The environment cries for help


Graphic by MEREK ALAM

There has been a lot of talk about the climate in the news lately, and there have been protests across the world; however, without large changes across the globe, I don’t think there will be much headway. People have been organizing climate strikes around the world, and they have brought a lot of attention to the climate change issue. People have been using less plastic and have found better ways to reuse items before throwing them away.

People have posted videos of them changing things they would normally throw away into useful items, and life-hack videos are all over the internet.

These are all great ways for people to alter the amount of waste they produce, and I think most of them are really good ideas. That being said, there are only a few people that actually use these hacks to reduce waste. There will always be people that will do everything in their power to try and lessen the impact their waste has on the environment, but individuals shouldn’t be the only ones trying to help the environment.

Large corporations need to realize that they have a much larger impact on the environment that individuals, and they need to be trying to help the environment more.

For example, the Nestle conglomerate has been pumping a lot of groundwater from Michigan, and it’s hurting the environment. Residents in Osceola Township have noticed that water levels are continuing to decrease the longer that Nestle drains water from below ground. The wellhead Nestle is pumping water from runs directly into two Muskegon river tributaries. Trout populations in the area are beginning to decrease.

This affects more than just people. Food webs and food chains are being impacted, and that is going to change the entire environment. Animals feed on other animals, and when one animal population becomes exceedingly small, other animals suffer as a consequence. There are thousands of populations being affected by large corporations, and there’s little that individuals can do by themselves. I’m not saying that people should stop their efforts to help the environment; I’m saying that their efforts are small and pale in comparison to what larger groups could be doing.

Besides corporations harming the environment by drawing resources to make money, companies are harming the environment by what they leave behind.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 700,000 tons of fishing gear is left in the ocean every year. We’ve all heard that fishing nets in the ocean are much more harmful than using plastic straws and cups. While people mainly think of pollution as plastic bottles and containers floating on the surface of water, there is plastic that sinks in the ocean and causes harm too.

There are pieces of plastic that sink in bodies of water and hurt organisms like crustaceans and corals. In the past, there has been talk about the Great Coral Reef off the coast of Australia dying, and talk of this tragedy has not been talked about in the media lately. Coral is one of the biggest types of organisms on the ocean floor, and it is a very large portion of the ocean’s ecosystem.

There are many ways that people are trying to help the ecosystem. From reusable straws to eating less meat, people are doing what they can to keep the world from collapsing upon itself. Personally, I try to buy products that seem to be made using more reusable material than others, but there’s only so much that I can do by myself. Corporations need to be more cognizant of what they’re doing to the environment, and they need to think about what they’re doing to the planet. We all live here. We all need to save our home.

Our press isn’t free


Graphic by MEREK ALAM

On December 15th, 1791, The United States of America ratified the first 10 amendments to our constitution. The first amendment enshrined a right to a free press, one that could not be threatened or controlled by the government. What 18th century America couldn’t have foreseen were the threats that profiteering and corporate control also posed to a free press. Now both are having devastating effects on our democracy.

The problem is simple enough to identify: Profit-driven media is more loyal to advertisers and shareholders than they are to the public good. The advertisers are the real money makers for the company, and thus the news media only needs to remain legitimate enough for there to be viewers watching these ads. Unfortunately, over the last couple decades, media conglomerates have been merged together until everything we watch and read is now being controlled by a handful of corporations with this profit-motive written into their very DNA.

You simply have to tune into one of these channels to watch this in action. Candidates like Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders get routinely overlooked by news networks because their policies would require heavy taxes on the wealthy, which includes the controlling shareholders of these very same news networks. They get their health care plans smeared by debate moderators because the commercial break slots for these debates are filled with lobbyist ads from the very health insurance companies Warren and Sanders are trying to abolish. The truth is something that can be disregarded if there’s money on the line.

It turns out that the truth isn’t profitable at all. The President of CNN, Jeffrey Zucker, has been incredibly open about using CNN, not for seeking the truth, but as an entertainment venture. “The idea that politics is sport is undeniable, and we understood that and approached it that way,” said Zucker to The New York Times in 2017. Instead of spending their millions of dollars on longform journalism or serious investigation, CNN spends their time and money platforming talking-heads who scream falsehoods at each other from their respective boxes in gladiatorial-style combat between sponsored breaks where pharmaceutical companies try to sell you heart medication.

