisters and my brothers. Their laughter and their loveliness could clear a cloudy day.” Alma College loved his music because they saw him as a poet of their generation. The lyrics were printed in the October edition of the Almanian. Proof he performed these songs live in a casual setting before they went on album.

In 1970, John Denver returned to Alma with new songs. “The way he sings reflects all the things John Denver is.” His music was poetry, and his poetry was music. He performed Leaving On a Jet Plane on two shows on the Alma College campus. The 13th and 14th of January were sold-out performances. Crowds stood in applause and demanded an encore.

One of his last performances at Alma was in February 1971. Alma welcomed his return, and he sang Country Roads for the first time before its release in April 1971. Alma College students who attended the concert were among the first to hear that iconic song most people know today.

When he arrived, he apologized for being late. “When he got on stage, he explained that he had fought with the blizzard and that the weather had won by forcing his car into a ditch.” Country Roads may have been forgiving, but Michigan roads were not. He then promised he would do his best to give an excellent performance. He did.

Linda Heiss – former Almanian writer – described the atmosphere that John Denver created in his performance.

“The concert was informal and relaxed which made the bleachers seem more comfortable than usual. He entertained well because he wasn’t Just performing, he was expressing himself. He sang songs which were full of life and which surveyed life in our country. The second part of the program consisted mostly of songs of his beliefs concerning people, life, war and America, very poignant.”

“The crowd experienced and informed John that he had made up for being late. That they enjoyed his outstanding concert was evident by the final standing ovations he received. What can be said but…. Thank You, John Denver.”

Incredibly, John Denver performed here at Alma College. What changed? Why have the wandering musicians stopped their pilgrimage? Perhaps, when we societally adjust to life in Covid-19, more artists will emerge to sing of friendship and love. If they do, send them to Alma College.

Students spend spring term on campus

HANNAH STIFFLER
STAFF WRITER

Alma College has many unique and amazing opportunities. One such opportunity is the ability to take spring terms. This is set up primarily due to the 4-4-1 academic calendar year. One of the requirements that students have for graduating from Alma College is the completion of two spring terms.

One of the options for spring term is that students are required to have an “S” course completed. As stated on alma.edu, an “S” course is an “immersion in a secondary language, crossing geographical boundaries, exploring cultural/social/ethnic/economic differences outside the classroom, and applied experiences requiring extended daily interactions with instructors. Internships do not satisfy the ‘S’ requirement.”

Since COVID-19 required Alma College to switch to virtual learning back in March 2020, there have also been adjustments to requirements for spring terms. Alma College had to remove all travel opportunities for students’ safety. Many juniors and seniors did not know that they would not have the opportunity to take advantage of the required “S” course, yet the college is either waving the credit or requiring another spring term of their choosing.

For the spring 2021 term, the cost of tuition is $1,764, the cost of board is $600 and no cost for room. Additional costs may include equipment, laboratory, travel and off-campus room/board fee. The cost of spring terms should not alter a student’s decision of whether to do a spring term or not since the school has grants that students can apply for to cover part of their spring term.

The two most popular options for grants amongst students are either the P-Global program or Alma Venture program. These grants are introduced to students during their second year at Alma College and can be applied to their Junior Year Applied Experience. Eligibility and the application along with other information can be found on the Alma Venture program page on alma.edu.

Gabby Blecke (‘21) was able to use her Alma Venture grant in a different way than most students, particularly because of her inability to travel for last year’s spring term. She says, “As a result of COVID, I had the awesome opportunity to use my venture to get my CNA certification.”

Blecke plans to attend the University of South Dakota for Occupational Therapy Doctorate in the fall. In between graduating from Alma College and beginning graduate school, she plans to work in a position that allows her to use her CNA license.

It is important to remember that, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to improve, there is hope for the future of spring terms—hope for travel, learning and growth for the both the students and faculty here at Alma College.

Alabama abortion law discussed at Alma

ZACH CARPENTER
STAFF WRITER

On Mar. 10, Dr. Wasserman, Associate Chair of the History Department and Dr. Blanchard, Chair of the Religious Studies Department had a spirited discussion about abortion hosted by the Chapel. Their discussion comes at a time when it seems as if everyone has an opinion on the issue and they hoped that their open dialogue would spark more discussions between people in the future.

Dr. Blanchard defended the pro-choice point of view throughout the discussion while Dr. Wasserman defended the pro-life point of view. Both of them believe that just because two people have opposing views does not mean that they cannot come together and have a civil discussion between one another.

Their discussion comes at a time where the abortion debate has again entered the forefront of political discourse in the United States following the passage of a near total ban on abortions in the state of Arkansas.

The law, which does not have exceptions for incest or rape would ban all abortions in the state of Arkansas. It also includes penalties of 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine for any woman who has an abortion. The law is currently slated to go into effect on Aug. 2 barring any judicial intervention.

