Community in the news

News outlet logo for favicons/wilx.com.png

Jackson College and Wayne State University set to partner in new equity initiative

Jackson College is partnering with Wayne State University to place effort into Equity Transfer Initiative (ETI). This Equity Transfer Initiative is led by the American Association of Community Colleges to improve transfer success. This is to help students who may face barriers when it comes to transferring from community colleges to universities. The two-year Equity Transfer Initiative awards up to $27,500 to partnerships to increase transfer and completion for underrepresented student populations, including African American, Hispanic, adult, and first-generation students. “I’m delighted that Jackson College is one of 16 higher education partnerships chosen nationally to participate in this project. This forward-looking project is designed to enhance the academic completion of under-represented students and ensure their successful transfer to a baccalaureate-granting institution – in our case, Wayne State University,” said Dr. Daniel J. Phelan, president. “We are deeply grateful to Dr. Ahmad Ezzeddine from Wayne State for his leadership and partnership in this important work.”
News outlet logo for favicons/detroitnews.com.png

Opinion: COVID-19 vaccine is a game-changer that can stop the pandemic

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson, Michigan State President Samuel L. Stanley Jr.,  and University of Michigan President Mark S. Schlissel wrote an op-ed regarding the COVID-19 vaccine as a means to stop the pandemic. “As presidents of the three major public research universities that make up Michigan’s University Research Corridor — Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University — we’ve been on the front lines of battling the COVID-19 pandemic. URC researchers have worked to develop tests, treat the virus and create vaccines. We’re training thousands of physicians, nurses and other health care workers in dealing with the virus. We’re helping educators, business owners and government officials deal with the challenges of COVID-19. As COVID-19 case counts continue to rise across the United States, getting everyone possible vaccinated as soon as enough doses are available is vital to stopping this pandemic, reviving our national economy and getting children and college students back to in-person school. The alternative is what we have now: high caseloads that are overwhelming our hospitals and health care workers, and millions of students able to attend classes only online. Our economy will continue to falter and layoffs will increase as the coronavirus makes it unsafe to shop and dine as we normally do. Family gatherings and large meetings will remain off limits or, if held, become potential superspreader events.”
News outlet logo for favicons/marketscreener.com.png

Wayne State University: DTE Energy Foundation awards $330,000 to fund scholarships for Wayne State University Latino/a and Latin-American Studies students

The Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (CLLAS) at Wayne State University today announced the DTE Energy Foundation awarded a $330,000 grant that will fund scholarships to open doors for students from underrepresented communities through the DTE Energy Foundation/MiHC Scholarship. This grant is the DTE Foundation's latest commitment to CLLAS, which provides equitable access to quality university education for students interested in U.S. Latino/a and Latin-American cultural studies while enhancing diversity on campus. 'We are so grateful to the DTE Energy Foundation for this historic gift to our Center to support deserving students driven to succeed,' said Dr. Victor Figueroa, acting director, CLLAS. 'With these funds, our students can prioritize their path toward a college degree.'
News outlet logo for favicons/wdet.org.png

What it’s like to get the COVID-19 vaccine

Mustapha Al-shorbaji is a nursing student at Wayne State University. He sits in the lobby of the Campus Health Center with a black mask on, waiting to get a COVID-19 vaccine. “As soon as I was presented the opportunity, I took the first appointment I could get to come here,” says Al-shorbaji. Wayne State University began offering the vaccine to medical students and faculty with clinical rotations on January 7. That’s how Al-shorbaji found himself among the first people in the country to be given the chance to be inoculated against the coronavirus. In addition to frontline health care workers, vaccinations throughout Michigan have been given to some people in long-term care facilities, police officers, bus drivers, K-12 teachers, postal workers, people over the age of 65 and others. Eligibility varies depending on where people live, work, or go to the doctor. As of January 19, according to data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, about 75,800 people in Michigan have received at least the first dose of the vaccine. In a state that’s estimated to have roughly 8 million people age 16 and up (according to the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey), that means less than 1% of the population has been vaccinated.
News outlet logo for favicons/wdet.org.png

