Bi-Weekly Horoscopes 2/20/2023


Aries (March 21st-April 19th)
High levels of creativity will be on your mind very soon. Now is the time for you to pick up a new hobby, learn something new or complete a goal that you have always wanted to try.

Taurus (April 20th-May 20th)
This past week has been exhausting and filled with low self-esteem. Stay relaxed and understand that you are strong willed enough to get through this next week.

Gemini (May 21st-June 20th)
Goals are being accomplished and hard work is finally starting to pay off. Gemini is feeling nervous about a big new step in life. Stay optimistic and proud of your own successes. Focus is key now more than ever.

Cancer (June 21st-July 22nd)
A strong desire for harmony has been pushing you over the edge. A strong need for security and certainty is highly wanted. Be patient and keep working hard to get to your goals in life.

Leo (July 23rd-August 22nd)
Constant stress over several aspects of life has been on your mind. Now is the time to stop and enjoy what life has to offer. This might look like you connecting with nature or enjoying the small things in life.

Virgo (August 23rd- September 22nd)
Virgo has been a hot head over small annoyances this past week. You strive for perfection and efficiency which have not been met by those around you and are causing stress. Know that those around you care about you.

Libra (September 23rd- October 22nd)
Your smile and positiveness are starting to attract more people into your life and will not stop anytime soon. People around you are willing to offer friendship and kindness once you are ready to let them in.

Scorpio (October 23rd-November 21st)
Scorpio has been struggling with comparing themselves to others. Remember that you are not alone, and we are not all so different from each other.

Sagittarius (November 22nd- December 21st)
Recent feelings of guilt have been overcrowding your mind these last few days. Trust your instincts and believe in your own consciousness.

Capricorn (December 22nd- January 19th)
Your strong morals are crumbling and becoming confusing from what you know. Let yourself experience a new change in way of thinking. Try to embrace the person that you are becoming.

Aquarius (January 20th- February 18th)
Lately Aquarius has been feeling blue and pessimistic about life. Now is this time for your hopeful spirit to take charge and make a change.

Pisces (February 19th- March 20th)
During the end of this week, you will feel a loss in confidence and confusion towards decisions. Venus is leaving you and heading towards Aires. Focus on your strengths and be kind to yourself.

Scots Women’s Swim and Dive receive All-American Academic Honors




On Feb 3 the Alma College Women’s Swim and Dive team was named as a CSCAA All-American team for the Fall 2022 semester with a combined GPA of 3.6.

“I am so proud of the women’s team in and out of the pool, their ability to balance academics, practice, competitions and still ha ve time to have fun . . . I have the utmost respect for all the women and their hard work” said Nick Polzin head coach of the swim and dive team.

Not only did the women get the highest academic honors nationally in the swim circuit, they also had the highest GPA in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA), where they compete.

“It’s never easy being a student athlete at a Division 3 level,” said Grace Ludema (26’). “I’ve only been here for one semester and made academics my number one priority, sometimes it would be so much easier to come back after practice and just go to sleep, but the standard that the women’s team has for their academics is a driving force for my academic performance.”

This isn’t the first time that the Alma College Swim and Dive team has been in the academic spotlight. The Women’s team received the same CSCAA Academic award for their performance in Fall 2020

“Being a part of two all American squads is an honor, the first one [in 2020] was a challenge, because it was my first semester here at Alma. Classes were online and it was hard at times to find the motivation to put in the effort with a busy swim schedule,” said Abby Taylor (24’).

The men’s Swim and Dive team is also looking to match what the women’s team has been doing both in and out of the pool.

“Seeing the way that the women balance their swim and school is inspiring,” said Eli Mull (26’). “I could see the men’s team becoming the academic weapons that the women are. I see a bright future for the men in the pool and in the classroom. Good grades and winning meets are no doubt in our future.”

The women’s team had an impressive 3.6 GPA as a group which is .6 over the minimum 3.0 needed collectively to receive the award. The women showed their drive competing exhaustively twice a day starting with practice at 6 AM followed by class and another practice later, leaving them with little time for school work. Impressively they still found a way.

