Music department hosts faculty recital


Graphic by MEREK ALAM

On Sunday, Oct. 6, the Alma College music department hosted a faculty recital. The program held a variety of performances from different faculty members both full and part-time.

“There is a wide variety of instruments and styles, ranging from Baroque to modern, with some jazz thrown in as well,” said Murray Gross, Charles A. Dana professor of music.

In addition to the more known pieces of music, some have arranged their own works that were performed.

“The first pieces are from my new ballet CD that was released at the beginning of the summer. It involves a number of Alma Faculty in performances of compositions that had their genesis in the ballet classes that I play for at Alma,” said Tony Patterson, collaborative pianist.

Students were excited to see that a faculty recital would be taking place this semester.

“I was excited to see Mr. Zerbe and Dave Fair perform. They are both amazing musicians, and it is really exciting. I think that it helps me establish a love for the art and credibility to the people here who are teaching us,” said Natasha Netzley (‘21).

Students were also glad to see their professors taking part in the same activity they do each semester.

“I feel like this will help form a stronger bond between faculty and students as were able to see them practice what they preach, for that reason I think it would be great for the faculty to do recitals like this more often,” said Brad Skellenger (’22).

Some professors are even using the event as an educational experience for students.

“Hearing their teachers perform is a great model for music students – we don’t have enough high quality live music performances at Alma as it is, so students should take advantage of the opportunity at hand. Some of my students in my FYS course will be attending and writing concert review essays as a way to connect,” said Gross.

The program has no strict theme, and a variety of styles were conveyed at the performance. The show opened with several original pieces and was followed by several more classic style pieces with a little bit of jazz and a little bit of comedy. But the close to the concert was something different.

“The final piece is a medley comprised of seven decades of TV themes. My goal was to get as many themes as possible in six minutes. In the end, I got 23,” said Patterson.

This is the first time in several years that this recital will be taking place.

“From my recollection, Dr. Gross started the faculty recitals years ago and at least initially they functioned as a fundraising opportunity for student scholarships. The recitals took place for several years and then stopped and this is the first one in a while,” said Vicki Walker, visiting professor of voice.

Even students outside of the music department can get some useful information out of the recital.

“This recital has been beneficial as a non-music major to see how a music education can be implemented after graduating from an undergraduate program,” said Ellie Woertz (’20).

Preparing for winter on campus


Winter is well on its way and people around campus have already started to adjust for the coming cold. However, a lot more goes on behind the scenes than most people realize. Preparing the campus for winter is an arduous task and the Facilities Department at Alma works around the clock to make sure it’s ready.

“Our grounds crew regularly starts work at 6 a.m. However… we may arrive on-site as early as 4 a.m. as needed to make sure sidewalks and parking lots are cleared by 8 a.m.,” said Douglas E. Dice, head of facilities and services at Alma.

The facilities department stays busy even when there isn’t snow. As the weather changes, the department is responsible for more than just clearing the sidewalks. According to Dice, they’re already working on firing up the “sixteen large boilers and around 90 other heating units across campus.”

If something goes awry with any of those heating units, just use the new digital work order system and the facilities department will handle it. “As soon as we are made aware of any heating, cooling, plumbing or other malfunction, we assign a technician to the task,” said Dice.

But before you do, he asks that you take a look around the room first to see if the problem can be easily fixed.

“We get a number of calls each year about cold dorm rooms and find that blankets or clothing have blocked the heater vents,” said Dice.

Students are also making preparations in their dorms. Keeping snow out of the dorms proved to be a challenge on stormy days in past years.

“Last year we just left our shoes out in the hallway. At one point I looked in the hall and there were like 40 pairs of shoes,” said Joshua Gross (‘21).

In anticipation of the snow this year, Gross and his roommate have devised a new solution: a plastic tray in their dorm to hold their shoes when they get wet.

Some of the effects of winter aren’t as obvious as icy sidewalks or wet shoes, but they can be just as challenging. One major obstacle winter brings with it is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

“Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression,” said Linda W. Faust, LMSW at the Alma Counseling Center. “Due to a lack of sunshine, one’s body produces less Vitamin D, which can lead to feelings of sadness and a lack of motivation. Also, due to the colder weather, people often get less exercise, which can exaggerate symptoms of depression and anxiety.”

SAD affects about 5% of the population, and it is more common in women.

“The symptoms usually occur during the fall and winter months… and improve with the arrival of spring. The most difficult months… tend to be January and February,” said Faust. “…and those affected report that ‘they have symptoms about 40% of a calendar year.”

