Tuesday, June 16, 2020   
Provost and Executive Vice President David Shaw discusses Mississippi State reopening at Rotary
In a presentation to the Starkville Rotary Club in a virtual meeting Monday, Mississippi State University Provost and Executive Vice President David Shaw discussed the university's response to COVID-19 and its plans for students to return in August. Shaw has spearheaded the university's efforts to combat the effects of the pandemic, and led the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) Safe Start Task Force. The task force has worked to lay out return plans for all eight of Mississippi's public universities. "We have decided that we are fully committed to welcoming our students back to the campus for the fall of 2020," Shaw said. "I can't tell you the number of students and their moms and dads that reached out to me after we made the announcement, saying 'yay,' because there was so much concern about the idea that we might go all-online again, and as you all know, the face-to-face experience and the leadership opportunities and all of the extracurricular activities is so important to what our students need and want to be able to develop." He discussed some of the precautions students would likely be required to take upon their return to campus, but emphasized that plans were still developing.
Mississippi State planning health and safety measures for returning students, employees
Trying to keep Mississippi State University afloat during a global pandemic while being mindful of health and safety has been "like driving through a dense fog or trying to swim in mud," MSU Provost and Executive Vice President David Shaw told the Starkville Rotary Club at its virtual meeting on Monday. Classes have been conducted online since March due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. MSU students' expected return to campus in August means they will most likely have to follow a list of health and safety rules, including required protective face masks in classrooms and daily responses to a self-screening mobile app to check for potential virus symptoms, Shaw said. Fall 2020 student enrollment numbers are holding steady, with only a 1 percent decrease compared to this time last year, as of June 8. Tuition, housing, parking and dining fees will not change, Shaw said. However, MSU currently has its largest summer school population in its history with 9,189 students, a 24.6 percent increase compared to last year's 7,374 students. They are taking an average of 6.24 credit hours while last summer's students took 5.88, according to data Shaw presented.
'Normal' human body temperature is a range around 98.6 F -- a physiologist explains why
JohnEric Smith, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Mississippi State University, writes for The Conversation: Fever is common in the symptomatic stage of COVID-19, and as workplaces and child care spaces reopen, temperature checks are one way officials are trying to identify those sick with the coronavirus. To maintain no-contact conditions, many are scanning skin temperature. As warm-blooded animals, human beings produce heat as a byproduct of the chemical reactions that provide energy from the food we eat. It's this heat that keeps human bodies within a fairly narrow range of "normal" body temperatures and our biology works best within this small "normal" range. But, as a physiologist, I know there are a variety of factors -- both internal and external -- that can influence your temperature. "Normal" might be less universal than you think.
Water management district guarantees a few projects a year, director says
The Tombigbee River Valley Water Management District will tackle multiple drainage projects in Oktibbeha County per year, agency Executive Director David Kennard told supervisors at their Monday meeting -- a promise that contradicted some supervisors' concerns last month when the board voted to join the Tupelo-based state agency. The water management district does flood control, cleanup and repair projects on waterways of all sizes in 12 northeast Mississippi counties, with Oktibbeha soon to be the 13th. "We've got responsibilities in Kemper County all the way up to Alcorn County, so we're spread out," Kennard said. "What we normally do is start in the north, in Alcorn County, and we'll take care of two or three projects per county as we move south." Flooding and drainage issues have been a priority for the supervisors due to heavy rains over the past several months, and the board voted 3-2 in May to join the district, which includes a $133,000 annual membership fee. District 1 Supervisor and Board President John Montgomery and District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller both voted against joining the agency, citing their concerns that Oktibbeha County would be low on the agency's priority list and that it would take workers years to get to the county's drainage projects.
