Choir and orchestra honor the classics



On October 27, 2019, the Alma College Choirs and Alma Symphony Orchestra presented a collaborative concert featuring the famous Mozart piece “Vesperae solennes de confessore” and Dvorak’s New World Symphony.

“It’s been a long learning process for both choirs and the orchestra,” said Bennett Dubois (‘19). Dubois participates in both the Alma Choir and Orchestra, making his experience with what the choirs are calling “Mini-Masterworks,” a unique experience.      

This concert is being called “Mini-Masterworks” because of its similarity to the Masterworks concert that the choir and orchestra programs put on in Heritage Center every spring. “I think this concert eases new singers into how these combined concerts work,” said Rachel Whipple (‘20). “It can be hard to get used to singing with an orchestra, so singing a shorter piece with them in the fall helps to get us comfortable with the performance.”

“The orchestra adds a sense of authenticity you can’t get with just the piano,” said Zachary Everly (‘21). “It would’ve been very unlikely to walk into a 1780’s performance and hear this work without the orchestra. Both the Chorus and Orchestra have great parts, but putting them together is what makes it a truly fabulous piece.”

The Mozart piece contains 2 solo quartets, as well as a featured soprano vocalist, Victoria Walker. Walker teaches vocal lessons at Alma College, and sometimes Dr. Nichols brings her in to sing some of the extensive solo work for performances.

“One of the beauties of vocal music is that we have text to help us tell a story,” said Everly. “While the text is not in English, it is still the choir’s job to tell the story. Being in a quartet is an honor, but also a big responsibility. It is our job to continue to tell the story on our own when the choir stops singing. It is more crucial that we know the details of what we are singing because there is nobody to help us.”

The willingness to sing classical music is small for some students, but others believe that these pieces should still continue to be performed. “I feel like programming these pieces is important because we want to keep deeply rooted musical traditions alive,” said Everly. “All of the music we see today exists because this music existed. A beauty of writing music is that it can never be ‘proven wrong’ like some scientific ideas persay, only expanded upon and changed and adapted for culture of the time.”

These pieces have been around for as long as performing ensembles have, and the emphasis on them by Alma College directors have an influence on how the modern student views this classical music literature.

The choirs perform next for their Festival of Carols concert Dec. 7-8, and the groups combine again for Masterworks in April of 2020.                                                                                     

Students take on responsibility of daily news



On Oct. 19, The New York Times reported on the University of Michigan’s college newspaper that is the only daily paper left in the city of Ann Arbor.

The Michigan Daily become the only daily printed paper in Ann Arbor following the closing of The Ann Arbor News in 2009. They eventually closed their website. The Ann Arbor Chronicles, an online paper, closed as well in 2014 after only being in operation for six years.

The college’s paper is staffed by nearly 300 student journalists who cover local area news ranging from local government meetings to sports event. However, in other areas of the country, such as Arizona, student papers are responsible for covering large, national events.

The college’s paper reports on issues the have effects on students such as sexual misconduct and the way the university is handling matters. They also cover the information pertaining to the city as a whole including budget cuts in the county and the responses to local violence. While it may not be daily, there are some places that report on what is happening in Ann Arbor. publishes a piece called “Ann Arbor News” twice a week; however, this is unable to keep up with what is happening in the city.

Since it is not a company that publishes with experienced reporters, there comes some issues. The University of Michigan does not currently have a program dedicated to journalism which has left the students with little training. There is also the issue that the students only hold temporary positions, so some do not take them as seriously. For some papers, the budget can be an issue as they print in large volumes.

Ann Arbor is not the only place this is happening in the United States. As more newspapers are shut down, there is more pressure placed on the student organizations to provide important information.

There is a shift to reading the paper online and The Michigan Daily recognizes that in their production of podcasts as well as blogs to keep citizens informed through social media. The University of Maryland at College Park’s newspaper is switching to only online in the upcoming months.

In Alma, Morning Sun is a local daily paper in addition to the college’s paper, The Almanian. These provide information to those that are on campus and can be found in various locations.

In the changing times, more people are starting to get their information from online, such as Cassie Freeman (’20).

“Since our way of life is changing from paper to internet, it is probably easier if the news was online, and it is also more environmentally friendly,” says Freeman.

Whether or not students should be responsible for informing communities is up for debate. Since they do not have the experience other reporters do and they are full time students, it limits what they can do.

“A newspaper serves two services. You have reporters who are going out and covering stories, but that to me, seems like you need specialized training for that, but that would only be a certain type of student to go out and do that,” said Dr. Dana Aspinall, professor of English. “Then you have the OP-ED page where students write in how they feel about whatever has happen or what their opinion is on a certain politician or decision.”

