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WSU Police Dept. spearheads national de-escalation training initiative

A National De-escalation Training Center (NDTC) has been established to teach law-enforcement personnel innovative and nonviolent ways to resolve conflicts with the public, and the Wayne State University Police Department has been selected as the center's regional headquarters. Was Wayne State chosen because of Detroit's enduring reputation for crime and violence? Because the city is nearly 80 percent African American? Because of our history of fierce run-ins between civilians and police? None of the above, according to Dr. Patrick Guarnieri, the Florida-based chairman, CEO, and creator of the NDTC program. It was selected because of Wayne State's national reputation as a major urban research university. And because of WSU Police Chief Anthony Holt. "It was originally going to start elsewhere," says Guarnieri, former director of training for the National Intelligence Program at the University of South Florida. "But as we were forming it and weighing our options, Wayne State provided the most amenable campus for what we wanted to do, to set up regional centers across the United States and have the headquarters co-located with a university. "Chief Holt gets the credit for this," says Guarnieri. "Oh, God, what a great human being. It's because of his perspective on progressive and innovative policing and [WSU President M.] Roy Wilson's perspective on community police relations. "This is not a 'one-size-fits-all' training," says Holt, a stalwart on WSU's force for more than four decades. "The goal is to reduce the number of incidents where force comes into play. That horrible incident in Minneapolis could possibly change the whole scope of the culture of law enforcement. You've got to look deep within your organization. When you talk about community policing, now you've got to take a deep dive into it."
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Wayne State University completes STEM Innovation Learning Center

Wayne State University has completed construction on the STEM Innovation Learning Center, and commemorated the occasion with an interactive virtual celebration complete with live remarks, a 3D tour, drone flyover and more. The facility, made possible by a $14.75 million commitment from the state of Michigan and bond proceeds to WSU, will serve as a campus hub for interdisciplinary teaching, learning and innovation. The building features 100,000 square feet of flexible classrooms, instructional labs, a maker space, and 3D printing lab with state-of-the-art technology to support hands-on and project-based learning. “The STEM Innovation Learning Center will provide countless educational and research opportunities for students and faculty from across campus,” said Wayne State University President M. Wilson. “In supporting this project, the state of Michigan has also invested in talent and workforce development, and this facility will benefit Wayne State — and the city of Detroit — for generations to come.” In keeping with the university’s current health and safety guidelines, the STEM Innovation Learning Center opened with limited access and will initially be used for space necessary for essential student support services. In the future, it will play a crucial role in achieving Wayne State’s vision for STEM education and research, as well as supporting K-12 students from the greater Detroit area with experiences and exposure to hands-on, creative learning to ignite their interest in science and technology. “Detroit is and always has been a center for innovation in Michigan, and this new facility will provide a crucial resource to Wayne State students and Detroit-area K-12 students who are interested in pursuing a career in STEM,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “This is exactly what we need to attract more talent and investment to our state and build a strong workforce. I applaud Wayne State University for their dedication to Detroit-area students, and look forward to working with them moving forward.”
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Army sees sharp increase in suicides during coronavirus pandemic

The U.S. Army has seen a worrisome increase in soldier deaths by suicide since March, raising questions about whether troops feeling isolated due to the coronavirus pandemic may be a contributing factor. The total rate of suicides is especially troubling to the Army because for active duty soldiers alone it was 36 per 100,000 so far in 2020 compared to 30.6 the year before. For the total Army forces, including guard and reserve forces, there were 200 suicides by August 31 of this year compared to 166 for the same period in 2019. The highest number of suicides occurred in July with 35 cases, or more than one suicide every day. Army and defense officials privately say they cannot definitively prove that the stress caused by troops feeling isolated during the pandemic played a role. But they believe it may be due to the time frame in which the increase has occurred. Arash Javanbakht, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Wayne State University, told CNN that the pandemic is likely a factor contributing to the increase in suicides in combination with a list of other factors that come with serving in the military. "When it comes to the military population, there's a higher level of stress. This is a high stress job and situation and there's a higher level of trauma, PTSD, depression, substance use, as well as medical conditions which are already there" regardless of the pandemic, he said.