An Early-season Tropical Storm Wiped out Mississippi's Beach-nesting Birds
Last week, amid a global pandemic, widespread police brutality in response to Black Lives Matter protests, and the Trump administration's continued attacks on protections for birds, the Mississippi coast received another blow -- Tropical Storm Cristobal made landfall on the Gulf Coast as one of the earliest named storms in recorded history. And while the storm touched down in the next state over, Mississippi saw as much as 5 feet of storm surge, covering large portions of Mississippi's highly developed beachfront in water for 2 days. Fortunately most of our coastal communities are prepared for hurricane season, and there was no loss of life in the U.S. The birds who were busy raising their chicks on our beaches, however, were not as lucky. Over 1,600 Least Tern nests were lost to the storm surge, as well as all but a handful of chicks, many of which were just born 1-2 weeks prior and still too young to fly. Perhaps the most surreal and unexpected result of this storm, hundreds and hundreds of Clapper Rails -- highly secretive and difficult-to-find birds that live in salt marshes -- have mysteriously appeared on Mississippi's bustling mainland beaches. Mississippi State University researchers are studying this strange event to determine where exactly they came from, and how many rails were affected by the storm.
Louisiana enters Mississippi lawsuits over Bonnet Carre but questions Corps flood policy
The state of Louisiana has stepped into two lawsuits filed in Mississippi over operation of the Bonnet Carre Spillway. Secretary of State Michael Watson and a coalition of local government and business groups have filed separate lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Gulfport against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Mississippi River Commission, which oversee spillway operations. The lawsuits are aimed at preventing damage to water quality and aquatic life in the Mississippi Sound during more frequent and lengthy openings of the spillway. Representatives for the state of Louisiana have said in legal filings that they want to protect life and property in their state. But Louisiana representatives are not saying Mississippi Coast residents are wrong in calling for more study of how the Corps operates the Bonnet Carre. "Instead, while Louisiana supports the operation of the Bonnet Carre Spillway to protect lives and property, it also recognizes that the Corps could take steps to manage water resources differently during high water events," Louisiana's motion to intervene in the case says. Recent openings have decimated oyster beds, are believed to have sickened sea turtles and dolphins and spread blue-green algae through the Mississippi Sound during the tourist season of 2019.
Retail Sales Bounce Up 17.7% After Record Drop As States Reopen
As more states and cities reopened restaurants and shopping centers, U.S. retail spending swung big in May, climbing 17.7%, the U.S. Commerce Department said Tuesday. Spending is still down 6.1% from a year earlier because of the coronavirus pandemic. And economists warn of a long and uncertain recovery. But May's upswing follows a record historic collapse in March and April, when retail spending nosedived as people avoided outings for food or shopping, especially for clothes and furniture. Retail sales -- a measure that includes spending on gasoline, cars, food and drink -- are a key part of the economy, which is sputtering back at different rates across the country after weeks of lockdowns. May's sales also got a boost from people spending their tax refunds and coronavirus financial assistance. As businesses reopen, however, several states have reported new spikes in coronavirus cases.
Dow soars 700 points as May retail sales surge to record
U.S. stocks rallied Tuesday after retail sales rebounded in May, rising to a record as businesses that were battered by the coronavirus pandemic started to reopen. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 700 points, the latest set of swings for markets in recent sessions following a weekslong rally. The Standard & Poor's 500 climbed 2.5%, driven by gains in retail and airline stocks that are tied to the economy reopening. Retail sales jumped in May following three straight months of declines, as consumers started shopping again after states began reopening businesses following widespread shutdowns to contain the virus. Sales surged 17.7% in May, according to the Commerce Department, the largest monthly jump ever after a historic 16.4% drop in April. Investors turned their attention to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who is testifying before Congress on Tuesday about the central bank's semiannual monetary policy report. Powell renewed the central bank's vow to keep interest rates near zero until "the economy has weathered recent events," noting significant uncertainty about the strength of the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic despite a recent "modest" rebound.
Mississippi revises outlook for budget year starting July 1
Top lawmakers said Monday that Mississippi state government can avoid spending cuts during the final two weeks of the current budget year by tapping into the rainy day fund. But they said government spending will shrink during the new year that begins July 1 because of the economic slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee met Monday and reduced the revenue estimate to about $5.7 billion for the coming year. Writing a state budget is a long process, and the new estimate is smaller than the original estimate of nearly $6 billion that was set months ago, before the pandemic started. The state economist, Darrin Webb, told lawmakers that the national economic outlook is slightly rosier now than it was a month ago. But he also cautioned: "The expected path to full recovery remains long."
