Who deserves the COVID-19 vaccine?

COURTNEY SMITH
STAFF WRITER

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, all of humanity has been searching for a light at the end of the tunnel. That light, for many, arrives in the form of a vaccine. The state of Michigan has administered COVID-19 vaccines for the past six months; however, due to limited availability of vaccines, healthcare administrators released the vaccine in tiers according to age, occupation, and health status.

“Since December 2020, COVID-19 vaccine in Michigan became available for front line workers such as healthcare workers and first responders in congregate settings, and those aged 65 and older,” said professor of integrated physiology and health sciences, Hyun Kim. “Pre-K-12 teachers, school staff, and licensed child care workers were also vaccinated after these groups. The state of Michigan has been expanding vaccination eligibility for those aged 16 and older with disabilities or medical beginning March 22nd, and starting April 5th, everyone over 16 will become eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.”

The public as well as the campus community have expressed mixed opinions on what groups of people deserve to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before others. Much controversy has arisen from the exclusion of college students from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine before the general public, as they live in communal settings in which the virus spreads rapidly.

“Since last year, health inequity has been the topic in the area of public health,” said Kim. “One of the ethical principles of COVID-19 vaccine priority groups was to promote justice and to mitigate health inequities. Alma College is one of a few higher-educational institutions who has opened the campus for in-person learning while many others, especially large state universities, have not. I think the student population cannot be prioritized due to these reasons mentioned above unless they have high-risk underlying conditions or work at the healthcare settings. Again, I believe vaccine priorities should be given to those, no matter if they are students or faculty members, at a higher risk of COVID-19 infection.”

Another source of controversy arose when Alma College faculty members were offered the COVID-19 vaccine prior to students, even though many of these faculty members had opportunities to receive the vaccine at prior dates.

“The COVID-19 vaccine was provided first to the faculty of Alma College,” said Kim. “There were a fair number of faculty members with underlying health conditions who did not get vaccinated due to delays in vaccination scheduling in Michigan. I think this was why COVID-19 vaccine was offered prior to students.”

Although many felt that college students should have qualified for the COVID-19 vaccine at an earlier date, various different factors were considered in determining vaccine eligibility.

“Mortality and morbidity data of COVID-19 in the United States has shown that individuals aged 65 and older or with high-risk health conditions have been significantly affected by severe complications such as trouble breathing, heart problems, and additional bacterial infections,” said Kim. “Based on this evidence, I personally think the vaccine could have been offered to students at the same time to faculty, but to those with underlying conditions prior to everyone,

because we, as a campus community, have been working together diligently to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus.”

At the end of the day, each vaccine administered in our campus community brings us one step closer to bringing the COVID-19 pandemic to a close.

Harry and Meghan expose the Royal Family

JORDYN BRADLEY
SPORTS EDITOR

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, exposed the Royal Family for failing to protect them and their son, Archie.

Before Archie was born, Meghan was told by a member of the firm (as she referred to it in the interview) that he would not have a title, which would not grant him security.

When asked why her son–a great-grandchild of the Queen–would not have a title when the rest of the children born into the family did, she received no response.

However, many speculate that this is due to Archie being biracial.

An undisclosed immediate member of the family even voiced concern directly to Prince Harry about how dark his son’s skin would be, fueling a whole new narrative regarding the agenda of the “firm.”

After the interview with Oprah was released, the Royal Family has been criticized for these racist remarks, but Harry refused to divulge who specifically said them, as it would “destroy” their life.

Since Harry and Meghan’s relationship went public, British tabloids were quick to fault her for even the most normal behavior. This put in question the double standard between her and her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, and many wonder if it is due to Meghan’s race.

During one of Kate’s pregnancies, DailyMail praised her for, “tenderly [cradling] her baby bump.”

However, when Meghan was photographed the same way, DailyMail’s headline was, “Why can’t Meghan Markle keep her hands off her bump?” and asked whether it was “pride, vanity, acting–or a new age bonding technique.” This is just one of the many examples where British tabloids compared the two and portrayed Meghan negatively. Media have also accused Meghan of trying to take Harry away from his family and criticized her for her behavior, as she should have understood what she “signed up for.”