The women’s activity in the classroom also reflects what coach Nick Polzin preaches in his team values.

“The values I build this team on are dependability, respect and growth. The women have exceeded my expectations challenging themselves to improve and grow in the classroom, at practices and in life. They have motivation and discipline and make sure everyday is dedicated to improving,” said Polzin.

Even though the lady Scots have ended their season in the pool this past weekend at the MIAA championships with season and personal best times, they will continue to work hard in the classroom and look to receive national honors yet again.

Supportive or intrusive: there’s a “Fine Line”



With out-of-the-box red-carpet looks and energetic performances, Harry Styles finds himself the center of attention at most music award shows. This year at the Grammys though, a comment Styles made had many fans making assumptions about the artist’s gender identity and sexual orientation, which are, frankly, nobody’s businesses.

In his acceptance speech for Album of the Year, Styles said, “This doesn’t happen to people like me very often.” What exactly does this mean? As it turns out, even the most dedicated “Harries” can’t answer that, but they sure did speculate.

Some Twitter users assumed Styles was referring to the immense success he has had as a solo artist following his boyband years. Others guessed Styles was referencing his humble beginnings, pointing out how other nominated artists have grown up with connections, while Styles was discovered on The X Factor UK.

But perhaps the most widely believed fan theory is that the comment was meant to be a confirmation that Styles is part of the LGBTQ+ community, a rumor that has circulated for several years.

The fascination with Styles’s sexuality and gender is an unusual aspect of the artist’s fan following, but unfortunately, an increasingly large number of fans seem to feel that Styles owes them some sort of explanation.

Regardless of Styles’s sexual orientation or gender identity, it is harmful to imply that he must be “out” for his experiences to be valid. And no matter what kind of platform someone has, they do not deserve to be pressured to come out.

In recent years, Styles has rejected gender stereotypes in fashion, donning traditionally feminine clothing for performances, red carpets and magazine covers.

Styles has been accused on multiple occasions of “queerbaiting,” or using the suggestion of being part of the LGBTQ+ community in his work despite not openly identifying as a member.

Calling someone’s behavior “queerbaiting” implies a belief that people must label themselves in a way to be able to express their sexuality, which just isn’t true. People’s experiences and the way they choose to express themselves should be valid regardless of labels.

What fans might not know is that, in labeling Styles and other artists as “queerbaiters,” they are potentially causing harm to people outside of the public eye who do not feel ready, safe or comfortable coming out.

It is entirely possible that Styles is a member of the LGBTQ+ community and he does not feel comfortable coming out, or he doesn’t really know how he identifies. Maybe he just wants to keep this aspect of his life private. That’s okay too.

Aside from the “queerbaiting” accusations, a lot of the dialogue surrounding Styles’s gender identity and sexual orientation is actually quite supportive, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessary.

Fans have to respect that, no matter how connected they may feel with Styles through his art, they don’t have a right to know details about his personal life, including his gender identity and sexual orientation.  

So, if Styles does someday come out, in a public, formal way (probably not with a vague comment at the Grammy’s), we should absolutely support and celebrate that. But until then, let’s just let him do his thing. He doesn’t owe us a label or an explanation.

New clubs approved at StuCo



On Feb. 6, 2023, Student Congress approved four new clubs on campus: IPHS Club, Water Polo Club, Diversity in STEM and Squirrel Club. Typically, only one or two clubs are introduced during constitution committees. This was the largest number of clubs approved at a Student Congress meeting within the last few semesters.

IPHS Club, Water Polo Club and Diversity in STEM are new groups that were created and organized by their respective presidents and Executive Councils. Squirrel Club is a revived group that died out in 2019, previously called the Squirrel Watching Club.

Each club had unique reasons for wanting to become a student organization on Alma’s campus. IPHS Club is separate from the IPHS Honorary which is focused on students that pursue the IPHS program.

