Senior tells all about graduate stresses

By Lisa FolkmireCopy Editor

They say that senior year is one of the hardest of undergrad.

It’s a time to hunker down on that 50 page paper on the recurrence of the Oedipus complex during medieval stage-plays, all to create that final gold-bound pile to display proudly on mom and dad’s fridge, to which they’ll say, “We sent her in as a child, and she came out writing this.”

Granted, they probably won’t read much of it. If you’re lucky, maybe they’ll complete an in-depth analysis of the abstract before handing it back saying, “That’s nice, dear. Now when do you plan on moving out? We’ve been waiting to turn your bedroom into a combined fly-tying and pottery displaying station.”

Which will, of course, remind you of the 27 graduate school applications that you finally put together just before Christmas break, leaving your savings account with a black eye and peg leg.

This will all be in time to tell your siblings that you will be crafting gum wrapper sculptors in the shapes of their favorite animals for their presents, the very year they coincidentally got you the “best Christmas gift yet!”

If you’re not spending your Fall Term praying that your computer won’t shut down in lieu of losing your 27 graduate school tabs, you’re hoping that next year you will be anywhere doing anything to prove to those around you that you made something of the degree you hid behind for four years.

Regardless, you’re still scraping the ground-floor of your bank account. Now is good a time as any to begin to truly believe in the seriousness of student loans.

Of course, all of this preparatory work for graduate school applications, resumes, and cover letters is combined with leftover leadership roles, the multiple campus jobs, and the attempts to scrape together the final nights out with the friends, who are (almost luckily) freaking out right along with you.

In turn, hangouts turn into venting sessions about the multiple ways to send transcripts to schools, the impossibilities of writing about your life-plan in less than 200 words, and the constant worry, “What if I end up moving back in with my parents for life?”

An anonymous friend of mine attested, “You know, I have so much to do. I’ve done none of it. I’m actually quite proud of how little I’ve done. But I shouldn’t be because I should probably be accomplishing more than nothing.”

Another anonymous friend stated, “I am so tired all the time, there is just so much to do. I am so glad that I have caffeine in my life.”

They say that senior year is one of the hardest of undergrad, but they never get too specific on what “hard” entails. You can hear about the graduate school apps, the textbook of a thesis, the high expectations of professors, and the constant hole in the bank account, but it’s difficult to fully understand the stress that comes with all of these situations.

They also don’t tell you that aside from all of the stress that comes with your multitude of newfound responsibilities, you’ll also begin to find yourself increasingly excited to leave Alma College. You will be completely ready to move on with your life to show off the shiny new degree you practically tore your hair out for.

I won’t sugar-coat it in the slightest—for my perfectionist, over-burdened, go-getter self, senior year has left me saying, “I was not made for this time of life” multiple times a day. However, the most important aspect to remember is that through all of the applications, final projects, and nerve induced chats with professors, it will all pay off in the long run.

Until then, best of luck, my senior comrades—may we all get exactly what we need.

Posted in Highlights | Leave a comment

Shaving to save:TKE cuts for cancer research

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 5.11.08 PM

By: Samantha Coykendall, Business Manager

During the month of November, the brothers of Tau Kappa Epsilon will fundraise towards a goal of $2,000 to donate to their philanthropy, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Shave for St. Jude’s features fundraising goals at $100 increments.

When each goal has been reached, a different brother will shave his head, his beard, or wax his chest.

To date, Tau Kappa Epsilon has raised $823 in donations. The online fundraiser began on Nov. 5th and the majority of the donations have been received through the fundraising site, GoFundMe.com. In addition to the online donations, the brothers accept cash and check donations.

St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital was founded by Tau Kappa Epsilon member, Danny Thomas, in 1962 in Memphis, Tennessee. St Jude’s is a nonprofit organization that provides care to any child with a catastrophic disease – most often cancer – who is referred to them.

Families of the children never have to pay for the treatment their child is receiving. The atmosphere is intended to make the children as well as the families feel as though they are not staying in the hospital for treatment.