Wayne State archivists partner with College of Education to incorporate archival materials into K–12 curricula

The Wayne State University College of Education and Walter P. Reuther Library Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs were recently awarded a joint $83,100 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the grant-making affiliate of the National Archives and Records Administration. The two-year funding will support the ongoing partnership, “Bridging the Gap: Archives in the Classroom and Community,” which partners archivists and teaching students to bring community-based primary source materials into K–12 classrooms. The project originated five years ago when, as part of an effort to expand collaboration beyond the university’s history department, Reuther archivists considered where their collections might fit into other research areas. “I'm surrounded with the theories of education and education reform,” Daniel Golodner, archivist for the American Federation of Teachers historical collection, told LJ. “So I had the idea: Why aren't we reaching out to those who actually teach?” Wayne State’s College of Education, which offers bachelor's, master's, education specialist, and doctoral degree programs for teachers in 37 program areas, was an ideal place to start. Golodner and Outreach Archivist Meghan Courtney began working with Min Yu and Christopher B. Crowley, both assistant professors of Teacher Education at the College of Education.
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Michigan’s effort to end gerrymandering revives a practice rooted in ancient Athens

John Rothchild, professor of law, wrote an article for The Conversation. “Michigan has embarked on an experiment in democratic governance using a technique employed in Athens 2,500 years ago but little used since: the selection of government officials by lottery rather than by appointment or election. The 13 officials selected by lot in August make up Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. By November 2021, the group will draw election districts used to elect officials to the Michigan Legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives. The redistricting process occurs every 10 years, after the Census Bureau determines how many representatives are allocated to each state. Historically, state legislatures have been responsible for redistricting. But throughout U.S. history gerrymandering – drawing election districts to favor the political party that controls the state legislature – has characterized the redistricting process…Michigan’s commission, created by a 2018 ballot initiative, is unique. As a professor who teaches constitutional law and, occasionally, ancient Athenian law, I am fascinated by the fact that Michigan’s seemingly novel experiment in governance is based on a process that is thousands of years old.”
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Civil rights report lays out ways Michigan schools can level playing field

Michigan schools need more money and less competition to better provide adequate education to all children, according to a new report released Wednesday by the Michigan Commission on Civil Rights. The report calls for changes to the way Michigan funds its K-12 education system, including a weighted funding formula that provides more money to schools with large numbers of students who live in poverty, have special needs or are learning to speak English for the first time. The report isn't binding, but it will be forwarded to policymakers in Lansing and elsewhere with a series of recommendations to make education in Michigan more equitable. Some of the proposals have been suggested before and others are sure to be controversial, including changes to Proposal A, an amendment to the state Constitution that lowered property taxes for schools in exchange for increasing the state sales tax. The proposal helped reduce the funding gap between Michigan's wealthiest schools and its poorest schools, but over time, it slowed the growth of Michigan school funding. "Michigan ranks a dismal 49th among the states in real per-pupil funding growth from 2005 to 2014, with an actual 7% reduction over that period," according to Michael Addonizio of Wayne State University, who testified at one of the meetings. Addonizio noted that in the 1980s, Michigan and Massachusetts funded education at nearly equal levels. Today, Massachusetts spends about 30% more funding than Michigan does. “Year after year, Massachusetts is at or near the top in all testing categories for fourth grade and eighth grade reading and math, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress,” Addonizio said.
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Michigan officials: Blacks contracting, dying of virus at same rate as whites