“Taking away women’s resources doesn’t stop abortions, it just stops safe abortions, and in those instances you’re losing two lives rather than one,” said Abigail Zerbe (‘23).

“Abortion is a healthcare and fundamental right for all women…the government has no place in a woman’s reproductive system,” said Brenna Smith (‘24).

“The first point I think is at the root of abortion is about personhood; the personhood of a fetus,” said Blanchard in her opening statements.

“The second question is who should be responsible for making a decision, who gets to decide whether a person can have an abortion?” said Blanchard.

The issues of personhood and individual choice go all the way back to the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973, which formally legalized abortion across the United States. Since its passage Roe has faced many legal challenges including Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992 which was the last direct challenge to the ruling.

“Abortion is a very difficult topic to discuss,” said Wasserman in his opening statement.

As Wasserman stated, abortion has remained a very contentious issue that many people have very strong beliefs about. Because of its direct implications on people’s lives, many people harbor strong feelings one way or the other about the issue.

“I think that people often forget the difference between pro-life and pro-choice is that pro-choice is about the choice. It’s not about having an abortion but about being able to choose to do what’s best for you,” said Anika Reid (’23).

“If life starts at conception then terminating a pregnacy is the same as taking a [human] life,” said Wasserman in his defense of the pro-life argument.

The discussion between Wasserman and Blanchard continued in a civil manner and even featured questions from a few of the students who tuned into the event. The event was also moderated by Dr. Andrew Pomerville (Class of ‘01) and Chaplain of Alma College.

“I think [the topic of abortion] is necessary to model a dialogue between people who disagree on something that isn’t just spewing hatred,” said Blanchard following a student question on the importance of having an open discussion between two sides.

“We really need to step out of our personal beliefs and try to see from the other side’s point of view in order to have productive dialogue between both sides,” said Smith.

“I thought that it was important to show that with controversial [issues] like these we should be able to talk about them with one another,” said Wasserman in his concluding statement.

The event concluded with both Wasserman and Blanchard challenging others to begin a dialogue between each other on issues even if you do not agree with the other side.

Gov. Cuomo facing multiple harassment accusations

ELLA BRIGHT
STAFF WRITER

Andrew Cuomo, the 56th governor of the state of New York, has recently been facing sexual harassment allegations from multiple women over the course of the past few weeks. Most of New York’s congressional delegation across the country are demanding his resignation.

The accusations towards Gov. Cuomo include sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior, stemming from multiple women, including both current and former state employees. Letitia James, New York’s state attorney general, has opened an investigation into the claims and named two outside lawyers to lead them.

Gov. Cuomo has refuted every single one of these claims and resisted the calls for his resignation, surmounting it to a result of political differences and the negative effects of a newly emerging ‘cancel-culture’. The only apology he has issued thus far is for “acting in a way that made people feel uncomfortable”.

While some of the claims against the 64-year-old governor include only verbal harassment, others are more physical and explicit. In October 2017, Lindsey Boylan, a former administration aide, wrote in an online essay a myriad of uncomfortable and inappropriate interactions she has had with Gov. Cuomo spanning from 2015 to 2018. Boylan wrote that Mr. Cuomo told her they should “play strip poker” during a flight from an event in Western New York.

Boylan also wrote that, in 2018, Cuomo gave her a kiss on the lips that was unexpected and not consented to.

“As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips,” wrote Boylan.

She also wrote that he had gone “out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs.”

The governor’s office has denied these allegations, as well as the several others that have surfaced.

This isn’t the only scandal the governor is facing. Earlier in the year, it was released in a 76-page report that New York’s Department of Health underreported the deaths relating to the coronavirus as much as 50%.

The report contains allegations that the nursing homes failed to isolate residents who tested positive for COVID-19 and also demanded that employees who reported symptoms of feeling sick had to continue to come to work, under the threat of termination.

The report also claims that nursing homes in New York had insufficient protective equipment for their staff, insufficient testing materials for their residents, and lack of compliance with an order requiring communication with residents’ family members.

This scandal is, along with the sexual assault allegations, is currently being investigated.

One of the most interesting facts of these scandals and allegations plaguing Gov. Cuomo is that the demand for his resignation is bipartisan. In a country currently gripped by political unrest, extremely divided with their citizens on “one side or the other,” both elected officials of the Republican Party and Cuomo’s fellow Democrats are calling for him to step down. On March 12, nearly every Democrat in New York’s congressional delegation said that Mr. Cuomo had lost the ability to govern.

Women at Alma College are also voicing their displeasure with the conduct of New York’s governor.

“Men can be so disgusting in terms of how they use their power,” said Sophia Liolli (‘22). “If they have too much power, they can pull terrible events like these, which can traumatize a victim for years or even decades.”