Legislators likely can avoid once feared double digit budget cuts
Legislative leaders on Monday said Mississippi's state budget for the coming year should be able to limp along with cuts to agencies of less than 5 percent despite the pandemic-fueled recession. Earlier projections had been more dire, with double-digit cuts to state agencies in the offing. Budget experts told lawmakers Monday that the pandemic recession so far hasn't been as bad as once feared, and retail sales, income and corporate taxes have not tanked as sharply as first projected. "The bottom line is the national economy appears to be recovering ... and the state economy is also improving," said State Economist Darrin Webb. For the current budget year that ends in two weeks, lawmakers said the governor could dip into the state's "rainy day fund" to cover about a $47 million shortfall in the roughly $6 billion budget. House Speaker Philip Gunn said he was "encouraged" that shortfalls appear to be less than earlier projections. He said lawmakers have been discussing cuts averaging 4.8 percent but, "We believe we can get by with cuts of not quite that much."
Debate emerging over how COVID19 delayed FY 2020 income taxes should be budgeted
Should tax receipts that would have ordinarily been collected in FY 2020 but due to coronavirus get delayed to after June 30 be counted in FY 2020 or FY 2021 for budget purposes? That has become a hot topic for legislative budget writers and the state's chief executive. The clock is steadily winding down on adopting the FY 2021 state budget. Over the last few days, Governor Tate Reeves, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann and Revenue Commissioner Herb Frierson all appeared on SuperTalk's Gallo Show and touched on this issue. "Had we collected income tax on April 15th, the normal date, instead of collecting in July the next fiscal year, we would be over $100 million ahead of estimate right now," Commissioner Frierson said on Friday. "But since we didn't, we're about $51 million behind the sine die estimate. We would have been ahead of the revised estimate had we collected the income tax." Frierson said they thought the state was going to lose $200 million a month for the last quarter of the year but that didn't happen. "We only lost $24 million in May and that caused us to be considerably more optimistic about finishing 2020 in a good position," he added.
Legislature taking precautions after employee tests positive for COVID-19
Legislative leaders confirmed on Monday that an employee who occasionally works at the state Capitol has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee works for the Department of Finance and Administration, which oversees state building and grounds, including the Capitol. No other details on the employee or case were immediately available. House Speaker Philip Gunn announced Monday afternoon that additional safety precautions will be imposed in the House, such as not all the members being in the chamber at the same time. "We are trying to maintain a safe environment," Gunn said. Some members will listen to debate via the intercom system from rooms off the chamber and only come to the chamber to ask questions, speak on bills or offer amendments. "We are asking everyone to wear a mask," he said. "We have not mandated it, but we think it is appropriate." Earlier this year the legislative leadership had strict safety precautions in place but in recent days have relaxed through guidelines.
Governor Tate Reeves doesn't rule out face mask mandate
Businesses could soon face more restrictions if the number of COVID-19 cases in Mississippi continues to surge. Employees at many businesses are required to wear masks, while customers are not. Currently, masks are not required to be worn by the general public, though some businesses require it. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves has encouraged people to wear masks while in public. It's already a requirement in some areas most impacted by the virus. Reeves says making masks a mandate is a possibility if the number of cases rises significantly. "I would absolutely tell you that as we go forward and monitor the data that comes in, it's less likely that we would see a statewide mandate, but it's very possible that we could see a spike in any one county that would (State Health Officer) Dr. (Thomas) Dobbs and I to sit down and have a conversation and say we need to enforce more measures in certain areas of the state," he said.
Poll: Mississippians marginally favor keeping current state flag, but support for change gains steam
Support to replace the state flag, which includes the Confederate battle emblem as part of its design, appears to be gaining momentum, based on the latest polling from Mississippi-based Chism Strategies. Forty-six percent support retaining the old flag compared to 44.9 percent who support changing it. In terms of polling, the outcome would essentially be considered a statistical tie. In September 2017, when Chism polled on the same question, the result was 49 percent to 41 percent in favor of the old flag. "National polls confirm that our nation is wrestling with the issues of race and criminal justice reform like no other time in the last 40 years," said Brad Chism of Chism Strategies. "This poll shows that many Mississippians are engaged in that debate. But polls are a snapshot in time. As of last Wednesday, there was not enough support to change the state flag. But there was more support than ever before. And there is momentum on the side of change." Chism Strategies, which often does work for Democratic politicians, polled on the issue in light of the renewed efforts this legislative session to change the flag.
