In the news

News outlet logo for favicons/freep.com.png

Will Fourth of July ever be the same? Not if we're fortunate enough to evolve as a nation

According to Kidada Williams, associate professor of history at Wayne State University, African Americans have a history of revering the Declaration of Independence, the document that inspired the day of "pomp and parade" that its signer John Adams predicted back in 1776. With its epic statement that "all men are created equal," the declaration represents "the guarantee all Americans are supposed to enjoy," said Williams. In a year of pandemic and protest, this Fourth of July also can be a time of reflection that unites everyone with the empathy to see that we are all in this together, whether it's stopping the spread of the virus or stopping racism in a substantive way. Said Wayne State's Williams: "I celebrate the Fourth. ... I do it with a heavy heart this year because of the pandemic and the police killings. But what I know as a descendant of enslaved people (is) that even with all of the criticisms I have for the U.S.'s failure to completely live up to the national creed, I honor and respect what the nation has done in terms of making good." Williams sees the day as a chance to take action. It could be filling out a 2020 census form to help your community get its fair share of funding or making sure you're registered to vote or even vowing to run for a local government office. "Who do we want to be as a people, as a community of people, as a nation?" she asks. "It can't just be let's feel good about ourselves."
News outlet logo for favicons/cnn.com.png

The kid next door: Neighborhood friendships on a comeback amid the coronavirus pandemic

Julie Wargo Aikins, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences, Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute, wrote this piece earlier for The Conversation. “Children's social worlds have been upended by the suspension of school and extracurricular activities due to the pandemic. Many older children and adolescents have been able to maintain their friendships over social media. But, for younger children, this approach is less likely to be available to them and less likely to meet their social needs. In some places, a silver lining of Covid-19 may well be the resurgence of childhood friendships in American neighborhoods.”
News outlet logo for favicons/forbes.com.png

Feeling anxious about wearing a mask? Here are 5 ways to overcome it

Feeling anxious about wearing a mask is actually a normal physiologic reaction. Jennifer M. Gómez, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for Child & Family Development at Wayne State University says our bodies detect when we are not getting the resources we need to survive and one of those resources is air. Even though wearing a mask does not put a person in danger of actually suffocating, Gómez says the mask will tell our body, “Hey! I think there’s something bad here that’s interrupting breathing! Danger is afoot!” Our body will then respond by hyperventilating, becoming anxious, or panicking to alert us that there could be a problem, in this case trouble breathing, to cause us to do something about it. Our reaction is intended to save our lives and is actually what our body is supposed to do. Gómez notes, however, that the problem lies with the fact that the mask is tricking our body and we aren’t actually in danger of getting less oxygen by wearing a mask. This is only worsened by the fact that we actually can easily remove the mask to breathe in all of the air we want. In other words, Gómez says, “your body is responding like your fire alarm in your house does when the kitchen gets too smokey but there's no fire. It's a false alarm.”
News outlet logo for favicons/theconversation.com.png

Fireworks can torment veterans and survivors of gun violence with PTSD – here’s how to celebrate with respect for those who served

Arash Javanbakht, associate professor of psychiatry, wrote an article for The Conversation about celebrating the Fourth of July with respect to individuals with PTSD. “For some combat veterans, the Fourth of July is not a time to celebrate the independence of the country they love. Instead, the holiday is a terrifying ordeal. That’s because the noise of fireworks – loud, sudden, and reminiscent of war – rocks their nervous system. Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans. This reaction is not unique to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Also affected are millions of others, including civilians, refugees, and first responders. As a psychiatrist who specializes in trauma and PTSD, I urge you not to overdo an act which causes so much suffering for so many of your fellow Americans.”
News outlet logo for favicons/freep.com.png