African Americans in Michigan are contracting the coronavirus at the same rate as whites, according to state data released Monday, reducing the disproportionate impact of cases and deaths the minority suffered during the early stages of the pandemic. State officials released data Monday showing that Michigan has seen "significant progress" in reducing COVID-19 on communities of color in the past two weeks and created a program in hopes of continuing the trend. The development comes after Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson said last week the gap has been eliminated. State health officials highlighted that Black residents account for 8.2% of cases and 9.9% of deaths in the past two weeks. By contrast, white residents comprised 88.7% of cases and 88%. Earlier in the pandemic. Blacks represented 29.4% of cases and 40.7% of deaths. The pandemic began in March. Black residents make up 14% of Michigan’s population, while whites comprise 79%, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. Wayne State's Wilson said last week this issue was not being talked about and that the progress is critical. Nearly four decades have passed since U.S. Health and Human Service Secretary Margaret Heckler’s report on Black and Minority Health reported 60,000 excess deaths annually in black and minority populations due to health disparities. "This health gap persists to this day," said Wilson, who previously served in the U.S. National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. "The experience here in Michigan with COVID-19 provides hope that progress can be made in addressing persistent racial health disparities if we focus deeply and work together."
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After decriminalization of 'magic' mushrooms in Ann Arbor, medical professionals issue warnings

One week after the Ann Arbor City Council voted to decriminalize psychedelic substances like magic mushrooms some medical professionals want users to not be tricked into thinking there's no danger. "I think the public needs more education or at least awareness and that is where the poison center comes in," said Dr. Varaun Vorhra, Wayne State University Poison Control Center. Some advocates tout psychedelic substances as having therapeutic benefits in the treatment of mental illness and other medical problems. But medical professionals are sounding the alarm because of how these substances can interact with medications and even the foods you eat. "You will see a lot of different side effects like racing heart rate, nausea, vomiting, sweating, hallucinations, possible psychosis," Vohra said. "What we would call 'a bad trip.'" Medical experts believe if you are going to use these substances, you should do under certain conditions. "We recommend at least, if you are with a group of people, people who will be able to monitor you, or supervise you in that setting," Vohra said. "Sort of a chaperone in a way." You can also contact the Michigan Poison Center at the Wayne State University School of Medicine to learn more about the substance before using.
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On International Safe Abortion Day, Detroit law professor weighs in on latest SCOTUS nomination

On International Safe Abortion Day, Sept. 28, organizations that advocate for women to have the right to choose are speculating how the Supreme Court nomination of devout Catholic Judge Amy Coney Barrett will impact their mission. One law professor believes the confirmation hearing might not provide many answers. "Planned Parenthood is always under attack in certain states by the opponents of reproductive freedom," said Robert Sedler, distinguished professor of law at Wayne State University. "I suspect Judge Barrett will try to skirt the question as much as she can." He believes concerns regarding Roe vs. Wade, a landmark Supreme Court decision that protects a pregnant woman's freedom to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restrictions, are unfounded. "I think it's simply hype. My view as a constitutional law professor is that I expect the Supreme Court to follow doctrine and precedent. In terms of the Supreme Court overruling Roe V. Wade, as I say, that would be extremely unlikely," he said. 
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Michigan's racial disparity disappears in new virus cases

The disproportionate number of African Americans among newly reported COVID-19 cases has largely disappeared in Michigan over recent weeks, data suggests. Tiffany Brown, a spokeswoman for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, confirmed the reduction in COVID-19 cases among African Americans in a text message late Thursday night. She said more on this issue will be coming next week. Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson referenced the turnaround during a presentation Thursday to the Lansing Economic Club. Wilson, who sits on a gubernatorial task force created to examine racial disparities, appeared with the presidents of Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. "One thing that is not being talked about enough is this huge racial disparity that we saw at the beginning has now been completely eliminated," Wilson said. The university presidents attributed the lowered toll on African Americans to a variety of interventions, although other factors might also be at work. But Wilson warned the African American community should not get complacent and must continue wearing masks, maintain social distancing and avoid large gatherings. "It is still worth pointing out the remarkable turnaround," said Wilson, adding he has worked in the field of racial disparities for a long time, and it's unusual to see efforts have an impact so quickly. "It allowed targeted intervention to make a big difference." Wilson attributed the close to many efforts created as a result of Whitmer creating the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities in April, the group on which he sits. The group has been reviewing weekly COVID-19 reports prepared for the Michigan Economic Recovery Council, he said.
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Spotlight on Hispanic Heritage Month on Inside MI's African American Vote series