Aspinall emphasized that it is everyone’s responsibility to participate in some way. Some believe that it is the students’ responsibility to report on campus.

“I don’t know how students would do with world news because many of us don’t have the time to go out, research and see what is going on in the word, but if it was more like campus events, I feel they are spot on,” said Aspinall.

No matter the way it happens—whether it be electronic or in paper—there is a place for the news in our society.

“It’s important for people to stay up on the news especially with politics in general,” said Monika Tomica (’20). “I feel it’s a good way to get people educated on the topic specifically with the presidential campaigns right now.”

Alma College prepares for Halloween


As Halloween is quickly approaching and everyone is making plans there are some things people are forgetting to think about. Safety is one thing that should be a top priority even while having a fun night out with friends.

As you are trying to pick the perfect costume and finalize your plans make sure you are paying attention to the weather. Alma’s first batch of snow is coming here this week according to the radar, snow is possible leading up to Halloween night. The temperature will drop as the week goes on, so definitely try and dress accordingly! Breawna Ritter (’22) said her top safety priority for Halloween is, “making sure my friends don’t stay out too late and making sure they are dressed in warm enough clothing.”

Another thing to pay attention to while choosing a costume is to make sure it is appropriate and not making fun of or disrespecting people, cultures or campus organizations. If you have to think about whether or not your costume is perpetuating negative stereotypes or can come off as hurtful, then it probably is.

The spooky costumes and decorations may captivate your attention, but during Halloween night and that weekend, keep an eye out and do not be a bystander. If you see something, then say something: whether you are dressed like a hero or not, you can step in and be one. Resident Advisor, Kimber Buzzard (’21) said, “Don’t be afraid to call campus safety, your RA or the administer on duty. They are resources who want you to be safe and are there to help you.”

Whether you plan to celebrate in your dorm building, around campus, or at a party this Halloween definitely know your resources. Halloween can be safe and fun at the same time no matter what age you are. 

When going out to celebrate make sure you have at least one person with you, especially if you plan to drink. Cosette Coston (’20) said, “Always have a friend with you and do not let your friends travel alone. Always remember your resources, such as if you do not feel comfortable walking you can call campus security to walk you back to your dorm.”

If you are old enough to drink and plan on it, please be smart about it. Know the signs for when you need to stop drinking and for when you need to cutoff a friend. They may be mad at you then, but thanking you later. Alcohol poisoning is a serious thing and can happen to anyone. If you suspect that someone has alcohol poisoning, even if you don’t see the signs or symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Even when a person stops drinking, alcohol continues to be released into the bloodstream and the blood alcohol level continues to rise. Even when the person sleeps or is unconscious it continues rising. Never let an overly intoxicated person go to sleep, especially if they are exciting signs of alcohol poisoning. Don’t wait for the symptoms to worsen, then it could be too late. 

Signs to look out for when around people that are drinking include: mental confusion, introversion/extroversion (depending on the person’s personality), problems with coordination, loss of balance, unresponsiveness, nausea, vomiting, slow or irregular breathing and possibly other symptoms. Everyone is different and displays different symptoms, so if you suspect something is wrong then seek help.

Halloween is meant to be fun, so do not forget to have fun! Just be aware of your surroundings and know when a situation becomes or is unsafe for you and others. Unlike pumpkins, you still have your guts, so trust your gut instincts! 

Soccer teams celebrate their seniors



Like every college, sports are a fundamental part of student athletes’ careers. It is something they partake in from their first day on campus to their last day.

Athletes learn not only how to master their sport at the collegiate level, but how to master the art of balancing school, practice, weightlifting, and games at the same time. For some, sports introduce them to their lifelong friends and teach them lessons they could not have learned from a book.

When senior student athletes cross the stage at graduation to get their diploma, they are leaving behind more than a four-year sports career. They are leaving behind something that has built them into the person they are today.

Therefore, many sports teams at Alma recognize this and participate in “Senior Day” games in order to give the team’s seniors proper recognition and send off from college.

“The senior game is the game where the team and supporters take a moment and recognize the current seniors on the team and all their work that they have put into the program in their time here at Alma,” said Kyle Farmer (’20).

Both of Alma’s soccer teams recently celebrated their seniors with the Women’s senior game being Wednesday, October 23rd, and the Men’s senior game on Saturday, October 26th. Each game took place at Scotland Yard, where the Seniors played their last guaranteed home game.

