During the week of January 16-22, many events were held on campus to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. King, a late minister and activist, spent his life speaking out on the issue of civil rights and the inequalities faced by people of color.
King was assassinated on Apr. 4, 1968. Despite his untimely death, people around the world continue to look upon his work, speeches and legacy in order to create a more just society.
Former President Ronald Reagan signed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a national holiday, which was first celebrated in 1986. Recognized on the third Monday of January, Alma College utilizes the day and following week to educate, inform and celebrate King.
Some events of the past week included Silent March, an event co-hosted by Alma’s Diversity & Inclusion Office and the Multicultural Student Union, and an MLK Week Unity Celebration that consists of dinner, live entertainment from the DJAM Jazz Band and performances from the Alma Choir and Chorale.
Dr. Donnesha Blake, Director of Diversity & Inclusion, emphasized that these kinds of events benefit our campus community greatly. “One of the college’s goals related to diversity, equity and inclusion is to create a safe, just and inclusive community. I think MLK week allows us topause and reflect on how we might do that in meaningful ways. It’s also a time to acknowledge the work we have been doing to move toward justice.”
Blake also stated that, despite the events taking place in the pandemic, attendance has not faltered. She says, “Given the context of COVID, our virtual events had higher attendance than our in-person events.”
Blake continued, “CandiceMarie Benbow’s keynote was really well received. We’vegotten direct feedback from our campus community that her words were powerful, inspiring, and accessible.”
Dr. Blake expresses that students can support the Diversity & Inclusion Office by visiting their space in Tyler Van Dusen 145. Students can attend educational workshops and cultural programs and follow the office’s social media pages on Instagram and Facebook.
Blake also states that the planning for Black History Month and Women’s History Month is underway, and that students should stay tuned for more information on the campus calendar and social media.
Today, someone could go up to almost anyone who was in school after 1999 and ask if they have knowledge of what a lockdown procedure is and the answer would be yes. After the tragic shooting at Columbine High School in April of 1999, schools in the United States began implementing shooter drills.
According to the National Education System, 95% of U.S. schools practiced these drills from 2015 to 2016, and since 2018 roughly 4.1 million students have endured a lockdown procedure throughout their educational experience.
Alma College student Willow Nut (‘25) said, “I have been doing drills since elementary. I remember sobbing when I was six or seven in my teacher’s arms because I was so scared.”
However, preparation and knowledge of such situations does not prevent school shootings from taking place. On November 30th of 2021, a fifteen-year-old student opened fire at Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan. Eleven people were shot.
Four of the victims—Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; Justin Shilling, 17; and Madisyn Baldwin, 17—died. Other students, ranging from ages 14 to 17, and one teacher faced numerous degrees of injuries.
After arresting the fifteen-year-old student, authorities charged the aggressor, Ethan Crumbly, with one count of terrorism and four counts of first-degree murder. On Dec. 3, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen D. McDonald later charged Crumbly’s parents with involuntary manslaughter, as they concluded they assisted in the incident by purchasing their son a handgun.
The Prosecutor Karen D. McDonald charged Crumbly as an adult rather than a juvenile. As a result, Crumbly could receive a sentence of life in prison. McDonald explained that they had written, recorded and witnessed evidence that Crumbly had preplanned the shooting. Crumbly’s lawyers have claimed “not guilty.”
However, investigation of the incident does not stop at Crumbly and his parents. Oxford Schools district superintendent has informed parents and staff that they will be conducting an investigation of all those associated with the school who may have connections to what led up to the event.
One of the parents of some of the student survivors is also filing a lawsuit against the school for $100 million, explaining that the school had violated the 14th amendment “equal protection of U.S. citizens” and some Michigan laws as well.
In response to Oxford’s sense of responsibility Willow Nutt (‘25) said, “I think Oxford could have taken better precautions. There were several clear signs that the kid was a danger to himself and the school. They actively chose to ignore it, putting the community at risk. Oxford needs to look more into how to address these situations before they happen rather than after.”
As of now, the investigation on Crumbly, the parents of the student and the school are still on-going. Crumbly is being held in an adult jail with no bond. His trial will be revisited within the coming weeks.
In the wake of the fear and caution that these school shooting events can incite, fifteen school districts in the area closed for at least one day. Schools such as Bentley Community Schools even tightened safety restrictions and created more strict lockdown preparations. It is one way in which the school helps transition their students into a comfortable learning environment as they return from online learning.
Alma College student MiShaye Hearn (‘24) said, “It is sad that we have to have school shooter safety precautions on top of Covid-19 restrictions, because school is a place for learning, not a place students should fear. It is difficult having to watch your back with your fellow peers.”