Spotlight on the News: Inside Michigan's African American Vote series celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month and examined the impact and influence of the largest minority group in America. How are leaders of Michigan's Hispanic and Latino/a community using their power and voice to increase the cultural diversity of the U.S.? Among the guests was Jorge Chinea, History professor  and Director, Center for Latino/a & Latin American Studies.
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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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Wayne State opening of STEM Innovation Learning Center Oct. 1

Wayne State University will open its new STEM Innovation Learning Center on Thursday, Oct. 1, and host virtual pop-up mini events throughout the day from 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Students, faculty, staff, and the community are invited to join the celebration. The virtual event will include remarks from university and state leadership, a tour of the building, a drone flyover, and more. Construction on the project, which was made possible by a $14.75 million commitment from the state of Michigan as well as bond proceeds to WSU, began in March 2019. “Now more than ever is a time for innovation and optimism, and this facility will help further a culture of collaboration and creativity across disciplines,” says Tonya Matthews, associate provost for inclusive workforce development and director of the STEM Innovation Learning Center. “Students, faculty and the city of Detroit will benefit from the ideas and opportunities generated within this cutting-edge, state-of-the-art learning space for years to come.” This fall, the building will soft open with limited access while equipment is moved in and final systems are tested. The STEM Innovation Learning Center, however, has already begun to play a role in achieving Wayne State’s vision for STEM education and research for current and future Warriors through various community partnerships that could build upon the spirit of inclusive, collaborative STEM.
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Wayne State researcher predicts a COVID-19 spike as winter nears

It has been more than seven months since the novel coronavirus was first detected in Michigan. During that time, what we know about the virus has changed dramatically and our understanding continues to change rapidly. We’re also now hearing more and more about the race to develop a vaccine. Wayne State University medical researcher Dr. Paul Kilgore joins Stephen Henderson on WDET Detroit Today regularly to give the audience the most reliable and trustworthy information on these subjects. Kilgore is associate professor & director of research at Wayne State University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. He says other viral infections tend to peak with colder weather, and researchers expect the same to be true of the novel coronavirus. He says it’s less a matter of if we’ll see another spike in cases in the coming months, and more a matter of how big that spike will be. “Caution is the key word right now,” says Kilgore. But he says one piece of good news is that medical professionals are getting better at treating COVID-19. “We have a better understanding of the pathology of the virus, which means we’re getting better at understanding how to treat it.”
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Off-campus students remain a challenge in Detroit’s census response

According to the city census data map, Midtown and the Wayne State University area — neighborhoods that have plenty of traditional and campus housing— still have some of the lowest census responses in the city, about 28 percent, while the city itself has pushed past the halfway mark with a response rate of 50.1, as of Wednesday. Wayne State officials said that they had been working with Victoria Kovari, who is leading Detroit’s Census initiative, for the past 1.5 years to encourage residents and students to respond to the 2020 Census. Wayne State ran volunteer events and education campaigns to help students understand that they could participate in the census for their campus address. “We just wanted to let students know that the Census was coming up and talked about the areas in which it effected funding, roads, Pell education, healthcare and trying to find things that would matter to students,” said Carolyn Berry, WSU associate vice president of marketing and communications. 

