In the news

News outlet logo for favicons/freep.com.png

Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On' is still relevant and revealing, 50 years later

Fifty years ago this summer, vibrating with agitation and energy, Marvin Gaye headed down the wood steps into a Detroit  studio and made his anthem for the ages. “What’s Going On,” a poignant musical masterpiece crafted in a season of unease, persists as a timely backdrop to another heated summer, half a century later, when the world feels upside down. Racial tensions, police controversy, environmental anxieties, a globe on edge — they were the topics on the front burner when Gaye rebooted his musical career and took control of his creative vision inside Motown. “What’s Going On” was richly Detroit. Gaye had been “all over the city, soaking up Detroit’s vibes and moods as he was recording,” wrote the Freep’s Bob Talbert, who was tight with Gaye at the time. With its seasoned jazz and big-band players, Motown’s ace Funk Brothers and the DSO, the track was a collective hometown feat. “People always talk about various influences out of Detroit. This really was a hometown effort that went worldwide. It captured that community sensibility and coming-together during a challenging time,” said Chris Collins, a music professor and director of jazz studies at Wayne State University. “The production — the openness of the music involved — was a pretty spectacular example of what can come out of that.” Collins said his 22-year-old son is enamored with the song and album. “It's in his musical life as a young person,” said Collins, also director of the Detroit Jazz Festival. “I think that speaks to the power and sincerity of that recording. It spans generation and communities.” At Wayne State, ethnomusicologist Josh Duchan’s course on 20th century popular music zeroes in on “The Message,” the pioneering 1982 rap hit by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. “A song like that — which is much more explicit in its lyrics — is kind of the extension of what Marvin Gaye and ‘What’s Going On’ did years earlier,” he said. “It’s looking around at the world and saying: These are not the conditions we all hoped for.” 
News outlet logo for favicons/wxyz.com.png

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."
News outlet logo for favicons/clickondetroit.com.png

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.
News outlet logo for favicons/theconversation.com.png

Supreme Court upholds American Indian treaty promises, orders Oklahoma to follow federal law

Kirsten Carlson, associate professor of law and adjunct associate professor of political science, wrote an article for The Conversation about the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling ordering Oklahoma to follow federal law regarding promises made to American Indian nations. “To most Americans, it may seem obvious that a government should live up to its word. But the United States has regularly reneged on the promises that it made to American Indian nations in the nearly 400 treaties that it negotiated with them between 1778 and 1871. Many people feared that the Supreme Court would turn a blind eye to another treaty breach in this case, McGirt v. Oklahoma. Beyond Oklahoma, the decision’s effects will vary by tribe and state. States from Florida to Michigan have sought to curtail tribal sovereignty, and this decision clearly affirmed tribal sovereignty and treaty rights. It also emphasized the limited powers that states have over American Indian tribes under the U.S. Constitution. States may now think twice before ignoring treaty promises or challenging tribal jurisdiction. They may decide it’s better to negotiate than to fight in court.”
News outlet logo for favicons/theconversation.com.png

How talking about the coronavirus as an enemy combatant can backfire

Tabitha Moses, MD/PhD candidate at Wayne State University, wrote a Conversation piece about the growing trend of using military metaphors in references to the coronavirus. “Sometimes war involves battling other countries; other times, it’s the metaphorical kind, like our current “war” against the coronavirus. We see this war reflected in the language that gets used by politicians, policymakers, journalists and healthcare workers. As the “invisible enemy” rolled in, entire economies halted as populations “sheltered in place.” We were told to “hunker down” for the long battle ahead and to “support our troops,” the health care workers, fighting on the “front lines.” These military-inspired metaphors serve a purpose. Unlike the dense linguistic landscape of science and medicine, their messages are clear: Danger. Buckle Down. Cooperate. In fact, studies have shown that sometimes military metaphors can help unite people against a common enemy. They can convey a sense of urgency so that people drop what they’re doing and start paying attention. However, as someone who has studied the way language influences behavior, I know that this kind of rhetoric can have long-term effects that are less positive, particularly within health and medicine. In fact, research has shown that these metaphors can cause people to make decisions that go against sound medical advice.”
News outlet logo for favicons/legalnews.com.png

Wayne Law students awarded prestigious 2020 workers’ right fellowship at UAW

Two Wayne State University Law School students were awarded prestigious 2020 Peggy Browning Summer Fellowships. Rising third-year students Michele Lucas-Narcisse and Samantha Perry are both fellows at United Auto Workers International Union Legal Department in Detroit. They were awarded the fellowships for their commitment to workers’ rights through their previous educational, work, volunteer and personal experiences.
News outlet logo for favicons/wdet.org.png

