Student life in the news
First-time voters struggle ahead of the November midterm election
By Whitney Burney Millions of Michiganders are expected to turn out to the polls in less than two weeks to decide who will serve as Michigan’s next governor. Voters will also get the chance to decide the fate of countless school boards and which judges will serve on the state supreme court. While many voters say they know who they’d like to see in the governor’s seat, fewer know who they’d like to be elected in smaller races. “It’s great for us to have a voice,” said William Carter, a Wayne State University film student who will be voting for the first time this November. Carter said he’s most concerned about the state of education, wealth equity and climate change. He said he’s planning to vote in-person to give himself more time to learn about each candidate. Numerous WSU students discuss their voting plan and views on the election. Experts say when voters get to the portion of their ballot with more obscure races and less familiar names, some decide not to cast a vote at all. “There’s estimate that approximately 5-20% of voters basically stop voting when they hit the spot when they don’t know the candidates and that’s a pretty significant amount,” said Brady Baybeck, associate professor of political science at Wayne State University. Baybeck said when voters decide to forego making a choice at the end of the ballot, it’s called ballot roll off. “In many of these races, there’s traditionally very little competition. If there’s only one candidate on the ballot, it doesn’t really matter if they vote,” he said. “Having said that, if it’s a competitive election, those local offices are the closest to the person.” Baybeck discusses shifts in local races becoming more nationalized, and an increase in spending on those campaigns. He encourages voters to use non-partisan websites and be aware of disinformation on social media.
NFF proudly announces stellar finalists for 2022 William V. Campbell Trophy
The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced the finalists for the 2022 William V. Campbell Trophy, college football’s premier scholar-athlete award that annually recognizes an individual as the absolute best in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership. The 15 finalists will each receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the 2022 NFF Scholar-Athlete Class presented by Fidelity Investments. Julius Wilkerson, a linebacker and three-year captain from Wayne State University who holds a 3.85 GPA and is majoring in psychology, is among the finalists. Finalists will travel to Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas for the annual awards dinner on December 6, where their accomplishments will be highlighted in front of one of the most powerful audiences in all of sports.
Two Wayne Law students named fellows of ABA Consortium
Second-year Wayne State University Law School students Dominica Convertino and Kawkab El-Moussaoui were named American Bar Association (ABA) Legal Education Police Practices Consortium (LEPPC) Fellows. The LEPPC aims to contribute to the national effort examining and addressing legal issues in policing and public safety, including conduct, oversight, and the evolving nature of police work. Convertino and El-Moussaoui are 2 of only 38 fellows serving with the ABA's Legal Education Police Practices Consortium during the winter 2022 semester, and are the only two law students selected for the program in the state of Michigan. Convertino's research will examine police practices in the City of Detroit, while El-Moussaoui's will focus on the City of Dearborn.
Wayne State basketball to host Michigan in exhibition to open new arena
Wayne State will open its new basketball arena with a flourish. The Warriors will host Michigan in an exhibition in the inaugural game at the new arena on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. It’s a collaboration between Wayne State athletic director Rob Fournier and Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel for a high-level opponent in the debut of the new arena for the Warriors, who play in Division II. "I truly appreciate the willingness of Coach (Juwan) Howard and Warde to provide this opportunity to open our arena with the state's premier Division 1 program," Fournier said in a statement. "To me, it underscores their genuine support for the City of Detroit and our community.” Wayne State also has a partnership with the Pistons on the new arena, which also will house the Pistons’ G League franchise, the Motor City Cruise. The Cruise will begin their first season in the G League in the fall as well. In the past, Wayne State has played against Michigan in games at Crisler Center. This time, the Wolverines are returning the favor. "I want to personally thank Coach Howard and his staff for helping us open our new basketball arena," Wayne State coach David Greer said. "It certainly has been a long time coming (with the new arena) and the partnership with the Detroit Pistons made it happen. To have a Division I program in Michigan be a part of our celebration of opening our new arena will make it a big event for our young men since Michigan is a big part of Detroit basketball.”