“Our main goal is $1,000, the $2,000 goal was more of a “just in case we get that far” idea,” said Levi Lake (’16), Tau Kappa Epsilon’s current president. “With such a strong start, I believe that we will exceed our $1,000 goal and maybe even come close to $2,000.”

The inspiration behind Tau Kappa Epsilon’s philanthropy event stemmed from the popular “No-Shave November.”

“We came up with this idea going off of the theme of ‘No- Shave November,’” said Paul Mikhjian (’15).

“We simply tweaked that theme and added a little bit of fun for the brothers. We thought it would be enjoyable for the public to see our brothers shave their heads/beards/ chests while raising money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research.”

“We had done a version of No- Shave November last year where people would donate to a certain brother, and at the end of the month the brother with the most money raised had to shave his head,” said Quinton Alexander (’16). 

“This year we figured this would be a more efficient way to raise more money.”

Several brothers have already shaved their heads or waxed their chests per the fundraiser’s goals.

“I made a promise to the donors that if/once we raised $500 I would wax my chest,” stated Mikhjian.

“It was very painful, but not nearly as painful as what the children at St. Jude’s go through on a daily basis. If these children can endure medical procedures daily

shaved their heads or waxed their chests per the fundraiser’s goals.

“I made a promise to the donors that if/once we raised $500 I would wax my chest,” stated Mikhjian.

“It was very painful, but not nearly as painful as what the children at St. Jude’s go through on a daily basis. If these children can endure medical procedures daily, the least I can do is endure the pain of getting my chest waxed. There will be videos posted to Facebook of my procedure as the fundraiser continues on.”

Other brothers have yet to have their goals reached as they continue to participate in the fun of the fundraiser.

“I can’t wait to reach the $1000 mark, honestly,” said Alexander, who has pledged to shave his beard. “It’s raising money and awareness for children’s cancer and this is the least I can do for them.”

Excitement continues to build within the fraternity as members move closer and closer to achieving their fundraising goal.

“The anticipation of reaching our goal and having some of the guys who would do just about anything in order to not shave their hair get their heads shaved is pretty cool,” said Lake.

“Showing the campus, especially non-Greeks, that fraternities and sororities do positive things is something we should focus on more often.”

To assist the brothers of Tau Kappa Epsilon in their fundraising efforts during the month of November, visit www.gofundme. com/gtd9eg.

Posted in Campus News, November 17 2014, Samantha Coykendall | Leave a comment

Football struggles continue with loss to Albion; now 0-5 in MIAA

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 10.26.10 AM

By Domenic Baima, Staff Writer

The Alma Scots’ woes continued last Saturday after dropping their sixth consecutive game to the Britons of Albion. The Scots lost 35-13 after Albion was able to get into the end zone on three of its first four drives of the game.

“We need to be able to run the ball,” said Coach Greg Pscodna. “We need to be able to run it effectively on first down so that we aren’t looking at second and long every time out. Once that happens, that will open up the passing game. And when the passing game opens up, we need to make good decisions and make plays.”

And run the ball they did, amassing 184 yards on the ground, 122 of them from quarterback Dylan Zaborowski (’18). Zaborowski also had 173 yards through the air that resulted in two touchdowns. Erik Hines (’15), and Sean McDonald (’16) each caught one of Zaborowski’s touchdown throws.

The game was also Senior day for the team, as it was the last home game the seniors will play in the maroon Alma College jerseys.

“This game is for the seniors,” commented Pscodna. “They’ve had a rough four seasons, but I hope they always remember those seasons. They have all taken great strides and have pointed this program in the right direction, and I think we will be competing for an MIAA championship soon.”

Senior linebacker Eric Strickler (’15), commented before the game that “It’s going to be an emotional day. I think I speak for all the seniors when I say that I’m going to pour all I have into today’s game.”

If the fact that it was Senior Day didn’t fire the team up, the fact that the game was against rival school, Albion, certainly did.

“The team always gets amped for this rivalry game,” said Pscodna. “Albion has been our rival for longer than I have been alive.”

The team was very excited for the opportunity to end its losing streak, knowing that the program desperately needs a win to end the season on a positive note.