It might be tempting to write this off as a problem the progressive younger generation will solve when they get into journalistic positions, but getting these jobs in the first place is increasingly difficult. Undergrad journalists require internships in order to get gigs later on, but very few of these internships are paid. Undergrads also quickly realize that publishing enough articles online to make up this monetary difference is unrealistic. This causes a selfselecting cycle where the type of students who make it into high-level journalistic positions come from wealthier families who have cash to burn through. This means that members of the younger generation who fill these positions often still leans towards reinforcing these profit-driven operations instead of dismantling them.

This also assumes that there will be any journalistic positions left. Another cost of monopolizing media corporations is the bankruptcy or cooptation of important local newspapers and news stations, with more than 1 in 5 local newspapers closing since 2004. A college graduate trying to make a difference in their community may be faced with no job at all or a job under a corporation like Sinclair Broadcasting (who own 193 channels, enough to reach 39% of all American homes), which forces local news anchors to repeat conservative viewpoints verbatim from a script.

Even if your main worry continues to be the government instead of the corporations exerting increasing control and surveillance into our lives, what happens when the interests of the government and these mass media corporations align? What happens when CNN begins merging with a private military company whose best interests are starting a new war? What happens when the MSNBC board decides that tax-cuts would actually be beneficial to them? What happens when Jeff Bezos owns both the Washington Post and Amazon sponsored labor camps funded by contracts through the government?

All we have now is a promise from these media conglomerates that these scenarios won’t happen. Promises that news outlets are completely independent of its legal owners. Promises that these media companies have the American people’s best interests in mind. As long as these corporations are run explicitly for profit, these are promises that we can’t believe. Any quality news story that comes out is a miracle of a corrupt system, and these miracles are getting rarer and rarer. We must strive for the truly independent media this nation set out for, not controlled by the government or these money hungry corporations. We need a news media funded by the American people and for the American people.

Colt stops manufacturing AR-15s


Graphic by MEREK ALAM

Gun control has been on the forefront of minds across the country ever since shootings and other massacres have seen a rise in frequency.

Many companies have limited sales of high powered guns and rifles. Walmart will no longer sell handguns and certain types of ammunition that can be used in assault style weapons, and Dick’s Sporting Goods has released a statement saying that they are considering no longer selling guns altogether.

Colt, a company based in Connecticut, is no different. The manufacturer has stated that they will stop selling AR-15 rifles for consumer use for the time being as demand for the specific rifle goes down. In a statement released to the press, the president of the company reaffirmed their support for the 2nd Amendment despite the halt in production.

The 2nd Amendment has long been debated. Some believe that the Amendment means the same thing it has since its creation; others believe that it should change with time.

“I think [that] the 2nd Amendment was necessary when it was originally written,” said Taylor-Nicole Kissel (’20), “but is no longer needed.”

“I have complicated feelings with the 2nd Amendment,” said Katie Bailey (’22). “On one hand, I respect the freedom it ensures. However, I have a problem with certain groups of people who lately have been, in my opinion, abusing it. I don’t think it should be completely nullified from the Bill of Rights, just edited.”

In the past, AR-15 rifles have been involved in multiple mass shootings, including incidents at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the concert in Las Vegas and the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. Many people have expressed relief at the halt in production of AR-15s, including students on Alma’s campus.

“I felt such a sense of relief when the news broke,” said Bailey. “Even though I’ve personally never experienced gun violence firsthand, I know [that] with this suspension, our society [is] one step closer to a sense of safety by keeping AR15s out of dangerous hands.

“I believe if not banned, AR-15s should be very heavily regulated. I feel like unless adequate reason is presented (i.e. a police officer or soldier needs one), nobody should be able to purchase them.” continued Bailey.

“I already feel safe on campus, but this definitely makes me less worried about potential shootings on other campuses, as well as our own,” said Kissel. However, there are some that disagree with the action as well.

“The AR-15 is becoming an increasingly popular platform, and Colt’s cease of production means huge losses of revenue on their end,” said Ethan Zalac (’22). “Many think it to be a ‘weapon of war,’ but the simple truth is that there is no military in the world that uses it as a standard issue rifle due to its diminished battle capabilities despite media outrage.

“On top of this, gun bans only disarm law-abiding citizens and do not remove the capability of criminals to commit their crimes. The fewer lawful citizens owning guns, the less safe I feel.”

The AR-15 was first manufactured in the 1950s for the military and was developed in response to the AK-47 making its rounds through the Soviet Union. AR-15s and other similar semi-automatic weapons were banned from the country in 1994 and lasted until 2004, when the prohibition expired.

It is unclear whether or not this ban helped to reduce gun violence, as exemptions were included in the law. Copycat weapons were allowed to be sold.

