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Oakland University Honors College enrollment surpasses 2,000 students

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ROCHESTER, Mich., Oct. 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — For the first time in its history, Oakland University’s Honors College has a total enrollment of more than 2,000 students.

“Very few universities can trace their history back to the history of Honors Colleges across the nation,” said Graeme Harper, dean of OU’s Honors College. “Oakland is distinctive in that way, and all students who come to Oakland have a connection to the pursuit of aspirational goals and ambitions. That this year we reach a milestone with 2,036 students in our Honors College is so exciting, and it represents the quality of this university that we love.”

The Honors College enrolls students who wish to pursue academic excellence, growth opportunities and leadership. Students automatically qualify to join The Honors College if they possess a minimum GPA of 3.7 and a SAT of at least 1,200 or an ACT of at least 25. Students who have a GPA of at least 3.3 and an SAT of at least 1,000 or an ACT of at least 19 are eligible to apply to join The Honors College and their applications are considered on merit.

This year’s incoming Honors College class of 655 students is academically diverse, with more than 50 different majors and concentrations. They are widely distributed throughout the university’s College of Arts and Sciences and various schools.

  • College of Arts and Sciences – 204
  • School of Engineering and Computer Science – 121
  • School of Nursing – 51
  • School of Heath Sciences – 48
  • School of Business Administration – 33
  • School of Music Theatre and Dance – 26
  • School of Education and Human Services – 21
  • Pre-Med Concentration – 149
  • Undecided – 50

Over the past year, The Honors College saw a 59 percent jump in applications and a 15 percent increase in attendance at information sessions, key trends that have fueled the college’s record-breaking total enrollment.

“There is no better student than an Oakland University student,” Dean Harper declared. “We are the first choice of some of the highest-achieving students across this state of Michigan and well beyond too. A vibrant, growing Honors College tells a wonderful story. It is the story of OU’s success and of all the students who join the OU community.”

Learn more about Oakland University’s Honors College, by visiting oakland.edu/hc.

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University warns about college students trying to contract COVID-19 to make money donating plasma with antibodies

Brigham Young University-Idaho warned on Monday about accounts of college students “intentionally” trying to contract COVID-19 in order to make money by donating plasma with antibodies. 

The Idaho university issued a statement saying officials were “deeply troubled” by the alleged behavior and “is actively seeking evidence of such conduct among our student body.”

Students who are determined to have intentionally exposed themselves or others to the virus will be immediately suspended from the university and may be permanently dismissed,” the university stated.

“The contraction and spread of COVID-19 is not a light matter,” the statement continued. “Reckless disregard for health and safety will inevitably lead to additional illness and loss of life in our community.”

University officials noted that they had previously cautioned last month that if Idaho or Madison County continue to experience surges in cases, the university may have to switch to fully online learning. 

The release also encouraged students who are participating in this behavior to consult financial and mental health resources, saying, “There is never a need to resort to behavior that endangers health or safety in order to make ends meet.”

Brigham Young University-Idaho has confirmed 109 COVID-19 cases among students and 22 cases among employees.

The Food and Drug Administration permitted convalescent plasmas from COVID-19 survivors to be used as an emergency therapy for those with coronavirus. The FDA states that the plasma that has antibodies “may be effective in treating COVID-19 and that the known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks.”

Two potential plasma donation locations near the university are the Grifols Biomat USA Rexburg location and the BioLife Plasma Services, NPR reported. The first’s website says it gives donors $100 per visit and East Idaho News reported the latter provides $200 for each of the donor’s first two visits.

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Cornell students create Quarantine Buddy website to match friends

“You come on any time,” Benkendorf said from Sunrise, Fla. “I’ve got a dog you can play with. I’ve got a spare room. Anytime you need a vacation. If they close you down again, Stacie, you’re welcome.”

Weldon and Benkendorf have never met in-person, but over the past four months they’ve developed a friendship after matching with each other on a website. Quarantine Buddy, founded by two Cornell University students in April, matches people from around the world based on their background and interests, and they meet virtually.

The website has helped more than 50,000 people — spanning all 50 U.S. states and more than 100 countries — build friendships while stuck at home.

“We kind of realized how lonely and isolating this can be for so many people,” said Jordyn Goldzweig, a Quarantine Buddy co-founder. “The pandemic itself really brought out the fact that a lot of people are isolated, and even though we have technology, people aren’t utilizing it to meet other people. We really wanted to do our part.”

