Student life in the news

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MSU, U-M, Wayne State presidents: In-person classes likely won't resume until fall 2021

The presidents of Michigan's top three research universities said it’s likely it will be another year before their students return to classrooms full-time. Most students at Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State University are taking their courses remotely this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each university's president expects online classes to continue through the academic year, with students returning in person in the fall of 2021. "The truth of the matter is that this is going to be with us for a while," said Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson, who spoke with the MSU President Samuel Stanley and U-M President Mark Schlissel during a Lansing Economic Club panel on Thursday. "I anticipate that the winter semester will be basically the same as it is this semester."
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The psychology behind why some college students break COVID-19 rules

Going off to college is, for many young adults, their first real plunge into freedom and adulthood. It’s where they’re encouraged to take risks and find new connections in dining halls and laundry rooms. But those collegiate rites of passage aren’t possible if they’re largely confined to an extra-long twin bed in a stuffy dorm room, peering out at the world through barred windows. The fall 2020 semester looks a lot like that for some undergraduates who’ve returned to campus during the pandemic. And as anticipated, some of those undergrads have already started to rebel. CNN spoke with experts about the drivers behind these risky decisions, including Hannah Schacter, assistant professor and developmental psychologist at Wayne State University. Teens are also particularly sensitive to the potential rewards of risky decisions at this stage in their life. It’s not that they don’t understand the negative consequences, but they struggle to regulate those impulses that lead them to take risks because the potential reward is too great, said Schacter, who leads a lab at Wayne State University on adolescent relationships. “It’s this combination of being restricted from social contact for a while at an age where spending time with peers is so essential to development, to making teenagers feel good, and so, there’s some sort of calculation going on where the perceived benefit — ‘I get to spend time with friends’ — seems to be outweighing the potential costs,” Schacter said. When you plop students back on campus after a spring and summer spent cooped up in their childhood bedrooms, many of them will take those opportunities to connect with their friends and strangers. Their fear of the virus may be overtaken by their eagerness to connect, she said. “No one’s going back to college because they want to sit in their dorm all weekend by themselves,” Schacter said. “Peers are so essential that it’s no coincidence that we’re seeing these behaviors more and that they’re particularly peer-oriented,” Schacter said.
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Wayne State University enrollment up; Black graduation rate soars

Officials at Wayne State University announced that as of Aug. 19, Fall 2020 undergraduate enrollment is up 2.3 percent compared to Fall 2019, and despite uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic it is trending toward being the largest freshmen class in the school's 152-year history. In addition, Black undergraduate enrollment for first-time college students at Wayne State is up an astonishing 58.7 percent. Overall Black enrollment is up 3.6 percent over last year. "These numbers speak to the commitment we have made to making a Wayne State education accessible and affordable to all students, regardless of racial or socio-economic background," said Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson. "We're focused on increasing enrollment and the diversity of our student body, through targeted strategic efforts to recruit students of all backgrounds. And it's working." Wayne State also exceeded its strategic plan goal of a six-year graduation rate of 50 percent one year early, and is anticipating it will hit 52 percent by September. The six-year graduation rate for Black students has tripled to 25 percent, from 8 percent in 2011. Wayne State's progress on boosting degree attainment and improving graduation rates has become a national model. "I'm especially gratified that these positive enrollment numbers are coming at a time when so much is up in the air because of the pandemic," Wilson said. "I think our cautious but forward-looking approach to our return to campus has inspired confidence in our students, faculty and staff. Moreover, students and parents continue to recognize the value of a Wayne State education and are determined to see it through to degree completion, even in these uncertain times."
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5 reasons to let students keep their cameras off during Zoom classes

Tabitha Moses, MD/PhD candidate at Wayne State University, wrote an article for The Conversation about the challenges that online instruction can pose for students if they are required to keep their cameras on during class. “As the 2020-21 school year gets underway – both at the K-12 and college level – many students find themselves attending online classes via Zoom or similar teleconferencing platforms. Although sticking with remote instruction may be the correct decision from the standpoint of public health, it is not without problems. As a researcher who studies behavior and the brain, I have found the evidence suggests that online instruction can pose a range of challenges for students if they are required to keep their cameras on during class. Here are five reasons why I believe students should be allowed to keep their cameras off instead: Increased anxiety and stress; ‘Zoom fatigue;’ Competing obligations; Right to privacy; and, Financial means and other kinds of access
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How 2 campuses share advanced software with students

College and university tech leaders are providing new ways for remote students to do hands-on work as online learning remains the predominant platform for instruction on most campuses. When Wayne State University went online this spring, students went home to a wide range of devices—from powerful Macs to Chromebooks. Not all of those computers could handle the advanced software that fine arts, drama, communications and music students need to work on hands-on projects, says Chris Gilbert, an applications technical analyst at the Detroit institution. The university expanded its use of the Splashtop platform to allow students to access advanced design applications by logging into campus computers remotely, Gilbert says. Students can access the software during scheduled class time. And, the university created a remote computer lab that students can log into any time of day. Students can create designs for instructors to begin fabricating during class, Gilbert adds. “The students who really want to learn a program can use it as much as they want,” he says.