New article shows how science could reveal racism's real impact on the body and brain

A novel publication in the Nature journal Neuropsychopharmacology asserts that the stress of racism produces an increased risk for mental health disorders like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder in the Black community, especially in the current climate brought on by COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, leading to a critical need to utilize science to understand racism's true biological impact. Wayne State University School of Medicine Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences and the David and Patricia Barron Endowed Chair in PTSD and Trauma Neurobiology Tanja Jovanovic, Ph.D., wrote "The critical importance in identifying the biological mechanisms underlying the effects of racism on mental health" with Tracy Bale, Ph.D., a professor of Pharmacology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. Jovanovic has studied the impact of trauma on the brain and behavior in primarily African American urban communities for more than 15 years. The focus of her work has been in exposure to neighborhood and domestic violence, and post-traumatic stress disorder. She is now investigating the impact of racial discrimination "above and beyond that of other types of trauma." "It is clear that the impact of racism is chronic, pervasive, and for many, unavoidable. Moreover it leaves the brain and body vulnerable to many disorders, including PTSD and many physical diseases," she said.
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Mental health expert: Limit news intake, check in on friends

Arash Javanbakht, associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Stress, Trauma and Anxiety Research Clinic at Wayne State University, was a guest on Detroit Today hosted by Stephen Henderson. Javanbakht says there are multiple factors that contribute to stress, all of which are present in the COVID-19 pandemic. He says the rapid transition and change in lifestyle has made the already traumatic situation more stressful for many and adds that all the unknowns around the virus can also create stress. “There’s also a lot of uncertainty. Uncertainty always makes any difficult situation even more difficult.” Javanbakht says limiting negative news intake and checking in on friends can really help mental health. He says that friends can learn coping skills together, easing stress. “If I am happy, if I am doing well, share it with others. Call a friend and be encouraging, even lend some money if someone needs it. If I don’t have happiness, I can’t share it with others.”
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When someone dies, what happens to the body?

Mark Evely, program director and assistant professor of mortuary science, wrote an article for The Conversation about what happens to the body following death. “In general, it depends on three things: where you die, how you die and what you or your family decide on for funeral arrangements and final disposition. Death can happen anywhere: at home; in a hospital, nursing or palliative care facility; or at the scene of an accident, homicide or suicide. A medical examiner or coroner must investigate whenever a person dies unexpectedly while not under a doctor’s care. Based on the circumstances of the death, they determine whether an autopsy is needed. If so, the body travels to a county morgue or a funeral home, where a pathologist conducts a detailed internal and external examination of the body as well as toxicology tests. Once the body can be released, some states allow for families to handle the body themselves, but most people employ a funeral director.”
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Experts say Trump downplaying risks of the coronavirus was not justified

President Trump has defended the way he downplayed the dangers of the coronavirus. He says he was showing leadership during a time of crisis, but that's the opposite of what crisis management experts recommend. NPR's Ayesha Rascoe spoke with Wayne State University Professor Matthew Seeger. After 9/11, he helped the Centers for Disease Control develop plans for talking to the public about emergencies. “Whenever I hear, you know, the rationale of panic as an explanation for why people are withholding information, it's like fingernails on a chalkboard.” Seeger says past crises have shown that people rarely panic in these situations, and that's why experts recommend transparency. “When there is an announcement of a hurricane warning in South Florida, people don't panic. I mean, they don't abandon everything and jump in their cars and drive north.”
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Reasons online students should be able to keep webcam off

Child psychology researchers don’t know yet what the effects of this school year will be on children, said Erika Bocknek, a Wayne State University associate professor of educational psychology. “We’re building the boat as we sail it,” Bocknek said. Unlike in a traditional classroom, children are viewing themselves and staring at the faces of their classmates, which can make them self-conscious about their own appearance, said Bocknek, who teaches courses on child psychology. “We don’t have good data on this yet, but a lot of people are in fact speculating that there may be impacts on self-esteem, on a positive sense of identity,” Bocknek said. Increased screen time during virtual school is another unknown for researchers, Bocknek said. But experts know this school year may exacerbate already existing mental and behavioral issues, she said. “I think we are going to have some positive and negative lessons learned from this time period,” Bocknek said. "We really don’t know yet for sure what the impacts are going to be. However, we hypothesize that there are children with different learning styles who might really benefit from being able to turn the camera off and focus on listening auditorily to the lesson.”