Puerto Rico to Receive Billions

ELLA BRIGHT
STAFF WRITER

On Friday, Sept. 18, President Trump announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would be sending almost $13 billion, including $11.6 billion in federal funding, in aid to Puerto Rico to help rebuild. This announcement came almost exactly three years after Hurricane Maria caused devastating damage in Sept. 2017. Congress had approved this allocation of funds in 2018.

The grants are two of the largest grants ever awarded by FEMA and, according to the White House website, “illustrate President Trump’s unwavering commitment to rebuilding Puerto Rico and aiding Puerto Ricans as they continue to recover from multiple natural disasters.”

In what was called the “most devastating U.S.-based natural disaster in 100 years,” Hurricane Maria slammed the island with winds of 155 mph, killed almost 3000 residents of Puerto Rico (leaving even more of them without homes) and caused about $100 million in damage. Since then, earthquakes, flash floods, an economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic have caused even more devastation to the island.

The announcement of this aid came less than fifty days before the presidential election. President Trump had previously criticized the officials of Puerto Rico and stated that no more money needed to go there because it would be “wasted.”

When asked why he had approved money to go there so close to the election, Trump responded that he had been advocating for this money to be sent for a long time but it had been held up by Democrats in Congress.

The White House announced that $9.6 million included in this aid sent by FEMA will be used to restore electrical grids that had left Puerto Rico with the longest blackout in U.S. history. $2 billion will be used for the Department of Education to help repair school buildings across the island. With this new amount of aid, the White House announced they had thus far sent about $26 billion to Puerto Rico. Congress has approved about $43 billion.

In an interview with CBS news, Puerto Rican resident Angel Perez said the United States government has been of very little help in Puerto Rico’s recovery. “As a community social worker, I can tell you that Puerto Rico’s recovery, if it can be called that, didn’t come thanks to the government,” said Perez. It came from nonprofit associations, it came from the neighbors themselves. It came from foundations. It came from the hands of other people who supported the families that suffered the most.”

When asked about this new announcement of funding, students at Alma had some different opinions. Some felt straightforwardly about the aid. “I believe that the U.S. should fulfill this promise as best they can to help Puerto Rico,” said Lucy Woods (‘24). “I would like for all of that money to get there. I believe that when you promise something, you should fulfill that promise.”

Some students felt rather conflicted about this amount of money sent to Puerto Rico. “I would like for America to send as much aid as they possibly can to Puerto Rico because they’ve got a lot of problems,” said David Troyer (‘24). “The hurricane caused so much devastation and they need all the help they can get. However, national debt has increased and with the election, I think this decision needs to be postponed for a couple more months unless the current administration can figure something out.”

The 3.2 million residents of Puerto Rico are not eligible to vote in the U.S. election, but they will be electing a governor and a few other local officials on the same day. However, all the residents of Puerto Rico that fled the island and now reside in the United States will be voting in the election on Nov. 3.

Alma welcomes new PAGE club

ALIVIA GILES
STAFF WRITER

With the semester under way, many clubs and organizations have started holding meetings and events. Recently, Alma College welcomed a new organization. The PAGE (which stands for Pop Culture, Anime, Gaming, and Entertainment) Club has begun hosting various campus events.

The PAGE club was founded at the end of last year. The organization was formed from the merging of two separate groups: ACOG (Alma College Otaku and Gamers) and the Gaming Guild.

Mike Oliver (’20) serves as the organization’s president. As he watched ACOG and the Gaming Guild’s number of members drop, Oliver felt it was important to unite the two groups.

“The [two organizations] were not doing very well for a number of reasons,” said Oliver. “And there was rivalry between them, which was very unfortunate because they were very similar clubs.”

When the founding members set to work organizing the club, they kept in mind some of the best parts of ACOG and the Gaming Guild, while also looking at where improvements could be made.

