Thursday, September 10, 2020   
 
Congressman Michael Guest tours new Partnership School in Starkville
A special guest walked the halls of the new Partnership Middle School Wednesday morning. U.S. Congressman Michael Guest stopped by to see the new facility, which recently opened. The Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District and Mississippi State University teamed up to create the Partnership School to give a hands-on learning experience to both middle schoolers and MSU students. "Not only do we have a great facility," Guest said, "but with the interaction between the university and the school system, we have such an opportunity to expand this to future grades, to future schools. So, we wanted to come and see firsthand what they have to offer here." Even with all the changes as a result of COVID-19, it seems students are just glad to be back in school. "To see these students walk around, to see the smile on their face, to see how excited that they are to be in this facility, it was just truly uplifting day."
 
Health Care Heroes: MSU College of Veterinary Medicine
The on campus experience is vital part of a college education. To that end, Mississippi State rolled out its Living Cowbell Well initiative, which includes masks and social distancing. Now, thanks to a partnership between the Longest Student Health Center and the College of Veterinary Medicine, Covid-19 tests can be more quickly turned around. Mississippi State University Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter explains, "Being able to administer the test on our campus, process and evaluate the test on our campus and then return it to the healthcare workers, who can communicate that information to patients will, without question, be a much more efficient, faster operation." It's the kind innovation of that leads to a healthier Mississippi State and state of Mississippi. Salter concludes, "In this fight, there's no Bulldogs and Rebels. It's just Mississippians trying to serve the public and help save lives, and yes we are very proud of it."
 
MSU rents rooms at Columbus hotel as third quarantine site
Mississippi State University students in quarantine due to COVID-19 are staying in a third hotel, Fairfield Inn and Suites in Columbus, in addition to the two in Starkville that MSU rented for the entire semester, according to a Tuesday email to faculty from Provost David Shaw. As of Wednesday, 80 students are staying in the three hotels, and a total of 993 students are in quarantine after either testing positive or coming in close contact with a COVID-positive person, according to data on the MSU website. In total, 1,156 students have been tested for COVID-19 in the past two weeks. Of those, 195 of those students have tested positive and 183 more are awaiting test results. The Comfort Suites on Russell Street and the Hampton Inn on Blackjack Road in Starkville have a total of 155 rooms, and MSU rented 40 rooms at Fairfield with the option of 45 more, MSU Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter said. MSU has staffed the three hotels with employees from the departments of Housing and Residence Life and custodial services, and employees of the Longest Student Health Center will monitor quarantined students' health on site.
 
Main Street programs generated nearly 1,200 businesses, 7,500 jobs
A town's Main Street is often referred to as the center, or soul of a city, and the Mississippi State University Extension Center for Government and Community Development conducted an assessment of the economic impacts of the Mississippi Main Street Association and its member communities from 2015 to 2019. Since 2015, Main Street communities have seen an estimated 1,185 net new businesses, 346 business expansions, 7,456 net new jobs with a labor income value of $294,667,969, 462 fa├žade rehabilitations, and 1,315 downtown residential units constructed. There has been $253,936,251 of private dollars invested in Mississippi Main Street communities and $639,474,624 of public dollars invested in Mississippi Main Street communities in the last five years with $904 million in economic impacts of construction and revitalization projects with a direct and secondary impact of 5,400 jobs associated with these projects. "Main Street organizations can serve as a catalyst for economic development," said Rachael Carter, Economist at the Mississippi State University Extension Center for Government and Community Development, one of the authors of the report. "Special events can generate a visible and quantifiable economic impact in a town while efforts such as downtown improvements show a positive relationship with business growth."
 
Post wrongly says thousands of ballots sent to dead people, pets in Virginia and Nevada
A false Facebook post states that two battleground states sent huge numbers of ballots to dead people and pets. The post twists two news stories. One was a story out of Virginia about mail ballot applications for the Nov. 3 election. And the second was a story out of Nevada about mail ballots sent during the June 9 Nevada primary. Neither state has sent ballots to voters for the Nov. 3 general election and in neither case was there evidence of thousands of ballots being sent to dead people and pets. The fact that dead people remain on voter rolls nationwide does not itself equal fraud -- it's only a crime if someone then fills out a ballot in the name of a dead voter and sends it in. The likelihood that voter fraud can happen because of dead people on the rolls is very low, said Thessalia Merivaki, an expert on voter administration and political science professor at Mississippi State University. "Election administrators verify a lot of information prior to processing a ballot, be it by mail or in person ...," Merivaki said. "The same applies for voter registration. All information is verified, so it is highly unlikely that dead people can register to vote."
 
Oktibbeha supes approve curfew to curb 'block parties'
Supervisors unanimously approved a curfew that started Tuesday, from midnight to 4 a.m., in Oktibbeha County until at least Monday, after the sheriff's department expressed concerns about large parties in recent weeks as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Sheriff Steve Gladney said there have been several block parties, which Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Office has never had to deal with before. "We're having 100 people show up to these block parties," Gladney said. "We had one Friday night on Hickory Grove (Road), and we always get calls that the street is blocked and there's loud music and we have to go out there and deal with them. There's one planned for this Friday." Breaking up a party always results in the group reconvening somewhere else in the county, he said. The supervisors will revisit the curfew Monday at its second meeting of the month, which will include a public hearing for the Fiscal Year 2021 budget. The resolution did not include a specific penalty for breaking the curfew.
 
