Student life in the news

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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.”
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Colleges say they can reopen safely. But will students follow the rules?

Wayne State University is among the campuses that’s proposing to revise its student-conduct code with language about face coverings and social-distancing. If the university's board signs off on the changes during a meeting on Friday, failure to comply with Covid-19 policies would join the university’s list of prohibited conduct. The proposed requirements include completing a daily self-screening for symptoms before coming to campus; following campus-health-center directions when sick; wearing a face covering in public spaces; maintaining six feet of distance from others; and complying with signage in hallways, elevators and stairwells. University officials proposed modifying the code because they wanted to be specific about what’s acceptable, said David Strauss, dean of students. Once a Covid-19 vaccine has been widely distributed and the threat of the virus has disappeared, any added provisions can be removed, he said. Student-affairs leaders acknowledge that enforcement has its place, but looking ahead to the fall, they prefer to focus on student buy-in and community values. At Wayne State, after conduct-code amendments are finalized, Strauss said, he’ll convene a group of student ambassadors who will help promote a campaign on campus expectations. Riya Chhabra, president of Wayne State’s Student Senate, said she’s glad the university has involved students so extensively. Students want to go back to normal and hang out with their friends, said Chhabra, who’s studying public health. If her peers understand that following these rules will allow them to do that sooner, she believes they’ll comply. “We definitely don’t want to have students get in trouble for it,” she said.

A degree of uncertainty

In a recent survey of 262 colleges and universities, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers found that nearly 60 percent are considering or have decided to remain completely online this fall. "The restart is far more complex than the shutdown because there are so many different scenarios," said Michael Wright, vice president of communications and chief of staff at Wayne State University. WSU is trying to plan for a variety of unknowns, Wright said, including having far fewer students returning in the fall or more students than expected showing up. “We know people will be uncomfortable even if the governor says it's OK to open, and we've heard from students who want to get back in the classroom," Wright said. Either way, he said, WSU will be back in business come September. "We're Wayne State Warriors, and we hope to get back on campus." During a recent Zoom luncheon, Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson told students and alumni the school created a restart committee with nine subcommittees that are examining housing, dining services, testing recommendations and more. The university will be designating space in residence halls for students needing quarantine. Understanding the importance of the college experience, Wayne State's plans to welcome incoming freshmen include virtual small groups that allow students to connect before school reopens. "We are going to be guided by what's safe," Wilson said. "I want to be sure I can look any parent in the eye and say, 'Your child will be safe.'"
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Wayne State freezes tuition, warns of budget cuts

Wayne State University’s Board of Governors unanimously agreed Friday to a proposal by President M. Roy Wilson not to increase tuition for undergraduate and graduate students for 2020-21. “It has been a difficult decision for the Board of Governors to freeze tuition for the coming year,” board chair Marilyn Kelly said in a statement. “Two of our most crushing worries have been, first, that in freezing tuition, the board forces the university to confront a budget shortfall of as much as $60 million. Second, we render the university all the more challenged to meet the goals we’ve set of making Wayne University an even better learning center for minorities and the financially underprivileged to gain a quality education." Wilson said there will be some budget cuts, noting that the university relies on tuition as one of its two main funding sources, with the other being state aid. “There will be some financial pain,” he said. “It’s too early to say specifically what the budget deficit will be. There are still too many unknown variables. We don’t know how long the pandemic will last or its impact on enrollment and our state appropriation."
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In times of crisis, get free mental health sessions from Wayne State

The novel coronavirus pandemic – and subsequent stay-at-home orders — have taught Michiganders how to interact in different ways. For many, the recent protests have only added to anxiety and increased social isolation. To help residents improve their mental health, Wayne State University is offering free online counseling sessions with psychology and counseling students. Lauren Mangus, professor of psychology, oversees the program. She says the world has changed and it can be difficult to adapt to a new way of living. “Life as it once was, it’s completely changed for so many of us. Not to mention the emotional psychological bandwidth that’s being taxed for many of us right now.” On dealing with grief when gatherings were limited: “Grief is really complex. It’s really difficult because it’s a very personalized, individualized process. But it is never completely finalized. But at the same time when we have different ways to celebrate life, and celebrate loved ones, and to get that support can really help us through the grieving process. So that is really complicated.
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Michigan Matters: Young folks weigh in on pandemic