In March, Goldzweig and co-founder Sam Brickman left Cornell for their respective New Jersey and New York homes due to the coronavirus outbreak. A few weeks later, the junior computer science majors met with one of their professors, Pam Silverstein, on Zoom. After discussing a project, Silverstein expressed how thankful she was to speak with someone, because she hadn’t left her house in about a week.

Goldzweig and Brickman have worked on multiple projects together, including an application last year called “Zing” that connects classmates. They expanded that idea to assist people in situations such as Silverstein’s.

They spent two all-nighters shaping the website, staying awake on coffee and electronic dance music. They created a survey with nine questions that allows users to customize what they are looking for in a friend during the pandemic, whether it be someone to work out and study with or someone to complain to.

About two weeks later, Brickman was eating chicken tacos when Goldzweig texted him, informing him sign-ups for the website were skyrocketing. Brickman checked his email to see New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) mentioned Quarantine Buddy in his daily briefing. That unexpected gesture made Quarantine Buddy known internationally.

“I don’t think we slept for that entire night as the sign-ups were coming in,” Brickman said. “We were just continually monitoring the code base to make sure that nothing crashed and we were able to store all the new people coming in.”

Brickman said participants range from age 18 to 97. In addition to creating one-on-one connections, Goldzweig and Brickman constructed group events, such as weekly book clubs, fantasy football conversations and discussions after episodes of The Bachelorette.

Every day, Brickman said he receives emails thanking him for the project, and he said some people have offered to include them in their wills. They plan to continue the website after the coronavirus passes, noting the website also benefited participants from areas that didn’t go into lockdown.

That’s good

College students are still finding romance in a pandemic, through Zoom crushes and actual dates

The dorm hookup, once a staple of college, has mostly become a thing of the past. Masked first dates are the new normal, and dating apps and Zoom crushes have replaced staring at the cute person through the flashing lights of a party.

Campus codes of conduct can be strict — in September, Northeastern University dismissed 11 students for gathering in a hotel room. But hooking up can fall into a gray area. The University of Georgia posted — then deleted — guidelines recommending that students wear a mask while hooking up, after resounding online ridicule. Other schools prohibit close contact with anyone outside of roommates. But the level of enforcement is often unclear.

The changing cadence of college life has made romantic prospects harder to come by, even for those who are back on campus. The nebulous circles that define social relations — lab partners, gym buddies, people you meet on a night out and avoid eye contact with for the next four years — have mostly been phased out, or rendered virtual.

As Diaz-Cruz puts it: “Co-workers have been removed, acquaintances aren’t a part of my life anymore. Friends of friends, all those little social interactions that make up your day, it’s not really part of your day.”

Scout Turkel, a senior at the University of California at Berkeley, adds, “in order to have intense relationships in your life, you also need to have casual people.”

For Turkel, the pandemic has made hookups and what she calls “convenient intimacies” much less available. Berkeley is all-online for the semester, but Turkel is still living in a nearby co-op with other students. Turkel’s solution to the problem of “convenient intimacies”? Hooking up with a housemate, an experience she documented over the summer in the Sex on Tuesday column for The Daily Californian.

“It seems like the only ethical option from a public health perspective,” Turkel wrote of her intra-house hookup. And though the relationship ended amicably, Turkel says, “it does feel like a huge deal to lose my only clear opportunity for physical intimacy during a time it doesn’t feel available to me.”

That desire for physical intimacy is in part why dating apps have become even more popular on campuses (many have seen traffic spikes overall). As Sarah Berg, a senior at the University of North Texas, put it, “during the pandemic, everybody was bored and downloaded Tinder, Bumble and Hinge.”

This video-chatting era has also given rise to the “Zoom crush.” Nicky Romano, a junior at Temple University in Philadelphia, was shocked when a graduate student in one of his online classes approached him while he was studying outside on campus. He’d recognized the blond streak that then marked the middle of Romano’s dark hair from the squares of their shared Zoom grid, and asked him for a study date.

Romano didn’t quite know what to make of it — was it a romantic overture, or a platonic request? But he does know the feeling of seeing someone

Stevenson parents, students blast remote learning, call for hybrid model

Maria Newhouse moved to Long Grove so her daughter could attend Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire because of its reputation for academic excellence.

But attending classes in a pandemic through Zoom video conferencing isn’t the ideal learning environment Newhouse, and other parents, had envisioned.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

“Remote learning is not an education,” Newhouse said. “Zoom (is) for conference calls. You don’t educate children via Zoom.”

