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.

Will Mac Mall ever look the same?



While the construction is coming to an end within Alma College’s Learning Commons, more has started in McIntyre Mall, most commonly called among students: Mac Mall. Although Mac Mall is just a courtyard, it has become a central hub for the students at Alma College. Because of the importance of Mac Mall, students are concerned that it will not look the same after construction.

With beautiful maroon walkways, benches and memorial trees throughout, Mac Mall was a nice space for students to meet up with friends, an occasional gallery for Alma College’s art students and a good space for professors to hold class sessions when the weather permitted. The recent events of revamping the learning commons have turned this beloved space into a wasteland.

Alma College offers the ability for people to create a memorial for special occasions and loved ones. In Mac Mall, these memorials were often in the form of a tree. Based on the Alma College website, these memorials are a lasting tribute to those who the trees are dedicated to, yet when the construction started, those trees were removed. It is disheartening to see these “lasting memorials” so readily ripped out of the ground.

Based on an email from Jeff Abernathy on tentative end dates on construction, Mac Mall is not scheduled to be completed until mid-April; however, the advancement in Mac Mall’s remodel has not been promising. With the lack of color and greenery, this once lively courtyard has become sterile.

The first place that first-year students explore on campus is Mac Mall. Tartan 101, the three-day long introduction to Alma College for first year students, starts there each day. There are a multitude of events and traditions that incorporate Mac Mall like the scavenger hunt during Tartan 101 and the pumpkin that found its way on top of the spike each October. With the presence of construction, these traditions are at risk.

Mac Mall’s legacy extends past the students’ first year as well. Organizations like Active Minds and ACUB (Alma College Union Board) used this space to promote and housetheirevents.Specifically, the old entrance structure to the Learning Commons was used to hang banners made by these organizations. This was a way to get information out to the students and without it, promoting events has become increasingly difficult.

“ACUB has used Mac Mall to advertise for upcoming events we were putting on throughout the year. We have also done tabling in Mac Mall to spread information events,” said Elaina Gross (’25), a staff member of ACUB. Mac Mall had an active art scene. “Mac Mall 

has been used as a location for art installations during Art Prize or collaborative outdoor space between the dance program and art program”, said Jillian Dickson, Assistant Professor of Art and Design at Alma College. Although Mac Mall’s final look is unknown, the current lack of a community creative space is detrimental to the students.

The unknown outcome of Mac Mall is discouraging, but a fresh start allows the college to listen to its staff and students about their needs. “I love well-designed, luxurious community spaces and when it is obvious that investment is going to community spaces, and not private spaces”, said Dickson.

 “I personally hope that this new space will be more welcoming and accessible to all people. I hope it will be a comfortable space for students to use,” said Gross.

FSL winter recruitment continues



Winter recruitment for Fraternity Sorority Life (FSL) is getting into full swing at Alma College. The winter semester holds the informal recruitment period and the fall semester holds the formal recruitment period. 

Informal recruitment is often called the Continuous Open Bidding (COB) period. 

Panhellenic council held an event on Jan. 21 for potential new members (PNM) that will help them learn more about sorority life. This event was held in the Alan J. Stone Center for Recreation from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. There were crafts and games for PNMs during this event. 

“Come to any event and meet everyone. This semester we are really trying to host more events for the campus community. If you are interested, just attend any events that FSL organizations are putting on. Philanthropy events are always fun and go to a great cause,” said Dylan Kast (’24), the Interfraternity Council President. 

FSL organizations are a way to get involved on campus and make new friends. “When I came to Alma, I was not involved in anything and didn’t have a lot of friends. I ended up going to a PR event for a sorority. Since then, I received an open bid and made so many lifelong friends,” said Sofia Lowe (‘25), the Alpha Xi Delta Membership Vice President.

“I’ve gotten to have a great support system of friends that will last me well beyond college years, but on top of that I get to feel like I’m part of something bigger than me and can see differences in the world around me being made,” said Kia Blysniuk (‘25), Kappa Iota Recruitment Chair. 

Navigating FSL recruitment can be nerve-wracking for PNMs, but COB is a lot less stressful than formal fall recruitment. 

“Formal fall recruitment can be pretty stressful with multiple rounds and all the sororities and fraternities throwing themselves at you all at once. I think informal recruitment is a lot more laid back, and we get to reach out to people who never even considered joining but find themselves falling in love with their organization of choice,” said Blysniuk.

A COB period also benefits FSL organizations because they have more opportunities to meet PNMs. “A benefit of informal recruitment, instead of formal recruitment, is that we are allowed to host more events. The PNMs have more opportunities to get to know us because of this. During formal rush week, we are only allowed two events per chapter. Informal recruitment doesn’t have that limit,” said Jade Harbert (’23), Zeta Sigma President.