Stopping another Edenville requires more than a panel of experts | Opinion

Jim Townsend, director of the Levin Center at Wayne State’s Law School, and Kristin Taylor, associate professor of political science wrote an op-ed about the failure of the Edenville and Sanford dams in Michigan. “In response to public pressure, the Whitmer Administration last week appointed a panel of technical experts tasked with getting to the bottom of how the Edenville and Sanford dams in mid-Michigan failed and how this kind of catastrophe can be prevented in the future. Relying solely on technical experts, as the governor’s panel appears to do, should generate valuable technical findings and warnings about the dangers we face. But confronting and solving the problems that led to this disaster requires a clear-eyed look at the various government entities that failed to act and the inadequacy of the public engagement process led by the lawmakers elected to do that job. A panel of independent experts is surely preferable to the internal investigation first called for by the Governor in her May 27 executive order. Although the appointees have decades of experience designing dams and analyzing why they fail, a panel comprised only of scientific experts is unlikely to shed light on the intergovernmental failures that allowed private dam owners to skate by for 25 years after federal regulators first identified significant flaws in the dams’ designs.”
News outlet logo for favicons/crainsdetroit.com.png

Why corporate America needs to move beyond lip service

In the wake of nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice toward Black Americans, corporate America has reengaged its efforts to diversify its workforce. Diversity and inclusion is not a new topic, and companies have talked about expanding a pipeline of diverse talent, particularly Black talent, for decades. This is critical in Southeast Michigan and Detroit, where 77 percent of the city's residents are Black. Black workers struggle to reach the halls of upper management. The result is a pipeline of young, diverse talent that enters but strives to leave in short order. Prejudice and racism have Black employees frustrated, with 35 percent of Black professionals intending to leave their job within two years, compared to 27 percent of white professionals, according to a December 2019 study, "Being Black in Corporate America," by New York think tank Center for Talent Innovation. "You have to be identity conscious, not identity blind," said Bertie Greer, the associate dean for strategy and planning and an associate professor of global supply chain management at Wayne State University. "Companies want to do everything they can to attract diverse talent, but then do nothing to retain them. You can't have a limited number of minorities and then want to treat them like everyone else. The experiences and situations the minority is having is different. The truth is you may have to do something different; you'll never see it if you're not conscious to the identity of that person in the workplace."
News outlet logo for favicons/usnews.com.png

Students at Michigan universities turn to summer classes

Students at Michigan's public universities are registering for summer courses online at record rates, marking an unexpected windfall for several schools strapped for cash due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nine of the 10 institutions that shared data with the Detroit Free Press projected a year-over-year growth in summer enrollment, with two-thirds of these schools anticipating a boost of at least 4% for one or more of their summer periods. At Wayne State University, only about a third of spring/summer credit hours are normally taken online. With nearly all instruction shifting virtually in light of social-distancing guidelines, participation is up nearly 6%.
News outlet logo for favicons/cnn.com.png

Excessive hand-washing. Tech addiction. Behaviors once considered extreme are now crucial to protect us amid a dangerous pandemic.

David Rosenberg, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience, wrote an article for The Conversation. “One of the hallmarks of obsessive-compulsive disorder is contamination fears and excessive hand-washing. Years ago, a patient with severe OCD came to my office wearing gloves and a mask and refused to sit on any of the “contaminated” chairs. Now, these same behaviors are accepted and even encouraged to keep everyone healthy. This new normal in the face of a deadly pandemic has permeated our culture and will continue to influence it. 
News outlet logo for favicons/hourdetroit.com.png

Wayne State Professor Melba Boyd on George Floyd and the future of policing

Melba Boyd is a native Detroiter and a distinguished professor in the department of African-American Studies at Wayne State University. An award-winning author of 13 books, her poetry, essays, and creative nonfiction have appeared in anthologies, academic journals, cultural periodicals, and newspapers in the United States and Europe. Today (Thursday) at noon, Boyd will be joining other community leaders for Wayne State University’s George Floyd in America: Black Detroiters on George Floyd event. The virtual event is part of a new series — called George Floyd in America — that is presented by the university’s Office of the Provost, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Law School, Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Prior to the event, Hour Detroit spoke with Boyd about the ongoing protests, how the country has responded to the killing of George Floyd, and the future of policing.
News outlet logo for favicons/chalkbeat.org.png

Pandemic paychecks: Meet these Detroit-area teen essential workers

When you’re an essential worker and a high school student learning online during a pandemic, life can be difficult to balance. The shift to online learning that students across the nation had to deal with was a difficult one. Teens have filled essential roles during the pandemic, keeping restaurants open for people who need it. Often, they’re also helping keep their families afloat, which is important when you consider how many jobs have been lost during the pandemic. In Michigan, the unemployment rate soared to 24% in April, up from 4.3% in March. Marick Masters, a Wayne State University professor specializing in labor markets, said the money teens earn from after-school jobs is “money that they can contribute to the family, for the food bill, the transportation bill, and other incidentials that come into play and can relieve the parents from the obligation of doing that. It is an overlooked aspect, that they are contributors to the family, and that is something that households really depend upon,” Masters said.
News outlet logo for favicons/detroitnews.com.png