The lessons other Democracies can teach our own

On this Inauguration Day, all Americans are faced with some grave questions about the past four years and where we’re headed as a nation deeply divided. So many of us are learning just how fragile democracy can be. But clearly, we’re not the first country to learn these lessons. Former Wayne State University President Irvin D. Reid has been exploring democracies in Africa, what sustains them, and what threatens them. He’s the producer and narrator of the upcoming documentary, “African Democracy: Hopes and Challenges.” He’ll be talking about his work on this subject Thursday at 6 p.m. as part of a Wayne State University virtual Knowledge on Tap event, which will be moderated by Wayne State University Irvin D. Reid Honors College Dean John Corvino. Reid says the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol represents a grave challenge for democracy here in America. But he says other countries have demonstrated ways we can work toward addressing the issues that led to the riot. “We need to have a commission after what happened two weeks ago,” he says. “Somebody has to do some sort of reconciliation, some sort of truth-telling about how did that come about.” Corvino will moderate Thursday’s event. He says it’s a timely discussion as Americans realize that a functioning democracy is not guaranteed. “We think we’re so advanced,” says Corvino. “Democracy is a fragile thing, and I think we’re realizing that now.”
News outlet logo for favicons/bridgedetroit.com.png

Opinion | I’m a Black doctor. Here’s why we all should take the COVID vaccine

Dr. Herbert C. Smitherman Jr., vice dean of diversity and community affairs and a professor of medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine, wrote an opinion piece discussing why we all should take the COVID vaccine. “The pace at which African Americans are dying has transformed this national health crisis into an abject lesson on racial and class inequality. African-Americans are more likely to die of COVID-19 than any other ethnic group in the nation. That’s why Black Americans — and all Americans — must be vaccinated against COVID. As an African-American male, I all too well understand the current mistreatment and the historic abuse of Black people in the United States. However, we as Americans, including all communities of color need to separate science from the recent political administration’s antics and society’s construct of race. There is only one race, the human race. Coronavirus is disproportionately killing people of color, not because of race but because of centuries of negative, oppressive and disparate social, economic, political, and health policies that result in disparate and inequitable living conditions in our society.”
News outlet logo for favicons/wjct.org.png

From 1963 to 2021, Detroit’s struggle for civil rights spans decades and generations

Melba Boyd is a lifelong Detroit resident and distinguished professor of African American Studies at Wayne State University. Boyd has seen Detroit through its many forms and leadership. She had just graduated high school and was preparing to go to school at Western Michigan University when the Detroit 1967 Rebellion broke out. “The ‘67 rebellion was a critical moment in Detroit history and certainly in my own memory as a Detroiter. The incident was sparked as a consequence of an encounter with the police and these encounters were very frequent, unfortunately, and were almost always directed at people of color,” Boyd said. Almost a year after the ‘67 Rebellion, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. As a young academic, this event directed her course of study and her interest in activism. “I’ll always remember that, because two days before [King] was killed, I turned 18, and in terms of my adult life, it really set forth you know what I was going to be about and eventually activism and academia have been my purpose,” Boyd said. 
News outlet logo for favicons/secondwavemedia.com.png

Michigan grapples with COVID-19's disproportionate impact on people of color's mental health

COVID-19 has taken a toll on mental health in Michigan and across the world, but new Wayne State University research shows that burden has been heaviest for people of color. WSU researchers Peter Lichtenberg and Wassim Tarraf are examining how race, employment, and socioeconomic status intersect with pandemic-related stress, depression and anxiety. They've used U.S. census data to identify individuals to poll every two weeks about how their mental health has changed throughout the pandemic. "The findings that we have are pretty concerning," Tarraf says. "What we see through the data is a large percent of individuals who do report that they have mental health issues. What’s also concerning is these rates of mental health issues have remained stable over time. … People are not adapting and there are not enough tools for helping them reduce that level of stress. It is worth mentioning that rates are higher for people of color than those reported among whites." Lichtenberg and Tarraf also took stock of the social determinants of health that are affecting their subjects' mental health. "Food insecurity and job loss really stood out to us," Lichtenberg says. "65% of people with food insecurity had mental health issues. The numbers were similar for job loss in the household during the time of COVID-19."
News outlet logo for favicons/michiganradio.org.png

Former prosecutor and journalist weigh in on the significance of Flint water crisis charges