“The IPHS club is for all students interested in going into the health sciences, even if they are in a different major,” said Olivia Bunce (‘24), President of the IPHS Club. This organization hopes to build connections between students and the IPHS department.

“This club is important to Alma’s campus because it helps engage all the students in the department,” said Bunce. IPHS Club has current plans for CPR certification, volunteer opportunities and a combined field day event with the IPHS Department faculty.

Water Polo Club has been featured previously but had not been approved as a club until the Feb. 6 Student Congress Meeting. Once their budget is approved, they will start holding events and regular meetings.

“Water polo is [a] personal interest of mine as well as many of my peers and we are interested in introducing one of the best Midwest sports to the north,” said Madison Humphrey (‘23), President of the Water Polo Club. Members of the club stressed that students do not need to know the rules of Water Polo before joining, but it is required that anyone interested can swim 25 yards unassisted.

Diversity in STEM is a club focused on fostering a community for people of diverse backgrounds interested in STEM, as well as people who are interested in volunteering opportunities.

“Our student population here at Alma is growing in its diversity,” Said Rachel Kostrzewa (‘23), President of Diversity in STEM. “Our club aims to act as a support group for underrepresented students that have any interest in STEM.” They hope to host speaker sessions soon, as well as sponsor volunteer opportunities with special education classrooms at Alma High School.

“Many careers in the STEM field require some type of graduate degree, and many of these programs also require or prefer applicants to have volunteer experience pertaining to their field,” said Kostrzewa. By providing volunteer opportunities, Diversity in STEM hopes they can help students acquire the experience they need to go into STEM-related fields.

Squirrel Club’s was revived by Rylee Warchuck (’24) so that students could have a chance to enjoy Alma’s nature around campus. In the future, the club hopes to host a trip to the John Ball Zoo for club members, as well as have a “Nutty for You” Valentine’s event. This would be on top of their regular meetings, which have not been planned yet.

Alma Biggby Coffee accused of discrimination



The Alma and St. Louis Biggby Coffee stores are facing backlash following the new owners’, Erin and John Fitzgerald, decision to no longer allow students from Alma Public Schools’ Moderately Cognitively Impaired (MoCI) program to work in their Alma location.

Through this program, which was started by the Gratiot-Isabella Regional Educational Service District (GIRESD) students have had the opportunity to help out at several Gratiot County businesses.

Alma College Assistant Professor/Director of Academic Grants Support, Sheryle Dixon’s daughter is a part of the MoCI program. Dixon has enjoyed seeing Katie and her classmates excel in this program. “My daughter loved doing inventory, which I just find amazing,” said Dixon. “I didn’t know she could do that, but she can.”

Dixon feels that getting the students out in the community is important not only for the students, but for the community as a whole. Over the years, Biggby customers have grown accustomed to seeing the students working at the coffee shop.

“[The students] love being out there with the community, and [people] will tell me ‘Oh, I saw [Katie] at Biggby’ . . . And it’s wonderful.”

“We started about six years ago with a previous owner and she was amazing . . . she just welcomed us with open arms. And the kids loved being there,” said Dixon.

Things changed though, when John and MaryAnne MacIntosh, who brought the popular coffee chain to Alma in 2013, sold the franchise to Erin and John Fitzgerald.

According to Dixon, the Fitzgerald’s told the program staff they could continue to bring the MoCI students to Biggby to work. When the owners decided to move the store into another location, the students’ teacher Maureen Henry reached out to confirm this information.

“[They] called and called and called and [the Fitzgerald’s] wouldn’t respond… So [the staff and students] went,” said Dixon. “[They were] told to leave.”

“And . . . the aids didn’t know what to do other than leave. [Henry] went [into the store] . . . and asked if there had been something that happened or [if] something had gone wrong. [John Fitzgerald] said no, and they just, quote ‘were no longer interested in having the students work there,’” said Dixon.

“[Fitzgerald] also stated that they moved into the [new] building and they wanted a fresh start,” said Dixon. “[Henry] asked if there was a way they could figure something out . . . and once again he said ‘We are no longer interested in having you here.’ I mean, can we talk ableism?”