Newhouse was among a group of Stevenson High School parents and students who rallied Monday outside the school demanding the district resume in-person classes. They sought to put pressure on the school board, which meets Monday, Oct. 19.

Stevenson High School District 125, which has about 4,300 students and more than 700 faculty members, was among the first suburban districts to switch to only remote learning at the beginning of the fall semester.

At the time, Superintendent Eric Twadell said it was more palatable than the alternative of mandatory, 14-day quarantines for students or employees who contract the coronavirus in school, as well as for people who come in prolonged contact with them.


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

Parents called for a hybrid model in which families that don’t want their students to attend in-person can continue remotely, while other students have the option of learning in a classroom, each with their own dedicated teachers.

In a statement released Monday, district officials said if and when the school transitions to hybrid learning, “the quality of the teaching and learning experience that we can provide all students will drop significantly.”

Another factor giving officials pause is the severity of COVID-19 transmission in Lake County — one of 26 Illinois counties state health officials placed at a warning level for an increased risk of contracting the virus on Friday.

The county averaged 90 new cases of the virus for every 100,000 residents over the past week, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The state target is an average 50 new cases or fewer, which Lake County has exceeded since the beginning of July.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

Stevenson will be testing a new “Patriot Pods” program designed for students who would like to come together and study in small groups on campus.

“Over the next two weeks, we will be bringing students back to campus for specific and purposeful lab-based teaching and learning experiences that are better suited for in-person instruction, including courses in science and fine arts,” the statement read.

Newhouse said the pods idea is an effort to placate parents. She questioned why a wealthy district like Stevenson can’t manage in-person learning when its feeder elementary districts have switched to hybrid models.

“Stevenson is supposed to be a leader and hasn’t quite figured out in-person yet,” she said. “It’s a building with over 1 million square feet of space. There are so many schools that have managed to come up with an option that worked for those parents and

No Home, No Wi-Fi: Pandemic Adds to Strain on Poor College Students

Mr. Sawyer, who wants to become a pastor, is using his time off to work for civil rights organizations and to fund-raise so that he can re-enroll in the spring and obtain a doctorate in theology. “It’s definitely a delay, but sometimes stumbling blocks come,” he said.

Many students like Mr. Sawyer have been looking for alternative ways to pay for their education. As the coronavirus was closing campuses this past spring, Rise, a student-led organization that advocates college affordability, created an online network to help students find emergency financial aid, apply for public benefits and locate food pantries.

Rise has continued to serve more than 1,000 students a month who are struggling with issues like paying rent, losing their jobs and lacking internet access, said Max Lubin, the organization’s chief executive. “We’re overwhelmed by the need,” he said.

Stable housing and healthy food were already major concerns before the pandemic. A 2019 survey found that 17 percent of college students had experienced homelessness in the past year, and about half reported issues such as difficulty paying rent or utilities. Nearly 40 percent lacked reliable access to nutritious food.

The coronavirus crisis worsened many of these challenges, according to a June report by the Hope Center, which found that nearly three out of five students surveyed had trouble affording basic needs during the pandemic.

Financial aid in the United States had already been stretched thin by the rising costs of tuition, room and board. At their maximum, need-based federal Pell grants cover just 28 percent of the total cost of attending a public college today, compared with more than half of that cost in the 1980s. State aid, while recovering somewhat since the Great Recession, still falls short of need, and state budgets have been further drained by the health crisis.

The CARES Act, passed by Congress in March, provided about $14 billion for higher education, with about half earmarked for students. But there were limits on who could receive it, and college students were ineligible for the $1,200 stimulus check that went to taxpayers.

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Joe Biden Holds 50-point Lead among College Students: Poll

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden holds a 50-point lead over President Donald Trump among college students, new polling data has found.



a man holding a gun: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks to Union members after touring a plumbers union training center in Erie, Pennsylvania on October 10, 2020.


© Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks to Union members after touring a plumbers union training center in Erie, Pennsylvania on October 10, 2020.

According to the latest survey of students released by College Pulse and Chegg on Friday, more than two thirds of undergraduates (69 percent) intend to vote for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris on November 3.

By comparison, fewer than one in five (19 percent) told pollsters that they would vote for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to have a second term in the White House. A further six percent said they would be voting for a third party candidate.

Biden’s popularity among college students has remained roughly level over the past few months, but is still a strong 10-point increase on his May 19 favorability rating with the group.

Undergraduates are also more confident that Trump will fail to be re-elected in less than a month’s time.