Dorm rooms that make college students feel right at home
After more than a year of uncertainty, kids are heading to college hoping for some sense of normalcy. For students who plan to live on campus, the latest dorm room storage and décor can make a modest space live large and feel more like home. According to Zia N. Felder, community director at Wayne State University, the pandemic has added some other items to the list like Lysol wipes, hand sanitizer and paper towels. Since some students may not be comfortable dining out, she says it’s important to know what cooking tools their dorms allow like crockpots. For pieces that need to be shipped, Felder suggests timing their arrival with your move-in whenever possible, whether you want curtains or chairs to make a temporary space your own. “That’s our motto: Housing That’s Home,” she says. “We want them to personalize their dorm room.” Felder recommends reaching out to roommates in advance to have an honest conversation that includes how you feel about other people using your stuff. “You don’t need four sets of pots and pans,” she says. “You also need a sense of the space or you could end up with really cramped living.” The dimensions of each unit are on their website. From family photos to removable wall decals, there are plenty of ways to decorate a dorm room that won’t damage the walls. Check Pinterest for visual inspiration like removable wallpaper and fabric tapestries that make a space feel less sterile. “It’s a blank canvas when you move in and you want to make it feel less blank,” Felder says. Lastly, she adds, “Come with an open mind and get to know your RA (Resident Assistant). Go to their events and ask them the big questions. They know so much about the student experience and they try to give you good advice and to make life easier.”
Wayne State to require vaccinations for fall return to campus
Wayne State University will require everyone on campus to be vaccinated against COVID-19 this fall and must provide proof by Aug. 30 to be allowed on campus, President M. Roy Wilson announced Tuesday. The university will also require masks indoors at least through Sept. 15 amid a surge of cases linked to the delta variant and lagging vaccination rates. "As we have from the beginning of the pandemic, we are today revising our campus response to respond to emerging evidence and local data," Wilson wrote to the campus community. "To best protect the health and safety of our campus community, Wayne State will require all students, faculty and staff who plan to be on campus during the fall semester to receive their COVID-19 vaccination." Wilson noted that COVID-19 cases are increasing across the nation and positivity rates locally have grown recently from 2.4 to 3.3 percent. "The latest data regarding the delta variant is concerning," Wilson wrote. "This variant spreads more easily and may be transmitted by vaccinated individuals with rare breakthrough cases. Thankfully, the data also show that vaccines continue to be highly effective, particularly in protecting against serious illness, hospitalization and death. Full vaccination of our campus community will eventually eliminate the need for masks and allow a renewed sense of normalcy in our interactions," Wilson wrote.
WSU to require COVID-19 vaccines for students living in dorms
Less than five weeks before students move back to Wayne State University, officials said Monday that residents of its dorms will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19. WSU President M. Roy Wilson made the announcement in an email that accompanied results from an online survey showing 86% of respondents reported being vaccinated. Those who responded included 9,106 people, a 29.5% response rate out of the 30,853 members of the campus community. There were 23,052 students enrolled during winter semester. "We are mindful of the particular risks of congregate living," Wilson wrote. "Therefore, we are implementing a targeted mandate for students living in university housing for the fall 2021 semester ... This targeted mandate — which is similar to those implemented by several Michigan universities — will help protect those who live in close proximity to each other. It will also help us prevent spread of the virus on our campus while allowing students to interact and engage face to face — a vital part of the college experience," Wilson added. Wilson wrote Monday that more information, including how to provide proof of vaccination, would be forthcoming "in the near future." WSU has told students they would make a decision by July about whether a vaccine would be required for students living in the dorms based on case trends, said Laurie Lauzon Clabo, WSU's campus chief health and wellness officer. "We felt we couldn't wait any longer," said Clabo, who is also dean of the College of Nursing. "The timing is always tough. We believe we acted responsibility." WSU is following COVID case numbers in the city and state, and two surveys were done to assess the percentage of those vaccinated. While the number of people in the WSU community who have gotten the vaccine is good, Clabo said, the lowest level of uptake is among undergraduate students. Another survey of those living in WSU residence halls showed "overwhelming" support for a mandate, Clabo added. WSU, she said, will work with students if they are not fully vaccinated by move-in, which begins Aug. 26.