Dixon is grateful for the outpouring of support from the Gratiot County community. Other local businesses have even reached out with interest in partnering with the program.

While Dixon is happy to see something positive come from the situation, she also knows how much the students enjoyed working at Biggby and realizes that support on social media does not make up for losing that opportunity.

“Most the kids won’t understand this . . . They’ll just know that, today, they can’t go to Biggby though. That’s the sad part,” said Dixon.

The Fitzgerald’s commented on the situation via their Alma Biggby Facebook page, calling the accusations the result of “misunderstandings.”

“. . . We are confused and saddened at the recent stories on social media, and we truly regret any misunderstandings we may have contributed to regarding our support of GIRESD specifically, and individuals with disabilities generally,” said the post.

The post went on to say that the Fitzgerald’s planned to continue their partnership with the MoCI program but had requested a temporary pause.

“About two weeks ago, due to our move to the new location and in order to confirm adequate insurance, should any members of the program get injured while at the store,” said the post. “[We] requested a temporary hold on the program . . .”

“We will not be providing additional responses to specific allegations but wanted to at least address the issue and clarify our position,” said the post.

The Almanian reached out to Biggby Coffee of Alma, but they declined to comment.

The Alma College Division III Experience



The Three D’s: Discover, Develop and Dedicate, according to the official website of NCAA Division III sports, specifies student athletes should be “encouraged to pursue their interests and passions beyond the classroom and field of play… to discover themselves.”

The NCAA Division III website also relays that the “emphasis on participating [in] activities outside of the classroom” is a “hallmark of the Division III experience.” Alma College athletics, on the other hand, seems to be getting this mixed up with the ultimate American philosophy: sport equals life, and coaches don’t seem to be helping.

Yes, we athletes work incredibly hard, we strive to do our very best–on the field, in the pool or on the court–but no matter how bad we wish we were; we aren’t Olympians here at Alma College.

Instead, we’re students, first and foremost, trying to discover, develop and dedicate ourselves to things that will help us thrive in the rapidly approaching future of life outside a college campus. However, this has become difficult for Alma athletes as coaches have been known for cutting students for participating in other organizations, and baseball and softball are notorious for their late- night practices, all while athletes’ GPAs slip through the cracks. While coaches are notorious for using the line, “communication is key,” when explaining how athletes can approach them with any absences from practices they may need, it often feels like a cover up to distract others from what really happens.

How is communication key when some athletes are only allotted one absence throughout the duration of their season? How is communication key when coaches begin to cut athletes who join Fraternity Sorority Life (FSL) because their focus is no longer tunnel vision for their sport?

Sports cannot equal life at a Division III college–something most athletes may not want to face, and something coaches often don’t want to admit.

While FSL may get a bad rap because of the partying atmosphere associated with the organizations, the networking done through alumni and administrators makes any FSL event worth attending- -something athletics cannot provide students on the deep level that FSL does.

Coaches should be encouraging students to make connections for their careers through FSL and other activities rather than threatening cuts like what allegedly happened on the softball team.

“I think a lot of coaches here believe that their athletes being involved in other things is going to take away from their athletic commitment and drive…[but] athletes should at least get a chance to

prove that they can handle being an athlete and being involved in other things like FSL,” said Cassidy Smith (‘26), a former member of the softball team.

Furthermore, practice times matter. They matter for mental health, physical health and the ability of the athlete to function. College students are recommended seven to nine hours of sleep, but how is this possible when practices run until 11 p.m.

“Students should have ample opportunities throughout the week to prioritize school. They shouldn’t be practicing so late at night that it will impact them when they attend classes the next day… This is unacceptable,” said Raegan Stambaugh (‘23), SAAC president.

While sport equals life to coaches, a Division III school shouldn’t be allowing this emphasis; yet, it is notable to mention the team with one of, if not the highest collective team GPA has one of the worst training facilities and is not on the list of construction updates, nor will they benefit from the new athletic facility coming to campus.