There are many ways to get involved with FSL. “Looking out for any FSL events that are open to non-Greek students and going to… recruitment events [are great ways] to get involved with FSL. Emailing the organization’s Public Relations person is another way to get involved because they will be able to give any information you need,” said Lowe. 

FSL organizations are a lifelong commitment for many of the members. “There are many long-term benefits to joining FSL, but the big one for me is the brotherhood. I ha ve formed a relationship with my brothers that will last for the rest of our lives. After we have all graduated from Alma College, we will still be in touch,” said Harbert.

“I probably sound like a broken record, but the major benefit of joining FSL is having a group you can fall back on even after you have graduated and are long gone off this campus. I wouldn’t trade my Kappa Iota family for the world,” said Blysniuk.

Winter break: tips and tricks



With the first semester coming to an end students have to start planning for winter break. Alma College housing including residence halls, apartments and small housing closes for winter break at 5:00 pm on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. Housing will reopen at noon on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. All students are expected to leave campus for breaks unless they are approved to stay. 

If a student wishes to stay on campus over winter break, they need to fill out the break stay request form in the housing portal to request permission. The break stay request form is available and will stay open until 5:00 pm on Monday, Dec. 5. 

There are many activities students can do over the break, whether on campus or off. “Get 8 hours of sleep, maintain a regular schedule, be active, find temporary work, catch up on movies, enjoy time with friends and family, read a book, journal, learn a new hobby or connect with an old one, explore something new in your area and try a new recipe,” said Anne Lambrecht, the Associate Vice President for Student Life at Alma College.

“Honestly, my main plan for winter break is to get some long-needed rest. This semester has been my busiest at Alma so far, so taking time to relax and do things I enjoy, like hanging out with old and new friends, is my plan,” said Kylee Lary (’25)

In the 2021-22 academic year, Alma’s students had a three-week winter break. This year, students ha ve a four-week break which can have some positive and negative consequences. “I have my likes and dislikes about break being a month long. Some students, who have a healthy home life, love the long amount of time to spend with family and loved ones back home. However, for those who find more comfort and joy back in Alma, winter break can sometimes be challenging,” said Lary. 

“No matter what my environment is, I always try to take time for myself and do things available to me that I can enjoy. As much as part of me wants it to come faster so that the before-the- week-of-finals-stress can go away, I am going to miss my very close friends from Alma during this time,” said Lary.

“Having a month-long winter break can be beneficial to give students a chance to let their brain take a break after finals and finishing up things for the term. This can be a stressful time and having a break allows students time to celebrate accomplishments from the fall term and get ready both mentally and physically for the next term,” said Lambrecht. 

For students who are staying on campus, there are resources available for students to get food. “The most important thing a student can do is check “yes” on the food access question on the break stay request form. We have a new partnership with Metz this year, and they have started putting together food boxes for students who are on campus during breaks. We contact students who indicate a need, and they can pick up the boxes in Hamilton,” said Alice Kramer, Alma College’s Assistant Vice President for Student Engagement.

There are also alternative break opportunities. “I chose to go on an Alternative Break because I wanted to help others and give back to people in a worse situation than myself. I wanted to be able to have a new experience that I know would help better me as a person and give me a new perspective on life,” said Elaina Gross (’25).

“This is my first alternative break and everyone I know who has been on one has had nothing but good things to say so I am excited for what the experience will be. I don’t really know what to expect so I am excited to learn new things and build new relationships with new people,” said Gross.

Pine River Anthology accepting submissions



Alma College’s Pine River Anthology (PRA) is an award-winning juried annual publication that showcases creative works of fine art and writing. It is a collaborative product of the Art and English departments.

PRA is now accepting submissions for the 2023 publication. The theme for this year’s publication is “dichotomy” which means a division or contrast between two things that are opposed or entirely different. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 9 , 2022, at 11:59 pm.

“Pine River Anthology is a great way for emerging artists, writers and creatives to share their unique voices with a larger audience. Whether it serves as a line on your resume or is just an interesting artifact to show your friends and family, PRA is a great way to get exposure and contribute to the arts community,” said Lainie Ettema (’23), former President of PRA.

Currently, in its 70th year, PRA is a student-led organization. Their goal is to promote creativity on campus while uniting two creative mediums. They further seek to celebrate the artistic abilities of Alma College’s students. PRA encourages any student regardless of major to submit work.

PRA meets once a week to discuss themes for the publication, produce and distribute posters, create cover designs, select submissions and format the publication.