Public colleges in 49 states send students' debts to collection agencies, imperiling financial futures
To the surprise of many students and parents, public colleges in every state in the country except Louisiana use for-profit debt collection agencies to retrieve overdue tuition, library fees and even parking fines. Many universities add late fees to students’ bills, and when debt collectors add another 30 or 40 percent, students can end up owing thousands of dollars more than they did originally. Even as several universities have expressed concerns behind the scenes about losing revenue, some say using collection agencies isn’t necessarily more effective than other ways to collect the money. For example, in the fall of 2018, Wayne State University started a program called Warrior Way Back. Former students who owe up to $1,500 are allowed to reenroll, and for each semester they complete, one-third of their debt is forgiven. University administrators say the program has actually helped financially: Wayne State has gained $1.5 million in tuition from these students, after taking into account the debt it forgave. “Think about when you’re 18 years old and what you don’t know about managing debt,” said Dawn Medley, the associate vice president of enrollment management at Wayne State, who created the program. “We had a lot of students who owed us these past balances — they may have had veterans’ benefits or remaining federal aid money, but they’re caught. They can’t enroll until they pay the debt, and they can’t get aid until they enroll.”
Wayne State to require masks inside campus buildings
Wayne State University will require masks to be worn indoors in spite of recently-released guidelines from the federal government and state health department, President M. Roy Wilson announced Monday. Wilson wrote in a letter to the campus community that he supports the new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which announced last week that people who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear a mask unless required by local laws or workplace requirements. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration lifted mask mandates for fully vaccinated residents as of Saturday. "However, the practical limitation in the CDC guidelines is that we do not have the ability to differentiate those who have been vaccinated from those who have not," Wilson wrote. "This information is important, particularly if everyone is unmasked indoors. We need to operate in a manner that protects the safety of every member of our campus community. Therefore, masks will still be required indoors on Wayne State’s campus." Relaxing the CDC guidelines on mask-wearing for fully vaccinated residents is a hopeful, and pivotal moment in the COVID-19 pandemic, Wilson said. "The key to a fully open and healthy campus is the degree to which our campus community is vaccinated," Wilson said. "If you have not yet been vaccinated, I urge you to do so as soon as possible." Wayne State's on-campus mandate also comes after the university offered a $10 incentive to students if they provide proof that they have been vaccinated by May 7. Of Wayne State's 27,000 enrolled students, 2,659 students participated, or about 10%. WSU spokesman Matt Lockwood said others likely have been vaccinated and did not take advantage of the incentive. Wilson will host a town hall meeting at 3 p.m. on Tuesday to discuss fall plans. He urged students to get the vaccine and said that the university Campus Health Center offers the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Said Wilson: "I look forward to seeing you all on campus soon – unmasked."
Wayne State students who show proof of COVID vaccine will get money added to campus card
Wayne State University is offering a monetary incentive to students who receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Students who show proof of immunization will get a $10 credit added to their OneCard, the university announced. The credit can be used for Grubhub or used on campus. "As we announced last month, we expect the majority of our fall classes to be offered in person. There is nothing we would like more. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 numbers in Michigan are currently at an unacceptably high level," said President M. Roy Wilson. "The best way to ensure a return to campus in September is to get a vaccination if you haven’t yet done so."
Wayne State University offers students money to get COVID-19 vaccine
Wayne State University is dangling some free money as an incentive to get students to get vaccinated. The offer from the midtown Detroit school is simple — upload proof of vaccination by May 7 and get $10 added to their student accounts. The proof has to show students have had at least their first shot, if they are getting a two-dose vaccination. The money can be used right away for Grubhub orders or saved to be used on campus in the fall. The vaccination can take place through the university's campus health center or anywhere else. University President M. Roy Wilson outlined the move in an email to students Wednesday morning. "As we announced last month, we expect the majority of our fall classes to be offered in person," Wilson wrote. "There is nothing we would like more. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 numbers in Michigan are currently at an unacceptably high level. The best way to ensure a return to campus in September is to get a vaccination if you haven’t yet done so. To further encourage you to take this critical step, we are providing an extra incentive — although the best incentive is your good health. In addition to getting vaccinated, please continue to take the appropriate precautions to ensure the health and safety of yourselves, our campus and the community. Thank you for doing your part to help keep our campus Warrior Strong."