“It is pretty important for the program in general,” noted Strickler before the game. “We have lost several straight games, and there is no better team to get back on track against than the putrid team in purple.”

However, Albion was able to roll past the Scots largely thanks to the 216 passing yards and three touchdowns from the Britons’ quarterback Dominic Bona.

The Scots are now 2-7 overall and 0-5 in the MIAA. They will be in Olivet on Saturday for the season’s final game.

Posted in Domenic Baima, November 10 2014, Sports | Leave a comment

“Nightcrawler” fails to get its message across clearly

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 10.22.56 AM

By: Dan Murawske, Staff Writer

Last week I wrote a review for “Nightcrawler,” the new thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal, and I was not exactly sure what to think of it.

“Nightcrawler” is one of those movies that you could watch over and over and pick up on different ideas each time. It is a movie that cannot be fully digested in one sitting.

In order to fully understand the points being made, one cannot merely watch the film– it has to be studied.

When I wrote my review last week, I did not have as much time as I would have liked to think about it. as I had just saw the film the night before, and due to my classes the next day I did not have much time to sit and dwell on it.

Now, one week later, I have had the time to study and to dwell. Therefore, I have refined my viewpoints and more fully understand “Nightcrawler.”

Warning: spoilers are ahead. If you have not seen the film:  1) Go see it (if you are a mature adult; “Nightcrawler” is not appropriate for younger viewers or for immature viewers) and 2) Do not read any further in this article unless you are not afraid of spoilers.

I repeat: DO NOT CONTINUE READING IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN “NIGHTCRAWLER.”

As I said last week, I did not know what to say when the movie got done and a friend asked me what I thought about the film.

On one hand, I was extremely entertained throughout. At two hours running time, the film felt much shorter. I never looked at the clock.

And then there is Jake Gyllenhaal as true crime journalist Louis Bloom. What an incredible performance he turns in. I would be surprised if we see a better performance this year (although I have head Oscar buzz around Steve Carell for his role in the upcoming film “Foxcatcher”).

Gyllenhaal’s movements and facial expressions were mesmerizingly fearful.

Bloom starts off as a likable character. Even though you can tell that something isn’t quite right about him… he seems a little off… I liked him in the beginning.

But by the end of the movie, I was enraged with him. He lost any likability.

Of course, the viewer is not supposed to like Bloom at the end of the movie. So when I say I ended up resenting Bloom, that is how it is supposed to be. It is not a weakness in the writing or filmmaking.

We watch Bloom descend into darkness as he becomes more and more involved in freelance video production (he records video at crime scenes or scenes of car accidents and sells his footage to TV news stations).

As the film progresses, he becomes more and more willing to do anything- literally anything- to get his job done. And by the end of the film, he becomes a genuine criminal rather a petty thief.

And he gets away with it.

This is what concerned me at first. It appeared as though the message of “Nightcrawler” is that crime does pay (which is obviously a false statement).

It was not until afterwards that I realized the film is a satire of sorts, and Bloom’s criminal actions are meant to be part of the satire.

But it would be very easy for one to confuse the satire with a message saying that crime pays. This is not what the movie wants to say, but immature viewers might not be able to realize the satirical element, which could lead to the wrong message getting across.

After all, my viewing experience allows me to recognize fairly quickly the satirical elements . It was only after I studied it that I came to that realization.

It is for this reason that I say “Nightcrawler” is for mature audiences only.

And despite the marvelous performance by Gyllenhaal, I wish “Nightcrawler” would make its message clearer. But because it fails to do so, I have to knock its grade down a bit.

I give “Nightcrawler” a “B.”

Posted in Daniel Murawske, November 10 2014, Opinion | Leave a comment

Researchers fight environmental damage

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 10.12.12 AM

Researchers fight environmental damage

 Borrello, students work with Gratiot farmers to clean Pine River, prevent additional problems

 By: Abigail Fergus, Community Editor

What’s in your water: ammonia, E. coli, coliform, antibiotics?

