Black lives still matter


Author’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article do not represent the viewpoints of the entire campus community. Racism is a difficult topic. For more information on the Black Lives Matter movement and ways to help, visit

In the midst of America’s battle with COVID-19, the country has been reminded of a crisis within the Black community.

The Black Lives Matter movement has been at the forefront of many minds since the death of Ahmaud Arbery occurred in February of this year. Arbery was reported to have been on a jog when two Georgia residents chased him down and killed him. Arbery’s killers were not arrested until months after the incident had happened.

Breonna Taylor’s murder occurred in March of this year when three police officers forcibly entered her home in Louisville, Kentucky, having been issued what is known as a no-knock warrant. Taylor was shot and killed.

The police officers involved in the shooting have, in the minds of many, faced little to no repercussions for their actions. Noknock warrants have since been banned in Louisville.

Two months after the death of Taylor, George Floyd was choked to death in Minneapolis while being arrested for charges involving counterfeit money. The four police officers involved in Floyd’s killing were fired, and one was charged for Floyd’s death.

In early August, Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back in front of his three young children. Blake now faces partial paralysis.

These are just a few examples of the way police brutality and systemic racism come together to harm people in the Black community. In many of these examples, proper action wasn’t taken until videos of the murders circulated around the internet, causing protests to erupt across the county.

These riots and protests have been the subject of much debate; many, however argue that protesting and rioting aren’t the problem. Black Lives Matter has been a movement for much longer than the amount of time it has had in popular culture with a profound effect on the Black community and its allies.

One thing to consider is the important of this movement in today’s society.

“A lot of people like to ignore the racism that happens in this world and see us as criminals and as people that just don’t matter.”

Mirayah Thomas (’24)

“Movements related to Black Lives Matter are important in today’s society because they advocate for our voices to be heard… They motivate
us to speak out against [the] racism and oppression we may experience.”

Zoey Moore (’24)

As college students, it can be difficult and overwhelming to know how to advocate for positive change. The first step, however, is to research.

“I think students can be good advocates by doing research using as non-biased sources as possible, which means looking at news and articles that may come from sources we don’t tend to look at,” said Sophia Payne (’22).

“I think students should use the research and talk with their friends about what [they] can do to make a difference and have discussions with those who may not agree with us on why that is.”

Educational resources can be found all over the internet, as well as different organizations to donate to. Another way to be an advocate for change is to talk about the issue.

“Students can advocate for change by bringing awareness to issues, educating their peers, attending protests and amplifying the voices of activists that have been doing this work for a long time,” said Thomas Burns (‘24).

Systemic racism, while deeply ingrained into our nation’s history, can be stopped through the efforts of not only the Black community, but also its allies. With combined efforts, our country can be what it was originally meant to be—the land of the free.

The inability to vote frustrates young voters


The Michigan Primary took place March 10. This particular primary was crucial in the Democratic presidential race, as Michigan is a swing state, making the voting results here particularly important.

However, voting for younger voters proved difficult during the primary due to issues with absentee ballots and limited precinct options in larger areas.

In the couple days leading up to the Michigan Primary, students on campus (and all throughout Michigan) still hadn’t received their ballots in the mail, or their applications weren’t processed.

“I was confused when [my absentee ballot] hadn’t arrived as late as the day of the election, but as I was walking back from the mailroom to see if it arrived, I got a call from my county clerk saying they would not process my application,” said Caden Wilson (‘21).

College students took to Twitter about their issues with absentee ballots, describing how it seemed like young voter suppression. The majority of college students are only able to vote absentee due to them being too far away from home.

“It started becoming more and more apparent that most of my friends who applied to vote via absentee ballot didn’t receive them,” said Emma Wood (‘20), who created a Twitter poll to see how many people were genuinely able to vote absentee.

The results were staggering.

“It felt like I only knew 1 person out of 8 that managed to vote absentee,” said Wood. “I was curious to see how that compared on a larger scale, so I made the poll on Twitter and asked friends to retweet it to try to go beyond the Alma campus.”

Based on the 62 people who responded to Wood’s poll, 50% were able to vote via an absentee ballot with no issues. With those statistics came the other 50%, who were unable to vote due to their ballots arriving late or not arriving at all.

Some students were able to go to their home precinct and vote that way, but many had to forgo voting entirely, due to night classes, work or other prior obligations. The Alma College Young Democratic Socialists of America (or YDSA) even offered rides to students who still needed to vote.