A Division III school should not be blatantly ignoring the team with such a high GPA. The very value of a Division III experience is “student first,” so why aren’t we rewarding the highest achieving academic athletes?

Even on the surface level, GPA concerns are continuously seeming to be thrown to the side when athletes start to slip in the classroom. “I think it is important to address that… there are various athletic staff who are able to see athletes’ grades and yet when those students seem to be struggling there is not any follow through or any implementation of a plan,” said Stambaugh.

Yes, while student athletes can attend study tables with their teammates, it is a very lax system that does not give the student any other help than a designated, yet hardly required, study time.

“An NCAA Division III school should aim to provide a well-rounded collegiate experience that involves a balance of rigorous academics, competitive athletics and the opportunity to pursue a multitude of other co-curricular opportunities,” said Stambaugh.

And she’s exactly right as it is what we all signed up for when we athletes committed to Alma. Perhaps it is time to reevaluate whether student athletes are able to have the full Division III experience at Alma College.

The cost of MUN




Everyone on this campus is either a part of Alma College’s Model United Nations team, or knows someone who is. With Alma College being a small, liberal arts college, it is rather impressive that our team is both nationally and internationally recognized. I mean, come on, the team was a Jeopardy! clue. That’s legendary status in my book.

This team rightfully deserves the recognition it receives, especially when considering 49 outstanding delegation awards from the national Model UN conference, 55 from the Midwest conference, and 25 years of receiving top national honors. This is no doubt an aspect of Alma College to be proud of. All this recognition and reward, of course, has a cost: hard work and more.

“Apart from the obvious extreme work ethic, perseverance, and speaking skills that you acquire in MUN, there are so many opportunities that open up to you. We get to hear about scholarships, excursions, internships, and more,” said an anonymous source.

“I know so many students that realized the path they want to take with their careers or general futures through Model UN and what we derive from meaningful volunteer work and advocacy,” said the anonymous source.

“There are costs for MUN, such as four suits for conferences, food if you have to go out to eat late after Tuesday practices, and binders with tabs, notes and dividers, [along with] the printing credit to print hundreds if not thousands of pages to fill the binders,” said the source. “It would be nice to know these costs beforehand, or to just get a rough estimate of all of the things we will be buying before the start of the season. I know I’ve personally had issues with not having the immediate funds to buy the printing credit I need.”

“College policy used to allow all students unlimited printing at no cost. When that policy was changed, it applied (and continues to apply) to MUN students as well,” said Dr. Derick Hulme, who has stood at the helm of the MUN program since 1992.

Despite the demanding workload, “we’re doing it because we believe it’s worth it. Regardless, I know we all sacrifice a lot ofmeals and sleep and maybe a couple other grades once in a while in order to satisfy the requirements of MUN. I’m sure most of us sometimes question what else we could be putting that effort towards, like mental and physical health, hobbies, other classes, extracurriculars, etc. It’s, of course, not the right decision foreveryone,”saidthesource.

These difficulties, if overcome, can open the door to prestigious opportunities. When asked about the outomes of those who have gone through MUN, Hulme said, “Model UN offers students both an appreciation for global affairs and the opportunity to develop critical life skills, including research, public speaking, and collaboration. It also strengthens resilience, adaptability, and personal accountability.”

“Model UN studentshave gone on to the finest law schools, graduate schools, and medical schools in the world, including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Cambridge, Oxford, and Johns Hopkins. They also have won over $2 million worth of nationally competitive scholarships, including the Gates-Cambridge, Fulbright, Truman, and Udall.”

Another source, who wishes to remain anonymous, shared their thoughts. “Due to the pandemic, formal recruitment was sparse, thereby not giving students a bigger picture of what they would be getting into,” said the source.

In 2020, the national conference was canceled 15 days before students were to go to New York, which devastated graduating students. In 2021, both the Midwest and national conference were online, where Alma’s team traveled to Chicago to participate. The 2022 conferences required participants to wear masks, while the 2023 conferences will return to pre-pandemic protocols.