Wayne State doubles graduation rate, but more work to be done

Wayne State University’s six-year graduation rate just a few years ago was 26%. The six-year rate is the value to focus on as it is the common metric used throughout higher education. After the implementation of intentional programming, six-year graduation numbers have since doubled to just over 50%, a vast improvement but with work still need to be done on the comparatively low four-year graduation rates. Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson says the school set a goal of achieving a 50% graduation rate by 2021, something Wayne State is on track to achieve by the end of summer. Wilson says Wayne State enacted a number of programs, including expanding advising capabilities, to address the low graduation rates. “I think that the only way to improve numbers like this is everybody gets involved,” says Wilson.   
News outlet logo for favicons/detroitnews.com.png

WSU Press hires new director

Stephanie Williams will take the helm of Wayne State University Press in early August, according to a university news release Tuesday. Williams comes from Ohio University Press, where she served most recently as director since June 2019. She replaces Kathryn Wildfong, who returned from retirement to take up the interim director post after Tara Reeser stepped down. “I am delighted that Stephanie will be joining the University Press as our new director," WSU spokesman Michael Wright said in a written statement. "Her leadership will make a difference for the Press, the university, and the community. I also wish to thank Kathryn Wildfong for stepping in as interim director while we conducted a new search. She did a great job getting the team refocused and re-energized, and we all wish her well on her second try at retirement.” 
News outlet logo for favicons/scienmag.com.png

Addressing the toxicity of cancer treatment costs

Lauren Hamel, Ph.D., assistant professor and member of the Population Studies and Disparities Research Program at Karmanos Cancer Institute and the Wayne State University School of Medicine, was awarded a Research Scholar Grant by the American Cancer Society. She will use the grant to test the effectiveness of a patient-focused intervention to improve patient-provider treatment cost discussions and other patient outcomes related to the financial consequences of cancer treatment. Hamel and her team responded to the growing problem of financial toxicity, or the severe material and psychological burden of the cost of cancer treatment. Financial toxicity affects an estimated 30% to 50% of patients with cancer, especially patients who are racial/ethnic minorities, have lower incomes or are under 65. However, well-timed and effective patient-oncologist treatment cost discussions could help.
News outlet logo for favicons/fox2detroit.com.png

Government, business leaders of New Detroit coalition continues fight for racial justice

A civil rights nonprofit has declared "war on racism" and the organization wants Metro Detroiters to join the effort. New Detroit Inc., a coalition founded by city and state officials to promote racial equality in the wake of the city's 1967 uprising, announced the campaign at a Monday press conference. The declaration touts action items such as changing policies and investing in diverse talent that individuals and organizations can commit to online at NewDetroit.org. Part of the declaration urges those who experience "white privilege" to pledge to change their "perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors toward racially oppressed people, institutions, and communities." The pledge commits individuals to personally dismantling racism by consulting with and investing in organizations such as New Detroit and Black Family Development, an organization that provides aid to families in Detroit. Leaders from across the state made appearances as New Detroit's board members. Among them was Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson. "We know that racism is and must be universally acknowledged as a threat to public health," said Wilson.
News outlet logo for favicons/candgnews.com.png

WSU, MSU professors author autism toolkit to guide centers amid COVID-19

The novel coronavirus pandemic has, without a doubt, forced many sectors of Michigan’s workforce to adapt and change how they operate. Autism therapy centers across Michigan are among them, and they’ve received a bit of help and guidance from industry experts. Wayne State University’s Applied Behavioral Analysis Program Director Krista Clancy and Dr. Josh Plavnick, of Michigan State University, co-authored the “Risk Assessment and Mitigation Strategies for Applied Behavior Analysis: Treatment of Children with Autism During a Pandemic” toolkit, bringing together experts to create a multidisciplinary approach to guide autism services during COVID-19. Clancy said data was a main driver guiding the group’s approach. “Knowing that things are pretty confusing right now and people are going back and forth, I was really trying to connect it with the data that’s out there. Don’t just make a decision that’s willy-nilly about what you think you should do. What does the data actually say? What are the recommendations?” Another goal, Clancy said, was to save centers time from mulling over multiple resources. “It’s really just to be a time saver, I hope, for some of these centers. They have enough to think about. This is not something they need to spend a ton of time researching themselves if the research is there.”
News outlet logo for favicons/freep.com.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why corporate America needs to move beyond lip service

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

Students at Michigan universities turn to summer classes

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

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

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