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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.
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Michigan declares racism a health crisis. Without funding, it’s symbolic

With two pen strokes last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared racism in health a priority within the state’s government offices. But health leaders say it will be the follow-up — funding, policy change and enforcement — that determines whether the move is symbolic or transformative. “I'm glad they're getting people to the table … The thing is we've been discussing this and discussing this and discussing this,” Dr. Lynn Smitherman, a Detroit pediatrician, associate chair of medical education at Wayne State University, and a diversity and inclusion champion for the American Academy of Pediatrics. “You still have to do something. Discussion without action is just another academic exercise,” she said. At a panel discussion last week organized by Wayne State University and others, Dr. Michelle Williams said Black Americans also face institutional racism when they are sick — with access at times only to lower-quality care and even clinicians that turn them away or don’t listen to their concerns. Lyke Thompson, director of the Center for Urban Studies at Wayne State University, has studied lead poisoning extensively and said Black children in Detroit often live in older homes that have high levels of lead paint, which can impair learning and hinder lifetime earning potential. Thompson said he has called for strengthening laws that hold accountable the landlords who don’t address those issues, but a lack of political will has stopped short of making that happen. An official declaration that racism plays a role in policies — and a commitment to address it — may finally make a difference, he said. “This takes serious, clear, ongoing focus,” he said.
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Wayne State University’s Police Chief on the Case for De-escalation

No one likes the police right now,” Wayne State University police Chief Anthony Holt concedes. “It’s a natural reaction. Black or white, they just don’t like us now.” For a man who has spent more than 40 years in law enforcement at WSU, the last 12 as chief, that reality has got to bite, especially since under Holt’s leadership, Wayne State has been ranked as one of the safest campuses in America by online researchers at And 85 percent of the duties his officers perform take place just off campus in the surrounding Midtown district. His style is both involved and innovative. He originated CompStat, a bimonthly meeting at Wayne State of law enforcement representatives from across southeast Michigan to compare statistics and best practices. And in May, the department established the headquarters of the National De-escalation Training Center on the Wayne State campus. The intensive program is designed to use personality assessment to take police training to the next level.
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Metro Detroit seniors are dying at twice the rate of older adults in Michigan, study shows

In parts of Wayne County, including Detroit and eight surrounding suburbs, older adults are dying at twice the rate of those who live elsewhere in Michigan, according to a report, “Dying Before their Time,” a 19-year analysis between the Detroit Area Agency on Aging and Wayne State University Medical School. The agency attributed much of the cause to be a "result of deep-rooted negative social and economic policies and significant inequities in resource distribution." Chronic illnesses, living conditions, accessibility to health care and lack of health insurance, food and transportation are specifically cited as reasons for the shortened lifespans, the study found. Study co-author Dr. Herbert Smitherman Jr. of Wayne State University School of Medicine and Detroit Medical Center said it was shocking to discover how many people aren’t making it to 60 years old. “I’m a physician but also a scientist, so when they approached me, my first recommendation was that an analysis needed to be done since there was never data collected by the state,” Smitherman said. “To see we lost not 1 or 2%, but 23% of the entire population, it seemed unrealistic. The Detroit region had 1.3 million people and lost more than 150,000 people, that’s just what the (nation) lost with coronavirus. “That’s when we realized something was happening to seniors that wasn’t happening with any other population, and it got my full attention. Next, we realized if they’re dying before age 60, what’s happening before?" Smitherman worries the trend will continue without a coordinated push to reverse it. "What we’ve seen over 19 years is that it’s the same," Smitherman said. "Unless we have some sustained effort where they allocate funding and collaboratively work to improve health and reverse centuries of racial poverty, this trend will persist over many decades to come. "If we do nothing, nothing’s going to change."
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Wayne State establishes center for de-escalation training in law enforcement

Several law enforcement departments are in talks with the Wayne State University Police Department following its establishment as the regional headquarters for the National De-escalation Training Center (NDTC). Located on the university’s campus, the NDTC is a nonprofit entity aimed at teaching law enforcement professionals new techniques for addressing and resolving situations in a nonconfrontational and nonviolent manner. “The goal is to reduce the number of instances where force comes into play. We had our first officers run through the program in March and April,” said Wayne State University Police Chief Anthony Holt. “We were ahead of the game since everyone started calling for more programs like this after the George Floyd incident in Minnesota, but it did encourage us to reach out to other departments to let them know this program is being offered. It’s a two-day training program. We do classroom work the first day and run through scenarios the second day. We can run shoot/don’t shoot training, hypothetical scenarios and face-to-face tests,” said Holt. “You start with de-escalation, you don’t walk up loud and in their face and then de-escalate, you need to start low and make sure the person you’re confronting knows you’re not out to get them — that you’re doing a job, you’re not looking to arrest them no matter what.”
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Can a building truly be COVID-proof? A look at the latest virus-busting technology