With the winter semester entering its third week, students are settling in to being back on Alma College’s campus. The current semester began amid a wave of concern among students regarding the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Alma College assured students at the beginning of the semester that classes would remain in person and updated COVID-19 policies would be strictly enforced to ensure students remain safe while attending class, as well as living on campus. There were multiple updates to the campus guidelines offered at the start of this semester.
Some updates included students, regardless of vaccination status, needing to be tested for COVID-19 if exposed twice in five days and those same students being required to wear masks when around others during that five day period.
Additional guidelines include small housing guests being capped at one guest per house resident and a continuation of requiring guests to wear masks when in common spaces.
“[Alma College] said as long as I test five days after exposure, I can remain out on campus, which is not good,” said Andrea Wickman (‘23).
Additionally, students are still required to remain masked during classes and anywhere inside of campus owned buildings.
In light of the recent Omicron variant, however, many students are still concerned that Alma College has not taken enough precautions to protect students.
“There are so many cases on campus, and I feel like [Alma College] is not doing anything besides testing and asking people who are positive to quarantine,” said Wickman.
It is important to remember to continue wearing masks, social distancing when possible and washing your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Additional steps that can be taken include self-isolating if symptomatic and making sure you are being tested if you feel sick or are contact traced through Wilcox Medical Center.
There have been calls from students during the first few weeks of classes to move to a virtual format for a few weeks to protect themselves and others, but not all agree.
“I think the spread [of COVID-19] is getting worse, but I think it is not going to be bad enough to the point where we need to be sent home,” said Byron Weber (‘23).
Outside of COVID-19 related things are parking policies. After multiple complaints, Alma College sent out an email on Jan. 12 detailing what is required of those using school parking facilities.
Some of the reminders included: making sure that if you bring a vehicle to campus, it is registered and properly displays the parking permit for the parking lot to which it is assigned. If a student has not yet registered their vehicle, it is not too late; they can follow the steps in their student portal and pick them up in the Center for Student Opportunity.
Failure to comply with Alma College’s parking regulations will result in tickets being issued by Campus Safety and Security, which can be paid online, also through the Student Portal.
It is also important for students to remember that effective Nov. 1, and running through Apr. 1, vehicles are not allowed to be parked on any Alma city street overnight. Failure to heed this city policy will result in a ticket being issued by the Alma Police Department.
Not parking on the streets at night allows for plows to remove any snow that may have fallen overnight by both Alma College Facilities and the City of Alma. This ensures that commuter students can safely make it to campus, as well as those walking across campus to get to their various activities.
With the beginning of the new Winter Semester and the start of a new year, campus sports are under way with everyday practices and inter-collegiate games being hosted on various venues across campus.
The basketball season has begun with the men’s team already having played five games against Calvin University, Adrian College, Olivet College, Trine University and Kalamazoo College. The team came close to two wins, one against Kalamazoo which ended at a 65-63 loss and the other against Olivet which ended at halftime with a final score of 28-22.
The women’s basketball team has also played five games against the College of Wooster, Trine University, Hope College, Olivet College and Calvin University. Of the five, the team came through with two stellar wins, one against Wooster with a score of 73-49 and the other against Olivet with a score of 71-37.
Wrestling and bowling seasons began with the wrestling team going up against Olivet on Jan. 20 and the women’s bowling team participating in the American Heartland IV event on Jan. 22. The college track and field teams also participated in the Saginaw Valley State University Holiday Classic meet on Dec. 4 and the Saginaw Valley State University Classic meet on Jan. 14, with a number of other invitational meets lined up all through January.
Three other sports—tennis, lacrosse and baseball—have their seasons beginning in February. Practice for these sports begin as early as Feb. 4, with competitions scheduled from late February onwards.
The campus is also hosting two Alma College Softball 2022 Winter Pitching and Skill Camps, the first being held on Jan. 29 and the second on Feb. 6. Registration links for the camps can be found on the college’s website with both camps being held in the Art Smith Arena and Cappaert Gymnasium.
For regular updates on sporting events being held across campus, make sure to go through your ‘Today in Tartan’ memo sent to all of campus by the Alma College events team.
With the Winter semester underway, the Alma College Theatre and Dance Department is looking forward to their production of She Kills Monsters, set to run March 31 through April 3.
The unique play, written by Qui Nguyen, centers around a young woman named Agnes Evans. The story unfolds as Agnes discovers the popular fantasy role-playing game “Dungeons & Dragons.”
Professor and Director of Theatre, Scott Mackenzie has enjoyed the opportunity to bring this unique play to Alma College.
“[The] play is based on Dungeons & Dragons and lots of college students know the game,” Mackenzie said. “I appreciate how performing this show is an opportunity to bring the fantasy world to life for them.”