“If people are still interested in being part of the team, they are more than welcome to join. Just reach out to me, Wes, Lee or Von Wallmenich. It’s a great way to learn more about collaboration which is a crucial part of the design world. It is ideal for graphic design students, or anyone interested in design,” said Charlayne-Aye Olegario (’25), the Co-President of PRA.

PRA showcases fine art and short English works such as poetry, short stories and other short prose written by Alma College students in its annual publication.

When submitting photographs of artwork, the staff of PRA asks that the photos are evenly and well- lit, preferably with natural light and no less than 10 megapixels. The student submissions must have been created during the students’ college years. Also, for short story submissions, there is a 1000-word limit.

“If you want people to see your work, you have to be proactive in seeking out ways to be seen. The worst thing that could happen is your submission isn’t selected. It is scary to submit, yes; however, personally, knowing that I tried feels better than regret over not trying,” said Olegario.

“Getting your work published is so important because it places your ideas within a broader context that enables you to get feedback, recognition and praise. The publication is a lasting preserve of who you are and what you can do at this point in your life. Very few students have this opportunity, so take advantage of it,” said Ettema.

Last year, the theme of the publication was “Apophenia.” This is the tendency to perceive a connection or meaningful pattern between unrelated or random objects or ideas.

“Every artist or writer has a unique perspective—original thoughts, experiences and insights. Submitting work allows you to share that perspective with strangers and perhaps create a shift in how others see themselves or the world,” said Ettema.

Overall, “submitting to PRA is actually a great way to gain confidence in your art as you see how it resonates with certain individuals and contributes to a larger conversation within the publication,” said Ettema.

GOP Blocks Student Debt Relief



During his presidential campaign, President Joe Biden promised to create a plan that would provide student debt relief. The Biden Administration has recently introduced a plan providing the ability to make the student loan system more manageable for students from low and middle-income families.

Progress on this plan has been stunted by several lawsuits despite multiple lawsuits being dismissed by federal court judges

The alliance of Republican-led state attorney generals responsible for one of these lawsuits appealed the dismissal to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals after a federal District Court judge dismissed the suit. This action temporarily blocked the student debt relief plan.

One of the state attorney generals’ major legal arguments in their lawsuit against the Biden Administration’s student debt relief plan is that it is financially harmful to the states.

This is due to the state-affiliated Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) agencies which will lose revenue as a result of forgiving student debt. In order to have validity in their case, the states must show that the plan creates substantial economic harm.

“I am worried about the acts of the GOP that are aiming to stop the student debt relief plan by the Biden Administration. I believe that they are only concerned with the possible short-term economic consequences and ignoring the future of educational opportunities,” said Claire Neeb (’25).

In the last 20 years, the total cost of a four-year college education has almost tripled. According to a Department of Education analysis, the typical undergraduate student with loans now graduates with nearly $25,000 in debt. Many students from low and middle-income families have no choice but to receive federal aid if they want to get a college degree.

According to the Department of Education, almost one-third of those who received financial aid for their education have debt but have not earned a degree. Many of these students could not complete their degrees because the cost of attending college was too high.

“The student debt relief plan increases college attendees. Because of the cost of college, people have chosen to go into the trades; although those are necessary, we still need the jobs that a college education can grant like doctors, nurses and teachers. Not relieving student debt prevents the employment opportunities we need for the future,” said Neeb.

Student debt falls disproportionately onto the African American community. According to The Institute on Assets and Social Policy, twenty years after first enrolling in college, the average African American who received financial aid and started college in the 1995-96 school year still owed 95% of their original student debt.

“The student loan debt relief will carry a significant price tag. However, it also will relieve all student loan debt for a significant number of lower-income earners, which will create positive economic benefits,” said Dr. Hulme, professor of political science.   

To guarantee an easy transition to repayment and prevent unnecessary defaults, the Biden Administration extended the pause on federal student loan repayment one final time through Dec. 31, 2022. Those who have student debt should expect to resume their payments in January of 2023.

For more information on student debt relief visit the White House’s website.

Winter sports introduced by Throwdown in A-Town



It is that time of year again in Alma where winter sports are starting up. To hype up the students for the new sports season, Alma College introduces the Winter Sports teams by kicking off the season with the Throwdown in A-Town.

This year’s Throwdown was on Thursday Oct. 20 from 9pm to 11pm in the Art Smith Arena.

Going to the Throwdown in A-Town is a great way for Alma College’s students to show their excitement for the winter sports season and support Alma College Winter Athletics. Students had the chance to win prizes, participate in a raffle and see entertainment from some of our winter sports.

“The first 100 students  [received] a door prize, Spirit Squad, Dance, and Cheer/STUNT [performed], the men’s basketball team  [did] a dunk contest, the women’s basketball team [did] a 3-point shooting competition and the remainder of winter sports [had to] compete in a competition.”