“I think it’s sad to say that I’m not surprised that Cuomo is being accused of sexual assault,” said Racheal Vanloo (‘24). “It seems that almost every man in power is getting a light shined on him and now we’re finding out the disturbing truth.”

Who deserves the COVID-19 vaccine?

COURTNEY SMITH
STAFF WRITER

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, all of humanity has been searching for a light at the end of the tunnel. That light, for many, arrives in the form of a vaccine. The state of Michigan has administered COVID-19 vaccines for the past six months; however, due to limited availability of vaccines, healthcare administrators released the vaccine in tiers according to age, occupation, and health status.

“Since December 2020, COVID-19 vaccine in Michigan became available for front line workers such as healthcare workers and first responders in congregate settings, and those aged 65 and older,” said professor of integrated physiology and health sciences, Hyun Kim. “Pre-K-12 teachers, school staff, and licensed child care workers were also vaccinated after these groups. The state of Michigan has been expanding vaccination eligibility for those aged 16 and older with disabilities or medical beginning March 22nd, and starting April 5th, everyone over 16 will become eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.”

The public as well as the campus community have expressed mixed opinions on what groups of people deserve to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before others. Much controversy has arisen from the exclusion of college students from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine before the general public, as they live in communal settings in which the virus spreads rapidly.

“Since last year, health inequity has been the topic in the area of public health,” said Kim. “One of the ethical principles of COVID-19 vaccine priority groups was to promote justice and to mitigate health inequities. Alma College is one of a few higher-educational institutions who has opened the campus for in-person learning while many others, especially large state universities, have not. I think the student population cannot be prioritized due to these reasons mentioned above unless they have high-risk underlying conditions or work at the healthcare settings. Again, I believe vaccine priorities should be given to those, no matter if they are students or faculty members, at a higher risk of COVID-19 infection.”

Another source of controversy arose when Alma College faculty members were offered the COVID-19 vaccine prior to students, even though many of these faculty members had opportunities to receive the vaccine at prior dates.

“The COVID-19 vaccine was provided first to the faculty of Alma College,” said Kim. “There were a fair number of faculty members with underlying health conditions who did not get vaccinated due to delays in vaccination scheduling in Michigan. I think this was why COVID-19 vaccine was offered prior to students.”

Although many felt that college students should have qualified for the COVID-19 vaccine at an earlier date, various different factors were considered in determining vaccine eligibility.

“Mortality and morbidity data of COVID-19 in the United States has shown that individuals aged 65 and older or with high-risk health conditions have been significantly affected by severe complications such as trouble breathing, heart problems, and additional bacterial infections,” said Kim. “Based on this evidence, I personally think the vaccine could have been offered to students at the same time to faculty, but to those with underlying conditions prior to everyone,

because we, as a campus community, have been working together diligently to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus.”

At the end of the day, each vaccine administered in our campus community brings us one step closer to bringing the COVID-19 pandemic to a close.

Harry and Meghan expose the Royal Family

JORDYN BRADLEY
SPORTS EDITOR

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, exposed the Royal Family for failing to protect them and their son, Archie.

Before Archie was born, Meghan was told by a member of the firm (as she referred to it in the interview) that he would not have a title, which would not grant him security.

When asked why her son–a great-grandchild of the Queen–would not have a title when the rest of the children born into the family did, she received no response.

However, many speculate that this is due to Archie being biracial.

An undisclosed immediate member of the family even voiced concern directly to Prince Harry about how dark his son’s skin would be, fueling a whole new narrative regarding the agenda of the “firm.”

After the interview with Oprah was released, the Royal Family has been criticized for these racist remarks, but Harry refused to divulge who specifically said them, as it would “destroy” their life.

Since Harry and Meghan’s relationship went public, British tabloids were quick to fault her for even the most normal behavior. This put in question the double standard between her and her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, and many wonder if it is due to Meghan’s race.

During one of Kate’s pregnancies, DailyMail praised her for, “tenderly [cradling] her baby bump.”

However, when Meghan was photographed the same way, DailyMail’s headline was, “Why can’t Meghan Markle keep her hands off her bump?” and asked whether it was “pride, vanity, acting–or a new age bonding technique.” This is just one of the many examples where British tabloids compared the two and portrayed Meghan negatively. Media have also accused Meghan of trying to take Harry away from his family and criticized her for her behavior, as she should have understood what she “signed up for.”

However, nobody can say what an experience is like until they are experiencing it. It is easy for commoners to say we would adjust a certain way when we will never have the opportunity to be in someone else’s shoes.

“I think if there are issues [about the Royal Family] that the public doesn’t see, it is good for it to be brought out to the public,” said Madee Hall (‘23).