Students Allie Frost (‘17), Jessica Isler (‘17), Nicole Green (‘17), and Tyler Foley (‘15), as well as Professor Murray Borrello, have uncovered what flows through the Pine River, and the findings are controversial.

It is well known that the water of the Pine River is not high in quality. This past summer, Borrello’s team found evidence pointing to the current cause of lowered water quality: high amounts of animal waste being dumped directly into the Pine River and its tributaries.

Borrello said, “The research is finding that there are practices in the upper watershed that are contributing to lower water quality. These practices are farming practices, and this is a mostly agricultural county. So there’s a lot of people that have their livelihood connected to agriculture. Our findings are showing that current regulations are inadequate or that there is purposeful dumping and over-application going on.”

It is known that too much manure is being spread on fields and dumped into water. Borrello made it clear that he didn’t wish to point fingers and that he was not certain whether the problem in manure management was out of negligence, ignorance or poor regulation policies.

“If somebody is adhering to the guidelines that they’ve been taught on how to handle manure and how to apply it, and we’re still seeing a degradation of the water quality, that isn’t the fault of the farmer; that’s a fault of the people that are making the laws and regulations,” he said.

“Having said that, there are also clear indications that people are inappropriately managing animal waste in this area.”

Frost explained a result of manure entering waterways: “We found very high levels of antibiotic resistance in the bacteria in the river. All water in nature has some levels of things like E. coli and coliform bacteria in it, but [the river] has been impacted by things like farm waste, and because farmers give their animals antibiotics routinely, that gets into their waste and when it goes into the river, the bacteria there starts gaining a resistance to [antibiotics].”

Anyone who directly interacts with water containing high levels of E. coli and coliform could have their health negatively affected. Antibiotics could prove to be less effective at treating these negative effects due to the heightened resistance found in the E. coli of the Pine River.

The manure also contributes to nutrient loading, which is an unhealthily high level of naturally occurring nutrients in the water. As a result of nutrient loading, vegetation grows and dies on a larger scale than what is natural. The dead vegetation decomposes, and that decomposition consumes oxygen out of the water so it is no longer available for fish or other wildlife. The extra vegetation growth also causes problems for humans.

“It’s gotten so bad that there’s algae and lilypads clogging the river, and the citizens can’t do anything in the summer,” said Frost. “It’s very difficult to get a boat or canoe or anything out in the water. They can’t do much recreation in the river and their property values have gone down as a result.”

This is not the first time that there have been problems with the water of the Pine River. Borrello shared that the most recent research is upstream of parts of the Pine River that were negatively impacted by a former refinery and chemical plant. For many years, students helped to research the damage the refinery and chemical plant did, which led to the EPA getting involved and beginning ongoing cleanup of the Pine River.

Borrello compared the refinery and chemical plant damage to the current situation of nutrient loading. Such a comparison may be intimidating, given the damage and costs caused by the refinery and plant, but solving nutrient loading may be an easier task than the ongoing cleanup has proven to be.

Science research can be used to work with the farmers and stop the negative effects that manure entering the Pine River has caused.

“We have ideas on how to work with farmers to help the environment,” Borrello shared. “We can provide the science that says, ‘If you do these practices they will protect the environment.’”

Another advantage is that there is not a conflict between the researchers and the farmers. Farmers want to work to stop the degradation of the water caused by animal waste.

Borrello said, “A vast majority of the people that I talk to about this are not upset; they have a favorable opinion of the research because they want [the problem] fixed. People don’t want to live in a degraded environment. Even some farmers are upset that there’s practices going on that are degrading the river.”

Now that Borrello and his team have identified the problem, Borello plans to work to benefit the Pine River and to prevent similar occurrences. Frost, Isler, Foley and Green will present the research at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco on December 18. This will raise awareness about the potential hazards massive farms and a lack in environmental regulations can pose to waterways.

Borrello will also take a spring term to Europe to study how other countries use technology to improve the environment. The group will be able to take ideas back with them and use these ideas to fix and prevent environmental threats.

Posted in Abigail Fergus, Campus News, November 10 2014 | Leave a comment