Pence’s Mackinac Island motorcade



Last Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence rode from an airport on Mackinac Island to the Grand Hotel using an eight-car caravan, breaking a century old tradition.

Mackinac Island has not allowed cars, except for emergency vehicles, to be driven on the island for over a century to keep the old-time and rustic feel of the quaint town alive.

This past Saturday, however, the tradition changed. Vice President Mike Pence was set to speak at the Grand Hotel, to which he was transported via an eight-car motorcade.

While Pence is the first sitting Vice President to visit the island during his term, many other presidents have visited–and none have travelled around the island in vehicles.

The Grand Hotel, a staple of Mackinac Island, was less than a mile from the airport Pence landed in.

“The idea that he needed the eight-car caravan proves that people in government tend to have elitist ideas about themselves; that they’re better than everyone else,” said Julia Neuvirth (‘21).

Many people are outraged by this occurrence, feeling as though Pence has disrespected a century-old tradition.

“It’s a place where you ride horses or bike everywhere and that has been going on for centuries. He came in and destroyed that legacy,” said Neuvirth.

Some have argued that Pence’s motorcade was necessary, as the safety of our Vice President is important and vital.

The ferry company that transported Pence’s vehicles to the island, Shepler’s Ferry, defended the actions in a tweet posted on Saturday. Others, though, feel as though the measures were a bit much.

“Just because he’s the Vice President doesn’t mean he should be given special allowances for things like that. I don’t see why he needed that much security,” said Elizabeth Shaffer (‘21).

Alma College students and Mackinac Island residents are not the only people expressing their concerns over this event.

Rashida Tlaib, Michigan’s 13th district U.S. Representative, turned to Twitter to share her views on the issue. “Disgusting. I am in such disbelief that this was allowed to happen. This Administration doesn’t care about the law (you know, the U.S. Constitution), so it shouldn’t surprise me so much that they don’t care about our history or traditions,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

Mackinac Island is a place that has prided itself on being traditional, somewhere that takes you back in time. Many believe that Pence’s actions ruin this facade and has hurled the quaint island straight into the 21st century.

“Mackinac Island is beautiful, cultural, rich. I think it’s a unique place to go. I think the whole experience there is centered around old-fashioned [life],” said Mia Arkles (‘21).

There has been a huge outpouring of negativity from various channels within the news, as some reporters claim that there was no need for such a motorcade to ensure Pence’s safety.

Some Alma College students agree.

“It’s not that I think his safety shouldn’t override this tradition, but I think there were other ways of going about his safety that could have been done without ruining a legacy,” said Neuvirth.

Many individuals feel as though the tradition that made Mackinac Island such a unique place will no longer be as special.

Alma advocates for suicide



As we move into the future, more awareness is being brought toward mental health. This advocacy for mental health not only includes Mental Health Awareness month in May, but also Suicide Prevention Week.

While National Suicide Prevention Week was the week prior, this past week the campus of Alma College was flooded with events and other various activities to bring awareness during Suicide Prevention Week.

On Monday, Sept. 23, Alma College’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) hosted motivational speaker and expert on mental health awareness, Jeff Yalden. This event was sponsored by Mid-State Health Network, Alma College, Child Advocacy, Gratiot County Substance Abuse Coalition, Gratiot Integrated Health Network, MidMichigan Health and Gratiot Isabella RESD.

According to his biography on the Premier Speakers Bureau’s website, Jeff Yalden has become the most in-demand youth motivational speaker in North America, due to his personal experiences with mental illness. Yalden has spoken to over 4,000 youth-dominated audiences.

Yalden’s speech focused on mental health awareness, but highlighted several different points, including learning from your mistakes and hardships, valuing your life and focusing on your own wellness.

“His points related back to campus by informing us on how to be supportive and understanding of others around us,” said Austin Popp (‘21).

Yalden also spoke on how personal decision making can affect those around you, about abolishing the stigma around mental health and “to seek help with mental health, as there is nothing wrong with making sure you are okay,” said Popp.

Mental Health is a touchy subject for all, but students were heavily impacted by what Yalden had to say. “Being so personal and intimate with an entire audience must be hard, so I have a lot of respect for him for that. It’s not easy talking about mental health,” said Popp.

Another organization advocating publicly for Suicide Prevention Week was Active Minds. Active Minds is an organization that advocates to change the conversation about mental health.

“We advocate for the normalization of mental health. Mental health should be as easy to talk about as physical health,” said Mackenzie Hemmer (‘20), president of Active Minds.