Mackenzie is looking forward to finally getting to share this production with the college community, having originally scheduled the show for March 2020.
“We cancelled the show and intended to do it the next fall after the pandemic had passed,” Mackenzie said. “Last year we had to delay it again as we could only do small shows with little close contact that we played to a very small live audience and live streamed.”
Following the college’s successful Fall 2021 production of The Addams Family, Mackenzie was confident that they would be able to revisit She Kills Monsters without as many Covid-19 precautions.
“I [originally] did not cast understudies for this show. Then we started to lose actors to [the Omicron variant],” Mackenzie said. “I also had several non theatre students testing positive and being out of my other classes. So, we made an understudy plan.”
Despite the challenges, Mackenzie is happy with the show’s progress. “I have a very talented cast, [and] this show is so relatable to young actors,” Mackenzie said.
“The issues raised in this play are very relatable to anyone, but particularly to young people, so I mostly have been figuring out entrances and exits and when a character should cross the stage, but when it comes to the emotional choices, my actors are often [ahead of] me.”
David Troyer (’24), who was most recently seen in the role of Gomez in the college’s production of The Addams Family is excited to be back on stage for She Kills Monsters.
While Troyer is an experienced actor, his role in She Kills Monsters is quite different from his past characters and has brought with it some new challenges.
“I play some of the monsters and will also be one of the puppeteers,” Troyer said. “The work that you have to do for a nonspeaking role is more body minded. How does this monster move? How do they sound? How confident are they in their fighting?”
“Combat rehearsal in general is a new experience to me since I had no stage combat training prior to this, but [that has] been very fun,” Troyer said. “It’s a new way of moving your body and I’ve been enjoying learning more about it all.”
Although combat training is new to Troyer, he expects changing costumes throughout the show may be even more of a challenge. “Some of the monsters I play are bulky and hairy, while some are more reptilian . . . Add in the combat armor and it gets a little more tricky still.”
In addition to his ensemble part, Troyer has enjoyed the opportunity to work on the role of Chuck. “My favorite part of She Kills Monsters so far has been the understudy runs,” Troyer said.
“[Understudying] gives opportunities for new interactions with other actors, and everyone, both main cast and understudy, the opportunity to learn and explore the characters in our own unique ways. It leads to surprising, fun times onstage.”
Heather Kaatz (’24) is the show’s prop master. Having been a stage manager for multiple Alma College productions, Kaatz has enjoyed the opportunity to “work on the creative/design side.”
“I am responsible for all props used throughout the show, from monsters to swords and giant maps,” Kaatz said. “From buying, building or designing, I have a fantastic team of props artists to help bring the show to life.”
“My favorite part is always seeing the shows come together. Regardless of what position I have for a production, it is rewarding to present something this department has worked so hard on to an audience,” Kaatz said.
Wiley Delisa (’24) plays a monster and puppeteer in She Kills Monsters. Along with being a part of the show’s ensemble, Delisa is the understudy for the role of Orcus.
“I’m learning tons of fight choreography and blocking in order to make the [Dungeons & Dragons] world of the play come to life,” Delisa said. “[As the understudy] for the character of Orcus, [I] have to be sure to learn all his choreography, blocking and lines too.”
For Delisa, the best part of working on a show is making connections with others. “My favorite part of every production here at Alma college is the amazing community and family we have as a theatre department.”
“I know that no matter what role we all have, we’ll be there to support and cheer each other on.” Delisa said. “No rehearsal is ever boring at the Heritage Center, and I’m so happy to be with all my peers again to take on new challenges [in] She Kills Monsters.”
One of the opportunities offered by Alma College is the Venture Grant, which comes with many travel options. One of these options often overlooked is a semester abroad. Semesters abroad can offer exciting experiences, even in light of COVID-19 and the impact it has had on travel.
An Alma College student who is currently doing a semester abroad is Moranda Johnson (‘22). She is studying at Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul, South Korea. She shares that she has had many great experiences so far such as hiking up mountains, visiting landmarks and meeting new people in spite of the current COVID restrictions in South Korea.
Johnson explains, “The Seoul area is under a level 4 lockdown, the toughest level the Korean government has, so it limits how many people can be in a group with exceptions to those fully vaccinated. However, the Korean government does not fully recognize foreign vaccinations, so I must be careful with how many people I am with. The university dorms also have very strict policies about traveling and staying overnight as well as traveling around the country, so it is hard to plan trips to see other areas of Korea.”