Some Mississippi counties could move Confederate monuments
Some Mississippi counties are debating whether to move Confederate monuments that have stood for more than a century outside courthouses or in other prominent spots on public property. The potential changes are happening as Confederate monuments are being removed in some other southern states amid protests against racism. On Monday, supervisors in majority-black Washington County voted 4-1 to work with a local historical commission to find a new place for the monument that's outside the courthouse in Greenville, the Delta Democrat-Times reported. Supervisors in majority-white Forrest County voted 3-2 Monday to let voters decide in November whether to move a Confederate monument that was donated to the county in 1910. A Mississippi law enacted in 2004 says no war monument may be "relocated, removed, disturbed, altered, renamed or rededicated." But the law also says: "The governing body may move the memorial to a more suitable location if it is determined that the location is more appropriate to displaying the monument."
Lowndes supervisors vote along racial lines to leave Confederate monument at courthouse
The Confederate monument in front of Lowndes County courthouse will stay in place, following a 3-2 vote by the board of supervisors Monday morning against its relocation. The motion to relocate the century-old monument, made by District 5 Leroy Brooks, failed to carry after Supervisors Harry Sanders, Trip Hairston and John Holliman -- the three white supervisors -- voted to reject the measure, following heated clashes between Brooks and Sanders over the handling of the monument. Advocates for relocating the monument, such as Bishop Scott Volland of The Heights, argued at the meeting the monument glorifies slavery and is insensitive to the black community. Supervisors who were lukewarm to the idea, however, told The Dispatch they voted against it because the monument preserves history that needs to be remembered. The vote upset many citizens in attendance who supported the relocation, such as Volland, Lowndes County NAACP President Lavonne Latham Harris, State Rep. Kabir Karriem (D-Columbus) and Nadia Colom, wife of District Attorney Scott Colom. Upon hearing the vote, many of them shook their heads and exclaimed: "Again, wrong side of history."
Bolivar County considers removing Confederate monument
The Bolivar County Board of Supervisors is considering removing a Confederate monument in front of the courthouse in Cleveland. During their regular board meeting on Monday morning, the board voted to authorize their attorney to look into the legal steps necessary for the board to remove the monument. "We want to do everything respectfully and legally," said Larry King, president of the Board of Supervisors. Bolivar County has taken steps in recent history to remove Confederate iconography from government buildings when in 2017 the Cleveland Board of Aldermen voted to remove the state flag from city hall. This decision was made as waves of protest have washed across the country demanding racial equality, which includes ending the exaltation of Confederate iconography. Bolivar County Administrator Will Hooker said the supervisors will evaluate what the next steps for removing the monument will be after the attorney presents his findings at the next meeting, which is July 6.
Small meat processors get little aid as demand grows
The widespread disruption in the meatpacking industry as a result of the pandemic has led to a boom in business for small, independently owned meat processors. But while the Trump administration threw its weight behind getting large meat plants back up and running, smaller companies have not enjoyed the same backing in terms of regulatory easing or financial aid. That has led several lawmakers and small firms to call for help to fill in what's expected to be a continuing need for their services. Fueled by a cultural shift of buy local, the pandemic gave small meat processors a new window of business as big meatpackers had to shut down or scale back operations amid outbreaks. But small processors warn the boost in business does more harm than good if Congress and USDA don't step up. Short term, making sure small plants have the financial support to still be able to support the farmers and ranchers that use them during the pandemic is the immediate need from USDA, said Kelly Nuckolls, policy specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
Patients with underlying conditions were 12 times as likely to die of covid-19 as otherwise healthy people, CDC finds
People with underlying medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes were hospitalized six times as often as otherwise healthy individuals infected with the novel coronavirus during the first four months of the pandemic, and they died 12 times as often, according to a federal health report Monday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data on more than 1.7 million coronavirus cases and 103,700 deaths from covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, reported to the agency from state and territorial health departments from Jan. 22 through May 30. The data is consistent with earlier reports showing the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on people with underlying medical conditions. The report also highlighted the disease's stark disparities between whites and minority groups. Among nearly 600,000 people who were sickened and for whom the CDC has race and ethnicity information, 33 percent of patients were Hispanic, although they make up 18 percent of the U.S. population; 22 percent were black, while they constitute 13 percent of the population; and 1.3 percent were Native American or Alaskan Natives, nearly double their representation in the overall population.