This was not only an Alma campus issue. Michigan State University was scrutinized for having limited precincts for their 50,000 students, making it impossible for every vote to be counted in time for the polls to close. MSU began trending on Twitter, as time-lapses began circulating of the students in line to vote. Many who did get their votes in had to wait upwards of three hours, yet many had to leave to make it to their classes or to work.

Students should not have to choose between their education or being able to cast their vote in the election. Both things affect their future, as well as their current lives.

“I felt confused and frustrated,” said Wood. “I felt so terrible for all the other people who were so excited to vote and couldn’t.

Boy Scouts face bankruptcy


The Boy Scouts of America, an organization that was once a prominent experience in the lives of young boys across the country, has recently filed for bankruptcy. This claim arose after hundreds of men filed sexual abuse charges from when they were Scouts in the organization.

The institution has been considering bankruptcy since late 2018. Although lawyers across the country have been receiving cases involving these allegations for decades, the organization’s decision to file for bankruptcy limits the amount of time victims have to come forward.

The bankruptcy filed is specifically known as Chapter 11, which allow for institutions or organizations to reorganize. This way, it is believed that while the organization will take hits on their reputation, they won’t shut down completely.

“I’m sure the decision to file bankruptcy wasn’t a light one,” said Gabe Zerbe (’21). “As an organization, I’m sure it was their best decision as Boy Scouts has never been about generating profit from what I understood while being in it.”

Although the BSA’s national chair, Jim Turley, encourages survivors to come forward and share their stories, the filing creates a date where victims must report by in order to receive compensation. Currently, the organization faces almost 300 claims.

Aside from the numerous sexual abuse claims against the organization, it has also been facing a declining membership over the past decade and faced much controversy over their decisions to let girls and non-heterosexual people join their ranks.

“I have never personally had an experience with the organization, nor do I know anyone personally who has. It does seem like a thing that could easily happen, however, if someone with bad intentions wanted it to,” said Ethan Zalac (‘22). “The process to become an adult leader in the BSA is fairly simple, but even so, there are multiple sanctions put in place by the BSA in order to prevent this from happening, even if the wrong people get into positions of power in the organization.”

“Most likely, many of these assaults on minors happen through violating rules the BSA has put in place as preventative measures,” said Zalac.

Although the Boy Scouts of America was once a common experience for young men, people now speculate whether or not it will continue to be after the organization’s bankruptcy.

Ruckus in the Royal family


In early January, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex negotiated a deal with Queen Elizabeth II to become financially independent from the Royal Family. With this, Harry and Meghan will surrender many of their royal “privileges” to instead spend the majority of their time in North America.

Prince Harry will be forced to renounce his honorary military rankings, and he and Meghan will no longer be considered Commonwealth Young Ambassadors, a title that they both hold very close to their hearts. Buckingham Palace also announced that Harry and Meghan will be repaying at least $3 million in taxpayer money that they used to renovate their residence at Windsor Castle. The couple also will sacrifice their most well-known title: His and Her Royal Highness.

With this deal, Harry and Meghan will still be the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as that was the title enthralled on them by Queen Elizabeth II when they were married in 2018. Harry will also remain a prince, and 6th in succession for the crown, after his father, Prince Andrew; his older brother, Prince William; and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s children: George, Charlotte, and Louis.

Because they are part of the royal family, Harry and Meghan received funding from taxpayers. Because they are becoming financially independent, this will no longer happen. Still, the couple has a large sum of money to fall back on. Harry’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, left him a trust. He also earned quite the sum by being a caption in the British Army. As for Meghan, she is said to have earned over $3 million for starring in the television series, Suits.

Still, Harry and Meghan will not be financially supported by public funding anymore, which equates to the majority of their earnings. It is believed that they will be funded by Prince Charles through his private estate, the Duchy of Cornwall. It is unsure how long the Prince of Wales will be privately supporting them.

As for who will be paying for the couple’s security while they are in North America, that question is still up in the air. Buckingham Palace has yet to comment on this.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been in the public eye since the two went public about their relationship. Tabloids have even compared Meghan to her sister-in-law Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, for years.

“You can definitely see the bias when papers and media outlets talk about Meghan versus Kate,” said Carolina Reagan (‘20).

Meghan was scrutinized for resting her hand on her pregnant stomach while in public when Kate was praised for being a great mother. Kate was looked at as elegant and cutting-edge when she suggested having her favorite scented candles at her and

William’s wedding ceremony. When Meghan wanted air fresheners at her and Harry’s ceremony, she was called “dictatorial” and the royal staff declined her request. At this point, the media was just looking for something to scrutinize her for.

