Breaking walls through dance


The Alma College Dance Company is hard at work creating their annual fall dance concert. The program includes works set by Alma dance faculty members, Ben Munisteri, Rosely Conz, Kristen Bennett and Lynn Bowman, along with guest choreographer Amanda Benzin.

The concert consists of five pieces, with each one choreographed by a different choreographer.

Allison Boulware (‘20) discussed what it has been like to work with a guest choreographer.

“Her name is Amanda Benzin and she is from Colorado Mesa University,” said Boulware.

“She’s choreographing a hip hop routine [for us], which is really cool because we do not have [hip hop] here, so it was really awesome to have her come in and teach us a piece like that.”

Boulware continued, “The main benefit [of the guest choreographer] is exposure to other styles that we would not normally get here. It is always a plus when the guests bring something new. With this dance, it has a lot of hip hop and breakdancing that most of us have probably not done since our competition days in high school or middle school, or even at all.”

“It has never been done [for the fall concert],” said Nicole Yost (‘21), regarding the hip hop style of dance.

“Since coming to Alma, we have only done modern, contemporary, ballet and maybe some tap or the occasional highland, so this was something much different, and it has been quite the challenge for us, but a good challenge. It pushes our boundaries and limits, but it is for the good.”

Another large aspect of the concert is the political approach one of the choreographers is having.

“Rosely Conz is taking sort of a political view with her piece this year.” said Boulware.

“She is talking about borders and divisions, and she has a history of using props in her pieces, so for this one, she has decided to use cinder blocks throughout it.”

“They create shapes, create dimensions, and create a look that you really cannot get unless you have a 20 pound block on your body,” Boulware continued.

“She is going to use [the cinder blocks] to represent and talk about the wall discussion at the US-Mexico border, and used the Berlin Wall as an inspiration.”

The political inspiration behind the piece creates a unity between arts and politics, and is a way for the dance program to speak about current events and issues in today’s society.

“I’m really excited for the piece. I think it’s going to turn out cool, and it will be something the audience has definitely never seen here before,” said Boulware.

The fall dance concert will be held at the Oscar E. Remick Heritage Center in Presbyterian Hall on November 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. and November 11 at 2:30 p.m. “Tickets are free for students and faculty, so we hope to see you there,” said Yost

Hancock joins Alma


At the beginning of fall term, Alma College added new minds to its teaching staff, including Brian Hancock (’05), education professor.

Hancock, who taught at Alma High School for four years and at Central Michigan University for two years, was thrilled to come back to Alma.

Hancock, whose lifelong dream was teaching, highly praised his students.

“I sincerely appreciate [Alma students’] efforts to maintain a sustainable balance of both academic and non-academic areas of interest, as well as their willingness to work hard and—most importantly—ask questions!” said Hancock.

“Overall I’m very, very happy that I am able to work with such great students and colleagues!”

He is currently working on finishing his PhD in curriculum, instruction and teacher education, all while teaching classes in multiple disciplines.

“I teach the elementary and secondary science methods courses, the introductory (foundational) course in secondary education, as well as the introductory physical science course (and lab),” said Hancock.

Hancock expressed interest in integrating some of his doctoral international travels to the Netherlands into the curriculum here at Alma.

“I was able to spend a month working with refugee students in a Dutch transition school,” said Hancock.

“Once I wrap up my dissertation, I’d like to think about if and how an education-based spring term course in the Netherlands might fit into our current offerings and students’ needs.”

One of Hancock’s hobbies is bicycling, and he spoke about how traveling by bike allows one to learn different aspects of the community they are living in.

“I’d encourage all Alma College students (and faculty!) to take advantage of our local network of paved and off-road trails. Exploring by bike is a great way to get to know your local community (and beyond).”

Hancock believed that the liberal arts education system at Alma supports students’ diverse educational needs in ways larger institutions can’t.

“I’m excited to be part of such a unique college as we collectively prepare the next generations of teachers.”

The Almanian stands in solidarity


Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian Journalist who was a Virginia resident and writer for the Washington Post, was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on Oct. 2.

Khashoggi’s death is of particular importance because of the root cause: he was critical in his writing of the Saudi Arabian government.

“The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is heinous, in the way that it was planned, carried out and covered up. While the murder of any person by his or her own government is abhorrent, Khashoggi’s death throws light on the silencing of journalists, particularly ones with progressive views in countries with less than democratic governments,” said Kate Westphal, a writer for the Almanian.