WSU to reduce number of people on campus, citing increased COVID numbers
Wayne State University said Saturday it is planning to reimpose restrictions to reduce the number of people on campus, citing increased coronavirus cases across the state. Starting Wednesday, the following measures will be taken unless case numbers fall within an "acceptable range," according to an email from President M. Roy Wilson to the WSU community. Face-to-face instruction on campus will be canceled with the only exception being clinical rotations in licensed health professions. All athletics practices and competitions will be suspended. Teams may resume practice after 10 days if 80% or more of team personnel have received their full COVID-19 vaccination. Laboratory research units must take steps to reduce current time-on-site activity for authorized personnel by 25% effective Wednesday. They must also prepare a contingency plan for an additional reduction of time-on-site as the situation evolves. The reduced level does not apply to fully vaccinated individuals currently involved with authorized on-site research activities. Guest access to student housing will be restricted. Students currently living in campus housing are permitted to continue doing so and must continue to follow campus health and safety guidelines. Towers Cafe will move to takeout only. Campus libraries will remain open but may be subject to increased restrictions. The Student Center Building is closed except for individuals attending the vaccine clinic. The W Food Pantry will remain open and will facilitate technology loans to students in need. With the exception of critical infrastructure employees, those who can work from home should do so. Metrics on campus, in the region and across Michigan will be reevaluated in 10 days, according to Wilson. If the situation has improved, Wayne State will reinstate the suspended activities. If the numbers still remain high, the period of limited on-campus activities will be extended accordingly, he said. Students and faculty are asked to monitor their communications and check the Wayne State coronavirus website for follow-up information or to contact a supervisor with specific questions.
Wayne State joins parade of universities headed back to near normal in fall
Wayne State University has joined the parade of Michigan universities and colleges planning on a fall that will look almost like a normal fall on the Midtown Detroit campus. "With COVID-19 vaccines more readily available — and all Michigan residents age 16 and older eligible for vaccines beginning April 5 — I believe this fall will see a return to many of our beloved campus activities, events and traditions," school president M. Roy Wilson said in a message to the campus community on Tuesday. "All students, faculty and staff will be expected to follow on-campus health procedures and guidelines. We will continue to monitor and adapt these guidelines based on emerging scientific evidence and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health officials." Wayne State joins the bulk of Michigan universities and colleges who have made similar announcements, including the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Oakland University. The announcement said: Classes will largely return to face-to-face instruction. As allowed by the state, fans will be allowed back at sporting events. Campus events will start running again, but still may be modified based on requirements in place this fall. More Wayne State employees will be coming back to work on campus to provide services to students. That matches the announcements made by other universities as well, all of whom are optimistic their campuses will return to somewhat normal life.
Wayne State announces plan for fall classes
Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson announced Tuesday that the majority of classes will resume in-person in the fall, on-campus housing will open and athletics will resume with spectators in the stands in compliance with state guidelines. The university also will offer more virtual learning options as a result of lessons learned from the year-long COVID-19 pandemic. "We are excited to return to more of our classrooms," Wilson wrote in a letter to the campus community. "With COVID-19 vaccines more readily available — and all Michigan residents age 16 and older eligible for vaccines beginning April 5 — I believe this fall will see a return to many of our beloved campus activities, events and traditions." Wilson encouraged the Wayne State community to get a COVID-19 vaccine. "This will play a major role in allowing us to offer a more open campus this September," Wilson said. He said many parts of campus will resume with health and safety measures in place including campus dining, retail, student activities and celebrations. More employees will also be returning to work and the Campus Health Center will continue its Campus Daily Screener program to monitor campus cases of the virus.