Author discusses his new book on a university's approach to diversity
James M. Thomas's new book is about a public flagship university in the American South and how it has struggled to define its commitments to diversity and inclusion and to put those commitments into practice. In more than two years of ethnographic fieldwork, he explored this university and how its struggles reflect similar struggles elsewhere. The result is Diversity Regimes: Why Talk Is Not Enough to Fix Racial Inequality at Universities (Rutgers University Press). Thomas, associate professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of Mississippi, responded via email to questions about his new book.
Itawamba Community College releases reopening guide for fall semester
Itawamba Community College released a "reopening guide" and announced plans to welcome students back to campus for the fall semester on Aug. 17. The college also provided details regarding educational delivery methods, student activities and athletics. Recommendations for the scheduled reopening were made by ICC's 21-member Reopening Task Force, which was created to examine a range of topics including campus operations, sanitation, residence halls and academics. In total, approximately 100 administrators, faculty, staff and students were involved in the reopening process through the task force and additional participation in committees for each area. After suspending in-person operations and transitioning to online instruction in late-March due to COVID-19, the college's focus has been on returning to campus, ICC President Dr. Jay Allen said. Both in-person and hybrid classes will be taught this fall, with almost all in-person instruction and final exams concluding by Nov. 20, the Friday before Thanksgiving break. "We will start on time and finish early," Allen said.
Safety measures in place for U. of Alabama students' return
Following on the systemwide health and safety plan released June 9, the University of Alabama on Monday released its Tuscaloosa-centric plan for a return to on-campus instruction and activities, slated to begin Aug. 19. Both plans stress significant physical changes to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, with education and awareness topping the bill. The new Stay Safe Together platform, announced via the UA System (which includes University of Alabama at Birmingham and University of Alabama in Huntsville) will serve as information provider and access aid. Both guidelines also stress these are drafts, working documents which may be amended, or to which much may be appended. "There's a lot about COVID that we don't understand," said UA President Stuart R. Bell, as technology and discoveries evolve almost daily. "We have taken an approach, we believe, as of today, this is the best plan we can come out with ... But we also know, three weeks from now, we'll know a little bit more."
Admitted LSU student who went on racist rant in video won't be enrolled in fall, school says
Drew Dollar, a confirmed admitted student at LSU from West Monroe who was shown recently in a racist video on social media, will not be enrolled at the school in the fall, the university said in a statement Monday night. "The individual will not be enrolled in LSU in the fall," the statement says, in the form a tweet from LSU's official account. LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard said the school will not be making a comment beyond the tweet, citing privacy protections for student discipline under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The statement mirrors a similar announcement from the University of Florida, which last Monday announced that a "prospective student who posted racist comments in social media will not be joining the University of Florida community this fall." The vague statements do not officially confirm whether or not the universities denied the students entrance to school, or if the students decided on their own that they will not attend.
U. of South Carolina expected to seek permission to change dorm named after notorious doctor
The University of South Carolina board is expected to ask lawmakers this week for permission to remove from a dorm the name of a doctor who performed medical experiments on slaves, responding to longstanding protests that have grown louder in the wake of recent nationwide racial justice protests. Removing the name of J. Marion Sims from the dorm would require a two-thirds vote in the General Assembly under a law that requires legislative approval to change historical markers and statues. Some students, alumni and faculty have sought for years to give a new identity to the dorm in the women's quad named for a doctor known as the father of modern gynecology who performed research on slaves without anesthesia. Sims' name was removed from a USC scholarship program last year.