“Journalism is one of the few outlets today where the public receives unbiased, or nearly unbiased, information about the world around them. By silencing journalists, people receive only the information the governments feel they need to know instead of the information they should know to create their own beliefs,” said Westphal.

Initially, the Saudi Arabian government tried to cover up the incident and denied having any knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate. Soon after, the Saudi Arabian government claimed first that Khashoggi died in an apparent fist fight inside the consulate and then that he died in a “botched” interrogation attempt.

Since then, audio recordings documenting Khashoggi’s final moments inside the Consulate have been released to foreign governments. The recordings verified that he was tortured, dismembered and killed. It is unclear at this point whether he was dismembered before or after he was killed and his body has not been found. There are currently 18 suspects and his case is still being investigated.

Khashoggi’s case represents something greater than an isolated incident; it represents a threat to the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech as we know it.

“The murder of Mr. Khashoggi is an extreme example of the increasing willingness to use murder to silence the press,” said Edward Lorenz, former professor of History and Political Science at Alma College.

“Reporters Without Borders says 54 journalists were killed doing their reporting. Some of these were killed in apparent accidents and some killed by criminals and terrorists. The blatant killing of journalists has apparently increased in the last three decades, but Mr. Khashoggi’s murder is an extreme case, taking place in a peaceful city in a government building – the Saudi consulate,” said Lorenz.

We have seen this time and time again; powerful regimes rule their countries on the premise of fear and silence anyone who dares to dissent. As a result, Khashoggi has joined the list the ever-

growing list of martyrs of free speech not long after 12 journalists were gunned down in the Charlie Hebdo shooting in 2015 in France for the satiracle pieces that they published.

“The fact that Trump seems to be siding with Saudi Arabia despite overwhelming evidence sets a dangerous and threatening precedent for journalists all over the country,” said Atulya Dora-Laskey (’21).

President Trump has yet to release a firm statement on the matter. However, the President did claim that it would be “foolish” to cancel our arms deals with Saudi Arabia because of what happened to Khashoggi. By making this statement, it is clear that our current administration values money over the lives of innocent people, especially if those people happen to be political dissenters.

“For Trump to state that the reporter’s life means nothing in terms of the money the country gets from Saudi Arabia only fuels this fear to be a reporter,” said Emily Cowles, a writer for the Almanian.

Shortly after the murder of Khashoggi became widely circulated information, the Saudi Arabian government sent $100 million to the United States as a potential payoff according to a Washington Post article published on Oct. 17. The U.S. government has denied that there is any connection between the event and the money transfer, but money undoubtedly plays a key role in President Trump’s stance on the matter.

Lorenz described President Trump’s response to Khashoggi’s murder as “amoral.”

“While many have worried about U.S. willingness to be the world’s greatest supplier of deadly weapons, we have had the rhetorical decency to hide our interest in profiting from killing by saying weapons sales were for some shared foreign policy goal. As in so much of the President’s rhetoric, he has now stripped his speech from any pretense of ethical policy,” said Lorenz.

As Thomas Friedman, the New York Times’ Foreign Policy expert wrote on Oct. 23, “[B]y telling us that we must weigh a $110 billion Saudi arms purchase against taking a moral stand on Khashoggi’s murder, is literally telling us the price of our values — about $333.33 for every American. (Your check is in the mail.) But if you think, as I do, that countries that sell out their core values for financial gain suffer in the long run or if you think that such a country is not the America you want us to be, and that the world needs us to be, then you need to vote.”

Trump’s comment may seem insignificant, but this is not a coincidence. Trump has a long track record of being anti-journalist. An example is the “Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required.” T-shirts implying that journalists should be hanged that were sold during the presidential election.

“President Trump clearly has fit within this dangerous trend by explicitly welcoming assaults on the press,” said Lorenz.

“Shortly after Mr. Khashoggi’s death, in a campaign appearance in Montana, the President expressed his admiration for Greg Gianforte, who when running for Congress last election

assaulted a reporter. At rallies, he also has encouraged crowds to see reporters in attendance as the enemies,” said Lorenz.

As President Trump continues to make attempts to limit free speech and freedom of the press, it is dire that the public understands that this is a major step in the fall of a democracy. Every silenced journalist is a threat to the peace.

“I think that this event shows that journalists are political weapons now, and they will need to use a great deal more caution when reporting in the future,” said Destiny Herbers (’21).