Active Minds put together the Field of Flags, where 1,100 yellow flags were placed between the library and Clack to represent the number of college students that commit suicide every year.

“These events brought awareness to mental health on campus because of the impact that many students feel from it and the thoughts that it provokes,” said Hemmer.

Students that are passionate about mental health and about removing the stigma around it are encouraged to take action on campus.

“Students can get involved with Active Minds in a few different ways,” said Hemmer. “First, come to the meetings if you can! We meet biweekly on Tuesday’s at 8pm in SAC 104.”

Mental health advocacy is an important part of any college campus, and Alma College Provides several resources to help students that are struggling.

Contact information for the Counseling and Wellness Center can be found on both the college’s website and on the back of the Student Identification cards.

College unveils $120 million campaign



Earlier this month, Alma College unveiled the “Our Time is Now” fundraising campaign. This project has a goal of raising 120 million dollars to fund various projects such as renovating the Dunning Memorial Chapel and transforming the Kerhl Library into a Learning Commons.

While the campaign was only recently made public however, there has already been over 100 million dollars raised while the campaign was being developed. These funds have already been in use to facilitate renovations on campus.

“All of the projects completed thus far in the campaign are already in operation,” said Dr. Matt Vandenberg, Vice President of Advancement. Some of these projects include the renovations to north campus halls, the Opera House and three Fraternity Scholar Houses.

Future renovation projects will serve to repurpose the current Kerhl Library into a Learning Commons that will serve the needs of the 21st century. Vandenberg described it as a “versatile new hub of learning and activity.”

Modernizing the library aims to give the space a new life. The project description cites that the current building has a “confusing entry sequence, and interior spaces are difficult for students, faculty, and staff to navigate and fully utilize.”

Students are excited about the future changes, “I think that the project is a great thing for Alma College. There are definitely a lot of areas of campus that need repairs or renovations at the current time,” said Brooke Fornetti (’21).

“I think that these projects will change the college slightly by opening up more possible spaces for events and maybe attracting more people to come to the library or chapel,” said Fornetti.

Updating the college is one of the main goals of the campaign, and a focal point for students. “I also think it will make the college look more ‘up-to-date’ and modern, which may help bring in more potential students,” said Fornetti.

Vandenberg has similar views on the intent of the campaign. “Every project we undertake aims to enhance the overall experience of current and future students,” he said.

However, there is some concerns on campus that much needed renovations are being overlooked at this time. “While I agree that the library and chapel do need work, one thing that I really think that needs it is South Campus dorms, particularly Brazell/ Nisbet and Bonbright/ Carey Halls,” said Fornetti.

Almost every other housing option has been more recently updated than these four South Campus halls. “With all of the renovations that have been completed on all of the North Campus dorms, you would think that the next logical thing to do would be to also renovate South as well” said Fornetti.

Vandenberg noted that the success of the campaign was reliant on the willingness of donors to help better the college, “Donor support has an enormously positive influence on students, yet the benefits of philanthropy are not necessarily always immediately visible or obvious.”

He explained that every facility on Alma’s campus was either built or improved by the help of donors. However, that is not the extent of their impact on campus, “Donors also provide student scholarships, fortify our endowment, and enrich a wide array of athletic teams and student organizations” said Vandenberg.

Political stress in Saudi Arabia and Iran


Photo by Grace Grelak

On Sept. 14, there was a drone attack on Saudi Aramco’s Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia. Half of the country’s oil supply was compromised, the equivalent of five percent of the world’s supply.

Following the attack, the prices of crude oil increased in response to the shortage. Costs enlarged by up to 20 percent, hitting a peak at $72 a barrel. However, most of the production has since been restored. This occurred much faster than most experts predicted.

Currently, Iran is denying any responsibility for the attack on the Saudi Arabian oil field.

“The critics of the Trump administration are arguing that in many ways Trump has created an environment in which this type of reaction, if it was in fact by the Iranians, was prompted by the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement,” said Derick Hulme, professor of Political Science.

In 2015, the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council— China, United States, France, United Kingdom, and Russia—as well as German, made an agreement with Iran that was to curb their production of missiles. In return, they agreed that other countries would remove economic sanctions on Iran.

In May 2018, President Trump made the decision to pull of the deal with Iran. Recently, this has led to Iran violating the agreement and the United States pressuring other countries to impose sanctions on Iran again.

France, Britain and Germany have been calling for a new agreement to be made; however, it is highly unlikely given how difficult it was to reach the previous agreement.