Even if you don’t suffer from SAD, the busy workload that winter brings is the source of a lot of students’ stress.

“The counseling center tends to be the busiest in October, but we believe that is not seasonally associated but rather based on midterms approaching and students becoming busier with classes,” said Faust.

Winter doesn’t mean doom and gloom to everyone though. In fact, some students are excited about it.

“I personally love winter,” said Gross. “When I’m home, I go snowmobiling, sledding, ice fishing—all of that.”

And for some students, being cooped up indoors doesn’t sound all that bad.

“I’m honestly looking forward to having a good excuse to stay in,” said Megan Jenkins (‘23).

Impeachment 101: a student’s guide


Graphic by MEREK ALAM

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) announced last week that there would be a formal impeachment inquiry investigating any illegal actions taken by the Trump Administration after a whistleblower report was made public. Interest from curious Americans has led many to ask, how does the impeachment process work?

Impeachment stems from the constitutional principle of checks and balances, the power of branches of government to ensure that the others are not overstepping their power. It is not limited to only the Chief Executive; it can be used to hold any public official accountable for misconduct. The officer in question must have committed “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors” per the Constitution.

However, the framers may not have anticipated how this system may play out in today’s day and age.

“They didn’t foresee how intense partisan loyalty might undermine separation of powers and rule of law, especially in a highly polarized environment such as our own,” said William Gorton, professor of political science.

To be “impeached” is not necessarily to be removed from office. It is synonymous with being indicted for a crime. Just as within any fair trial, an inditement or impeachment is not automatically a guilty sentence. Several presidents have been impeached, however, no sitting president has been removed from office through this process.

The power of impeachment is explicitly given to congress in the constitution. “The main reason the framers of the constitution gave congress the power to remove a president is because they feared that the presidency could morph into a tyrannical power,” said Gorton.

The exact process, however, was given as a guideline, not as a rigid process. Historically, the House Judiciary Committee has first held an investigation, to ensure there was enough evidence to require further action. If they reached the conclusion that there was, they would recommend Articles of Impeachment to the full House of Representatives.

The House Judiciary Committee gathers this information from six other House committees including the House Intelligence Committee, which is where congress is at currently; if they determine there is sufficient evidence to impeach Mr. Trump, the process will move forward.

After the House Committee investigations are complete, the individual articles – or accusations – will be held to a vote. If even one article is passed, the president will be considered impeached, and the Senate will take over.

In the Constitution, the House is charged with compiling evidence and establishing the Articles of Impeachment. The Senate is then asked to hold a trial, to acquit or convict the official in question.

The Senate trial acts as a pseudo courtroom. “They are expected to hold a trial of some kind – which would normally entail hearing witness testimony and discussing evidence of wrongdoing by the president” said Gorton. However, he also explained, “they could conceivably just vote to dismiss the articles without holding a trial.”

Selected House members would serve as a ‘prosecution,’ the president selects his own defense lawyers and the entire Senate will act as the jury. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, presides.

Upon conclusion of the trial, the Senate will hold a vote in which two thirds of members would constitute as a majority. In the event the president is voted guilty, he would then be removed from office immediately and the vice president would take over. Unlike a typical trial, there is no appeal process.

A president – or any public official for that matter – can be impeached, however, to be fully removed, the approval of the Senate is required.

As far as an expected timeline, Gorton explained that given historical precedent – or lack thereof it is nearly impossible to predict how long the process may take. It is also important to note that this is the first time a sitting president has been threatened with impeachment while seeking reelection.

Impeachment inquiry: what to know


Graphic by MEREK ALAM

On Sept. 24, 2019, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, announced the start to the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

This comes in response to a whistleblower account of a phone call between Trump and the president of Ukraine, Vlodymyr Zelensky, back in July. In this conversation, there was a discussion about a deal in which the United States would receive information in exchange for aid. There was no direct transcript, only a memorandum that summarized the conversation.

There have only been three previous impeachment inquires in the history of the United States. The first being Andrew Johnson in 1868, then again in 1974 with Richard Nixon and most recently Bill Clinton in 1998.

“It’s very historic,” said Kristin Olbertson, a professor of history. “This is just not something the nation undergoes on any kind of regular basis.” There have been numerous calls for impeachment since the beginning of the presidency; however, none were ever acted upon and called before the house.

“I just think the whole thing is overhyped. They’ve been trying to push impeachment proceedings for months now with little to no success. It’s become the boy who cried wolf,” said Emily Thomas (’22).