Asked if they believed the president would win a second term on September 22, 57 percent of students said no, while 43 percent believed he could pull it off. But two weeks later, more than six in ten (62 percent) told pollsters Trump would not win on November 3 as just 38 percent backed his chances.

Election Day 2020: Where Trump, Biden Stand In The Polls 30 Days Before Nov. 3

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Breaking the results down along demographic lines, Chegg also found that Biden lead Trump among students of all genders, races and high school backgrounds. Republican students were the only sub-group that broke for the Trump and Pence ticket.

However, not all of the survey results looked positive for Biden. According to Chegg, the former vice president has seen his support among Black college students fall by 11 percent over the past three weeks from a high of 88 percent to 77 percent.

Chegg and College Pulse surveyed more than 1,500 full-time and part-time college students on October 6 for their latest poll. Its margin of error is unclear.

The picture from polling of undergraduates does not match up with the mood among the wider public, according to national polls of all demographics.

At the time of writing, the FiveThirtyEight national head-to-head poll tracker puts Biden a little more than eight points ahead of Trump—or a 42-point climb down from his lead among college students in the latest Chegg poll.

One survey released by ABC News and The Washington Post on Sunday found that Trump was 12 points behind Biden among likely voters, and trailing by 11 points among registered voters as of October 9.

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Sacred Heart, University of Saint Joseph roll out saliva-based COVID-19 test for students, staff

In the past week, two Connecticut universities began using a saliva-based COVID-19 test that was developed at Yale, in response to heightened concerns about coronavirus outbreaks on campuses.

On Monday, the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford began using the SalivaDirect test, which is a less invasive COVID-19 test that uses a patient’s saliva as opposed to a nasal swab. A day later, on Tuesday, Sacred Heart University in Fairfield also rolled out the SalivaDirect test on its campus.

Other universities, including Quinnipiac in Hamden, have already implemented other forms of saliva testing, The Courant previously reported.

University of Saint Joseph President Rhona Free said in a statement that the university has been testing a portion of students weekly since the school year began — but when university officials noticed other campuses begin to see outbreaks, they decided to increase their weekly testing numbers.

“Over the last few weeks as we saw upticks of positive cases on other campuses we decided to increase the percentage of students tested each week and we also wanted more rapid results,” Free said. “SalivaDirect was able to complete the new level of testing that we needed with quick results.”

The University of Saint Joseph plans to continue administering the saliva tests at least two days a week through the end of the semester, Free said.

Sacred Heart’s rollout of SalivaDirect also comes amid heightened concerns of an outbreak.

Earlier this week Sacred Heart said that more than 100 students have been suspended for violating the school’s COVID-19 protocols since the start of the semester. President John J. Petillo has warned that a saying “a significant number” of students were not taking the pandemic seriously and said the school could suspend in-person education if its cases did not slow.

Sacred Heart spokesperson Deb Noack said the university is currently administering about 1,300 nasal swab tests per week, and is now also adding about 900 saliva tests to that count. The university hopes to add even more saliva tests in the coming weeks.

In addition to being less invasive, saliva tests can also sometimes produce results more quickly. Noack said the university typically receives results in 24 to 36 hours for nasal swab tests, compared to 12 to 36 hours for saliva tests.

SalivaDirect was developed at the Yale School of Public Health, and partially funded by the NBA. In August, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the testing method an emergency use authorization, although at the time it was already being used to provide quick, pain-free testing to NBA players.

Yale’s saliva test was the fifth saliva-based test to gain authorization from the FDA.

“As we ramp up our testing program, SalivaDirect offers a great solution to allow us to dramatically increase the number of tests we do weekly on students, faculty and staff,” said Gary MacNamara, the co-chair of Sacred Heart’s coronavirus planning team, in a statement.

This story has been updated.

Emily Brindley can be reached at ebrindley@courant.com.

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Nearly 1 in 3 Oregon students learning in-person attend private schools, election 2020 preview: The week in education

An Oregonian/OregonLive analysis of state education data found that 30% of students who attended in-person classes the week of Sept. 28-Oct. 2 are enrolled in private schools.

All told, 550 Oregon schools offered some form of in-person instruction that week, teaching some 46,000 students. One hundred and seventy of those schools are private and taught 13,000 students in-person, state Department of Education figures show.

That means 6% of the state’s 560,000 K-12 students visited a classroom last week. The share of private students in the overall population is about 2%.

In order for school districts to allow in-person instruction, the county they’re in must meet specific coronavirus set by the state. If a district or school draws 10% or more of its workforce or enrollment from more than one county, both must meet the metrics in order for the district to open its classrooms.