Superintendent Eddie Peasant: 130 SOCSD students did not register for the semester
About 130 students who were in the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District last year did not register for classes this year and have not responded to the district's attempts to contact them, Superintendent Eddie Peasant said Tuesday at a board of trustees meeting. "We're in the process of trying to communicate with those students and their families, and they're across all grades, but obviously more in secondary, so we're trying to find out what's going on," Peasant said. Now that school has been in session for two weeks, the district has 2,765 students in a traditional in-person learning environment and roughly 2,200 in virtual learning or a hybrid of virtual and in-person learning, he said. School did not start until Aug. 24 so teachers could prepare for a sizable percentage of the student population to learn remotely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which forced schools to close from March to May. Additionally, the district received approval Monday for its requested $1.6 million in grant funding from the Mississippi Department of Education to help buy 4,200 Chromebooks for grades 2-12 and 500 laptops for teachers, which the board of trustees approved in August.
 
Tribe encourages entrepreneurship during current economy
Although the United States has seen a stagnant economy during much of 2020, the Director of Economic Development for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians says this is actually an advantageous climate for starting a new business. Director John Hendrix says, "A study by the Kauffman Foundation showed that over half of the companies that have been on the Fortune 500 list were started during times of flat economies. Some of these include 1800s-era companies like Procter & Gamble and General Electric, all the way to late 20th century names like Home Depot, Microsoft, Apple, and FedEx." Hendrix continues, "There is data that indicates that an economic slowdown can be an ideal time to form a new business, and as we are facing that reality in our country, it's a good time for entrepreneurs to think about moving forward and launching their new product or service." Although these uncertain economic times can make people feel that maintaining the status quo is the safest bet, history shows that in fact, many successful companies have actually begun during just these types of downturns.
 
Mississippi State Fair 2020 will go on: Here's what to expect
The 2020 Mississippi State Fair is scheduled to take place Oct. 7-18 despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This year will mark the 161st state fair and things are going to look different for fairgoers -- with new attractions and COVID-19 precautions. Gates open at 5 p.m. on Oct. 7. All participants will be required to wear face coverings upon entry. A mask will be provided by the fairgrounds for those who do not bring one. Only 200 people per acre will be allowed on the fairgrounds. Lines for rides, games and food vendors will have six-foot markers to demonstrate social distancing. Indoor events will be reduced to 25% capacity. Livestock barns will be limited to access only by participants, family and personnel engaged in the livestock shows.
 
Mississippi reports 517 new COVID-19 cases, 33 deaths
The Mississippi State Department of Health on Thursday reported 517 new COVID-19 cases and 33 additional deaths. The statewide total of COVID-19 cases since March 11 now stands at 87,805 with 2,623 deaths as a result of the virus. Around 74,098 people are estimated to have recovered from the virus as of September 7. Lee, Monroe, Pontotoc and Tishomingo each reported two additional deaths, while Calhoun and Chickasaw each reported one new death. Monroe also reported one additional confirmed death between August 7 and September 1, identified from death certificates. Most counties in the Daily Journal's coverage area reported additional cases. The additional case counts are: Alcorn (2), Calhoun (4), Chickasaw (3), Clay (3), Itawamba (10), Lafayette (34), Lee (33), Marshall (6), Monroe (10), Oktibbeha (21), Pontotoc (7), Prentiss (10), Tippah (8), Tishomingo (7) and Union (11).
 
State Sen. Dennis DeBar named to SREB Education Study Group
A group of state legislators, including State Sen. Dennis DeBar, from across the United States begin their work this week for a year-long project studying high-performing, equitable and efficient education systems around the world. Their findings will be used to produce a major report to state legislatures and the American public that provides a framework for policymakers and state education systems to ensure that all students achieve at high levels, equitably and efficiently. The Legislative International Education Study Group of 16 state legislators and eight legislative staff members responsible for education in their states who were invited and convened by the National Center on Education and the Economy, the National Conference of State Legislatures and Southern Regional Education Board. This is the second such study group, after the first produced the 2016 report No Time to Lose, the most widely read report ever released by NCSL.
 
Here's where Cindy Hyde-Smith and Mike Espy stand on healthcare
A week after the Nov. 3 general election, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on a lawsuit, supported by President Donald Trump, to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. As COVID-19 continues to grip the nation, healthcare costs and accessibility remains one of the top issues for voters, and multiple polls show that most Mississippians consider the issue as their top policy concern. Incumbent Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith hopes the nation's highest court sides with the president. Former congressman and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy, her Democratic opponent in the November election, hopes the court does not. Espy, who lost to Hyde-Smith by about 7 percentage points in a 2018 special election, wants to expand the Affordable Care Act. He said repealing the ACA could place in jeopardy pre-existing condition coverage for 593,000 Mississippians. In addition, about 100,000 Mississippians have health insurance through the ACA Health Insurance Exchange that would presumably be shut down should the Supreme Court rule Obamacare unconstitutional. Hyde-Smith, on the other hand, wants to replace the ACA.
 