Recently, there has been a second whistleblower to come forward and collaborate about the phone call. These people will retain certain rights for coming forward to discuss what they know.

“Federal whistleblower protections are there to protect individuals who have knowledge of law breaking or abusive behavior and wish to make that behavior known but are concerned about retaliation they might experience,” said Olbertson.

Additionally, there have been more complications in the process. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not provide subpoenaed paperwork by the house committee. In doing so, the process is being delayed.

This impeachment is coming near the end of Trump’s term and the start of the next election cycle which holds the potential to be affected.

“I think [the impeachment inquiry] does prompt questions into what comes next, and who really cares,” said Sam Nelson (‘21).

There are two possible outcomes to this process. If Trump is to be impeached and then removed by the Senate, he will not be eligible to run for re-election. If he is not impeached or not removed, he will still be able to run for presidency again.

The outcome is uncertain, and students have differing opinions. “If anything, it will strengthen GOP support of Trump and (assuming the impeachment fails like it has in the past) will only weaken the Dem’s connection with their moderates,” said Thomas.

“The short-term affect seems to be positive for the Democrats as a whole, but as we learned in 2016, we can’t be optimistic and ignore the electoral college,” said Nelson.

Both Nelson and Thomas said that it is important for students to follow the news regarding this and to stay informed. “Following what the president does and how their representatives react is critical as a citizen right now,” says Nelson.

“It’s highly important, and I do encourage everybody to pay attention to the process,” said Olbertson. “I do encourage people not to consume cable news and to go to the original sources for their information whenever they can.”

“Joker” laughs at society


Graphic by MEREK ALAM

“Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?” said Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) in one of his opening lines of Joker. The relatability doesn’t end there, the residents of 1980’s Gotham must also grapple with class inequality, slashed social services, a millionaire running for public office and collectively having a crush on Zazie Beetz. In record time, this turmoil from a fictional society spilled over into our (unfortunately) very real society.

The current controversy revolves around the idea that the very plot of Joker––a lonely white guy who devolves into committing murder after experiencing rejection and perceived societal injustice––was too close to the biographies of actual mass shooters. Therefore, a sympathetic portrayal of this kind of person would inspire more potential mass shootings. Phoenix defended the movie, saying that, “I think it’s really good…when movies make us uncomfortable or challenge us or make us think differently.” Others, to put it mildly, disagreed.

Families of the Aurora theater shootings victims protested Warner Brothers. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued warnings about the possibility of violence. The NYPD deployed undercover officers and many other law enforcement officials stepped up their patrols around theaters during the premiere. I myself had my ID checked two times before I even got to my designated Joker theater.

I got settled in my seat just in time for that routine Chevy ad where “real people” on the screen fake enthusiasm for a mediocre car and seemingly like each other. Meanwhile, all the actual real people in the theater begin to get vaguely terrified of their temporary neighbors. In between counting the minutes of the presumed bathroom break the guy next to us took, we all might be inclined to wonder: why is our society like this?

After every shooting one side immediately gets embarrassingly stonewalled trying to legislate guns out of the hands of everyone who’s not a cop and the other side calls on the nation to turn every single public-school teacher into John Wick. If there’s any societal analysis of the shooters at all, it’s when we briefly look at their profile to confirm that it is the fault of the other side so we can wash our hands of it. None of this addresses a more fundamental issue.

Mass killers are still unforgivably bad people who have made evil decisions that they alone are responsible for. Yet, by the very nature of their thoughts and actions, they were still failed every step of the way by the society around them. All across the country you have millions of people stewing in their own hate and isolation without any kind of help or outreach. Partially limiting their access to a particular type of weapon or training Mr. Wilson to go beast mode at the sound of microwave popcorn is to be intervening at the last possible second of the last possible hour and only addressing the tip of the iceberg.

These mass shooters do not have to be inevitable in the first place, every one of them that seemingly appears out of the blue is actually the fault of each and every one of us for not doing something sooner. We shouldn’t be so terrified about media that tries to understand these issues better or makes one of the horrifying evils in our society seem more “human.”

I wish I could say that Joker is the film that provides all the answers we are yearning for, but the film itself is just “okay” in the strongest possible sense of the word. Interesting ideas like a visually overworked social worker, social alienation and the demonization of mental illness get bogged down by a weirdly unnecessary girlfriend plot, a quest to find the protagonist’s dad and The Joker himself going off against PC culture like an aging comedian on Netflix. We all probably would have forgotten the movie a week after it came out and watched Taxi Driver or The King of Comedy instead were it not for the film’s attachment to the Batman mythos.