However, nobody can say what an experience is like until they are experiencing it. It is easy for commoners to say we would adjust a certain way when we will never have the opportunity to be in someone else’s shoes.

“I think if there are issues [about the Royal Family] that the public doesn’t see, it is good for it to be brought out to the public,” said Madee Hall (‘23).

The Royal Family’s inability to stand up for Meghan when inaccurate headlines about her were published is something else that has bothered her throughout her time as a member of the family.

To Oprah, Meghan said the firm was, “willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband.”

The Duke and Duchess’s purpose for doing the interview was not to destroy lives or expose anyone in their family; it was to speak their truth after being ridiculed for the decisions they have made over the last year to step down as senior members of the Royal Family.

This did not mean that they wanted to leave their family or that they didn’t want to be royals; they did not want as much responsibility as senior members are supposed to hold.

This decision is what they believed was best for their well-being.

Meghan confided in Oprah about her mental health struggles during her pregnancy with Archie. It got to the point where Meghan did not trust herself alone, and told Harry she frankly did not want to be alive anymore.

When the couple asked members of the Royal Family if she could receive inpatient care for her mental health and take some time away for treatment, they told her it would not be a good look for their family.

These are supposed to be her family members. Yet, they cared more about how they looked to the public than how much she was struggling.

“Meghan is a part of the family and they need to treat her more like it,” said Hall.

“I don’t think Meghan and Harry are getting enough credit for doing what they have. [They] are people, too.”

The couple now have a farm in California and are expecting a baby girl this summer. They still actively talk with Queen Elizabeth, but expressed how relationships with many other members of the family will need time to mend.

Ultimately, they made the best decision for themselves and their family.

First female Scouts to achieve Eagle Scout Status

COURTNEY SMITH
STAFF WRITER

This past February, Scouts BSA, formerly known as Boy Scouts of America, inaugurated a class of nearly 1,000 females into the National Eagle Scout Association. The Eagle Scout ranking is the highest ranking in the Scouts BSA program. This is the first inaugural class to include females since the organization’s founding in 1911.

This is not the first radical change to come to the Scouts BSA program in recent years. In 2019, Scouts BSA officially began accepting female membership. At that time, Scouts BSA changed their name from “Boy Scouts of America” in an effort to reflect their newly inclusive membership.

“I see this as a welcome change, especially after years of regressive and abusive sex, gender and sexuality policies by BSA,” said Dr. Prathim-Maya Dora-Laskey, professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies.

Accomplishing the rank of Eagle Scout requires a lot of hard work on behalf of the scout, regardless of gender. Eagle Scouts must earn at least 21 merit badges and complete an extensive service project of choice. At the present, 2.5 million scouts have been inducted into the National Eagle Scout Association.

“Of course we should celebrate all new Eagle Scouts and the first 1,000 girl Eagle Scouts. I’m happy to know that so many girls decided to sign up, were able to thrive and made it to the pinnacle of scouting achievement,” said Dora-Laskey.

Although many feel excited about the inclusion of girls into the Scouts BSA program and the National Eagle Scout Association, many also feel concerned about the future of the Girl Scouts and the continuation of the two separate scouting organizations.

“I think girls are a valuable addition to The Scouts of America, but many families and girl scouts may not want to see their girl-centric spaces vanish,” said Dora-Laskey. “There’s plenty of research emphasizing enhanced leadership opportunities and development for girls in girl-centric spaces.”

The separation of the scouting organizations based on gender may be arbitrary in our modern society as traditional gender roles progressively recede. Additionally, the goal of both the Girl Scouts and Scouts BSA programs are very similar.

“Ultimately, both girl and boy scouts set opportunities for social interaction and encourage an appreciation of the outdoors, but because of the way we make gender so binary, we may end up reinforcing gender socializations,” said Dora-Laskey.

As the Scouts BSA and the Girl Scouts reassess who should be permitted to participate in each respective program, they may also need to reassess scouting as a whole to ensure inclusivity to all scouts and provide equal opportunities for the growth and success of participants.