GM appeals order for Barra, Manley to settle racketeering suit against FCA

General Motors Co. on Friday asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit to vacate a federal judge's June 23 order and reassign its racketeering lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. U.S. District Judge Paul Borman on Tuesday called the high-stakes litigation "a waste of time and resources," and took the unusual step of ordering the companies' two CEOs to meet without legal counsel within the next week to reach a "sensible" resolution — and to report the results to him at noon, July 1. The action suggests GM is hopeful the suit will not be dismissed and will go into the discovery phase where more information related to the case could be disclosed, said Peter Henning, a former federal prosecutor and law professor at Wayne State University. Judges don’t always like RICO lawsuits," Henning said. "They're very complex, and it requires that you show a pattern of racketeering activity. GM has pointed to the various corruption prosecutions of the different senior FCA leaders. I don’t expect to see GM backing down."
News outlet logo for favicons/thejewishnews.com.png

Jewish legal experts weigh in on DACA decision

A June 20 Supreme Court decision invalidates the Trump administration’s attempt to rescind DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). For now, these immigrants — the “dreamers” — have retained the protections of DACA. Five years later, on Sept. 5, 2017, Elaine Duke, acting secretary of Homeland Security in the Trump administration, issued a memorandum that “terminated the program.” The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found that Duke provided insufficient explanation for terminating the program. Duke’s successor as secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen M. Nielsen, then provided additional reasoning for rescinding DACA. On June 20, 2020, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the Court, ruled that the efforts to end DACA were still “arbitrary and capricious,” and so DACA remains in force. Tim Moran, senior lecturer at the Irvin D. Reid Honors College of Wayne State University, cautions that “when the Supreme Court issues an opinion, it’s not because they ‘side with’ any particular issue. They examine the law and decide whether the law has been followed correctly.” The majority of the court decided the case as a narrow question of the Administrative Procedures Act. The executive cannot simply overturn an administrative rule without providing a sufficient rationale. Justice Roberts, joined by the liberal justices, found that Duke’s memorandum offered an “arbitrary and capricious” rationale, and that Nielsen’s later additions could not remedy that original lack. The decision, however, rests on a procedural question. Robert Sedler, professor of constitutional law at Wayne State University Law School, notes that Chief Justice Roberts here follows “the operative principle: Decide cases on the narrowest possible ground.”

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, UM and Wayne State alum, pledges $13M to fight racism

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross pledged an additional $13 million over four years to his anti-racism RISE initiative, the organization said Friday. The Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality was established five years ago to promote unity and combat systemic racism. RISE says it has helped 12,000 students, athletes, coaches and staff at all levels to help champion social justice and improve race relations. Ross, a Michigan native and University of Michigan and Wayne State alumnus, has now committed $30 million to RISE.
News outlet logo for favicons/freep.com.png

Michigan university students flock to virtual summer classes

Students at Michigan’s public universities are filling their summers with online coursework at record rates — marking an unexpected windfall for several schools strapped for cash as the coronavirus pandemic transforms campus activities. Nine of the 10 institutions that shared data with the Free Press projected year-over-year growth in summer enrollment. Two-thirds of these schools anticipate a boost of at least 4% for one or more of their summer periods. At Wayne State University, only about a third of “spring/summer” credit hours — scheduled for May through August — are normally taken online, according to Registrar Kurt Kruschinska. This term, with nearly all instruction shifting to virtual in light of social-distancing guidelines, participation is up nearly 6%. Dawn Medley, the school’s associate vice president of enrollment management, said she thinks these “pretty amazing numbers” are especially driven by incoming freshmen. Wayne State recently launched its Kick Start College program, which is slated to give around 700 new students a chance to get ahead on their graduation requirements with a free class. The offering is particularly geared toward helping students prepare for the possibility of virtual learning come fall. “The courses are designed to launch them into and make sure that they are successful and comfortable in an online or virtually distant environment,” Medley said. “And that's why we selected English and the communication course — so that students would gain those foundational skills as we look to fall, and as we look to what our fall semester may look like.”
News outlet logo for favicons/theconversation.com.png