To its credit, Joker and the controversy surrounding it does an excellent job revealing how deeply afraid our society is of mass shootings, to the point of believing that straying from a list of pre-approved partisan talking points means accidentally summoning a mass shooting Beetlejuice-style. If we begin addressing our deeper issues, that is not a society we have to live in.

I got the blues for piercings and tattoos



Tattoos and piercings are very popular in today’s society, especially with college students. When walking around campus, I can guarantee that you walk past plenty of people who are supporting a unique tattoo or piercing. The thing many people forget about though is, what is going to happen when applying for jobs?

How tattoos and piercings were perceived in the past and how they are today is luckily very different. For decades people have had a negative perceptions of tattoos and piercings. Many people relate their negativity towards their religion, just thinking they are trashy and unattractive and some even bring up the common question of “what will you do when you are old and wrinkly?”

As an avid lover of tattoos and piercings for the purpose of self-expression, I always try and make sure that there is a meaning behind what I am getting if I am getting a tattoo. Piercings are fun to experiment with because there’s multiple piercings you can get. I am currently still playing with the ways I express myself which led me to two tattoos and eight piercings at the moment.

I often get asked what I am going to do when I graduate and begin applying for jobs because of my tattoos and piercings. In today’s society, tattoos and piercings are becoming more widely accepted.

Most employers nowadays have tattoos themselves, which helps many people who have a passion for self-expression. Employers do have a right to have a dress code that requires you to take out any piercings or cover up tattoos. It is getting to a point that employers do not mind simple tattoos and piercings as long as they are not offensive or inappropriate.

Perceptions can impact reality, especially when you have a tattoo or out of the ordinary piercing. If you have an offensive or inappropriate tattoo in a visible place then that will impact your possibility of getting a job, but most do not. If I remember correctly, one in five people have a tattoo and piercings depend on what type it is.

Tattoos and piercings should be acceptable no matter what the job is and shouldn’t change the perception of the person doing the job. But to many people it does still change their perception to a point that some people still refuse service from people with tattoos and piercings.

Many people have heard the saying, “my body is not my resume,” which is entirely true. This is why many people are beginning not to mind hiring people with tattoos or piercings. You can have a tattoo or piercing and be highly qualified for a job, so why should that impact your chances for the job compared to someone with no tattoos with hardly any experience for the same job?

Recently, a lot of people in well-known careers such as nurses, doctors, firefighters, professors and teachers have been able to let their ink and metal be on display. Piercings are still more common than tattoos and overall more accepted in society to this day. Tattoos continue to gain a better following.

Self-expression is something that helps define a person, especially in college and in their career. Tattoos and piercings both help with self-expression and it is up to the person with the tattoos and piercings what they want to mark their bodies with, not anyone else’s.

Academic services on campus



Alma College has a plethora of academic services, yet many students may not utilize them. As classes near their midterms, students at Alma may begin to feel as though they need a little extra support to stay ahead of the curb.

From the CSO, or the Center for Student Opportunity, to the writing center, Alma offers a myriad of different options depending on a students’ specific needs, be it tutoring, writing help and so much more.

The CSO is a place some students utilize, but others feel as though there are many students who are unaware of the help available.

“You can go to the CSO and discuss what you need. If you need more time to take tests, disability services or a wide-range of things. There’s also tutoring, and it’s free on campus,” said Kimber Buzzard (‘21).

The CSO can be found right next to Joe’s in Gelston Hall here on campus.

Students can pick up tutoring forms in the CSO, and they’ll be matched with a tutor, free of charge.

The Writing Center is another academic service found here on campus, located in the library.

“The Writing Center in the library is a great place [to go] if you’re struggling to write a paper. That’s a really cool resource that I think a lot of students don’t utilize. Everything’s free because [Alma College] doesn’t want students to not have these opportunities,” said Buzzard.

Resources here on campus are free to students, which can allow every student to have an equal opportunity to gain academic support. The Writing Center and tutoring are not the only academic services found here on campus.

“Students can go to the CSO for things such as career services, tutoring, help with their resume, graduate school applications, interview help,” said Kendall Bird (‘20).

Along with assistance on resumes and more, the college also offers academic help for those with disabilities.