Noah Hall, a professor of law at Wayne State University, served as special assistant attorney general for the initial investigation of state officials regarding the water crisis. He said he felt the investigation he was part of had made promising progress in court, so when Nessel’s team announced they would shut down existing cases and start anew, he was frustrated and skeptical. But now, he says, he knows he was wrong. “It looks today like my skepticism was not justified and Attorney General Nessel came through on what she promised, which was, when she shut down our investigation and terminated us — myself included — she really was building back a better investigation that was going to do more work and go even further with developing charges. And it looks like that’s exactly what’s happened over the past two years,” Hall said. Snyder faces two misdemeanor charges of willful neglect of duty, for which he has pleaded not guilty. But other former officials face more serious charges, including former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director Nick Lyon and the state’s former Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eden Wells, who have both been charged with nine felony counts of involuntary manslaughter. Hall says these new charges likely draw on decisions the Snyder Administration made back in 2012 and 2013, which set in motion the changes in Flint’s water supply that led to use of the Flint River with a lack of corrosion control. Some critics of the recent charges argue that government leaders and public servants, due to the nature of their jobs, should be permitted some benefit of the doubt, as they may have been using their best judgment to make decisions with the information that was available to them at the time. But Hall says that’s not what he thinks happened in the Flint water crisis, based on his knowledge from the initial investigation. “This was not a simple case of government officials doing the best they could and making a mistake. Quite the opposite,” he said. “These were government officials who intended to advance an agenda, and in advancing that agenda, threatened and ultimately harmed human life.”
News outlet logo for favicons/bridgemi.com.png

Michigan is divided. These 7 reforms can curb partisanship, fix government

Fresh off one of the most partisan years ever, 2021 is off to a combative start as politicians continue to squabble and protesters plan armed demonstrations despite bipartisan calls for unity and healing. “Part of the way to reduce partisanship is to create a system where people aren't terrified of being more bipartisan in their political career,” said Marjorie Sarbaugh-Thompson, a political science professor at Wayne State University. On a smaller scale, Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature could promote bipartisanship by giving Democrats a more significant role in legislative oversight committees, according to researchers at Wayne State University. “If you have very small margins… you can control a legislature and you can really run it like some sort of dictatorship,” said Sarbaugh-Thompson. “And as has happened at the national level, oversight tends to be driven by partisanship.” The basic promise of ranked-choice voting is that if a voter’s preferred candidate finishes last or is eliminated from contention, their second choice is counted instead, giving them a continued voice in the outcome of an election. Experts say there is some evidence that such a system can reduce partisanship by encouraging more diverse candidates and alliances with third parties rather than allowing politicians to simply court their bases. “In the current system, especially in multi-candidate races, you end up attacking the person who’s closest to you, in a way, because you can more easily get their voters,” said Kevin Deegan-Krause, a political science professor at Wayne State University who is working with a group called Rank MI Vote on a potential statewide ballot initiative. “With ranked choice voting, you really have an incentive to actually be as nice as you can to the candidate next to you so that you can try and pull their voters over to you,” he said.
News outlet logo for favicons/theconversation.com.png

How can America heal from the Trump era? Lessons from Germany’s transformation into a prosperous democracy after Nazi rule

Sylvia Taschka, senior lecturer of history, wrote a piece for The Conversation about the post Trump era. “Comparisons between the United States under Trump and Germany during the Hitler era are once again being made following the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Even in the eyes of German history scholars like myself, who had earlier warned of the troubling nature of such analogies, Trump’s strategy to remain in power has undeniably proved that he has fascist traits. True to the fascist playbook, which includes hypernationalism, the glorification of violence and a fealty to anti-democratic leaders that is cultlike, Trump launched a conspiracy theory that the recent election was rigged and incited violence against democratically elected representatives of the American people. This is not to say that Trump has suddenly emerged as a new Hitler. The German dictator’s lust for power was inextricably linked to his racist ideology, which unleashed a global, genocidal war. For Trump, the need to satisfy his own ego seems to be the major motivation of his politics.”
News outlet logo for favicons/wnem.com.png