“When we were drafting the constitution, we thought about what ACOG was as a group. [It] wasn’t quite a club in the traditional sense,” said Oliver. “It was very, very broad. It was [more like] a social organization. What [the founders] wanted to do was expand on that and make it a bit of both.”

Oliver hoped this new structure would help draw in new interest – and it seems to have worked. “ACOG and the Gaming Guild only had four members going into this year. Now we’re at, as of our last count, 38,” said Oliver.

Sophie Flater (’23) works as the club’s Alumni Liaison and Social Media Organizer. After hearing about the organization as a freshman, Flater became involved with the Gaming Guild. When the Gaming Guild and ACOG merged to form the Page club, she decided to get more involved.

Flater’s favorite part of being involved in the PAGE club is how accepting the organization is. “Our [social media] offers a place for people to feel accepted, vent, ‘geek out’, and just generally feel like a part of a community,” said Flater. “It’s a really great environment to be in and I hope even more people will join in the future.”

According to Flater, the PAGE club is “essentially an umbrella club for all things nerdy” so they have something for just about everyone. So far, the club has hosted a variety of successful events, including Pokémon Night, an Among Us event, a Studio Ghibli viewing event, a Smash event, and most recently, a “Bad Fanfiction” reading event.

Flater is looking forward to what the PAGE club has in store for Halloween. “There will definitely be some interesting events for Halloween lovers,” said Flater. “On the third, we will be hosting a horror movie night, and a few of our [members] are currently working on a spooky, supernatural escape room experience.”

Abigail Ely (’24) serves as the club’s Inventory Manager, keeping track of storage and assisting people in checking out items. She also helps run the group’s Thursday night Dungeons and Dragons event.

Ely’s favorite part of being involved in the PAGE club has been the connections she has made. “I have become good friends with most of the people who attend [events] regularly,” said Ely. “The people I’ve met in PAGE are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and I’m so thankful I joined this club.”

Ely would like to encourage any student to get involved in the PAGE club. “You don’t need to consider yourself a gamer or ‘nerdy’ to join this club and be active in it,” said Ely. “PAGE is a club where you can be yourself and have fun with people who truly care.”

For more information on the PAGE club’s upcoming events, students are encouraged to join the organization’s Facebook group or Discord Server.

Registering to vote in the upcoming election

EMILY HENDERSON
STAFF WRITER

Photo by Lizzy Dermody

Voting season is now upon us. This presidential election is said to be one for the books as Donald Trump and Joe Biden take the stage to discuss their policies and ideals.

Politics is often seen as stressful and burdensome, and young voters are the least likely to turn out to the polls yet are the most affected by each election.

“Voting is crucial, but still a first step. Get involved with a political group as soon as you can,” said Sam Nelson (‘21).

Alma College offers various clubs that allow students to understand and learn about different political groups. Many say that getting involved is an integral part of becoming an informed citizen.

Registering to vote is the first dive into the ocean of politics. Each state has a different date in which registering to vote must be completed, and other avenues such as mail-in voting exist to help those who may not be able to vote in person.

For Michigan the final date one can register to vote is Oct. 19th. If you would like to mail in your vote you can do so now through Oct. 19th in order to ensure your vote is counted.

Unlike some states, Michigan does allow for voters to register on voting day, but it is only available at specific locations in your town, not your polling place.

Voting has long been seen as a tedious task, and one that many Americans feel has lost its value within the Electoral College.

“Voting has that benefit of encouraging you to be involved and aware. There are some studies that show that people feel better about the country when they vote,” said Dr. Britt Cartrite, professor of political science.

Although voting has been proven to boost morale among Americans, young voters are the least likely to turn out to the polls and vote. Many feel as though their vote doesn’t count and are oftentimes discontent with one or more party’s representatives.

Mail-in voting has often been an avenue for those who find themselves in a different state than their home state during this time, or for those who simply can’t make it to the polls.

Many worry about whether or not their vote will make it on time, due in part to the ongoing pandemic but also the issues that have arisen this year with the USPS.