It takes a village: How coalition work is transforming lives in detroit

“Life happened.” That’s the short version of why Shawnte Cain left Wayne State University with only one class left to take before completing her degree. The longer version: she was working multiple jobs and taking care of her grandmother, who was ill. “I just didn’t end up going back,” Cain says now. Even with only one class remaining, a lot had to happen for Cain to complete her degree. When she inquired about going back, in 2017, she learned another class had been added to the requirements for her program. She also owed Wayne State money. “I didn’t even know what my outstanding balance was, I just knew that I had one,” she says. That debt would have to be settled before she could re-enroll. In 2018, the Lumina Foundation designated Detroit as a Talent Hub, in recognition of ongoing coalition work led by the Detroit Chamber of Commerce, Wayne State University, and Macomb Community College. Together, they had set a goal of re-engaging the region’s 690,000 adults who had completed some college but hadn’t gotten a degree. The Talent Hub designation recognizes communities that are doing innovative work to increase post-high school learning and training, with a focus on eliminating educational disparities for communities of color. Talent Hubs receive grants to support their work. “The Talent Hub [designation] brought us to this point,” says Dawn S. Medley, the associate vice president for enrollment management at Wayne State University. Medley says the city had applied to the program and been rejected, which made the coalition realize, “We had to bring our A-game.” Medley created one of the programs that enabled Cain to re-enroll and complete her degree: Wayne State’s Warrior Way Back program. She realized that outstanding educational debt often created compounding problems for students: “We just locked people out of higher education and locked them out of the opportunity to ever pay off that debt.” “I’m an English major,” Medley says, but she found the math simple: forgiving some former students’ outstanding debt would allow them to re-enroll and start paying tuition again. That insight became the Warrior Way Back program, in which students with less than $1,500 in outstanding debt can re-enroll and “learn” off their debt at a rate of $500 for each semester completed. Medley says the program has generated roughly $750,000 for the university. “The opportunity to do what is right for the student has become an opportunity to do what is right for the institution,” she says. When Cain did re-enroll at Wayne State in 2018, she took advantage of both Warrior Way Back and a tuition reimbursement program provided by her employer, the MGM Grand Detroit. Warrior Way Back representatives “were kind of like my concierge team to make sure I had the best experience going back to school,” she says. With all this support at her back, Cain actually went on to take another two classes after completing her degree in public relations, allowing her to update her social media skills—and keep her son in WSU’s preschool, which is free for students. 
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Wayne State announces mixed plan for fall return of classes

Wayne State University announced Wednesday that classes for fall will look very different amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter emailed to students, WSU President M. Roy Wilson detailed the plans saying 20 percent of courses will take place traditionally on campus and about 46 percent will be remote or online. About 2 percent will be a hybrid combination of online and in-person. As many as 32 percent of classes may be individually arranged. Wilson said the university is preparing to adjust if necessary. Campus housing has remained open during the pandemic and will be open for the fall semester. "Campus life and learning will look different than they did in February, and we have new guidelines and procedures in place … to accommodate physical distancing and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus," said Wilson. "Although things have changed, we remain firmly committed to our academic mission." Wilson said he will hold a town hall meeting 3 to 4 p.m. Thursday where students may pose questions and comments to the restart committee and him. He also highlighted that the WSU Board of Governors approved a 0% tuition increase "to allow our students to focus on their studies without added financial stress." "The university will also continue to develop new and innovative ways to make an education affordable for everyone," Wilson said.
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Wayne State University to announce plans for fall semester amid pandemic

Wayne State University is set to announce Wednesday exact plans for the fall semester. The university is one of the last such schools to announce return plans amid the coronavirus pandemic. “I said from the very beginning that we weren’t going to make any definitive decisions until as late as possible, based on the science and based on the public health at the time,” said President M. Roy Wilson. We do know a couple of the university’s plans already. For one, masks will be nonnegotiable. “That’s going to be mandatory for us,” said Wilson. “If you’re in a closed environment, in any of our buildings, you’re going to have to a wear a mask, period.” Here’s what else we know: There will be in-person, online and remote classes. Students will have to take a mandatory campus health and safety online course. There will be daily screenings and barcodes giving access to campus. Students living on campus will receive a COVID-19 test. The full plan will be sent via email to students and community members.
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Wayne State University responds to new ICE policy

Wayne State University is responding to new guidelines put in place by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for international students. The new policy, according to the university, would "impose restrictions that put undue burdens on students and institutions as we continue to deal with uncertainties caused by the pandemic." This would require international students to be enrolled in at least one in-person class (which can be a hybrid) to maintain their visa status during the fall semester. The decision was made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. WSU has about 1,500 international students. "We have joined higher education institutions and associations from across the country who are calling for changes to these unfair and impractical policies and are mobilizing to advocate on behalf of our international students," associate vice president of educational outreach and international programs Ahmad M. Ezzeddine,  said in a press release. "As these efforts continue, we are also reviewing the specifics of these guidelines to identify areas that will require changes in our fall plans to ensure compliance with the new rules. The planned hybrid model (a combination of on-campus and remote/online classes) we were already considering for the fall term should provide some flexibility in that regard."
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Michigan universities trying to prevent deportation of international students

Wayne State University and Oakland University will join the likes of Harvard, MIT and the University of Michigan in a fight to keep international students from being deported. The White House said if colleges don’t reopen, international students will have to finish their studies online from their home countries. The universities are now creating in-person courses to keep talent in the U.S. Rather than letting their international students be deported if schools go to a 100 percent online learning model -- they are figuring out how to make courses with the minimum bar of accommodation to keep those students’ visas safe.
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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