“Perhaps there needs to be a mission change. What can be done to make scouting feel welcoming? Are there ways in which scouting is an activity not predicated on gender designations whether arbitrary or self-chosen as well as a place where children are encouraged to collaborate on projects and appreciate nature and do something caring every day,” said Dora-Laskey.

Regardless of how people feel about the separation of scouting organizations based on gender, the Scouts BSA program made major changes in recent years to become more inclusive to all scouts. Will the Girl Scouts follow suit in the near future?

“The Girl Scouts had always seemed like the more progressive scouting organization. They set up troops in homeless shelters, support reproductive rights, welcome transgender members, etcetera. I’m sure they can do it,” said Dora-Laskey.

The importance of celebrities

HADEN GROSS
STAFF WRITER

According to Brady United, roughly 316 people are shot everyday in the United States. Of these 316, on Feb 25, was Ryan Fischer, Lady Gaga’s dog walker. Fischer sustained a bullet wound to the chest and was met with millions of Instagram comments expressing sympathy.

Fellow celebs called him a hero, telling him how amazed they were with his bravery. When scrolling through the comments, one in particular stuck out. The comment told Fischer that he was a “Hero of History,” and I can’t help but wonder if that is the society we now inhabit. Do we all believe that one man’s survival of a bullet wound makes him heroic? Or is it because he was Lady Gaga’s dog walker?

“When something tragic happens to someone who is famous it’s akin to a family friend experiencing a tragedy.” Said Elizabeth Pecota (’22).

“There is a lot of tragedy that happens across the country on an hourly basis, but these cases that are very real to those experiencing or in proximity to the situation; however, they are only a statistic to everyone else. Unfortunately, without that personal connection, we feel sympathetic or apathetic.”

The godlike worship that is placed on celebrities and their extremities seems to have become the societal norm. Regarding every celebrity as a watered-down hero seems to be indicative on what is valued as important.

To be clear, nobody deserves to be shot, and Ryan Fischer, just as everyone else, should be given the time and space to heal from that traumatic experience. However, it should be noted that he is only receiving this time because he is in the favor of the public eye. Where is the heart filled messages and money dedicated to the recovery of the other 315 victims?

“Not to shoot a man while he’s down, but the only the only reason Ryan’s shooting has reached any level importance is due to the fact that his boss goes by the name of Lady Gaga.” Said Bennett Hendrickson (’24),

“What Ryan did was a circumstance thing, it’s nothing that is heroic or historic. The only thing pushing this story is his boss and her Grammy’s.”

The deeper question lies within the importance we place on celebrities, and how it parallels with a classist society. Social media is filled with stories similar to Fischer’s and is overflowing with other trivial grievances. Keeping up with the Joneses has morphed into Keeping up with the Kardashians as we progress in this digital age.

“I believe the reason why we are so concerned about celebrities is because they become so close to the American family opposed to the average man.” Said Pecota (’22), “We can put a face to the name and we become enamored with them as they entertain our family. We feel like we know these people despite never meeting them.”

As celebrities continue to be highly regarded, it is important to question why. Why is the life of Ryan Fischer perceived as more important than the lives of other dog walkers? Or why do we as people care so deeply about the lives of people we do not know?

“I think we want to be them, we look at their nice fancy cars, and massive houses and cant help but admire. They are living these perfect lives and we are now able to see how they are living it at all times with social media. So, we can’t help but be in awe of them,” said Hendrickson.

Much of what Hendrickson and Pecota say rings true. Through media platforms, our society has made connections to these famous strangers, giving them a sense of importance in our lives. We want to be them, know them and act like them, that is why we glorify them. They are no longer people, but standards.

Host of The Bachelor under fire for racism

JORDYN BRADLEY
SPORTS EDITOR

Chris Harrison, the host and face of ABC’s The Bachelor franchise, is under fire following racist comments he made regarding a contestant on this season of The Bachelor.

Harrison, who has hosted the show and its spinoffs since the start of the franchise, was in an interview with the show’s first black bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, on ExtraTV on Feb. 9.