Voter suppression subject of timely new book from UGA Press
The voting fiasco that plagued the Georgia primaries on June 9 has been blamed on technological snafus in the state's new $104 million polling system, failure to adequately train poll workers and the COVID-19 pandemic. But as a new book from the University of Georgia Press points out, that is what makes voter suppression so insidious. Taken individually, impediments to the voting process may appear as an unintentional glitch in the system. But put them in historical context, and the specter of a 150-year-old effort to suppress the Constitutional rights of African-Americans looms large. Published this week, "Voter Suppression in U.S. Elections" (UGA Press, $19.95) is a timely addition to the university's History in the Headlines series. The first half of the book is a transcript of a roundtable discussion featuring five expert panelists. Among them is 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who famously refused to officially concede the election to then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp due to suspicious management of the voter rolls, including the purging of more than a half-million registered voters.
Texas A&M President Michael Young announces action plan for improving race relations on campus
Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young announced Monday afternoon a 10-step plan that aims to help the racial climate on campus. Among the steps are having a "diverse group of leaders and voices" to meet with A&M's senior leadership and Young, along with creating strategies "to combat hate and exclusion while fostering more inclusive values for our campuses." The university plans to honor Matthew Gaines with a campus statue, Young said in the plan, which was published on the Office of the President's website. Gaines was a former slave who became Washington County's first black state senator. He was instrumental in passing Senate Bill 276, which created the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas under the Land Grant College Act of 1862, also known as the Morrill Act. Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp announced Saturday he would donate $100,000 to the statue project.
Targeting a statue at A&M and a school song at UT, Texas college students are pushing for a reckoning
From its perch in the middle of Texas A&M University's Academic Plaza, a statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross serves as a university landmark. For decades, students have placed pennies at its feet for good luck on their exams. High schoolers have stopped by on campus tours to learn about the former Texas governor and university president credited for saving A&M in its early years. But to a growing number of students, the statue serves as a stinging reminder of systemic racism. Before coming to A&M, Ross served as a Confederate general, fighting to uphold slavery. Late last week, "Sully," as the statue has long been known to students, was covered with red graffiti and topped with a rainbow wig. Now, the statue is covered with a tarp. In the wake of George Floyd's killing and the resulting backlash, the racial reckoning that has recently swept America is also hitting Texas' institutes of higher education. And major Texas universities like Texas A&M's flagship campus in College Station and the University of Texas at Austin are struggling to reconcile their outspoken commitments to diversity and inclusion with their histories of racism.
Curators' committee OKs tuition hike, budget cuts at U. of Missouri
The University of Missouri System is considering returning to a tuition model that it used from the 1960s to the 1980s. The Board of Curators Finance Committee on Monday approved a 2.3 percent tuition increase for fall, forwarding the measure to the full board, which meets on Thursday. The 2.3 percent is equal to the amount of inflation. The measure will increase student revenue by about $7.4 million. The increase applies to almost all students. State law limits increases for resident undergraduates to the rate of inflation except when state support is cut as it was this year. "The increase by no means fills any of the shortfalls we're experiencing," said Ryan Rapp, vice president for finance The curators will evaluate simpler tuition and fees models, including what is called the "plateau model" in place at MU from the 1960s to the 1980s. It would assess a flat tuition rate for full time students taking 12 to 18 hours. Its benefit is it allows students to get a less expensive rate and finish sooner by taking more hours.
'This is what a union looks like': U. of Missouri employees rally against job outsourcing
Less than a month ago, Anita Robinson learned she could potentially lose her job. She's worked as a custodian in Middlebush Hall for six years. But in May, Robinson found out the University of Missouri was considering outsourcing her position, as well as about 280 others, through private contracts. "This is how I pay my bills," she said. "It's like our jobs don't matter." Robinson was among about 30 people who rallied Monday at the General Services Building in response to MU seeking proposals to outsource custodial and landscaping jobs. The rally was organized by union group Laborers Local 955. Current MU employees whose jobs would be affected were joined by faculty members, students and others. Employees came to the rally, which began at 12:15 p.m., just after getting off work. Many had begun their work day at 3 a.m. MU began the bidding process to outsource landscaping and custodial jobs in early May, MU spokesperson Christian Basi said. Although MU already contracts both of these positions elsewhere on campus, about 280 people could be affected by future outsourcing.