Prince Harry has often spoken about the similarities between his wife and his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. Diana constantly received media attention–both positive and negative–due to her impact on the world before her untimely passing in 1997, when Harry was 12. Harry, along with many others, contributes his mother’s death to the paparazzi, who were chasing her, her partner, bodyguard and driver, who ultimately lost control and crashed their car, killing them all except for her bodyguard.

Though Meghan and Harry aren’t followed to that extreme, the tabloids still seem to be on her for everything.

“It’s eerily similar to how Diana was treated, in my opinion,” said Reagan.

What the media fails to cover about Meghan is her contribution to conservation and humanitarian work. Meghan has spent time in Rwanda, Malawi, Delhi, and Mumbai with various charities, and she recently sealed a voiceover deal with Disney, understanding that they will then donate to an elephant conservation fund.

Nonetheless, Meghan was an established woman before marrying into the royal family. She’s an American biracial actress who was raised by her single mother, which goes completely against the typical face of a royal. The royal family is built on tradition, and the Duchess of Sussex breaks that mould. Because of this, Harry and Meghan have had enough, and are choosing to step away.

Female appointed lawyer at Vatican


This January marks a huge shift in the history of Vatican employment. Pope Francis appointed the first ever female lawyer into the Vatican’s diplomatic division.

This division, known as the Holy See, has never had a woman working within it, but that all changed this past month.

Francesca Di Giovanni is the first woman to ever be appointed into a position within the Vatican, as the new Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs.

The Holy See works with foreign relations and international affairs with other intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations, and is essentially the central government of the Roman Catholic Church.

Di Giovanni has worked in the Secretariat of State for 27 years, and has been working in refugee and migration issues as well as international human rights, the position of women, tourism and much more.

“I think it’s great that they’re starting to have more women in [higher] positions, but I do understand why women can’t hold some positions. [Catholicism] is a very traditional religion, so that’s why things like that don’t really change,” said Bridget Eshleman (‘20).

Many women groups, especially a group known as the International Union of Superiors General, have been calling for the Vatican to allow more women to hold positions, as they feel they are underrepresented in the religion they make up a large part of.

While Di Giovanni may now be the highest ranking woman working for the Roman Catholic Church, there are other women working within the Vatican, and this news gives hope to more women who wish to be either represented better within the Church, or would like to one day work among it.

The Catholic Church currently only allows men to become ordained priests, so the allowance of a woman to be in such a high-ranking division of the Vatican is a rare and intriguing feat for Di Giovanni to have accomplished at the ripe age of 66.

Pope Francis has been no stranger to shaking up the Vatican since his Papal inauguration. Not only is the Pope attempting to integrate more women into high-ranking positions within the Church, he also leans more progressive with his views on same-sex marriage and the celibacy of priests.

Pope Francis, in past speeches, has discussed his views on the importance of women becoming more involved in everyday workings at the Vatican, and he claimed that women were “mediators of peace” and that their talents could be utilized to create a more united and peaceful space.

While this new position may begin to excite many women of faith, they also remain cautious of these changes, because while opportunities for women may begin to arise, gender roles are still very much being pushed.

“With any political position, or anything like that, I honestly believe that regardless if it’s a man or a woman, whoever is best suited for the job should get it. I don’t necessarily know if they should give [a position] to someone just because they’re a woman, especially if it’s out of pity,” said Eshleman.

Di Giovani, in an interview with the Vatican news, also commented on her new position, discussing her thoughts on being a working woman so high up in the Vatican’s political system. She also stated that she had no idea that the Pope was going to call upon her to take the position.

The world now looks to the Vatican and the Pope, all itching to see what progressive decision he will make next.

Climate change versus industry


As of Jan. 3rd, the Trump Administration ruled that industries no longer need to account for climate change when assessing the environmental effects of major infrastructure projects. Previously, the half-a-century old National Environmental Policy Act served to both limit the entry of planet-warming greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, as well as properly assess the effects of global warming such as rising sea levels and increased temperatures on the infrastructure projects themselves.

The government plays a major role in environmental policy changes such as this. According to Dr. Amanda Harwood, professor of environmental science, “At the most basic level, the legislative branch makes decisions, and the president or governor will veto those decisions. On the national level, the president selects cabinet members such as the head of the E.P.A. Those higher officials are not chosen necessarily because they’re superior scientists, but because of politics.”

Because politics so heavily mingle with environmental policy, major changes to policies may be made without the main goal in mind — safety. “The main thing about policy is that it’s supposed to protect you. You don’t want to have to think ‘Can I breathe outside today?’ or ‘Can I drink the water from my tap?’ because, hypothetically, the Safe Drinking Water Act should be protecting you,” said Harwood.