In the interview, Lindsay asked Harrison about his opinion regarding racist allegations that were brought up surrounding a contestant on this year’s season of The Bachelor, Rachael Kirkconnell. Since her appearance on the show, photos have surfaced of Kirkconnell attending an antebellum-plantation-themed ball hosted by a fraternity who embraces Confederate General Robert. E. Lee as its “spiritual leader.”

The fraternity, Kappa Alpha at Georgia College and State University, throws their annual ball during what they call “Old South Week.” This week celebrates the confederacy and was previously held on southern plantations.

Harrison comes to the defense of Kirkconnell, stating the photos are old and that they do not speak for Kirkconnell’s character.

Lindsay tells Harrison that the photos are not a good look, to which Harrison asked, “Is it [not] a good look in 2018, or is it not a good look in 2021?” as if the times were different. However, these photos were taken less than three years ago, and Kirkconnell has also since liked photos of her friends with Confederate flags in the background.

Following the drama between Harrison and Lindsay, Kirkconnell issued an apology on her social media, but only after being pestered for weeks by fans of the show.

“I think Rachael’s [prolonged] silence speaks volumes, and Chris defending her was pretty disappointing because he didn’t have to defend her to this extent,” said Sarah Sheathelm (‘22).

Fans of The Bachelor franchise quickly came out to ridicule Harrison for telling people to show Kirkconnell “a little grace, understanding and compassion” despite her past. Rather than condemning her actions, Harrison made Kirkconnell seem like a victom of a cyberbullying.

Harrison also spoke over Lindsay throughout the entirety of the interview. She alleged that he didn’t listen to what she had to say—he only cared about what he wanted to say next.

On Feb. 10, Harrison released what fans called a cop-out of an apology where he promised to do better and apologized to Lindsay for, “not listening to her better on a topic she has firsthand understanding of.”

As someone who reportedly has an annual salary of $8 million, Harrison has every resource to learn about equity and how to respond to situations such as this one. He has been the host and face of The Bachelor franchise since 2002, which means the things he says and does directly represent the show, even if it is unintentional.

Some people have been praising the franchise for including more BIPOC leads and contestants, but to many, this seems like the bare minimum. As mentioned previously, the first Black lead was Lindsay, and that did not come until 15 years after the start of the franchise.

This season of The Bachelor had the most diverse cast in the show’s history. The lead, Matt James, was the franchise’s first Black bachelor, and 25 women who identify as BIPOC were contestants.

However, this is not enough when the rich, white man who hosts the show spews off his ignorance, then tries to issue a disingenuous apology to save his career.

“I kinda feel like he’s hiding from it instead of admitting what he did was wrong, which is disappointing,” said Sheathelm.

Ultimately, on Feb. 13, Harrison posted on his Instagram that he would be taking some time away from the show and would not be appearing on a segment of the show that airs after the finale, titled After the Final Rose. Harrison said he will use the time away to educate himself more about the weight his words can have.

It is uncertain whether or not Harrison will return as the host for future seasons, and many fans think it is time for the franchise to find a more diverse host who could add much more to the show.

“He’s been such an icon to Bachelor Nation for so long but he really trashed his reputation,” said Sheathelm.

“He let down a lot of people and offended even more.”

Only time will tell what’s in store for the franchise, but here is to hoping for some positive, more diverse change.

Oops! I made a movement

HADEN GROSS
STAFF WRITER

For 90’s brats and 2000’s babies, American pop star Britney Spears was an icon. She sang songs that were hip, wore cloths that were killer and dated all the hunky celebs. For many young girls, Brittany represented a strong female role model, who controlled her life and looked good doing it.

For others in the music industry and a barrage of angry parents, Spears represented a sex symbol, that was dominating the era of the boy band and encouraging young girls to feel comfortable in their own bodies.

“She did celebrate her own sexuality and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Said Anna Sump (’21), “She was still just a teenager and wasn’t asking to be put in the spotlight as a sex symbol. She also didn’t ask to be a role model, and she doesn’t owe anyone an apology for her actions and choices. If parents didn’t want their children to be influenced by her, then they shouldn’t have let them listen to her.”

Britney received a generous load of hate for even existing early on in her career. She was criticized by men for being promiscuous, shamed by woman for upsetting men, but above all else, she broke a glass ceiling in the entertainment industry- that would not be tolerated. The free Britney movement is not a series of unfortunate events, but rather decades worth of hatred placed on a young woman.