Why safely reopening high school sports is going to be a lot harder than opening college and pro ball

Tamara Hew-Butler, associate professor of exercise and sports science, and Phillip D. Levy, assistant vice president for translational science and clinical research innovation, wrote an article for The Conversation about reopening school and club sports amidst the pandemic. “Along with the revival of professional sports comes the yearning for a return to amateur sports – high school, college and club. Governing officials are now offering guidance as to when and how to resume play. However, lost in the current conversation is how schools and club sports with limited resources can safely reopen. As an exercise scientist who studies athlete health and an emergency medicine physician who leads Michigan’s COVID-19 mobile testing unit, we wish to empower athletes, coaches and parents by sharing information related to the risks of returning to play without COVID-19 testing. This includes blood tests to see if athletes have already had COVID-19 plus nasal swabs to test for the active SARS-CoV-2 virus. Regular COVID-19 testing on all athletes may seem like overkill, but the current tally of 150 collegiate athletes, mostly football players, who have tested positive for COVID-19 grows longer by the day.”
News outlet logo for favicons/forbes.com.png

How to stay informed, but protect your mental health

A recent survey conducted by Newsy determined that 49% of Americans ranked at least a 6 out of 10 on a scale of how fearful they are of a coronavirus outbreak. That number varied by which news network they watched daily (5.47, for Fox News, was the lowest, and 6.88 for MSNBC was the highest) and the amount of time spent watching each network. In general, the more hours someone spent watching the news, the higher levels of fear they had (though it was not always significant). Perhaps that has something to do with our tendency to pay more attention to negative news. We also saw this after 9/11. In one study, the amount of time spent watching television was directly correlated with the severity of symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. Jennifer M. Gómez, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for Child & Family Development at Wayne State University says that while we generally “need” to be informed, we do not “need” to have our sleep interrupted, to watch videos of violence and murder, or to only know of the bad things that are happening in the world. In fact, she believes we watch and keep watching, in some way looking for hope or positive news, especially currently. She adds, “the need for hope is perhaps stronger than any other need we think we have for staying informed.”
News outlet logo for favicons/dbusiness.com.png

Wayne State University part of $4M grant to continue studying high energy nuclear physics

A study led by physicists and computer scientists at Wayne State University and other institutions received a renewal grant of more than $4 million from the National Science Foundation to continue studying elements of high energy nuclear physics. The team of researchers from 13 institutions is working to create an open-source statistical and computational software to help scientists better understand high energy nuclear collisions in a project called the Jetscape collaboration. The renewed grant will be awarded over four years. “This renewal will allow the Jetscape tool to broaden and evolve into a much more elaborate simulator (which we refer to as X-SCAPE), which could be applied to a variety of future experiments, such as at FAIR in Germany and the Electron-Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Lab,” says Abhijit Majumder, a WSU physics professor, lead investigator, and an expert in the development of theoretical techniques for understanding the dynamics of high-energy nuclear collisions. “This will bring all high energy nuclear experiments under a single simulation umbrella, allowing for a cross-pollination of ideas between different experiments.”
News outlet logo for favicons/newsweek.com.png

The Black Lives Matter protests are running on much more than anger | Opinion

Dr. Jennifer Gomez, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and an expert in the impact of violence on black and other minority youth and young adults, had this to say about the Black Lives Matter protests. "The tragedies that we're witnessing are neither new nor isolated. And, of note, they haven't stopped, even though videos have made it possible for the world to be watching and condemning the government-sanctioned violence against black people in the U.S. The difference is this moral elevation, this action-oriented hope, that has resulted in so many of us coming together to fight for justice. And, at long last, for some of us to finally listen and bear witness to the anti-black hate and violence that so many of us for so many years have been sharing without being believed." Gomez explained that as a black feminist trauma psychologist, she sees moral elevation often. "What should be completely depressing engenders action-oriented hope," she said. "When truth of depravity is finally acknowledged, we discover avenues for enacting change on large and small scales. Witnessing those actions in ourselves and others gives us this moral elevation that makes life worthier of living."