“Senior day is a big game for the team, especially the seniors. This is the last promised time that we, as seniors, will be able to compete on Scotland Yard which has been our home the past four years. We have cherished our time competing on The Yard and would do anything to have more time to rep the crest out on the pitch,” said Garrison Mast (’20), a senior on the Men’s soccer team.

Mast is one of the ten seniors from the Men’s team, who was recognized at the Senior game, while the women’s team congratulated two seniors on their season and career.

When recognizing the athletes on their success, they are surrounded by their teammates, family and friends. Seniors at either half-time or the end of the game will be asked to walk out to the middle of the field with their parents or family for pictures and the senior ceremony.

“At the game, each senior will be recognized with their parents. Our name, number, position, and post-graduation plans will be read off as we are recognized. Family and friends will likely be in attendance as it is the last time we are guaranteed to compete on Scotland Yard, our home the past four years,” said Mast.

The senior ceremony is a moment for seniors to reminisce on their sports career, while handing the team over to the underclassmen. It gives them a chance to look back on their time and provide their wisdom and tips to the future team.

“The senior game to me is an opportunity to thank the seniors for all the work that they have put in to making Alma College Men’s soccer the team that it is today. It is important to recognize the work that they have put in, not only at Alma but over the course of their careers,” said Farmer.

Having a senior game also allows players to say goodbye to a sport they have been playing since they were young. Many athletes coming into college have been playing their sport for years and have made it a part of their identity.

Senior games give seniors the opportunity to reflect on their sport career and time at Alma.

“My favorite memory would have to be scoring the game winning goal in our conference semi-final game my freshman year and the reaction from the team after. The celebration was complete unity within the team, no one cared who scored the goal. Everyone was united as a team ecstatic that we were moving on in the tournament,” said Farmer.

Senior games give teams the opportunity to recognize and thank seniors for everything they do on and off the field. Every player, whether they are a freshman or a senior, plays a role on a team.

Hence, when the time arrives for a player’s career to come to an end, it is only fitting to thank them for their time and commitment to the program they have helped build and participate in.

“Being a part of this program has meant the world to me. This team means everything to me; I would do anything for anyone that I have played with here at Alma. The brotherhood we have and the bonds that I have made are unreal and will last until the day I die,” said Mast.

Men’s Lacrosse wins under new coaching staff


The Alma College Men’s Lacrosse team has completed their non-traditional fall season after their scrimmages against the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Central Michigan University this past weekend.

“We were able to win both games against some really good competition. Both were great all-around team efforts and every single guy was able to contribute,” said Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach, Adam Nycz.

Nycz is new to the head coaching scene here at Alma but this is not a new team or location for him. Coach Adam Nycz was actually the assistant coach of the team prior to his new position. He is coaching alongside his brother Jared Nycz (‘19), who is a former lacrosse player for the Scots and is now the assistant coach, filling his brother’s shoes.

The Buffalo, New York natives are thrilled to have taken over this program.

“I started playing lacrosse pretty young and was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to play in college. This game has taken me on an amazing path and I’ve always thought it was important to give back, so coaching had always been the best way for me to do that,” said Adam Nycz.

The team is also giving good feedback and excitement about the new coaching staff.

“We all knew Coach Nycz very well over the past few years so it wasn’t a tough transition to get used to [a new coach]. Coach Nycz has done a great job so far of making sure we are putting in full effort into everything we do,” said Men’s Lacrosse Team Captain, Thomas Needham (‘20).

Another captain of the Men’s Lacrosse Team, Connor Alley (‘20), has a similar opinion to his teammate.

“Coach Nycz [Adam] has been here since before my freshman year, so he knows how most of us tick. He knows the game of lacrosse better than anyone else I know. Not having him on the offensive side of the ball will be tough this year, but he’s going to do great things for our defense,” said Alley.

Though Alley is going to miss the new head coach on the offensive side of the field this year; he thinks that his brother, Jared, is the right man to take over.

“With Coach Nycz (Jared) we’re picking up right where we left off last spring. He was a teammate of ours and one of the best that I’ve ever played next to. He has done a great job with the transition from player to coach this fall. I think to a lot of us, he was more of a coach on the field the past few years anyway. So, the only thing that has really changed is that he’s not suiting up next to us,” said Alley.

The team had a promising fall season ending with a 20-5 win over Central Michigan University and a 13-7 victory against University of Michigan-Dearborn.

“I thought that the team played really well in both games. We were very successful on offense and the defense looked just as good if not better than it has in years past. Goalie play was great, and a lot of young guys were able to go out there and show what they are capable of,” said Alley.

The team is hoping this great start in the fall will transfer over to the team’s regular season in the spring.