The Royal Family’s inability to stand up for Meghan when inaccurate headlines about her were published is something else that has bothered her throughout her time as a member of the family.

To Oprah, Meghan said the firm was, “willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband.”

The Duke and Duchess’s purpose for doing the interview was not to destroy lives or expose anyone in their family; it was to speak their truth after being ridiculed for the decisions they have made over the last year to step down as senior members of the Royal Family.

This did not mean that they wanted to leave their family or that they didn’t want to be royals; they did not want as much responsibility as senior members are supposed to hold.

This decision is what they believed was best for their well-being.

Meghan confided in Oprah about her mental health struggles during her pregnancy with Archie. It got to the point where Meghan did not trust herself alone, and told Harry she frankly did not want to be alive anymore.

When the couple asked members of the Royal Family if she could receive inpatient care for her mental health and take some time away for treatment, they told her it would not be a good look for their family.

These are supposed to be her family members. Yet, they cared more about how they looked to the public than how much she was struggling.

“Meghan is a part of the family and they need to treat her more like it,” said Hall.

“I don’t think Meghan and Harry are getting enough credit for doing what they have. [They] are people, too.”

The couple now have a farm in California and are expecting a baby girl this summer. They still actively talk with Queen Elizabeth, but expressed how relationships with many other members of the family will need time to mend.

Ultimately, they made the best decision for themselves and their family.

Grammy Awards update

ALIVIA GILES
EMILY MCDONALD
STAFF WRITERS

WESTON HIRVELA
GRAPHIC CREATOR

Due to Covid-19 precautions, this year’s Grammy Awards looked very different from that of previous years, but the show still managed to produce plenty of historic, controversial and memorable moments.

As pre-show coverage began, many viewers were excited to see what their favorite performers were wearing. Pop artist, Dua Lipa graced the red carpet in a Versace gown, while Taylor Swift opted for a floral Oscar de la Renta mini dress and Louboutin heels.

For Alma College Fashion Club president, Karmella Williams (’23), the red carpet looks were a very important part of the event, “Dua Lipa and Erin Lim were the best-dressed artists. My top favorite was Dua Lipa.”

The event kicked off with a monologue from host, Trevor Noah. English Harry Styles sang his pop hit, “Watermelon Sugar,” followed by performances by Billie Eilish and Finneas and HAIM.

Williams felt that all the artists featured gave strong performances but was partial to Harry Styles’, “I liked the ‘Watermelon Sugar’ performance, [but] I did not dislike any of the performances.”

Among the night’s biggest winners was Beyoncé. Alongside her nine-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy and WizKid, the music icon took home the award for Best Music Video for “Brown Skin Girl.”

Beyoncé went on to win three more awards over the course of the night, including Best Rap Song, Best Rap Performance and Best R&B Performance. With 28 wins, she broke country artist Alison Krauss’ record and made history as the most-awarded woman in Grammys history.

Actress/comedian Tiffany Hadish received her first Grammy for Best Comedy Album for “Black Mitzvah,” while television host and political commentator Rachel Maddow won Best Spoken Word Album.

Bad Bunny won Best Latin Pop or Urban Album for his debut album, “YHLQMDLG.” Accompanied by Jhay Cortez, the Puerto Rican star performed his hit single “Dákiti.”

Megan Thee Stallion was awarded Best New Artist, making her the first woman rapper to win the award since Lauryn Hill in 1999. She also took home Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song.

Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B took the stage to perform their hit “WAP” for the first time on television. The racy performance garnered a fierce response from viewers as well as conservative news sources, such as Fox News.

The Grammy for Song of The Year went to Dernst Emile II, H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas for “I Can’t Breathe,” while Harry Styles took home Best Pop Solo Performance for “Watermelon Sugar.”

Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande received the award for Best Duo/Group Performance for their song “Rain On Me,” while Fiona Apple was awarded with Best Alternative Music Album and Best Rock Performance and received a nomination for Best Rock Song.

K-Pop group, BTS received their first Grammy nomination for their hit “Dynamite.” While the group had presented at the show in 2019 and made a cameo in Lil Nas X’s performance last year, this year marked the first time a South Korean act had ever performed one of their own songs at the Grammys.

Miranda Lambert was honored with the Grammy for Best Country Album for “Wildcard,” while Dua Lipa won Best Pop Vocal Album for “Future Nostalgia.”

Taylor Swift, accompanied by collaborators Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff took home the Grammy for Album of the Year for their album “Folklore.” The win made Swift the first woman to win Album of the Year three times, having previously won for her albums “Fearless” and “1989.”

The final award of the night, Record of The Year, went to 19-year-old pop artist Billie Eilish for her album “Everything I Wanted.” Eilish dedicated her acceptance speech to Megan Thee Stallion, who she felt “deserved” the honor, before ending by thanking the Academy.

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