“Trump’s comments are reflective of his dismissive attitude towards media in general. He should be equally concerned for a reporter as he is for any other American citizen,” she said.

If we allow censorship and violence against journalists to increase, then the parameters of our rights will continue to shrink.

“The safety of journalists is imperative to the accessibility of information, and thereby to freedom of speech,” said Herbers.

“If our journalists aren’t able to investigate and report, we will not be receiving honest and comprehensive information,” she said.

“I think [the murder of Jamal khashoggi] is absolutely important and relevant, and more people on our campus and in our community need to know about it. Journalism is about telling the truth and being a voice for those who may feel like they do not have a voice, and the fact that a man was brutally murdered in order to make a point and to silence people is insanely awful. As a writer, it is my job to stand up for others and to be that voice, and this incident is trying to show others to stay silent or you will face consequences. I am here to say that it is downright awful and there needs to be change.

-Jordyn Bradley

“Journalism is one of the only profession left where you do not have to answer to anyone. You have the freedom of speech and the reliance of the people to tell them what others will not. With the murder of the Saudi Arianism journalist and the shooting at Charlie Hebdo in Paris, it makes me fear what I publish. I want to be the truest to myself and to my readers. My mother has warned me not to get hurt or put myself in danger but I want to say what I want to say and if someone has an issue with that, so be it.”

-Kelsey Weiss

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Highland Java goes eco-friendly


This semester, Highland Java began to contribute to decreasing their carbon footprint by reducing plastic. Highland Java’s decision to switch from plastic straws to paper straws has been met with positive student responses on campus.

The idea of making the change occurred at the end of the previous semester and were put in place this semester.

Carolyn Clark, President of Entrepreneurs in Action, made the decision to change the business to fit a more environmentally friendly model for businesses in the community. Instead of using nonbiodegradable plastic cups and straws, their business model utilizes biodegradable cups and paper straws.

“The environment is something that we should all take care of. I want the community to view the change as a positive, so they can do their part to help the environment. Their actions make a lasting impact,” said Carolyn Clark (19’).

Highland Java is a student run business on campus. Students employed at Highland Java are a part of a class called Entrepreneurs in Action, where students can have a hands-on learning experience at running a business.

The importance of maintaining the environment and teaching others to follow suit will have lasting effects on the planet.

“I believe it’s important for students to learn long-term environmental impacts in the business world,” said Clark.

Clark said that being from the Mid-West, we don’t always get to see the negative effects of plastic that litters the ocean. As part of Highland Java’s initiative to reduce waste in the oceans, The Awkward Turtle Campaign was promoted on social media.

“It was our way of making a difference to prevent plastic fromdisturbing wildlife,” said Clark. “Save The Awkward Turtle Campaign helped us get rid of plastic cups and straws. Instead of using plastic straws, we now use paper and we eliminated the need for cup sleeves,” said Santiago Ribadeneira (‘21), a worker at Highland Java.

Highland Java offers 100% compostable cups and paper straws that are approved by an environmental company.

Jaden House, CEO of Highland Java, explained the financial process that brought new disposable cups and straws into the business. “The price of selling a cup of coffee is the same as before the change. Getting rid of the sleeves helped reduce the price of producing coffee. The old paper and plastic cups and straws were donated to an environmental group on campus,” said Jadon House (20’).

Highland Java has also introduced the refillable Yeti mug and the approval for the customer to fill any reusable mug. “The reduction of plastic and paper waste has had many positive responses on campus. The weekly revenue is the highest it’s ever been in the past four years,” said Jaden.

House said that the President of Highland Java is very passionate about environmental activism. Highland Java is constantly looking to improve their business model and looks to the future to implement new ways to reduce waste.

Highland Java wants to continue to make business changes that help the environment. “Another good future idea is composting coffee grounds – instead of throwing grounds to waste,” said Clark.

Clark said that Highland Java is working step-by-step to improve their business model. Small changes make the biggest differences in the long-run. “It is our responsibility to reduce waste for the future.”


Fall brings new happenings


Autumn is one of the most wonderful times of the year. From going to cider mills to jumping into piles of leaves, fall can be full of fun times and fond memories.

One of my favorite things to do in the fall is go on long walks on trails. Once the leaves change color and the temperature drops a little, going out for walks can be extremely relaxing and help relieve stress. The different shapes and colors of the leaves are so calming and let me destress.