Landmark Supreme Court ruling could redefine Title IX
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision cementing LGBTQ workers' protections from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination not only put employers on notice, it also signaled to colleges that they must ensure the fair treatment of transgender students playing campus sports and living in residence halls. The 6-to-3 ruling issued Monday extended protections against employment discrimination to LGBTQ people under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion or national origin. The court redefined its interpretation of "sex" under Title VII to encompass both sexual orientation and gender identity and, as a result, opened the door to challenges of this definition under Title IX, the law prohibiting sex discrimination at federally funded institutions. The Department of Education under President Barack Obama instructed colleges to treat transgender students as the gender with which they identify or face sanctions for violating Title IX, said Audrey Anderson, counsel at the law firm Bass, Barry & Sims and former general counsel for Vanderbilt University. The Trump administration rescinded this guidance in 2017, and last month it found a Connecticut high school athletic conference in violation of Title IX for allowing transgender women to compete in track against students who were assigned female at birth.
Pioneer statues toppled amid protests at U. of Oregon
Protesters on Saturday toppled two long-standing pioneer statues on the University of Oregon. The statues have a history tied to the celebration of white conquest, and some students had renewed calls for their removal against a backdrop of international protests against racism and police brutality. The Register-Guard reports a small group of protesters knocked the statues off their pedestals. One was dragged to the steps of Johnson Hall, the university administration building. In a statement, the university said the statue's future should be determined "through an inclusive and deliberative process, not a unilateral act of destruction." "These are obviously turbulent times. While we support peaceful protest and vigorous expression of ideas, we do not condone acts of vandalism," the school said. "Our country, state and campus are coming to terms with historic and pervasive racism that we must address, but it is unfortunate that someone chose to deface and tear down these statues." Both of the statues have faced a resurgence in calls for removal in the wake of a national movement addressing racism, white supremacy and police brutality following the police killing of George Floyd last month.

Dynamic duo: How two Mississippi State baseball Bulldogs bonded to become MLB draft picks
Jordan Westburg jumped off the couch and pumped his fists. He hadn't heard his name called during the 2020 MLB Draft. Not yet. Westburg's celebration came when commissioner Rob Manfred announced the selection of one of his Mississippi State teammates. "With the 14th pick of the 2020 MLB Draft, the Texas Rangers select Justin Foscue, a second baseman from Mississippi State University." Foscue had dozens of friends and family at his home in Huntsville, Alabama, to commemorate the culmination of his college career. They went absolutely nuts when Manfred made it official. An outflow of emotion occurred in New Braunfels, Texas, too, where Westburg was with his own loved ones. He went as wild as some of the folks who were huddled around Foscue nearly 1,000 miles away. "I was so pumped for him," Westburg said. "We're best friends. I'm always rooting for Justin. I know he's always going to root for me. We're kind of in each other's corner no matter what's going on in life." Foscue got his chance to return the favor when Westburg was picked by the Baltimore Orioles in the first round with the 30th selection. Despite virtual press conferences with reporters from their new markets, the two squeezed in a quick phone call to congratulate one another on finding professional baseball homes.
Mississippi State adds Utah State to 2024 schedule
Mississippi State has a new opponent in its future. Utah State announced Monday that it will visit Starkville on September 14, 2024 -- marking the first ever meeting between the two schools. A member of the Mountain West, Utah State has reached a bowl game in eight of the past nine years. Entering the second season of the Gary Anderson era, the Aggies concluded his first year in Logan 7-6 and 6-2 in conference play. Prior to Anderson's tenure, Matt Wells -- now the head coach at Texas Tech -- notched a 44-34 record over his six years at Utah State. While this will be the first game between the Bulldogs and Aggies, Utah State boasts past history with the Southeastern Conference -- having played games against LSU, Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky and Georgia.