“Britney, like any adult, has the right to dress in a way that makes her feel confident,” Said Lainie Ettema (’23), “Modesty empowers some, promiscuity empowers others. Women should be in control of their bodies without being shamed by society.”

Beginning in the early 2000’s Britney made the grave mistake of falling for America’s golden boy with horrendous highlights, Justin Timberlake. Their relationship was a public affair, including their private lives. When the couple decided to break it off, a fury hate was directed at Spears.

Accused of adultery, Spears was heavily slut shamed. Becoming the symbol for “bad women” she was the center of criticism, all without hearing her side of the story. Timberlake profited off of this, making Britney the reason for his breakout career, and beloved heartbreak songs. He also profited off of her sex life, spreading rumors about her “bedroom activities”- which Spears denied fervently.

Her relationship with Timberlake marked only the beginning of her spiteful relationships, however, it is a key role into understanding her admittance into the psyche ward in 2007, and her years long battle for conservatorship over her own life. The Free Britney movement stems from her scrutinization from the media.

Britney was personified as a “bimbo” throughout her career, constantly looked down on and regarded as a child. Her producers refused to hear here ideas, the media berated her and the paparazzi were relentless. Her custody battle in 2007 was the proverbial nail in the coffin, that triggered her psychotic

break. Shaving her head and vandalizing a paparazzi’s car held grounds for the first draft of Britney’s conservatorship.

“The conservatorship is an abuse of power,” Said Ettema (’23), “Britney is a high functioning adult and there is no reason why extremely personal details of her life should be dictated by anyone but her. The conservatorship forces her into an endless cycle of abuse, which she is clearly suffering, but doesn’t have the freedom to get help.”

After Britney took time to mentally heal from the torture she was put through, her conservatorship remained. Fans took to social media with the hashtag #freebritney and protested.

“I think it’s [her conservatorship] ridiculous and awful, especially at this point in her life,” Said Sump (’21), “She should have a say in all things that pertain to her, but all of her rights to her own life were taken away. She no longer needs it [conservatorship], because she is capable of running her own life,”

Britney Spears still lives a life in ordinance to someone else. She is blamed for expressing herself, the clothing she wears, and even the criticism she faces. It isn’t a mystery that Britney has endured a harsh reality, and it is a hope for young, aspiring, women to not face such blatant sexism and hatred for prospering in a male dominated field.

Writing home from Russia, a historical outlook

WADE FULLERTON
STAFF WRITER

Map of Allied operations in Archangel, Russia [Left]. American rifleman, Russian rifle. Defending the critical rail junction at “Verst 466” with the 339th Infantry Regiment, Sept. 24, 1918 [Right].

The AEF – American Expeditionary Force – had decisively defeated the German Army on the Western Front on Nov. 11, 1918. The Great War closed, while a new – more bizarre – chapter opened. Two months prior to the end of the war, President Woodrow Wilson – a politician who ran on a non-intervention policy – moved to send men of the AEF to Russia.

The President must have been troubled by this intervention. The United States felt pressure to join the effort to contain Bolshevism’s spread in Russia and support their allies – Britain and France. Five thousand soldiers of the AEF made up the 339th infantry division. These were men from all temperaments across the state of Michigan. During the late summer of 1918, these Michiganders completed their training in Fort Custer and were prepared to embark on a transport ship to Archangel, Russia.

Several of these men were Alma College students who put their education on hold to fight in the Great War. The Weekly Almanian published a section called “From our Boys in the Service” every edition during the First World War. Letters were printed from students and alumni who were active in the AEF. Private Russel – an Alma College student – wrote to his Mother on Sept. 10, 1918:

Somewhere in Russia:

Dear Mother,

At least we are somewhere and in Russia at that. I suppose everything is all O. K. at home. I surely hope so. I never felt better in my life. I do not know whether I have gained in pounds or not because all the scales are balanced in Russian.