That’s the case in Portland Public Schools, where district officials this week say their reopening fortunes are tied to coronavirus metrics in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties. Officials there don’t expect students to see the inside of a classroom until late January at the earliest.

Here are some of the other major education stories from this week:

Education stories from the Portland area:

Most Portland voters will see a pair of education-related tax measures on the ballot next month, one of them a $1.2 billion campaign from the state’s largest district to update a high school in a historically black neighborhood and another to fund free preschool for all Multnomah County children ages 3 and 4.

The Portland Public Schools measure would pay for extensive renovations to Jefferson High School, as well as accessibility throughout the district and investments in curriculum and technology. You can read the full details of the measure here.

The preschool measure, an effort backed by Multnomah County Commissioner Jessicca Vega Pederson, would tax the county’s highest earners to fund a universal system that would prioritize the region’s most economically disadvantaged families of color in its first year. It would impose a tax of 1.5% on personal incomes of $125,000 and joint incomes of $250,000 in 2021 and scale up to a 2.3% rate in 2022. You can read the full details of the measure here.

And across the state:

Classes are back in session for Oregon’s universities. And in Eugene, the start of the term is ushering in a wave of coronavirus infections. But classes aren’t where students in Lane County are contracting COVID-19. It’s the parties.

The Oregonian/OregonLive’s Aimee Green has the story.

More education headlines from The Oregonian/OregonLive:

Coronavirus outbreaks hit California colleges despite intense preparations (The Los Angeles Times)

Massive influx of coronavirus tests may be state’s best shot to slow spread, open schools

Madison High principal starts renaming process, SE Portland students push for Ginsburg Middle School

In $5.5 million lawsuit, former Portland Public Schools leader says district fired him over his conservative views (The Gresham Outlook)

Oregon Department of Corrections weighs cutting ties with community colleges,

Beloit College faculty, students care for burial grounds

BELOIT, Wis. — A new wave of Beloit College students are actively working to help raise awareness of the indigenous burial mounds that span the college’s central campus, while recognizing past mistreatment of the sacred ground and native peoples.

The mounds are estimated to have been built between 500 BC and 1200 AD. Around 20 of the 27 mounds remain on campus, some of which were excavated or built over as the campus grew. According to Wisconsin State Archaeologist Robert Birmingham, 80% of mounds have been destroyed in Wisconsin.

The mounds were built by indigenous people that are believed to be the descendants of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

The tribe has long referred to Beloit as “Kechunk” that means Turtle Village. Ho-Chunk tribal member Samantha Skenandore, who served as a Ho-Chunk archivist prior to attending law school, took on a project to fully document the tribe’s long-standing presence in the Rock River Valley, with an emphasis on Beloit.

Skenandore said Beloit College contacted the tribe for further background on the mounds and to identify best practices in caring for the mounds, the Beloit Daily News reported.

She said that researchers and scholars continue to seek out the “mystery” behind mound culture.

“Since I was a little girl, I was counseled by my elders to not share certain things about our culture, because to do so came at a great risk,” Skenandore said. “The lesson was that if you share our most sacred knowledge, someone can then destroy it. This is very similar to modern legal concepts involving proprietary rights. Yet it is hard to hide an earthen structure that spans more than a hundred feet and even more difficult to hide a grouping of the same. Ho-Chunks have endured generations of efforts to expose the cultural meanings of the mounds generally and specific to certain mound groups. It seems that the Nation continues to observe an unwritten rule to decline the opportunity to share.”

Nonetheless, Skenandore said the Ho-Chunk Nation “has been largely successful in protecting that knowledge from likely desecration.”

To further understanding of the mounds, Skenandore said the tribe looks to work closely with school districts and local governments to share the history of the Nation. A key aspect of preservation for the Nation comes by way of assisting land owners with best practices for mound preservation and maintenance of mound sites.

But challenges remain, Skenandore said, citing the broad geographical footprint of the mounds across the Midwest and complications due to sites being owned by private land owners.

“These realities certainly bring many challenges and the Nation is known to help property owners adopt custom maintenance plans and best practices,” Skenandore said. “The Nation has worked closely with the Wisconsin State Archaeologist and the Burial Sites Preservation Office to enforce the Wisconsin law on burial sites preservation.”

Mounds are expressly included and protected under Wisconsin law.

Archaeological excavation and campus development on and near the mounds stopped in the 1970s as burial protection laws and cultural sensibilities changed,