The mouse and the monopoly


Graphic by MEREK ALAM

Last Tuesday, Disney officially launched their Disney + streaming service. An initially impressive subscription-based service that allows you to watch all the nostalgic Disney works from your childhood along with all the current Marvel and Star Wars movies, along with some new original additions such as The Mandalorian and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. I’m here to predictably tell you why this is actually bad upon closer inspection.

One might argue that Disney + is good because it gives people another chance to relieve their younger days by watching classic Disney shows like The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Kim Possible, Hannah Montana and even The Simpsons. Even more importantly, Disney + provides a platform to watch older classics such as Fantasia, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin so the younger generation can properly appreciate classics of the past.

I argue that you shouldn’t even need Disney + to watch these at all.

When the United States Copyright Act was first passed, copyrights only lasted about 14 years. This was amended over time, and soon the original author could file an appeal to extend it. By the time the first every Mickey Mouse cartoon emerged, “Steamboat Willy,” copyright had been extended to 56 years (not including renewal). This would not do for Disney, who began immediately pressuring Congress to extend this. In 1976 Congress passed new copyright terms that gave copyright protections for an author’s entire life as well as an additional 50 years. Then, when the deadline for Mickey’s copyright got dangerously close again, Disney pushed Congress to pass the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act which gave corporate-owned works up to 120 years of copyright protection and free reign to sue anyone who hosts or creates something similar.

In addition, Disney has slowly formed a growing monopoly and makes up near 40 percent of all U.S. box office sales. It’s not creatively or democratically healthy to have so many creative works coming out of one corporation. When Disney once again wants more legislative changes to be made in favor of the corporation, they will leverage your love for their unfairly held properties in order to instill in you actual political opinions.

If the government attempts to increase tax margins and it affects Disney shareholders, you’ll get Marvel movies where Peter Parker must stop an evil government from unjustly taxing Tony Stark’s estate. If Disney workers begin fighting for employee rights, you’ll have a Star Wars sequence where Yoda’s ghost explains to disgruntled cantina workers how unions are actually bad for them. If Congress tries to break up monopolies, they will announce a Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars crossover movie so you personally rally for Disney to hold on to their copyrights. Occasionally, a LGBT+ subplot will be added into an animated movie so they still seem “progressive,” but the subplot won’t be too heavily emphasized. After all, Disney will need to edit it out so they can still make money by showing it in China.

Disney is playing a dangerous game. As people realize more and more that the company is solely interested in making money, or that it is coming dangerously close to producing a majority of the art and political messages for our society, they might want to monetarily support it as little as possible. They might install a VPN so they can’t be tracked by their internet service provider or college wi-fi. They might look into how or ask a friend to download these shows and movies through torrents so they can keep these nostalgic works on their computers offline or delete them when they’re finished. They might get into seeding, hostin, and uploading art so everyone can view them without the stranglehold of a monopoly dictating the monthly terms of enjoyment.

Alternatively, they might just use their grandmother’s login.

Regardless, it is important to remember these corporations are never your friend, no matter the friendly content they shove in your face and attempt to hold on to forever. Creative works of our childhood should belong to everyone, not merely the Mouse trying to profit off us.

Hospital lockdown raises safety concerns


Last Sunday night, Nov. 10, MidMichigan Medical Center – Gratiot in Alma was placed on lockdown. That evening, a woman arrived at the hospital with a gunshot wound. The authorities were immediately notified, and the hospital was to remain in lockdown until further notice. Fortunately, they determined that the wound was the result of an accident, but not before word got out and lead to feelings of unease in the Alma community.

Some Alma students caught wind of this incident before it had been entirely resolved and raised concerns that Alma college failed to notify the students of a potential threat to campus.

Alma College has an emergency notification system and campus security was aware of the incident. If they thought that it was a threat, they would have used the notification system.

“First of all, with matters like that—since we had a complaint—we always go out and confirm with local the local authorities,” said Toby Pickelmann, Security Manager at Alma College. As soon as Alma Security became aware of the incident, they contacted the police to determine if there was any potential danger to students on campus, and they were reassured that there was no danger.

“The [Alma Security] officer called 911 dispatch, and they said, “we can’t give you specifics of what’s going on, but there’s no danger to the college,” said Alan Gatlin, Alma College COO; Senior Vice President.

In the event of a verified emergency, Campus Security will issue a warning to all students, but the verification is an important step in the process. “One of our guidelines is to only the campus emergency system for emergencies,” said Gatlin.

They don’t want to cause panic if there is a false alarm. Additionally, they worry that sending too many emergency alerts could lead to students ignoring them. For the emergency system to be effective, “[students] need to act on the information when they get it,” said Gatlin.

Campus Security reminds students that in the case of an emergency to “call 911 first.” Afterward, they can contact security through their phone number: 989-463-7777. From a campus phone, simply dial 7777.

“Just call us. We’re here 24/7 365 days a year,” said Pickelmann.

The emergency notification system is an important safety measure for all students on campus, but it is only effective if everybody is registered for it. For most students, that happens automatically when they register for classes, but anyone who is concerned that they aren’t registered can simply go to to register. A link to this website was sent to all students’ school emails on Nov. 13.

First Year halls host Fire Safety Events


Living on Alma College campus, the reverberating sound of fire alarms quickly becomes a familiarity for all students. Fire alarms are particularly prevalent among the first-year dorms, Bruske Hall and Gelston Hall.