Proponents of the changes to the National Environmental Policy Act may not know the environmental risks associated with large infrastructure projects. In some cases, environmentally negligent shortcuts may be taken to complete infrastructure projects as quickly as possible. “There are lots of different things that could happen with big infrastructure projects from chemical spills to habitat destruction. The effects are site and project specific. Generally, impact statements must be done before starting major infrastructure projects,” said Harwood.

Many disagree with the Trump Administration’s ruling on the changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, and feel that it favors the interests of big businesses over environmental concerns.

“Of course, industries should take climate change into consideration before major infrastructure projects. Especially with the extent of how the climate crisis is going at the moment, I definitely believe we should not be giving outs to companies, and there needs to be more restrictions with everything going on in the country and other countries as well,” said Monika Tomica, (‘20).

The battles between environmentalists and big businesses often seem never ending. In order for one to thrive, the other must suffer as they compete to either build-upon or conserve the same plots of land. “We have to prioritize. We have to decide where our compromise is. Do we care that we have clean air and clean water? To what degree are we willing to sacrifice habitats to build a bridge or a pipeline?” said Harwood.

In spite of the government’s heavy hand on environmental policy, citizens of the United States still have a large role in selecting the people who make these major decisions. Voting for environmentally conscious candidates ensures that environmental concerns are addressed with thoughtfulness and care. “You can drive policy when you vote. If you want clean air, clean water and clean food, you have to vote for people who want you to have clean air, water and food,” said Harwood.

Fires rage through Australia bush


Fires have been burning through the country of Australia for months. International media outlets finally began discussing the natural disaster in December, with human deaths calculated at at least 27, and wildlife deaths estimated to be over one billion. Roughly 2000 homes have also been destroyed in the mix, along with entire animal habitats.

“I found myself glued to the news reports, unable to focus on anything else,” said Tracy Fuller, an Australian native living in Melbourne.

“Hearing people talk about it, it doesn’t seem real. It’s absolutely devastating to hear [about]”, added Kristy Hospes, another Aussie, who has been in the United States all throughout the time of the fires burning.

Australians are no strangers to fires, as they typically pop up during the dry season, which is their spring and summer. However, 2019 was the hottest and driest year on record, making them more susceptible to larger, more catastrophic fires. New South Wales and Victoria — both states on the southeastern side of the country — are the states that have witnessed the most devastation. New South Wales also happens to be the region’s most popular area for tourists, as the country’s largest city, Sydney, is located there.

“[The fires] are affecting the close surrounding areas to my home. Friends and family have just been cautious to follow the fires and have a plan ready and a place to evacuate [to] if it becomes necessary,” said Hospes.

Over 12 million acres of land have burnt in Australia so far, and it has yet to slow down due to the increasing temperatures. To put this in perspective, the country of Australia is similar in size to the continental United States, and the amount of land that has burnt is comparable to the size of Indiana. Therefore, if a fire of this size occurred in the United States, it would have the potential to wipe away an entire state.

In comparison to other recent wildfires, the California wildfires of 2018 burnt about 2 million acres, and the Amazon fires of 2019 burnt 2.2 million acres.

The government has been largely in question during these times, as many civilians believe they are not doing everything possible to keep them safe.

“People everywhere are talking about the fires, climate change [and] what the government should have done and how we can contribute to recovery,” said Fuller.

The bushfires in Australia have stirred up conversation concerning how their government views climate change, the biggest contributor to the fires. Their Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, refuses to prioritize climate change, and was on vacation in

Hawaii when the fires began to worsen. Many even feel as though Morrison abandoned them when they needed help the most.

Still, Australians are persistent and put up a united front.

“Everybody I know has donated in some way: [whether it be with] money, food [or] supplies,” said Fuller.

She also mentioned that businesses are donating their profits, and nurses and builders are working for no pay to help out. Facebook groups have also been created to help rehabilitate wildlife, some are even sewing pouches for baby kangaroos and koalas who lost their mothers.

“I know people are getting a lot of health issues due to the air quality, so I believe that’s going to be hard to adjust to [once the fires are contained],” said Hospes.

“[However,] the overall sense of community will be stronger, as everyone is doing everything they can to help those in need.”

The country of Australia is going through devastation like none could imagine, but the civilians have rallied together, and others from around the world are sending support, whether that be physical labor or with monetary funds. Still, no money will bring back the lives that have been lost, or the amount of loss that has already occurred.