“I thought the fall season went great. The new guys adapted really well to how we do things here whether it was on the field, in the weight room or in the class room as well and we just need to continue to be pre-pared everyday going into the regular season,” said Needham.

Captains like Needham and Alley play a big role on the team as far as how the team is structured and are a positive influence for many of their teammates.

“As a captain, our main role is to lead the team on and off the field. The three of us take the lead on a lot of the smaller tasks, like making sure guys are on time to team events, lifts, and practices. The Coaches really lean on us when they need things done. It’s our job to make sure the team is running how it should be so that we can be successful from the moment we step on campus,” said Alley.

Both coaches have big goals and high expectations for their team as they patiently wait for practices to start up again in January. For now, there focus for the team is in the classroom and the weight room.

“For the rest of the year our expectations will remain pretty high. The guys have the opportunity to really focus on the academics and hopefully they’ll continue to dedicate time to the weight room and improving their lacrosse skills. I’m really excited to get back on the lacrosse field and see what we can accomplish this spring,” said Coach Jared Nycz

Sallie Mae Celebrates, Student Debt Climbs


Sallie Mae, the largest private student loan provider in the US, sent 100 of their top sales executives on a five day, all-expense-paid trip to Hawaii to celebrate $5 billion in sales made this year. This year’s trip sparked outrage among the 44 million Americans who collectively owe over $1.6 trillion in student loans.

They feel that it’s unfair that the company is making so much profit from the student loans when people need them to pay for their education. “I get that people need to get paid for their work, but the whole reason [Sallie Mae] exists is to help people pay for school. Instead of sending people to resorts, they should help more students,” said Emily Lopez (‘22).

Many of students who receive these loans end up with more debt than they expected and struggle to pay it off for the rest of their lives. “They don’t really care if you can’t afford it afterward. They’re trying to get people to take those loans, and then my life is dramatically changed because of how much money it’s going to cost me,” said Lopez.

There have been some concerns in the past five years that Sallie Mae might be intentionally targeting high risk students and making loans that they know the students won’t be able to pay. “The attorney general of Illinois sued Navient and Sallie Mae in 2017, accusing the company of deceptive subprime lending, a failure to offer proper repayment options, and faulty collection practices,” wrote Zach Friedman in an article titled “Sallie Mae Flew 100 Employees To Hawaii, And You Still Have Student Loan Debt.”

Regardless of the lender’s intentions, students seeking financial aid often feel pressure to accept loans that they don’t fully understand. “As soon as I got into Alma, I was told you’ve got to do these things and take these steps if you really want to go here,” said Lopez. “At first I thought it was pretty straightforward. I thought I had a great plan, but when I got here it wasn’t actually that foolproof.” Like many other students, Lopez relies on student loans to pay for the majority of her education.

Student debt can undoubtedly change the course of a student’s life after college, but it can also change the course of their education. “I struggle with the idea of people that young taking out loans that big because more than anything it just conjures up a lot of fear—you possibly can’t study something that you want to study, or that you’re truly interested in because you’re being told you’ve got to get a job. That fear hinders true learning and true passion,” said Benjamin Shaw, Transition Assistance Program Counselor at Alma College.

To help mitigate some of that fear, Shaw advises that students decide on a plan for their career before they start looking at loans, and then consult with experts to try to make that plan work. “It’s important for a student to be well informed about the decision before they take out those loans. Talk to your financial counselor or professors at the school you’re looking at. Get a third or even a fourth opinion.”


Qatar air-conditions the outdoors


Unbearable heat and less than desirable weather patterns have forced Qatar to begin seemingly bizarre practices to stay cool: air conditioning the outside.

With temperatures exceeding 115 degrees Fahrenheit, being able to comfortably enjoy outdoor spaces has become challenging.  

Outdoor malls, stadiums, as well as sidewalks are now being air conditioned to allow individuals to leave their homes without risk of negative health impacts. Qatar naturally has some of the highest temperatures on Earth, however, even for them this is out of the norm. 

This situation can be a microcosm for what is to come in the future. With the looming threat of climate change on the horizon, many countries have begun to envision what they will need to do to adapt and survive. 

The question of who will be able to survive and adapt to these environmental changes has come to the forefront of study for many interested experts, “[developing states] are the ones who are going to be impacted most dramatically by climate change and are also the ones who have the least resources to adapt to it. So, what they are asking is that adaptation be just as important as mitigation, and that hasn’t been the case historically,” said Derick Hulme, professor of political science.  

While this may seem far removed from what Americans experience in the Western Hemisphere, situations like this are ringing alarm bells for climate scientists across the globe. “It’s a canary in the coalmine,” said Hulme.  