Thankfully, she isn’t completely without chances to explore. Carla Jensen, who works in the CSO with Venture opportunities, adds, “I think there is something to be said for investing in the local experience wherever one is studying abroad, rather than trying to see an entire continent with travel excursions every weekend and break. Staying put in their host community will help travelers mitigate risk, and also become immersed in the culture of that place.”
When compared to other travel opportunities such as spring terms, Johnson argues that “I feel like you get to immerse yourself in the culture with a semester abroad because you are living in the country for an extended period of time rather than just visiting for a few weeks, so you get to experience things differently.” Students interested in applying for a semester abroad can do so at http://www.alma.edu/travel. It is important to begin the application process a year in advance and to be aware of the US Department of State travel advisory. Jensen advises that during the pandemic students remain particularly flexible with their plans, making sure they have a backup location or two in case the travel advisory prevents students from visiting their initial choice.
Jensen would also like students wanting to do a semester abroad during the pandemic to “be prepared (psychologically, logistically, and financially) for the possibility of disruptions to their study and travel plans. . . risks are not necessarily greater than they are in Alma, but navigating those disruptions when away from home and campus support systems can be more challenging.”
Even with the challenges of COVID on a semester abroad, there is no need to be discouraged from pursuing the opportunity. Johnson says, “Traveling abroad is an amazing experience, a
once in a lifetime opportunity, and I think every student should take advantage of the study abroad opportunities Alma provides. The process will be hard at first, and there will be a lot of stress involved, but the rewards are worth it. You will get to see things and participate in things you never thought were possible. You will even discover sides of yourself you never knew existed and I think a semester abroad helps you grow as a person because you gain different viewpoints by travelling to other places. So, if anyone is thinking of studying abroad, do it. I promise you won’t regret it.”
A black coffin wrapped in a pink bow, a masked person dressed in pink with nothing but a shape for a face and a giant doll that says “무궁화 꽃 이 피었 습니다” (Mugunghwa kkoci pieot seumnida) are the haunting images that are fixed in the minds of those who have seen Netflix’s recent show 오징어 게임 (Squid Games). With a worldwide audience of 142 million households, Squid Games has quickly become a cultural phenomenon in just the past month. But what about this Korean-produced show has captured the attention of so many?
When asking students about their thoughts on Squid Games there were two consistently different answers that students had. “I watched the first two episodes and had to stop. I thought it was so disturbing. There was so much death, and even beyond the brutal killings it was just sad to see all the depressing lives of the contestants.” said Alma student Kyla Fischer (‘23). Where on the other end of the spectrum some students had nothing but positive things to say about the show.
Whether you binged the whole show when it came out, just watched a few episodes, or only had heard about the show through the internet, Squid Games has made its way into your life in one form or another. The over circulation of the Honeycomb challenge and an abundance of different merchandise already being sold in stores has helped to push the popularity and revenue of the show. According to a Netflix revenue report, the show has generated almost 900 million U.S. dollars. Netflix also announced that on October 12th Squid Games had become their most watched show reaching 111 million viewers (Hirwani).
In more recent years Netflix has released an abundance of hit shows such as Stranger Things that is about to release its fourth season and the show You that just dropped its third season. However, Netflix has not just focused on American based shows. According to Times magazine, about 45% of Netflix’s content is international based, with many of the productions made not in English. However, most of the shows that are in the U.S. Top ten category of the Netflix homepage are in English. So, how has a show almost entirely in Korean broke all the streaming service’s records?
Much of the addictive factor that both attracts and deters so many is the show’s use of controversial topics. Westernization and the idea of white supremacy are some of the repeating themes throughout the show. “This is a Korean show that has more American themes than Korean themes in it. For instance, Americans are typically viewed as greedy and have a lot of racial tension. Squid Games showed that with the character Ali, the other players were shaming him for being a foreigner.” said Alma student Abigail Ely (‘24) when asked about the topic.
A crucial theme of the actual games in Squid Games is that every player is equal. However, in any society some people will always be looked at worse than others given how fit they seem for their environment. Having a noticeable difference such as race, age, body type and gender can create discourse among group members. As a result, some contestants already had an advantage over others without having to do anything.
Women were an evident group in the show that were shown to be not as capable to compete as men. However, many of the characters such as Kang Sae-byeok and Kim Joo Ryoung used being a woman to their advantage. “I think women had an equal fight. For instance, Kim Joo used the traits of being a woman as a way to cheat in the game and gain allies from the men contestants.” explained Abigail Ely.
Whether Squid Games brought you contentment or discourse, it can be argued that the show made its audience wonder about deep and complex topics. From its use of character development to show inequality and its overall fight for greed and power, Squid Games has paved a new road for show content. The overscale popularity that the series brought Netflix will help in creating new interest in international film and has redefined the boundaries creators can push past both technically and morally.