Healthies shakes up downtown Alma


The Opera House has welcomed a new tenant in their street side business space. Healthies of Mid Mitten is a health shake bar.

The husband and wife duo of Michele and Ron Welch own Healthies. As friends of owners of a similar shake bar in Mt. Pleasant, they were encouraged to pursue their goal of opening one of their own.

Healthies, like the Mt. Pleasant location, is a Herbalife Nutrition Club, which means it is affiliated with the multi-level marketing organization, Herbalife Nutrition.

“A Herbalife Nutrition Club is a healthy place for people to stop in and grab breakfast, lunch, a snack and get energized with our teas or energy bombs,” said Michele Welch.

“Something healthy as opposed to driving through a fast food place and eating crude. It is also meant to be a positive place for people to come in to gather, make friendships, feel good about themselves or bless them with some positive energy on their way to work,” said Welch.

Welch has been doing weight loss challenges through Herbalife since 2009. She evolved this into community workouts in roughly 2012 to 2013. She also does a weekly friendship walk in the summer with an option of a 1.5 or 4.2-mile course to get people to be active and develop friendships at the same time.

“This is all stuff we want to incorporate in Alma just to get people feeling better,” said Michele Welch, speaking on incorporating her past fitness programs in with her new business.

Healthies is also looking to hire coaches to work independently through Herbalife to help clients who seek assistance in reaching their fitness goals.

“We train them [health coaches] on helping people to make healthy choices… they’ll coach clients through weight loss challenges or to gain weight… and coach people on what to eat and that will set them on Herbalife plans of Herbalife nutrition and tell them what to consume to help get those results,” said Michele Welch.

Healthies has also been working close with Alma College students, particularly athletes. For example, they did a fundraiser on Saturday, January 11 where for every combo purchased that day, one dollar was donated to the dance team.

“Overall it turned out pretty well, I went in there myself and there was a lot of people in there. And for my overall opinion of Healthies, I think it is pretty good and it is convenient having one here [in Alma] because I have been to the one in Mt. Pleasant and obviously that is a farther drive. I think it is a new cute little thing to add to downtown,” said Dance Team Member, Sara Scott (‘21).

Though Michele and her husband have good intentions of improving the health of the community, the Herbalife Nutrition company has faced continuous scrutiny from the legal and medical nutrition communities.

According to NPR, the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against Herbalife for deceiving consumers regarding the amount of profits that selling their products could earn. The FTC added that Herbalife distributors were making almost no money at all.

Even though the FTC did see this practice as deceptive, they did not go as far in there ruling as to label Herbalife Nutrition a pyramid scheme and, ultimately, allowed them to keep operating. This case was settled by Herbalife paying 200 million dollars in 2016 to reimburse consumers who lost money as distributors and agreeing to make changes in the way they do business.

“Our [Alma College’s] agreement is with a specific business not with Herbalife. I do not think it is really our place to tell them what products [to sell] as long as they are selling products that are legal,” said Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President Alan Gatlin, who leased the business space to the Healthies owners.

“They’ve [multilevel marketing companies] been around for decades and they are completely legal and a lot of people do well in those and some people don’t. They [Healthies] are not trying to get college students to become franchisees or to become marketers. I am dealing with a husband and wife team from St. Johns that seem like really nice people… it seems like a very legitimate business and so I don’t see any down side for our students from that,” said Gatlin.

The nutritional value of Herbalife products has also been questioned in the past. Meal replacement options tend to contain far less calories than the recommended intake. Various studies, cases, and news reports over the past few years have linked heavy usage of Herbalife products to potential liver failure although it is important to note no sustained causality has been found between the products and these health issues.

“As far as the meal replacement shakes, if you look on the internet at our respective website (WebMD), they will say the best way to lose weight is to eat a balanced diet of fresh fruits and vegetables but if you can’t do that because of your lifestyle, it will say having a shake or two a week is not a bad alternative,” said Gatlin.

Though Herbalife Nutrition as large organization brings with it a host of concerning questions, the intentions of Michele Welch and her husband, who did not return comment regarding Herbalife Nutrition’s past issues, seem focused on offering healthy options to Alma area residents.

The store is currently offering many promotions such as having customers pass out half-off coupons. Referring three customers through the coupon cards to make a purchase at the store will result in that person’s name being recognized on a board inside the store.

Healthies is also pushing word of mouth marketing and social media publicity by customers and of their own as a focus instead of paid advertising.

Healthies is open weekdays from 6:30AM until 7:00PM and weekends from 8:00AM until 3:00PM.

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