As COVID-19  takes its toll on our region and causes more damage than any other crisis in 100 years, young adults are being impacted as their families, communities, schools and the potential job market have all changed overnight. Four impressive young people, including Wayne State University student Anna Cloutier, who is planning a career in communications, appeared on Michigan Matters to talk about the crisis and how it has impacted them and their generation.
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Colleges take graduations online: 'All we're doing is a placeholder'

Newly minted doctors taking oaths over Zoom. College presidents giving speeches from home. Students creating entire commencements inside computer games. Graduation has taken on a new form during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gone, for now, are stadiums filled with cheers, instead replaced with teleconferences and smaller tributes to the class of 2020. Some schools have managed to hold in-person ceremonies, with students spaced six feet apart or staying in their cars. Yet most colleges have had to decide whether to reschedule ceremonies, conduct them virtually, or do both. Similarly strong interest in Wayne State University's virtual graduation offerings surprised Carolyn Berry, its associate vice president of marketing. The public institution, in Michigan, created a short video congratulating students that its schools and colleges could add onto with their own presentations. A 16-minute video of Wayne State's nursing convocation — which graduated about 130 students — got more than 1,000 views. All told, the videos have received more than 8,000 views, according to university data. Wayne State's videos featured pre-recorded speeches from administrators and also included a tribute to three students who were awarded posthumous degrees, including sociology student Darrin Adams, who died of COVID-19 in April. Despite
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Wayne State launches virtual health programming

The Wayne State University Campus Health Center (CHC) has started a “Health Programming Gone Virtual” initiative to create new ways to reach the WSU community. Instead of attending wellness events on campus, Wayne State students, faculty, and staff can access health resources and information from the comfort of their homes. “While we miss having the face-to-face engagement with students and our WSU community, we are making our programming available online and in different formats to best serve the changing needs of our campus,” says Erika Blaskay, community outreach nurse at WSU. Currently, all health care resources are available via PowerPoint presentation and handouts on CHC’s Health Programming webpage. Some programs now feature recorded webinars to provide in-depth learning about these important health topics. CHC also launched an “Ask-an-Expert” engagement form that allows the Wayne State community to ask specific questions anonymously. A qualified health care provider will respond on CHC’s social media platforms the Wednesday following the form’s submission. The goal is to create a fun way to engage with each other and the CHC in a virtual environment, but Blaskay says it is important to remember that these tools are meant to help guide conversations with health care providers, not replace them.
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Preparing for an uncertain job market

It's a tough time to be entering the job market, as Michigan faces historic jobless numbers, along with the rest of the country. “A lot of students’ job offers have been postponed or rescinded. In some cases with the internships, some of them have been converted from paid to unpaid," said Wayne State's Student Employment Coordinator Arlinda Pringle. She said students and recent grads alike need to prepare for a different kind of job search right now -- one that's going to take longer. “You may have to volunteer if it’s an option. You may have to start off with a part-time job. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of getting a foot in the door," she said. Pringle also advises students to regularly update their resumes, and cast a wider job net by applying to any job they could be qualified for, not just their dream job. She said networking is more important than ever and students need to treat a virtual interview just like an in-person one in terms of how they dress and conduct themselves.
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COVID-19 update: U.S. grants state $2.3M in mental health funding, Michigan reveals long-term care facility strategy, digital assistance for black-owned businesses, and More

The Wayne State University Board of Governors has approved a proposal to temporarily suspend the standardized test score requirement for new fall 2020 freshmen applicants. The temporary suspension would be for students who are unable to take their SAT or ACT due to COVID-19. “We understand what a challenging time this is for high school seniors,” says Ericka M. Jackson, senior director of undergraduate admissions at WSU. “We want to provide a path to Wayne State for those students who have not yet taken the SAT or ACT. Now is the time to be helpful, supportive, and allow latitude for students to apply without submitting a test score.”
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Wayne State University is offering admission without SAT, ACT requirement for 2020 freshmen