Russia does not look as old as I had expected. All the streets are either mud or cobblestone. There are a few street cars. The horses are all very small and pull from a yoke in the form of an arch, over their necks. All of the axles are made of wood and are well greased. The Russian dress is surely queer. I saw one fellow who had a purple silk shirt on that I would like to get my hands on. Some of the girls look like Yankees in their dress. The Russian churches have large globe domes, generally gilded. They have lots of huge bells which, when they ring, ring steadily for about forty minutes. One of the churches around here has a large picture in it. Looks like a hand painting but of course it isn’t because the weather would soon destroy it. Another church has pictures of saints all over on one side.

There are plenty of wooden sidewalks around here. The Russian language is surely a tongue-twister. Already we have mastered a few words like good and no good thanks, the names of towns, cigarettes, dog, etc. They make a noise like a rattle snake to stop their horses.

Well I must close, with love to all.

Russel.

Even one hundred years ago, Russel conveyed the Alma College code of ethics; to foster curiosity abroad and approach his situation from a position of learning. His letter also carries melancholy for his home he had left behind. Moreover, yes – only a Michigander would act as polite as Russel does, despite the perilous circumstances.

For Russel and for the rest of the 339th from Michigan – who more than likely left home for the first time – will have to combat disease, the harsh cold and maintain morale. It would slowly turn into an intervention that none of the men could justify themselves as to what purpose they were serving in Russia.

The Era of Understanding

HADEN GROSS
STAFF WRITER

Living in the time on a pandemic, we as people cling fervently onto normalcy. We pray that change will come, and we will resume a life that is devoid of social distance. Many have had to put their life on hold as the world heals. Graduations were cancelled, schools were vacant and for student athletes, many spent time watching dust collect on their beloved equipment.

Some cried, others took to the street in fury as governors refused to okay sports. The protests, while nonviolent, sparked mass controversy across Michigan, among other states. People opposed the large droves of protestors taking to streets, as the number of COVID-19 cases skyrocketed. Others banded together and protested as athletes, coaches, students and fans to protest for playtime.

“As a senior in high school who had their season cancelled, I can understand the disappointment,” said Danielle Dumoulin (24’). “However, I don’t believe that jeopardizing the health and safety of others because you want to play a sport is fair. We have to understand the situation we are currently in and act in a way that benefits all people.”

Understanding is the key word to Dumoulin’s thoughts. We must understand the feelings of the athletes, but not let them overshadow the pandemic. According to Mlive.com, over 2,000 individuals were present at the last rally, not to mention the hundreds of social media posts directed at the governor.

The omnipotent theme within these protests is that student athletes feel as if they have been wronged and have pulled the proverbial receipts from data regarding COVID-19 spreading through athletics. A scientific study ran by MDHSS, deduced a 99.8 precent negative rate over 30,000 tests. Thus, marking huge strides for protestors. It appears that dust will have to find other objects to accumulate on.

“I genuinely believe in the right to a peaceful assembly,” said Morgan Sweitzer (’22). “However, things are complicated right now due to the pandemic and social distancing issues and on that the pandemic isn’t over. As much as we all want to passionately get back to normal life, we must do what we can to protect ourselves and others. It is important for young people to have interaction and engagement but to also stay healthy.”

Michigan’s government officials claim that the resurgence of winter sports was not due to the protests, but as we have seen within the last year, change is bread from the common man. The idea of change continues to be a prevalent theme as we embark into a new year, new presidency and new social precedent. As a society, we are beginning to see the first fledglings of an improved society- we still have long to go, but what we have accomplished should be celebrated.

It is not to say that student athletes shouldn’t feel a sense of victory as they head back to the various courts and fields this winter, but they should also be reminded of how capable of change we are if we band together. The same positivity should carry these students and coaches through their seasons, so that they may be reminded of how lucky they are to have the opportunity to play a sport they love. It is a hope that athletes will be given a safe environment to compete in.

It is the goal of this article to encourage the notion of understanding and by doing so, we as a society will heal from the pandemic, emerging as people who have found a long-lost compassion for others.

https://www.mlive.com/highschoolsports/2021/01/let-them-play-delivers-clear-message-as-thousands-flock-to-capitol-to-protest-winter-sports-pause.htm

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