“The fire alarms go off often – about once a week, if not more.” said Bruske resident Annabelle Avolio (‘23).

There are many reasons for these frequent fire alarms, most of which are cooking-related. Smoke from improperly cooked microwave meals often results in a fire alarm.

“Because they’re transitioning into college, they might have never made food for themselves before and have no idea how those things work. Every year we have the same trends where somebody makes mac and cheese or ramen noodles without water.” said Nicholas Benjamin, Assistant Director of Residence Life and First Year Experience.

However, many different activities could set the fire alarms off at any moment. Most of these activities are common everyday actions that could result in a fire alarm by complete accident.

“I typically find that it’s just students who aren’t necessarily aware of what they’re doing. They might put something in the microwave for too long. A lot of times hairspray will cause the alarms to go off if they spray way too much of it. It’s a case-by-case basis.” said Benjamin.

Although many first-year students know the proper fire evacuation process, some students choose to not evacuate their dorms because they assume it’s caused by a false alarm. However, there’s no guarantee that any alarm is a false alarm until the residence hall is declared safe by staff.

“I know where to go. I always evacuate the building, even if I assume it’s a false alarm. I don’t think everyone else in the building necessarily evacuates though.” said Avolio.

Because of the frequent fire alarms, there will be fire safety informational events for first-year students hosted on November 21st from 7-9 p.m. in the lobbies of Gelston and Bruske. These events were a new idea proposed by the RAs to provide first-year students with the information they need to hopefully prevent the fire alarm from ringing and perhaps reduce the amount of false alarms.

“The RAs  thought it was a really good idea so everyone knows how to make food if they don’t want to go to the cafeteria or if they’re studying and need something quick without causing the fire alarms to go off.” said Benjamin.

The new fire safety events will feature games to make the experience both informative as well as enjoyable for first-year students.

“They’re gonna have a Kahoot, and that’s gonna cover things like what our actual fire policy says, some fun facts about fire safety and just in general how to make certain kinds of food.” said Benjamin.

Although most of the fire alarms among the residence halls turn out to be false alarms, it’s important that students take each alarm seriously.

“We know to get out of the building, stand outside, and don’t go back in until it’s been cleared.” said Bruske resident Madie Acosta (‘23).

In order to ensure that all students are safe in the event of a fire, those living in residence halls should read the Alma College fire policy carefully and memorize the evacuation protocols. Never just assume that any alarm is a false alarm; doing so could put students’ lives at risk.

“If the fire alarm does go off, what I tell all students is to treat it seriously because at the end of the day, you never know and it’s better to be safe than sorry. My recommendation is always to get out of the building, stay away from the doors and stay far away from the building.” said Benjamin.

Registration confuses campus


Recently, Alma has made a lot of changes, one of the changes being the registration system.  While the new system had many new features that students liked quite a bit, many students found themselves confused and frustrated when it came time to actually register for their classes.

It was announced that the registration and advising system would be changing on Thursday, Sept. 26, to students through an email. If students were confused with any of the new features, then they had access to the guide for the new system which was attached to the email. Students now have to go through Inside Alma and plan their semester out through the course catalog. In order to register for classes, students must have a meeting with their advisor and get their schedule approved prior to their registration date.

Students now have access to view their progress on their degree and on distributive requirements, along with planning their whole degree out unlike before when you had to wait until it was closer to registration.

With this new software, you can now easily plan out your degree over your four years.  Many students really liked this feature because then they could plan out what classes they wanted to take or need to take before graduating.

Breawna Ritter (’22) said, “This is probably the best feature because then I can plan all of my future classes out.”

With the planning feature, students were also able to see a schedule which lays out the day and time they will be in classes. Some students it took some time to figure out and get used to the new feature, some are even still learning how to work the new system.

Carrielynn LaFranchie (’22) said, “I didn’t like the new systems at first, but after I got used to it and learned everything, I found that I actually really like it. It’s really helpful and cool that it plans out your schedule and shows you what your schedule would be like and if any of your class schedules clash together.”

Some students even found the benefits that can follow them to jobs on and off campus.

Emmett Kelly (’22) said, “I really like that I can see what my exact schedule will look like and be able to make sure that everything will work. It’s also handy for my job, because I can just print my schedule out and give it to them for my availability.”

Students with 90 or more credits were first up to test the new system for their registration date on Monday, Nov. 4, starting at 9 a.m. Some students had troubles getting their planned courses to load and had to learn that in order to register, you had to log out and reload the page before actually being able to register.

It was still a learning experience when students with 56 credits or more registered on Wednesday, Nov. 6.  Students were still trying to get around registering for courses you had to have special permission for or had to have you advisor approve.

Katie Bailey (’22) said, “My only complaint is that there were a few classes that said you needed special permission to take them when I already had permission, but for some reason it let me into them right away and I had to talk to the registrar for like ten minutes in order to register for my spring term because it said I needed ‘instructor permission’ when I already had it.”

Students were still learning while registering on Nov. 11, students with 25 credits or more were quick to jump on and realize that certain thing like lessons. “I think it’s pretty convenient for the general population, but for anyone that wants/needs to take private lessons in the music department, it’s still not ideal. We are still having to waste paper and time by filling out a drop/add form,” said Kelly.

Anyone else who had not registered had a slim picking of classes and had virtually no problem except for the occasional loading error.  Overall, the system had its ups and downs, but so does any new system.

Up ↑