“Throughout the event we [gave] out prizes, and students [had] the opportunity to enter a raffle to shoot a half-court shot for a TV”, said Kiana Verdugo, the Associate Athletic Director at Alma College.

During the Throwdown, the student athletes introduce their teams, performed and engaged in some lighthearted competition.

“I am most excited about the pre-game portion of the Throwdown….It also means that it is the start of our season”, said Alina Malinowski (’23), a member of Alma College’s Spirit Squad.

The Throwdown in A-town has occurred for the last 10 years at Alma College. “Throwdown in A-Town is a kickoff to the winter sports seasons and aims to generate excitement and support on campus. It is modeled after Midnight Madness that a lot of other schools do”, said Verdugo.

Student athletes get a chance to show their support for one another at the Throwdown.

“I’m really looking forward to being able to perform again! Seeing all the support from other teams means so much! Last year, I remember being able to feel the excitement and unconditional support from my fellow student athletes throughout the whole event”, said Ella Squier (’25), a member of the Alma College Dance Team.

At this year’s Throwdown, Alma College’s Women’s Basketball Team won the 3-point shooting competition and received Alma College merch as a prize.

The TV raffle was not won, so there will be an opportunity for that to be offered at an upcoming Alma College Basketball game. To find more information regarding this year’s Basketball game schedule, visit

The student athletes really enjoyed the Throwdown in A-Town this year and are already pumped for the Throwdowns in the years to come.

“My favorite memory was the hip-hop performance with the Dance Team. Seeing the students, coaches, and professors get excited and smile while we were dancing meant so much. I think this event is a ton of fun and I hope it continues past even my four years here”, said Squier.

“My favorite part of Throwdown was the head, knees, shoulders, and cup game. It’s fun to see other sports teams get competitive with one another. The last round is always my favorite because the crowd gets so excited and involved”, said Hanna Scott ’23, a member of the Alma College Dance Team.

Alma College offers fall alternative breaks




As the first academic break of the year is coming around the corner from Oct. 13 to Oct. 16, most of Alma College’s students are getting ready to go back home to see their families, friends and pets.

However, there are some students who may be interested in other opportunities to fill their Fall Break. For the students that are interested in an alternative option, Alma College offers a variety of different opportunities to participate in.

Fall Alternative Breaks have been offered through Alma College since 2003. They have gained more popularity each year among students and faculty alike.

These Fall Alternative Break opportunities are a great way for students to become more involved. They allow students to make a difference within the Alma community and the greater Gratiot community.

“What I like seeing in the volunteers that I have worked with is seeing people willing to take time out of their schedule to address a need in our community,” said Katherine Garlock, the AmeriCorps VISTA member for Food Security at Alma College.

There are four Alternative Break opportunities available for the 2022 Fall Recess: Food Security with the Gratiot Community Garden and Greater Lansing Food Bank, Environmental Stewardship with the Friends of the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail, LGBTQ+ Support with the Gratiot Gender Affirming Closet and Disability Support with Day Dreams Inc.

The Food Security Alternative Break with the Gratiot Community Garden and Greater Lansing Food Bank will work to alleviate food insecurity within the mid-Michigan area.

In this alternative break, students can expect active outdoor work completing end-of-season maintenance at the Community Garden. This will include garden take down, as well as sorting donations and assisting with food distributions to the Gratiot community.

“20% of Gratiot County is living in poverty, and hunger does not end after going to a food pantry a few times. We need volunteers who are willing to work and encourage their peers to engage with the community on a weekly basis,” said Garlock.

The Environmental Stewardship Alternative Break with the Friends of the Fred Meyer Heartland Trail will include service to and upkeep of the Fred Meyer Heartland Trail in Gratiot County. This break would be a perfect opportunity for students who love the outdoors and being active.

The LGBTQ+ Support Alternative Break will include sorting, washing and organizing clothing and accessory donations for the Gender Affirming Closet at Alma College. This alternative break seeks to provide gender-affirming clothing and accessories to the Gratiot County community.

“I am volunteering for the gender-affirming closet because I want to be a part of minimizing gender dysphoria on campus, and the clothes that we wear often have a hand in shaping how others perceive us and how we feel about our own identities. The closet offers students a place to find clothes that fit their preferred identity to lessen this dysphoria,” said Sophie Flater (’23).

The Disability Support Alternative Break will involve sorting donations and organizing merchandise at the Dream Works Resale Shoppe. This is a non-profit organization that was established to provide and support occupational and social opportunities for adults with disabilities. Students who sign up for this alternative break will aid them with that mission.

To sign up and find more information regarding this year’s Alternative Break opportunities, visit Registration is open now.

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