Some of the new COVID-19-blocking technology is techy and futuristic – like ultraviolet light wands that look like lightsabers. Some pieces are unflashy, like HVAC filters and ventilation tweaks. There’s no way to fully COVID-proof a building – at least not as long as humans are allowed inside. But there are pieces of technology, old and new, that are likely to chop down on the risk. A new trend is the fogger, which disperses disinfectant across a given area. They can stand on their own or be sprayed manually and be worn like a backpack, said Rob Davenport, associate vice president of facilities, planning and management at Wayne State University. Wayne State bought eight electrostatic fogging devices in preparation for the school year. They’ll be used twice per day in any of the weight rooms and fitness centers on campus that might be allowed to open for students or athletes. It will also be used in any potential exposure areas if the school has a positive COVID-19 case, Davenport said. Another suggested method is circulating air in buildings. “The worst thing you can do is not move air,” said Davenport. “We have a better chance at controlling the pandemic in a building when we are moving air.” With the tap of a touchscreen, building managers can adjust how much fresh air is coming inside. It's a concept many large commercial buildings like universities and hospitals already utilize, Davenport said. Hospital operating rooms, for example, often require as many as 20 full air exchanges per hour and have close to 100% outdoor air, Davenport said. At Wayne State, they’re upping the percentage this fall from 10-15% new air to at least 20%. As MLive interviewed experts about emerging technology to kill COVID-19 particles, there was a common, unprompted theme. “Wear a mask. That's the best thing you can do," said Davenport.
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Obama is trashing Trump, reigniting an old feud

In recent months, Obama has waded back into the fray more so than before. He openly criticized the administration's response to coronavirus publicly. In remarks to donors that leaked to the NYT, Obama said Trump played on "nativist, racist, sexist" fears. Moreover, comments Obama made in his eulogy to John Lewis, the former civil rights activist and congressman, were also indirectly critical of Trump, taking aim at the use of federal agents against protesters and attempts to undermine mail-in voting. "As he delivered the eulogy, Obama felt the moral urgency of the moment: To honor Lewis, Obama had to speak up in that moment. And he did," Liette Gidlow, an associate professor of history at Wayne State University who edited the book Obama, Clinton, Palin: Making History in Election 2008, told Newsweek. Suggesting Obama had been "extremely restrained" about Trump previously, she said the "urgency of the moment" perhaps pushed the former president to be more expansive. "The republic is in trouble because a number of powerful officials, up to and including Trump himself, have taken actions that show their willingness to undermine basic democratic norms," Gidlow said.

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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Timeouts improve kids’ behavior if you do them the right way

Lucy (Kathleen) McGoron, assistant professor of child and family development, wrote an article for The Conversation. “With parents spending more time with their children than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, their need for discipline that works is greater than ever. Fortunately, there are some proven techniques. As a developmental psychologist, I believe that anyone raising little kids could learn how to better use timeouts. This disciplinary technique is among the best ways to stop frustrating child behavior, like not listening, breaking family rules or being overly aggressive. Following all the required steps is essential.
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Wayne State-led team explores link between diabetes, obesity and liver disease

Diabetes, obesity and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are all common diseases that can lead to serious health implications. NAFLD affects over 30% of Americans, and is characterized as a fatty liver, which can progress to an inflammatory and fibrotic liver, called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), as well as liver cirrhosis. The molecular causes of NAFLD and NASH are still not fully understood and, to date, no FDA-approved drug is available for NAFLD. A major hurdle for scientists is understanding the causal relationships between NAFLD, diabetes and obesity, which are often presented together in patients and treated as comorbidities. Without a clear understanding of their causal relationship and root cause, drug development may fail. Faculty from Wayne State University’s Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences are leading a team of researchers to understand the causal relationships between these three diseases in hopes of developing a treatment.Wanqing Liu, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Wayne State, along with his collaborators, recently published a paper in the Journal of Hepatology that attempts to understand the molecular causes of NAFLD. The team conducted a large-scale genomic analysis called Mendelian randomization, a strategy similar to a randomized clinical trial that relies on a naturally occurred randomization of genetic alleles in human populations.