“Students that have a diagnosed disability can get in contact with Rhonda Linn, and she can help with accommodation letters and what would be feasible for the college to do to help the student succeed in their classes,” said Cosette Coston (‘20).

Alma College allows students with certain disabilities have access to exams for more time, or even in different areas aside from a classroom setting, allowing each student the opportunity to turn in their best work.

“Some of the things the school can do are assisted note taking, so they’ll hire a student that is in a class to take notes and send their notes to the CSO. The process would be confidential, that way the students don’t know who is writing the notes and who the notes are going to. They can also help with reserving rooms to take exams,” said Coston.

If students require different help than what is offered in the CSO or Writing Center, there may still be options available for them.

“There’s a library research class, headed by Steven Richter. It’s a class that helps students find scholarly articles, aside from using Google Scholar,” said Martin Betancourt (‘21).

Not only can students find help with library research, but there are other courses available to help with other academic needs.

“There’s also academics 101, which is a study habits class that helps students that are struggling with their GPA; it helps college kids that don’t know how to study for their classes gain good study habits. Both classes meet once a week for a max of 45 minutes,” said Betancourt.

Academic services may come in a myriad of different forms, be it tutoring, writing help, resume building or even being taught better study habits. The college provides students with many different opportunities, and students are welcome and encouraged to utilize the academic resources here on campus.

Athletes improve in the off-season



In an athlete’s career, they have two types of mindsets: their in-season mindset and their off-season mindset.

The season is the time of the year where athletes get to shine and compete for what they have been training for all year. It is where they show off their skills and hard work.

However, skills and hard work do not just form overnight. The offseason is where athletes work on bettering themselves and their skills.

“The off-season is the most important time for an athlete and their team,” said softball player Kendall Bird (‘20). “This is the time when you can go and work on exactly what you need to be better for your team and the upcoming season ahead. This is the time to get into the best shape possible and be as strong as you can be.”

Most of an athlete’s career is spent out of season. Therefore, it is up to them to utilize their off-season time as much as they can.

Currently at Alma College, winter and spring sports, such as Softball, Women’s and Men’s Lacrosse, Women’s and Men’s basketball and a few others, are in their off-season until late November or January when their seasons start.

Most of these teams have limited action on the field or court due to regulations and have to rely on finding other ways to prepare themselves for their season.

One way is through weightlifting or extra training on their own. “During season our lifts are lighter, not as frequent and more focused on sustaining strength,” said Bird.

“During the off-season, our lifts are set toward building strength. We use three out of the four days in the weight room as strictly lifting weights and the fourth day we use as a cardio circuit day.”

Most teams, when out of season, go to the weight room four times a week to keep themselves active and prepped for season. They also partake in “Fall Ball,” which is fourteen days in the off-season where the team can meet with their coaches to practice as a team.

Besides “Fall Ball,” players like Bird take initiative to make sure to go and get a few hits in to fine tune their skills every week.

Athletes who wait until the season starts to get back into the swing of the sport, often fall behind or lack the skills and rhythm they need for season.

It is important for athletes to constantly be working on their skills and fitness in the off-season whether it is with their team or on their own. Some athletes even utilize their off-season by partaking in another sport.

“Our team always jokes saying that our off-season doesn’t exist because we are always training. We get about two weeks total strictly no running and just cross training and then we go all season from there,” said Madeline McDonnell (’20).

As a runner, McDonnell participates in cross country and indoor and outdoor track. Hence, her off-season is generally in prep for the next season.

While she is training for cross country season, she is in season for track and vice versa.

“Personally, I use the track season to train for cross country because I run the same event all year around,” said McDonnell.

Athletes like McDonnell choose to use their “offseason” by being involved in other sports that help enhance and improve their skills for the next season.

It is similar to other sports’ “Fall Ball,” but involves the season mentality more than the off-season. However, this does not mean these athletes do not recognize the importance of their off-seasons.

“Having an off-season or a period of rest during training cycles are so important,” said McDonnell. “As athletes, we need to be able to trust our bodies and training levels so we know that we are capable of being where we are at physically as well as mentally.”

Besides training and weightlifting, athletes also have other ways to spend their off seasons. Many teams, such as the Women’s Lacrosse team, make volunteering a priority all year round, but especially in the off-season.

“The volunteer opportunities we participate in help our team become closer with each other and the community around us, which only positively affects our performance on the field,” said Courtney Hartnagle (’21).

Many teams use the off-season as a way to not only better themselves, but to better the community. It is a time for teams and athletes to give back to the people who support them in and out of season.

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