Besides taking walks and admiring the leaves, I also enjoy jumping in piles of leaves with friends. I haven’t done that in a couple of years, but its one of my most vivid memories of my childhood. I used to rake giant piles of leaves with my sister and we would take turns jumping into the piles. My mom particularly liked us doing this because it got us out of the house (and out of her hands for a little bit), and we also raked the yard whenever we wanted to have a little bit of fun.

More recently, I’ve enjoyed going out to pumpkin patches with my friends more than I did when I was a kid. I used to only like going when I knew I was going to get to carve a pumpkin, which every kid loves to do when it starts to get a little colder. Now, however, I prefer to spend time with my friends, and walking around in pumpkin patches reminds us of how beautiful fall can be.

One of the most obvious ways to tell when fall is approaching is when coffee shops and stores begin to sell pumpkin spice and ciders. Personally, I prefer apple cider to pumpkin spice, but I like to “spice” things up every once in a while. Most of my friends prefer pumpkin spice, but you can find me drinking some apple cider.

Through the fall months, there are two major holidays: Halloween and Thanksgiving. From getting spooky to getting thankful, people love fall holidays. Students on campus love decorating their doors for Halloween. They cover their doors in fake cobwebs and skeletons to fully bring the haunted and spooky feelings to Alma’s campus. There are even some students who leave candy in baskets on their doors for other students to take and enjoy.

After Halloween comes Thanksgiving. People get together and remember all the things that they’re truly thankful for. Some people are thankful for their families and pets, or maybe they’re thankful for opportunities that they’ve had in the past. I’m thankful for being able to go to college and pursue degrees in things that I’m extremely passionate about: chemistry and music. When students go home for Thanksgiving break, they have time to relax and destress from the classes they’re taking on campus. Personally, I enjoy seeing my family the most over Thanksgiving break because I rarely get to see them when I’m in Alma. Also, I love getting to have a nice meal prepared by my family as opposed to the microwave mac n’ cheese I’ve grown accustomed to eating while on campus.

One of my favorite things about fall is the fact that I can wear sweatshirts and hoodies all the time. I love when the weather turns chilly and I’m able to put on layers upon layers and get as bundled up as possible. Personally, I prefer colder weather as opposed to warmer weather, and that makes fall one of my favorite seasons.

There are many more wonderful things about autumn, but these are just some of my favorites; there are a lot more things that I really enjoy, but I love spending time with my friends around town and around campus the most. Besides fall activities, my friends are my favorite thing about autumn.

Festival brings community together


Last Thursday, downtown Alma hosted the Fall Festival, which provided entertainment and excitement for both the town and the college.

“Fall Festival is a community-wide event where students and community members come together for a Halloween themed festival,” said Rotaract Chancellor and Men’s Lacrosse player Garrett Heaney (‘20).

Assistant Athletic Director Sarah Dehring hoped to use the Fall Festival as a means to further the relationship between the college and the Alma community.

“We just wanted to get the community involved with the college and give the people from the community an opportunity to see some of the students,” said Dehring.

Kids who attended the festivities had a variety of fun activities to participate in, with the most popular event being Trunk or Treat.

“Students hand[ed] out candy for children from their decorated trunks while offering an array of activities such as slime making, face painting, and a costume contest,” said Heaney.

Though the candy eventually ran out, the night was far from over.

Throwdown in A-Town took place in the Art Smith Arena, inviting student athletes from every team.

“Throwdown in A-Town really highlights and kicks off all of the winter sports, so as we close up the fall season it gets the hype up for the winter teams,” said Dehring.

The event was as interactive as it was performance-filled. Competitions like a half court contest, Minute-to-Win-It games with faculty, a team tugof-war and a high flying dunk contest between basketball players were interspersed with presentations from Alma’s Cheer team, Dance team and Kiltie Dancers.

“A lot of times there is a disconnect between athletes and faculty so bringing them in and letting them know we care about them was really cool,” said Jared Fleming (’19), who particularly enjoyed the Minute-toWin-It competition.

Though Fall Festival incorporated students from several different campus groups like athletics and Greek life, the real focus of the event was the community.

“The entire community benefits from this event,” said Heaney.

“Businesses are able to reach out to the local families while college students get to brighten a kid’s day.”

Heaney thoroughly enjoyed being a part of Fall Festival.

“By being involved and engaged in this event, we all helped build community spirit while bringing everyone closer together.”

Women seek equality on Halloween


As Halloween approaches, college students are getting ready with their costumes and plans. They are choosing between dressing cute or dressing scary and are deciding who they want to become on Halloween night.