Law professor: First Amendment doesn’t apply to Trump Twitter ban

Twitter and Facebook suspended the social media accounts of President Donald Trump last week over concerns his messages could incite further violence like the siege on the U.S. Capitol. The president and his allies quickly accused the platforms of silencing free speech. A law expert said the First Amendment doesn’t protect Trump. "In terms of whether they have the power to tell President Trump, ‘sorry we think you've broken our rules, you're booted off.’ They absolutely have the power to do that," said Jonathan Weinberg, professor and associate dean of research at Wayne State University Law School. He said Twitter is well within its legal right to ban Trump from its platform. The same goes for Amazon and others who essentially shut down Parler. "It gets to choose who it does business with and who it doesn't," Weinberg said. He said these actions do not violate anyone's First Amendment rights. "What the law says about your First Amendment rights run against governments,” he said. “They don't run against private companies." Weinberg said in a twist of irony, it was Trump and Republicans who got rid of net neutrality. Weinberg said net neutrality was designed to give people more rights to prevent being silenced by powerful media companies. "The moment President Trump got into office, the Republicans swept that all away,” he said. “They said, 'that's crazy. That's awful. That's communism. Government shouldn't be telling private companies what to do.'"
News outlet logo for favicons/theconversation.com.png

A brief history of the term ‘president-elect’ in the United States

Mark Satta, assistant professor of philosophy, wrote an article for The Conversation offering perspective on the term president-elect. “On Jan. 20, Joe Biden will be sworn in as president of the United States. Until then, he is president-elect of the United States. But what exactly does it mean to be president-elect of the United States? As a lawyer and philosopher who studies word meaning, I have researched the meaning and history of the term “president-elect” using publicly available resources like the Corpus of Historical American English – a searchable database of over 400 million words of historical American English text. I’ve also used Founders Online, which makes freely available many documents written by the nation’s founders. “President-elect” is not a term that is legally defined in U.S. law. Rather, the term’s meaning has developed over time through its use by the public. Its use can be traced all the way back to George Washington.”  
News outlet logo for favicons/theconversation.com.png

Federal leaders have two options if they want to rein in Trump

Kirsten Carlson, associate professor of law and adjunct associate professor of political science, wrote an article for the Conversation.” As the world reacts to the Jan. 6 armed attack on the U.S. Capitol encouraged by President Donald Trump, many Americans are wondering what happens next. Members of Congress, high-level officials and even major corporations and business groups have called for Trump’s removal from office. Prominent elected and appointed officials appear to have already sidelined Trump informally. Vice President Mike Pence was reportedly the highest-level official to review the decision to call out the D.C. National Guard to respond to the assault on the Capitol. Informal actions like this may continue, but political leaders are considering more formal options as well. They have two ways to handle it: impeachment and the 25th Amendment.”
News outlet logo for favicons/wdet.org.png

Vaccinations begin at Wayne State University

Wayne State University has begun issuing COVID-19 vaccines to medical students and faculty who work on the frontlines. The plan is to inoculate 120 people per day with Moderna and Pfizer vaccines which are being supplied by the Detroit Health Department. “Right now we have people who have been categorized as essential. Those are individuals who are actually touching patients in the hospital,” says Dr. Toni Grant, the Chief Nursing Officer at the Wayne State University Campus Health Center, where the vaccinations are taking place. Grant says these essential workers were emailed a survey to see if they were interested in receiving the vaccination. Those who said they wanted the shot and are eligible for it are being emailed specific instructions on how to schedule an appointment. These emails are coming out in batches, so some may not be able to make their appointment for a couple of weeks. Bill Fulson is a clinical nursing instructor with Wayne State who came into the Health Center to get the vaccine. He says he doesn’t feel any anxiety about receiving the vaccine. “I have no reason to feel not confident,” says Fulson. “I’ve been nursing for 40-something years. So you know when to do things and when not to do things. And this is a must-do for a medical professional.” Grant says the vaccinations are a great opportunity for the Wayne State community. “We’re in the midst of a pandemic but this is also something that none of us have ever gone through before,” she says. ”And to actually see what research and science can do in order to get us through to this particular point, it’s exciting because it’s students, faculty and staff together and able to experience it firsthand.”
News outlet logo for favicons/mitechnews.com.png

Wayne State STEM Innovation Learning Center opens

The STEM Innovation Learning Center (SILC) is a signature component of Wayne State University’s vision for STEM education through multi-disciplinary learning and community engagement that will build upon WSU’s vision for inclusive innovation across campus. Built with emphasis on technology-rich, collaboration, and “science-on-display” spaces, SILC brings a centralized STEM-focused academic facility to the heart of WSU’s campus – within steps of chemistry, biology, engineering, and physics buildings, as well as the iconic learning spaces of Science Hall and Old Main. The building — which includes 100,000 square feet of flexible classrooms, instructional labs, a maker space, and a 3D printing lab, as well as space that serves as a hub for WK12 outreach programming — is helping to transform WSU’s vision for STEM education and research for current and future Warriors.
News outlet logo for favicons/detroitnews.com.png