Black Women’s Long Struggle for Voting Rights

On March 3, 1913, the day before Woodrow Wilson’s presidential inauguration, more than 5,000 women gathered in Washington, D.C. for a “suffrage parade” demanding the right to vote. But when the Black activist Mary Church Terrell proposed that African-American women join the march, its organizer, suffragist leader Alice Paul, worried about the reaction of white Southern women. So she offered a compromise: Black women could march at the back. Many, including the crusading journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett, defied Paul and walked alongside their white counterparts.  
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Pistons purchase G-League team in Arizona, will play games at Wayne State in 2021-22

The Pistons are getting a new G League affiliate for the 2021-22 season. The team and the Gatorade league jointly announced Wednesday that the Pistons purchased the Phoenix Suns’ affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns. That new team will be renamed and begin play in the new arena being built on the campus of Wayne State University after next season. The Grand Rapids Drive, who had been the Pistons’ affiliate in the G-League, will play its last season before the transition to the new team and new arena. The Drive have a separate ownership group — that includes former Pistons icon Ben Wallace — and the move gives Pistons team owner Tom Gores control over the new Detroit-based franchise. Wayne State and the Pistons last year announced the construction of a $25 million arena that will house the new G League franchise as well as Wayne State’s men’s and women’s basketball teams. The new facility will be 70,000 square feet and will be located near the corner of Warren and Trumbull on the school’s athletic campus. In addition to playing games on the school’s campus, a move that will generate revenue and usage of the new facility, the organization will work with Wayne State administrators to create programs and internship opportunities for students in fields like sports marketing, community relations, physical therapy, rehabilitation and sports and entertainment business operations.
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African American teens face mental health crisis but are less likely than whites to get treatment

Rebecca Klisz-Hulbert, assistant professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, wrote an article for The Conversation. “Black youth in the U.S. experience more illness, poverty, and discrimination than their white counterparts. These issues put them at higher risk for depression and other mental health problems. Yet Black youth are less likely to seek treatment. About 9% of them reported an episode of major depression in the past year, but less than half of those – about 40% – received treatment. By comparison, about 46% of white youth who reported an episode were treated for depressive symptoms. Instead, some turn to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among Black children ages 10 to 19. That rate is rising faster for them than any other racial or ethnic group.”

How will the NFL’s COVID-19 testing and contact tracing work?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone who has spent more than 15 minutes within six feet of somebody who has COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days. On the field, football players are continually within six feet of each other, especially at the line of scrimmage. Even if distancing six feet during football games and practices were possible, it might not be enough. Studies on superspreading events suggest that heavy breathing may spread droplets as far as 12 feet, or four yards, according to Gretchen Snoeyenbos Newman, an assistant professor of Infectious Disease at Wayne State University. “For football players on the field while they’re playing, the linemen are really your most at-risk people [to become infected]. Athletes are professional droplet producers.” Also, some conclude that professional athletes in peak physical fitness would be minimally affected by contracting the virus. Snoeyenbos Newman says that isn’t the case. There is increasing evidence that COVID-19 can damage the lungs, heart, and even the brain. Snoeyenbos Newman says that while the average person who contracts and recovers from COVID-19 may not notice if they lose 2 percent of their lung capacity, elite athletes will absolutely notice, and long-lasting lung or heart problems could be career-ending. “Getting really, really sick but not dying can also have very negative life-long consequences,” Snoeyenbos Newman says. “You don’t have to die in order for it to be really bad.”

Leading the nation, Michigan’s Opioid Treatment Ecosystems save lives through holistic model

Opioid overdoses killed 18 times more Michiganders in 2018 than they did in 1999, and putting addicts in jail isn't helping the problem. Studies have found that people released from incarceration are 129 times more likely to die of an overdose. However, a new initiative of the Wayne State University Center for Behavioral Health and Justice (CBHJ) is working to change the cultural landscape around substance use disorder and decrease overdose deaths through prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and sustained recovery. CBHJ's six-county Opioid Treatment Ecosystem initiative creates community-based alliances including corrections and law enforcement agencies, behavioral health and medical providers, state of Michigan partners, philanthropic organizations, social workers, and individuals directly impacted by the opioid crisis. The initiative employs a holistic approach that seeks to help people with substance use disorders before, during, and after incarceration. “The fact that we have many jails doing this work in Michigan is such a huge achievement,” says Brad Ray, director of the CBHJ. “People who crave opiates crave them regularly. They are consuming, for example, heroin a couple times a day. Individuals who have addictions go to jail and go through a very painful withdrawal that is sometimes life-threatening. In 99% of jails in the country, no treatment happens whatsoever.”
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Police use of rubber bullets, bean bag rounds has left a bloody trail for decades

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on initiatives to collect data and start developing national standards for less lethal weapon safety after a Boston student’s death in 2004. Funding dried up after a few years, and the efforts died. Against that backdrop, Congress has shown little interest in regulating bean bags and rubber bullets. And national law enforcement leadership groups have repeatedly punted when given an opportunity. NIJ awarded grants to a Wayne State University researcher, Cynthia Bir, to help develop standards. Over several years, study groups were formed. Testing modes were developed. Then, according to Bir, Tasers and other equipment became more widely used by police. As interest in rubber bullets and bean bags waned, the Great Recession depleted funding. Research efforts dissolved along with prospects for standards for less lethal weapons. “NIJ gave us a fair amount of funding to look at this issue and then … the focus switched to Tasers,” Bir said. “Everything just kind of went away.”