Wayne State University leaders announced Monday that they approved a proposal to temporarily suspend the standardized test score requirement for new fall 2020 freshmen applicants. That means no ACT or SAT scores will be required upon applying to the school. This is for students who will not be able to take the test(s) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We understand what a challenging time this is for high school seniors,” said Ericka M. Jackson, senior director of undergraduate admissions. “We want to provide a path to Wayne State for those students who have not yet taken the SAT or ACT. Now is the time to be helpful, supportive and allow latitude for students to apply without submitting a test score.” The university Board of Governors approved the temporary suspension this week.
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Opinion: Incoming freshmen, don't panic. Colleges will support you

Dawn Medley, associate vice president of enrollment management, wrote an opinion piece reassuring incoming freshmen during the COVID-19 crisis. “Today, my entire enrollment management division is working remotely as is 95% of our university. I spend my days at a laptop, with headphones, and managing in a time unlike any other. First we focused on making sure that our current students had their needs met. For some, they went home. For others, we are their home. Now we are taking events designed around the “in person experience” and turning them into “experiences for the person.” Our faculty are moving mountains to take all of their experience and plans for coursework and distill it into educational, engaging and electronic forms…Parents and students, higher education institutions will support you. No, we don’t have all the answers yet because the questions and landscape change daily, but we are adapting rapidly.
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Michigan workers should get Election Day off, Benson says

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is urging businesses to give their workers the day off on Election Day by making it a company holiday. Benson said she’s encouraging Michigan companies to give employees the day off work on Nov. 3, so they can vote and work as poll workers. She praised Wayne State University for recently announcing such a move, MLive.com reported. Keith E. Whitfield, Wayne State’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said that Nov. 3 will be a university holiday, with no classes held and only essential employees reporting to work. “We hope that faculty, staff and students will take advantage of the Election Day holiday to exercise their civic duty and participate in these important national elections,” Whitfield wrote.
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Wayne State to observe Election Day as a holiday

The day of the next general election will be an official holiday at Wayne State University. “I’m very pleased to announce that this year, Wayne State University has officially declared Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, a university holiday,” said Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson on Thursday. “This means there will be no classes, and the university will be closed, with the exception of essential personnel who must report to work. This holiday will afford faculty, staff and students the liberty to put their civic duty first.” The Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne Law also is now home to the first-ever polling location on campus. Keith was a longtime federal judge who died last year at 96 and was known as a champion of civil and voting rights. The WSU Student Senate took action on a new polling site after students said the off-campus location was a barrier to voting in 2016.
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Vote now: Should Michigan's primary election be held before Super Tuesday?

The Iowa Caucus debacle is raising new questions about how the political parties should structure their elections to nominate a presidential candidate. So we're asking: Should Michigan's primary election be held before Super Tuesday? Not everyone thinks that by taking part earlier in the process a state has more influence on who will win. “The conventional thinking is that you are better off if you have your primary earlier, but that depends on the number of candidates in a race at a given time,” said Wayne State University Professor Marick Masters. Masters says even with our primary happening March 10, Michigan is important because it has 16 electoral votes and only 7 other states have more.
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Wayne State University unveils on-campus polling location in time for March primary

Wayne State University has established a polling location to serve Detroit's Precinct 149, a little over a month before the presidential primary election March 10. All voters of Precinct 149 will now cast ballots at the university's polling location inside the Wayne State Law School, 471 West Palmer. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson joined university officials and Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey for the announcement Wednesday afternoon at the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights. In November, Wayne State University was recognized for student voting engagement, with a student rate of over 50 percent, earning the university a platinum seal — one of 61 institutions in the country to do so. Student voting at Wayne State increased to 53 percent in 2018 following the midterm elections, up from 27 percent in 2013, while the national average institutional voting rate was 39 percent in 2018, according to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement. The university Board of Governors also declared Election Day in November a campus holiday, canceling classes and making it easier for students, staff, and faculty to hit the polls. “The university has gone to considerable measures to ensure every student’s voice is heard,” Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson said. “This student-led initiative celebrates the life and legacy of Judge Damon Keith by making voting and civic engagement more accessible to campus residents. I believe (Keith) would be delighted with today’s announcement.”
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Jackson College, Wayne State University partner for business management degree