Wayne State hospital students, faculty get COVID-19 vaccines

Vaccine distribution continues to slowly trickle down the ranks as Wayne State University's students and faculty in front-line health professions got their turn Thursday to begin getting inoculating against COVID-19. Wayne State began administering the first dose of the Moderna vaccine to faculty and students who are in active clinical practice and rotations with patients. "We were able to invite individuals to let us know if they were interested in receiving the vaccine. Those that were interested in receiving the vaccine received an invitation to continue to the process," said Toni Grant, chief nursing officer at Wayne State's Campus Health Center. Approximately 2,000 people were identified by Wayne State as having first priority to the vaccine due to constant exposure working in hospitals. Wayne State is able to administer the vaccine in phases under a memorandum of understanding with the Detroit Health Department. "Wayne State is not mandating that anyone received the vaccine, but it is being highly encouraged that they receive it," said Grant. "One of the things that we wanted to make sure is that everyone was well-informed before they even scheduled their appointment, so all the information was actually made available electronically."
News outlet logo for favicons/inquirer.com.png

Storming the U.S. Capitol may be new to Americans, but the violence is a familiar theme

Even living in a time of isolation, the shockwaves that spread across the nation Wednesday were seismic. After insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol, the first breach of its kind in more than two centuries, an insistence also arrived that the events were like something from another country. Strain of Violence raises the question is violence as American as apple pie? Kidada Williams, a Wayne State University historian who studies violence, would say yes. “Some scholars have argued that slavery and settler colonialism are the down-payment of the Revolution; they’re the down payment on American success,” said Williams in an interview with the Inquirer Thursday. “If you’re able to achieve significant success using violence, why would you use any other tactics?” Williams, who is writing a book on Black families who were attacked by the Ku Klux Klan amid Reconstruction, said the insurrection reminded her of the Civil War: The rebels were upset over election results, white progressives responded as a matter of preserving the country. The level of surprise this week at the attack at the Capitol, she said, reflects a deep belief in American exceptionalism that sidesteps our history of violence to focus on victories. America, she explained, erases its body count. “The federal government is expert at destabilizing movements that it perceives as a threat,” said Williams, who pointed to the American Indian Movement and the Black Power Movement. “The White Power movement has only recently been seen as a threat.”
News outlet logo for favicons/wdet.org.png

Health experts answer your questions about COVID-19 vaccines

To date, tens of thousands of Michigan residents have received the new COVID-19 vaccines, an inoculation rate far below the original projected goal of elected officials. The slow rollout has concerned citizens and public health experts alike, and speed isn’t the only issue facing distribution efforts: Vaccine hesitancy is proving to be a major hurdle as well. Concerns about vaccine safety are coming from various groups, including anti-vaxxers who view this moment as an opportunity to promote their anti-science agenda. While others simply don’t trust the development process, Black Americans have expressed legitimate skepticism of the vaccine based on the fact that the Black community has been historically taken advantage of when it comes to the medical system, as evidenced by the Tuskegee syphilis study among other things. Dr. M Roy Wilson, president of Wayne State University, and Dr. Paul Kilgore, associate professor & director of research at the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and the principal investigator at Henry Ford Health System’s testing of Moderna’s vaccine trial, participated in a discussion and responded to listener’s questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.
News outlet logo for favicons/theconversation.com.png

School budgets have held up better than expected in some states, but looming cuts will hurt learning long after pandemic ends

Michael Addonizio, professor of educational leadership and policy studies, wrote a piece for The Conversation on the budget challenges facing school budgets. “The year 2020 may prove to be pivotal in the history of U.S. public education. Many children have gone missing from school completely since March, and millions more are struggling with wholly inadequate online learning experiences. Lower-income and minority children are particularly hard-hit. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated deep inequities across our public schools. Merely restoring school budgets to their prepandemic levels will not be enough to address them after this long period of limited learning. So far, most states have avoided deep education budget cuts this school year. However, they project revenue shortfalls for the 2021-22 school year.”