“It is safe to vote by mail, but there is potential for delays. If you want your ballot to count, you should make a plan to get your absentee ballot today,” said Nelson.

For those who are in a different state, or in a different part of the state, mail-in voting is a useful tool. Those who utilize mail-in voting can track their ballot online to ensure everything goes through, and can even request a new ballot if there is an issue with the one they previously sent in.

Voting goes beyond registering and showing up to the polls, though. In order to vote one must be aware of the state of our government and its systems.

Many citizens currently feel as though a shift needs to happen within our government, be them from the left or right.

“You can actually have a real impact at the local level. That’s another reason to get involved and participate. Most of the rules, regulations and laws that impact your day to day life are done at the state level, not the national or local level,” said Cartrite.

There has often been talk of change happening at the local, state and national levels of our government. Many political scientists are seeing a shift in the people’s wants, as well as institutions and systems within our government that may be failing.

“It seems like our institutions are starting to struggle. I think it’s a good time to get involved, especially as a young person, because the world is changing fast,” said Cartrite.

Collective thinking of the people is what moves the country along, and voting is one avenue that allows voices to be heard and change to be made no matter what you stand for.

Political chaos: America’s update

CHELSEA FABER
STAFF WRITER

Chaotic times have flooded Washington D.C. days before the election. A string of damaging news broke leading up to the President’s COVID-19 diagnosis.

On Sunday Sept. 27, The New York Times announced they had received decades of Donald Trump’s tax returns and published shocking takeaways. It was revealed that the president had paid $750 in federal taxes in both 2016 and 2017.

It also revealed that Trump’s businesses had reported massive losses, showing he had paid no income taxes in 10 of the last 15 years. Tax experts also have questioned the legitimacy of some of his tax deductions, including consulting fees for his children and $70,000 in ‘styling fees’ for his television appearances.

This report came just days before the Sept. 29 Presidential debate, where the sitting president faced off against the Democratic challenger, Joe Biden. Tensions were high as the two hopefuls spoke over each other, preventing either of them from announcing serious policy stances.

The President was criticized following the debate for his repeated interruptions of former Vice President Biden, as well as speaking over moderator, Fox News host Chris Wallace. Biden was also cited for missing opportunities to outline his policies on the presented topics and rather was caught up trying to respond to Trump.

Heavy criticism came in regard to Trump’s stance on white supremacist groups. Wallace asked the president if he would denounce white supremacist groups, to which Trump did not give an answer, he rather said “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”

Overall, the debate was regarded as perhaps the worst debate in American history and could be seen as a greater reflection of the current divided nature of the country. Those weighing in after the debate concluded agreed that there was little advancement in either party’s hope to sway voters.

Questions about the pandemic were unavoidable, as Trump’s COVID-19 response has fielded criticism from public health experts as well as the American public. His defense of his handling of this crisis came just days before his own October 2 diagnosis.

On par with other announcements from this Administration, the public found out about his diagnosis from a 1 am tweet. At the time Trump said he and the First Lady would be quarantining in the White House, however within hours this plan changed.

Trump was transported via Marine One to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he could be monitored closer by health care professionals. He also revealed he had been given an experimental dose of Regeneron, an experimental drug cocktail. The treatment had shown promising results but has not been approved for mass usage.

As the President seems to be experiencing mild symptoms, his symptoms were “very concerning” on Friday, a White House Official said Saturday-Monday would be critical in his battle with the virus.

Other high-profile government officials have also tested positive for the coronavirus, including former adviser Kellyanne Conway, Senators Thom Tillis and Mike Lee, and Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie among others close to the President.

Speculation has fallen on the Rose Garden Ceremony in which Amy Coney Barrett was announced as Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee. Photos show that few attendees were wearing masks and no social distancing was observed. Many individuals who have subsequently tested positive were in attendance.

The remaining weeks leading up to the election are poised to be explosive, as the American voters head to the ballot box to cast their votes for president.

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