“It was multilateral diplomacy at its most complicated and ultimately most successful and there was a clear quid quo pro,” said Hulme in regard to the previous agreement. “The idea that Iran will come back to the table is highly unlikely.”

On Sept. 20, Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense, announced that the U.S. would be sending troops to Saudi Arabia to enhance their defense. On Sept. 26, Esper included the addition of two patriot missiles and a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense—THAAD—system.

THAAD is a defense system designed to target incoming missies and intercept them before reaching their target. “Any kind of enhanced assistance to the Saudis comes with significant regional implications,” said Hulme.

“It’s likely that many people don’t know about the situation because it isn’t being as thoroughly reported on and distributed like the impeachment proceedings,” said Destiny Herbers (‘21). She is fairly unfamiliar with the situation occurring abroad knowing not much more than Trump approving more troops to aid Saudi Arabia.

Elizabeth Flatoff (‘21) says she knows what happens but does not know all the details. She hears people talking about it but questions the reliability of their comments.

“I understand in a broad sense we help our allies,” said Flatoff. “Do I think we need to immediately send in troops? No.”

Flatoff said it is important for the Untied States to help their allies but there are other things the country can be doing to also aid in preventing future incidents.

“I think we should be helping Saudi Arabia to a degree because they are our ally and we use their oil, but I do also think we should be denouncing the acts which we are to an extent but not enough,” said Flatoff.

“I don’t think it currently affects me as a student but it could,” said Flatoff.

“I think that students should be aware of it as international conflicts have the potential to impact our lives,” said Herbers.

Alma Dominates Homecoming



Homecoming weekend was action packed with Alma athletics. Alumni and fans from all over the state and even the country were in attendance. Football, cross country and women’s soccer all competed over the annual homecoming weekend.

The football team had a dominant 51-16 win over their opponent, Rockford University. Alma wasted no time in the first half, scoring on all 6 of their possessions.

“I was very happy with the way the team played. They came out of the gates strong,” said Head Football Coach Jason Couch.

Austin Spratling (‘20) led the team with 108 yards on 14 carries and scored a touchdown in the process. Quarterback Ryan Stevens (‘20) had two diffrent rushing plays that both led to touchdowns and Dustin Soloman (‘23) and Nathan Goralski (’22) also had one rushing touchdown each.

“It was a fantastic environment between the atmosphere inside of Bhalke and also at the tailgate outside of the fence,” said Couch.

A 25-yard touchdown pass was caught by Joseph Schaefer (‘22) and a 31-yard reception was caught by Chase Hinkle (’20) for a touchdown. These were 2 of Stevens’ 8 total passes of the game.

“The ’94 football team gave the team a pre-game pep talk, which emphasized playing for your teammates, which the scoreboard indicated,” said Couch.

The women’s soccer team defeated Concordia University of Chicago on Saturday with a 2-1 score. The Saturday (Sep.21) afternoon game opened homecoming weekend for the Scots.

Meghan Pfile (‘22) scored her first goal of the season with an assist from Ashley Oldham (‘22). Paige Moore (‘23) also scored for the scots at the 70-minute mark with an assist from Lily Stephan (‘23).

“I think it’s been trending now, our second halves were much better than our first, I think we definitely could’ve kept our shut out, that goal against us came back to us not being as focused on our task as we should’ve been,” said Head Women’s Soccer Coach Megan Gorsuch.

The team gave the Scot’s more of a fight than they expected, but in the end Alma still pulled off the victory.

“I will be honest they showed better in real life than they did in our scout, in terms of their ability to possess the ball and work it through combination play, I don’t think we were expecting as much as they brought especially in the first half,” said Gorsuch. The women’s soccer team looks forward to starting conference play next Tuesday at Trine.

The cross-country team had a tenth-place finish overall at the Knight-Raider invitational on Friday (Sep. 20). The men’s team sent out 13 runners and the women followed with 12 overall competitors. For the second race in a row, Aubrey Hemstreet (’20) led for the Scots with a 12th place overall finish and a 6k time of 19:47.90. Corneilia Gotass (’22) and Haley Trickey (’21) were the next two scot finishers.

Gotass ran a 21:42.60 race time which put her in 56th place overall. Trickey finished with a time of 22:35.20.

The men’s team was led by Sean Pauley (’22) who placed 42nd overall and finished with an 8k time of 28:13.90. Nolan Rowland (’21) was the next finisher for the men’s team; he had a 49th place finish overall with a time of 28:44.50. There were 21 total teams at the meet.

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