“After your first year, it’s a completely different experience, and I can agree that it is worthwhile. There are parts I actually enjoy, like public speaking and mentoring. But there is a lot of unnecessary pressure,” said the source.

“Our team is among our largest and most diverse to date. We have 43 students, including students from 9 countries other than the US, from Russia, India, South Korea, Tunisia, Morocco, Poland, Greece, Kosovo, and Britain. That has increased our emphasis on mentoring first time participants,” said Hulme.

“It sucks, it’s the worst experience ever. At the same time, it’s rewarding and there’s a collective trauma you go through,” said the source.

“The opportunity to interact with people from around the world and understanding different viewpoints [is my favorite part of MUN],” said Aditya Shankar (’24). “The least favorite part is probably only going to 2 conferences.” Shankar has been involved with Model UN as a whole for over 6 years.

“[The best advice I’ve received from Dr. Hulme is] ‘Whenever you think you are not performing well or that you are not reaching expectations, take a moment, breathe and think about the various things you have accomplished’, said Shankar.

To answer my previously mentioned question, I would say yes, being on the Alma College MUN team does have a price. With a class syllabus that boasts about the workload by equating it to the “price of excellence”, it is rather apparent to me that you have to be one motivated individual to join this amazing team. I am proud of the accomplishments that the team continues to bring home every year. However, it is easy to get caught up in the glory of success by telling your well-being to shove off.

IRS tells taxpayers to hold off




On Feb. 3, 2023, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) told taxpayers who received special tax payments or refunds in 2022 from the state in which they reside to wait on filing their federal taxes until additional guidance was provided.

In 2022, over 20 states provided a one-time state refund to deliver relief related to the pandemic and its associated consequences. The 2023 tax season started on Jan. 23; however, the IRS had not defined if the state refunds should be considered taxable income on federal tax returns.

The recommendation applies mainly to states like California, which offered a Middle-Class Tax Refund that aided over 31 million taxpayers and their dependents. Other states that sent rebates to taxpayers after they stated having budget surpluses were also advised to hold off on filing taxes.

Each state that offered its constituents a relief refund had different rules and regulations for that process which made it harder to determine what is taxable on the federal level.

There is ample reason to believe many of these payments are not taxable for federal income tax purposes. If the taxpayer received a tax benefit in an earlier year or received aid under general welfare, then that refund is not taxable. Other refunds given by the states are normally includable in income for federal income tax purposes. This includes any disbursements from states provided as compensation to workers.

According to the statement put out by the IRS on Feb. 10–regarding guidance on state tax payments to help taxpayers, in the interest of sound tax administration and other factors–taxpayers in many states won’t need to report these special tax payments on their 2022 federal tax returns.

Out of the states that provided relief, Michigan was not among them in 2022. “This is not an issue for Michigan taxpayers,” said Tina Rolling, an Associate Professor of Business Administration at Alma College.

The IRS determined that a refund from the state for the promotion of the general welfare or as a disaster relief payment may be excludable from income for federal tax purposes under the General Welfare Doctrine or as a Qualified Disaster Relief Payment. For example, a refund related to the outgoing pandemic would not be federally taxed.

Although the IRS’s statement to hold off on filing taxes does not affect Michigan taxpayers, tax season is underway. Here is some general information to aid in the process of filing taxes:

The IRS is responsible for determining what income is taxable or not taxable. Taxes provide proceeds for federal, local and state governments to fund vital services like law enforcement and public works that benefit all citizens who could not provide such services for themselves.

Those who need to file taxes but choose not to, are likely to receive consequences from the IRS. Those consequences include penalties, fines, interest or more severe measures. Those who fail to file taxes on time are likely to encounter a Failure to File Penalty. The penalty for failing to file is 5% of the unpaid tax liability for each month the return is late, and up to 25% of total unpaid taxes.

There is no penalty for failing to file taxes if a refund is due; however, there is a possibility of losing that refund. There is a limited time period to claim a refund.

Up ↑