However, women’s Halloween costume choices can be rather narrow. If a person were to look for a Halloween costume for adult women, you will see that most costumes include short dresses or skirts and some type of heeled shoe. Not necessarily the most comfortable choices.

While living in the state of Michigan with the unpredictable weather, this could be a rather daring choice.

“Men have free reign over what they wear for Halloween, women do not get that option,”said Dylan Cour (‘21) who is dressing up as Eeyore.

“As a female there are really only two options for costumes, ‘sexy’ or ‘plain,’and more frequently you find that people tend to take the ‘sexy’ route,” said Nadia Swiecicki (‘20) who is dressing up as a sexy librarian.

It seems like Halloween has changed from a holiday about collecting candy and being scared to a time to show off as much or as little as you want without giving it a second thought.

“I did go the sexy route. But that’s because I feel like it is expected of someone my age,” said Swiecicki.

The pressure for college women to dress sexy but not too sexy where they get to the point that they are slut-shamed can be a deciding factor on what they wear for Halloween festivities.

“I think that limiting women to being sexy on Halloween is one of the dumbest things I have heard. That is why I never do it,” said Rachel Whipple (‘20) who is dressing up as a fellow classmate.

The debate on how sexy is too sexy brings up the issue that haunts most college women, will I be “slut shamed” for what I am wearing? Or worse, will someone think what I am wearing is an invitation for an unwanted sexual advance?

Women have these thoughts in their head on a day to day basis. These fears can be heightened when deciding on a Halloween costume.

“My costume is made up from stuff from my own day to day closet. It is not completely indecent so I do not think I will have an issue,” said Swiecicki.

Should people worry that how they dress for Halloween could impact how people view them on that night and in day to day life?

“I am not going to treat someone differently because of how they choose to dress. They are adults and can make their own decisions even if I do not agree with it,” said Cour.

Halloween should be a time where you can let go, be carefree and be someone entirely different. Slut shaming is never okay. What a person wears is not for you to judge or have an opinion on.

Please know that no matter what you are wearing for Halloween, an unwanted advance is still unwanted. Your safety is a priority and it is your choice what you wear.

Science Blowout promotes STEM


On Friday, Oct. 26, Science Blowout brought about 150 elementary school kids to Alma’s campus. The kids visited stations hosted by various STEM clubs. The stations included animals, tin foil boats and chemistry demonstrations.

Chemistry Club Vice President Scylar Blaisdell (’19) was excited to share her love of science with the kids. “My number one goal is to get kids excited about science, and for them to hopefully take on science oriented careers in the future.”

“Science Blowout is really an event that gets kids excited about science. I really enjoy teaching and explaining science to them,” said Zach Lincoln (’19), President of Chemistry Club. “They should learn that science can be exciting and entertaining, but also that we need to be safe and responsible while doing so.”

Lincoln was responsible for The Big Show that opened Science Blowout. “I really enjoy having The Big Show and doing demonstrations, particularly when we light balloons on fire and watch them explode with a loud noise,” said Lincoln.

Blaisdell also commented on the popularity of the chemistry show. “The exploding balloons [are] one of our more popular demonstrations and their excitement is contagious.”

Though the Chemistry Club’s demo is a large draw, other clubs’ activities were also exciting. “[The Biology Club] put on an animal room where the kids come and it’s basically a reptile petting zoo. So we give them a small introduction to what reptiles are and what biology is,” said Biology Club President Savannah Warners (’19).

A wide variety of animals were introduced to the kids. “We have a bearded dragon, a crested gecko, a kolkata tortoise, a leopard tortoise, a few different species of turtles, a few corn snakes and a python. The python can be very temperamental,” said Warners.

Warners admitted that challenges came with running the event, including the number of kids and safety precautions.

“There are a lot of kids. A lot of the time they’re just so excited to be out on this field trip that they don’t handle themselves well,” said Warners. “It’s [mostly] ‘don’t stick your fingers in the eyes of these lizards,’ but most of the time it goes smoothly.”

The kids are not the only ones who have fun at Science Blowouts. “[Last year, I] chas[ed] a tortoise across a room. It was interesting because it decided it wanted to book it from one end of the room from the other. Kids were crowding around it too,” said Colin Stephens (’20).

Blaisdell stated that some of the best parts of Science Blowout are seeing the kids’ expressions when they try something new. “[The moment when you’re] getting them passionate about discovery [shows them] ultimately what science is all about.”

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