Jackson College students wishing to pursue a business management degree from Wayne State University soon can do so without the commute. Starting May 4, business tools and applications and advanced organizational behavior classes from Wayne State’s Mike Ilitch School of Business will be available for enrollment for the summer semester at Jackson College. “We hope to expand our schedule in the future to include additional majors within the Ilitch School,” said Carol Baldwin, WSU’s manager of marketing and communications of educational outreach. “Students also have the option of enrolling in online courses.” The Mike Ilitch School of Business faculty will teach all courses, including Prity Patel, who is available to meet with Jackson College students from Monday to Wednesday and by appointment. “Jackson students can transfer up to 82 credits to Wayne State by following an articulation agreement that is in place between our two institutions,” Baldwin said. WSU Provost Keith Whitfield believes the partnership is equally beneficial for them. “As a public institution, we are thrilled about this new partnership with Jackson College because it will allow us to serve a new group of students that we haven’t previously reached directly,” Whitfield said in a news release. “Most of our partnerships are in the tri-county area, so this is a big and exciting step west for us. We’ve had great conversations with President Phelan and Jackson’s leadership team, and the idea of bringing a four-year business degree to this campus is exciting. We are proud of what we do in Detroit and we believe this partnership will be an asset in Jackson as well.”
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Wayne State brings business classes to Jackson

Wayne State is now open for business in Jackson. Today people packed into Jackson College to learn about a new partnership between the two schools. The partnership allows students at Jackson College to obtain a degree in Business from Wayne State University without leaving Jackson. The president of Jackson College says this will help change the lives of young people across the Jackson area, and give students new opportunities while keeping tuition costs low. Students will start at Jackson College by taking some of the basic courses then transition in Wayne State classes. Advisers will work with students to make sure they are on the right track, and to make the transition as smooth as possible. “We try not to let students fall between the cracks. Our goal is to make sure that we get students across the finish line. Having a great start at Jackson College, and then being able to finish at Wayne State University is just a perfect pairing,” said Provost, and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Wayne State University, Keith Whitfield.
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Wayne State student athlete save's strangers life with bone marrow transplant

It's game day for the Wayne State University Football team, and number 42 kicker Luke Bevilacqua. While some try to be a hero on the field, Luke is a hero off the field. How far would you go to save a stranger's life? Luke didn't think twice about his sacrifice for a stranger. It is very rare when someone becomes a match for donating bone marrow. Which is why when a Wayne State student athlete got the call he was one after joining the Be The Match registry, he couldn't pass it up. "For me, I just did it because everyone else was doing it, and then like I said I didn't think much of it. My stuff got sent in and I didn't hear anything for a few months," he says. Luke was a busy student-athlete at WSU when he suddenly got a call he'll never forget about a woman he's never met. "They want you to know that you are someone who can save someone's life and there's sometimes not another option." Luke was told a 61-year-old woman in Texas needed his bone marrow to survive. Luke says the sacrifice was well worth it and that he'd do it again if he ever got the call again. Luke has been honored by the Allstate American Football Coaches Associaton Good Works Team. 
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It’s go big or go home in the International Year of the Periodic Table

Volunteers at Wayne State University had been braving the elements for hours on an October morning. The wind chapped cheeks and numbed fingers as volunteers wrangled giant blue tarps with the names, symbols, and atomic numbers of chemical elements painted on them. When gusts kicked up, the workers would joke that they were building the world’s largest kite. They were actually attempting to build the world’s largest periodic table. And they had competition. Four days earlier, on the opposite side of Michigan, at Grand Valley State University, another group of crafty science enthusiasts had assembled what it believed was the world’s largest periodic table. Michigan became the proud birthplace of two gigantic periodic tables within a week. The timing wasn’t an accident, either. It was National Chemistry Week during the International Year of the Periodic Table. Although the groups hatched their schemes independently of each other, they shared the same drive to do something huge to get lots of people—and not just chemists—talking about chemistry and the iconic table. By the end of the day, drones and news helicopters had circled the periodic table at Wayne State, which covered an area larger than three American football fields. CBS News shared a photo of the table on Twitter with its 7 million followers, as did ABC’s World News Tonight with its 1.4 million followers.