Wayne State University’s Board of Governors recognizes National Gun Violence Survivors Week
The Wayne State University Board of Governors voted unanimously over the weekend to declare the first week of February as National Gun Violence Survivors Week. The action was taken following a request at the Jan. 29 meeting by Megan Dombrowski, president of the WSU Students Demand Action of Gun Sense in America group. The board will ratify its vote and consider if the designation will be recurring at its March 12 meeting. WSU first commemorated National Gun Violence Survivors Week last year, to honor and remember all victims and survivors of gun violence. National Gun Violence Survivors Week is also recognized by the State of Michigan, following a proclamation by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Gun violence is an all-too-common occurrence here in Detroit and in our nation,” said Marilyn Kelly, chair of the WSU Board of Governors. “The board respects our students’ initiative in raising awareness of this issue and in honoring those lives lost to gun violence. We are proud to stand with our students.”
Wayne State receives $1.2M to help veterans complete college
Wayne State University has received $1.2 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Education to supplement student success services for military veterans over five years. The $1.2 million Veterans — Student Support Services grant enhances services provided by the Office of Military Veterans Academic Excellence. The grant will serve 120 currently enrolled student veterans each academic year and provide intensive advising, career preparation, financial aid information, and benefits assistance. “Given the unique needs of our undergraduate veteran population, the VET-SSS grant will provide WSU with the additional resources needed to fully actualize our vision of truly comprehensive veteran academic support services on campus,” says Matthew McLain, assistant director of OMVAE. The grant is a collaborative effort between OMVAE and of the Office of Federal TRIO Programs’ Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) program, which helps veterans transition from the classroom to the workforce. “The VET-SSS program is designed to make a significant contribution to the student-veteran experience,” says Henry Robinson, senior director of the Office of Federal TRIO. “The Office of Military Veterans Academic Excellence and Veterans Upward Bound provide high-quality services and programs dedicated to meeting the academic support needs of this dynamic group of students.”
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.”
Tackling hunger and homelessness on campus
Many months into the pandemic, we have witnessed extraordinary economic disruption and devastation. The effects have been far-reaching and prolonged, including across higher education. On four-year college campuses, recent survey data suggests that 15 percent of students are facing homelessness due to the pandemic and 38 percent of students are experiencing food insecurity. Imagine trying to focus on school when you’re not sure where you’ll find your next meal or even if you’ll have a safe place to sleep at night. Sadly, these aren’t academic questions for millions of students. They’re an everyday reality. Yet as we take stock of the pandemic’s extraordinary toll, we’re also reminded that hunger and homelessness are challenges not just in this moment but every moment. That’s why this week we recognize National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week: to spotlight the scale of the need, identify possible solutions, and marshal public support to solve these long-standing societal challenges. Public universities also see a crucial role to play in addressing student hunger and food insecurity. To help address homelessness, Wayne State University has helped precariously housed students find housing during the pandemic through a long-running program. The university’s Helping Individuals Go Higher Program started in 2013 with the aim of helping homeless and precariously housed students persist in their studies by providing financial support and other resources.
Michigan sees 'dramatic' increase in young voters casting ballots as colleges mobilize
Young voters in Michigan may be breaking some records. Among 14 key states, Michigan has seen the most "dramatic" increase in young voters ages 18-29 casting their ballot at this time of year, according to an analysis released by Tufts University last week. The analysis found 9.4% of all early votes have been cast by youth this year, as compared to only 2.5% in 2016. Nationally, more than seven million young voters have already sent in their ballots. “With the pandemic, I think a lot of younger voters and younger generations overall feel very energized to make their voice heard,” said Riya Chhabra, a Wayne State University senior and student government president. Wayne State University opened its own polling location in 2019, an initiative spearheaded by former student government president Stuart Baum, when he realized in 2016 the nearest polling location was 45 minutes away by foot and shared with three precincts. The new polling location near The Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne Law helped more voices get heard from Wayne State, he said. The student government is continuing Baum’s work, launching the voter website Motivote. “Even though we have really difficult schedules, we still put in the time and the work to get students engaged,” said student government member Sailor Mayes, a sophomore. Motivote allows Wayne State students to complete bite-sized action items, such as making a voting plan, for points, Chhabra said. These points allow students to enter a raffle. She said her team had an extensive “Get Out and Vote” plan for students this semester but was quickly interrupted by COVID-19 — Motivote became the second-best option.