Texas A&M football players speak out on Twitter about Sul Ross statue
Texas A&M football players are speaking out for the removal of the Lawrence Sullivan Ross statue, including quarterback Kellen Mond on Twitter. Sunday, Mond retweeted a tweet of a former student who said those present at a Saturday campus protest that were in favor of keeping the statue in its current position at Academic Plaza were "using traditions as a scapegoat for racism." Ross was a Confederate general, a Texas Ranger and the 19th governor of Texas. He served as president of Texas A&M from 1891 until his death in 1898. Those in favor of keeping the statue at the Academic Plaza have cited Ross' efforts in saving a struggling A&M in its early years, securing funds and boosting enrollment, along with his work with Prairie View A&M University. Those at Saturday's protest who want the statue removed cited Ross' role in the Confederate States Army, which they said therefore advocated for the continuation of slavery, along with the treatment of indigenous peoples and those of Mexican descent in Texas while Ross was a Texas Ranger and governor.
UGA athletic staff will slowly return to workspaces during phased approach
In the athletic director's suite on the fourth floor of the Butts-Mehre building, a boardroom has sat empty the last three months. It's where meetings are held daily by one department or another in Georgia athletics during the course of a normal school year because it can seat about 15 people. On March 9, two days before Georgia played in the SEC men's basketball tournament, AD Greg McGarity took part in four meetings in the room. Later that week, college sports came to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic. "That's a huge part of what we do, face to face meetings," McGarity said. "It's essential to make sure that everyone's on the same page and you're coordinated. So many of our events and things that we do are very detailed. We were so used to the type of communication. Now with the Zoom meetings, you've got people talking over each other. You've got to wait. Are they muted? Unmuted? How's their connection? It's just not as good as just having the old fashioned face-to-face meeting." Starting Monday, approximately 75 people -- one fourth of athletic department employees -- will return to their offices on a regular basis -- with another 72 reporting on a limited basis. That includes administrators, coaches and staff.
Lovie Smith's Illinois staff has 8 black coaches -- more than any FBS program. Can it be an example?
Like most young boys for generations in Texas, Lovie Smith rooted his heart out for the Dallas Cowboys on Sundays. "I wanted to be a coach, but the guy I saw on the sideline didn't look like me," Smith told the Tribune. "Tom Landry was on the sideline. Everything about Tom Landry was good. But he didn't look like me." Smith was in his late 30s, having played and coached for more than a quarter century, when he joined Tony Dungy's Buccaneers staff in 1996 as the linebackers coach. It was the first time Smith worked or played for a black head coach. Smith, 62, raised his index finger. "The only time," he clarified. As the first black coach in the 130-year history of Illinois football, Smith is intentional and thoughtful about creating and cultivating his staff to provide young black coaches an opportunity, just as Dungy did for him. "Our staff has a little bit different look," Smith said. Illinois has eight black coaches, the most in FBS. Arizona State has seven under Herm Edwards, who worked on Dungy's staff with Smith.
Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy 'making some changes' after players speak out about OAN shirt
Chuba Hubbard, the nation's leading rusher last season, will resume football activities after tweeting Monday that he "will not be doing anything with Oklahoma State until things CHANGE" in response to a photo of coach Mike Gundy wearing an OAN T-shirt. "I will not stand for this," Hubbard posted on the day Cowboys players were scheduled to begin voluntary workouts on campus. "This is completely insensitive to everything going on in society, and it's unacceptable." Hubbard received support from multiple teammates and former players, but after the university president and athletic director both issued statements expressing concern, the running back posted a video of himself and Gundy in which the two shook hands. "In light of today's tweet with the T-shirt that I was wearing, I met with some players and realize it's a very sensitive issue with what's going on in today's society," Gundy said in the video. "And so, we had a great meeting. [I was] made aware of some things that players feel like can make our organization, our culture even better than it is here at Oklahoma State. I'm looking forward to making some changes, and it starts at the top with me. And we've got good days ahead." OAN stands for One America News, a far-right news network that has been known to promote conspiracy theories and is often cited by President Donald Trump.

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