Reacting to climate change has become a matter of economic inequality; which countries will be successful in this goal will come down to who can afford to adapt. “What you’ve got in the Qatar situation is the most extreme example of climate change adaptation by a state that can afford to do it, and it has almost become a tourist attraction,” said Hulme.  

As temperatures rise and what has been seen in Qatar becomes more common, areas will become unlivable and individuals will be forced to move to survive. “You’re seeing 48-degree Celsius days in India this past summer. It is literally unlivable. It’s unbearable,” said Hulme. He continued, “I think parts of the world will become uninhabitable. The people who will least be able to afford to adapt to it will have to move to live.”

Bringing the luxury of indoor living to the outdoors may become more common, or people will simply have to stay inside. “Air conditioning is going to become a staple in places where it never had been before because (extreme heat) will become increasingly problematic,” said Hulme. 

Staying inside during the summer as a matter of necessity will become the new normal. “We will be treating living indoors in historically colder climates [such as Michigan] in the way we treat living indoors during the winter; that it is just something that you do,” said Hulme.    

The irony of using fossil fuels to power air conditioning units to combat climate change may soon become a thing of the past. “Renewables are significantly less expensive than fossil fuels in many different situations,” said Hulme. He also commented that countries will ultimately find the most economical way to address this problem.  

Hulme explained that while what is happening in Qatar is important, larger countries such as China, the United States, India and Germany will ultimately play a pivotal role in the overall scope of climate change. He went on to say, “if these countries don’t get it together, then we are all in trouble.”  

The effects of climate change once seemed distant, however, this situation has shown that adaption may be sooner than expected. “There is incredible urgency and that if things don’t happen now, they will be irreversible,” said Hulme. 

Students who are passionate about combating climate change are encouraged by Hulme to reach out to their elected officials. “Time is not working in our favor. There has to be enormous political pressure exerted by young people, and climate change has to no longer be a political issue; it has to be a given,” said Hulme.

First all-female spacewalk takes place


Last Friday, two NASA astronauts made history by partaking in the first ever all-female spacewalk. The team of Christina Koch and Jessica Meir embarked on a mission to replace lithium-ion batteries for a solar power system located at the space station after a recent failure of a power controller. Koch and Meir became two of only fourteen women ever to participate in a spacewalk since NASA’s first in 1965. 

“I think it’s symbolic. It represents another step of seeing women in a traditionally male world having their presence. It’s encouraging,” said Chih-Ping Chen, professor of English and coordinator of women’s and gender studies.

In order for Koch and Meir to perform this momentous feat, they overcame many boundaries of systematic sexism. The first all-female spacewalk was scheduled to occur earlier in the year, but was cancelled due to a lack of two medium-sized women’s spacesuits at NASA. In spite of this, many feel that opportunities in the STEM fields are becoming more gender-inclusive.

“I really don’t think men and women have equal opportunities to work in science industries, but it’s getting better. You definitely see a lot more female representation coming into play nowadays than you used to see,” said Sarah Sheathelm (’22)

Many argue that there is an unproportionate representation of female participants in the STEM careers such as those at NASA due to a lack of opportunities provided to school-aged girls. 

“I think opportunity should always be equal,” said Chen. “It just depends on what kind of work women might be interested in and also how we encourage women to look at those different roles that they can take.”

In addition, many feel that STEM careers fail to provide equal opportunities to both men and women due to bias about which gender proves better-suited for tasks such as space travel. Stereotypes portraying men as the smarter, stronger sex harm women’s chances of filling physically demanding careers as astronauts.

“I feel like the majority of astronauts are men, and they discriminate by thinking that only men can explore space and that they’re a better fit,” said Emily West (’22).

Many feel that the first all-female spacewalk came too late, but others argue that different fields progress at different paces for many different reasons. 

“I believe that in different fields, we are seeing some changes, but maybe at different paces because maybe they have different considerations,” said Chen. 

In spite of the adversity Koch and Meir faced in order to perform the first all-female spacewalk, many are so glad they did because their act inspired young girls and women all over the world. The first all-female spacewalk set an optimistic tone for more gender-inclusive opportunities at NASA in the future. 

“It shows that women can do anything men do. I think it would be cool if there was a space mission where men and women were both equal on the mission to show we can work together and there’s no fear of one gender being superior to the other,” said Chloe Sandborn (’22).

Although many argue that all-female space missions fail to represent true gender equality among the space program, many believe they are important in empowering females to aim for the stars and shoot for the moon.

“I think there were always all-male space explorations, so there is definitely a need for all-female space explorations. We want equal representation. We can do it too,” said Sheathelm.

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