'Deadly stuff': President Trump's own words bring focus back to virus
Try as he might to change the subject, President Donald Trump can't escape the coronavirus. In April, the president tried to shift the public's focus to the economy. In July, to defending the country's "heritage." In September, to enforcing "law and order." But all along the way, the death toll from the coronavirus continued to mount. And now, Trump's own words are redirecting attention to his handling of the pandemic when he can least afford it -- less than two months before Election Day. "I wanted to always play it down," Trump said of the threat from the virus. That was in a private conversation with journalist Bob Woodward last March that became public on Wednesday with the publication of excerpts from Woodward's upcoming book "Rage." In taped conversations released along with the excerpts, Trump insisted he didn't want to create "panic." But his comments also raised fresh questions about how he has managed the defining crisis of his presidency, one that has killed more than 190,000 Americans so far, with no end in sight. Trump's team would much rather center the November vote around the economy, cracking down on protests spawned by racial injustice, and the president's promise that he could appoint more conservative justices to the Supreme Court.
 
President Trump's second-term agenda for African American voters: expand opportunity zones
President Donald Trump is centering his pitch to Black Americans for a second term on the expansion of opportunity zones, a program intended to fight poverty that his administration is touting as having brought $75 billion in private investment to distressed communities. The program, created in 2017 tax legislation, targets low-income areas for development with a guarantee of tax breaks for investors and a promise of improved economic conditions for residents. Critics say they are concerned that opportunity zones are not reducing poverty, and they are calling for greater transparency and accountability on who benefits from the land development. Democratic lawmakers have proposed legislative changes to the program to prevent future projects from resulting in low-income residents being displaced from newly developed neighborhoods. Trump has used executive authority to direct additional federal resources to opportunity zones, but he has yet to present a plan that backs up a campaign promise to expand them if he's reelected. Read more here: https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/election/article245621725.html#storylink=cpy
 
Ag groups try to tilt Joe Biden to the left
Progressive groups are pressuring the Biden campaign to reshape its rural priorities to attack corporate consolidation and make agriculture central to fighting climate change. Embracing their ideas would not only help former Vice President Joe Biden pick off key constituents in important battleground Midwest states, they argue, but it would also champion some left-leaning goals, like removing corporate influence on federal policy. Over the past few months, progressive organizations representing various farm and environmental issues have been meeting with Biden's advisers to pitch their top policy goals like breaking up big agribusiness to undo consolidation in the sector, which has been a major issue for numerous farm interests across the political spectrum. Agriculture policy leaders want to expand Biden's universe of ag advisers to bring in people that may push his transition team toward a new direction. The next administration will have tremendous influence over the future of the agriculture and food sector: The current farm bill is set to expire in 2023, and jockeying will begin much sooner to determine nutrition initiatives, producers' livelihoods, farm workers' rights, as well as quality of the environment.
 
A DHS Official Says He Was Punished for Not Pushing President Trump's Agenda
After years of tension between President Donald Trump's administration and the United States intelligence community, a new whistleblower complaint filed by a former senior Department of Homeland Security official alleges a grim climate of bias and politicization within the Department of Homeland Security's intelligence apparatus. In particular, it accuses DHS leadership of working to minimize intelligence findings about Russia's threat to the 2020 US election and beyond, as well as the national security risk from rising white supremacist ideology. The complaint comes from Brian Murphy, who ran DHS's intelligence branch until the end of July and was then reassigned to the agency's management division. Murphy was transferred after controversy over revelations, which he disputes, that his department had produced intelligence reports about journalists and protesters in Portland, Oregon. In his complaint, Murphy alleges that he faced repeated pressure from acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf to curtail intelligence findings, including those about the threat of Russian meddling.
 
The Pandemic Has Researchers Worried About Teen Suicide
Teen and youth anxiety and depression are getting worse since COVID lockdowns began in March, early studies suggest, and many experts say they fear a corresponding increase in youth suicide. At the end of June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed almost 10,000 Americans on their mental health. They found symptoms of anxiety and depression were up sharply across the board between March and June, compared with the same time the previous year. And young people seemed to be the hardest-hit of any group. Almost 11 percent of all respondents to that survey said they had "seriously considered" suicide in the past 30 days. For those ages 18 to 24, the number was 1 in 4 -- more than twice as high. "Teenagers are in a developmental space where it is critically important that they have regular contact with their peers and are able to develop close and ongoing relationships with adults outside the home, such as their teachers, their coaches, their advisers," says Lisa Damour, an adolescent psychologist who is a columnist and host of the podcast Ask Lisa: The Psychology of Parenting. "And I worry very much about what it means for that to be disrupted by the pandemic."
 
'The bare minimum': UM Greek chapters take in millions, while their workers make less than a living wage
Over the past several years, Greek houses on Sorority Row and Rebel Drive have continued to propose and execute grandiose home renovations. As these announcements continued throughout the summer and even during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests across the country, UM Greek life alums Kristie Marano and Rachel Anderson began asking the question: where could this money make more of an impact? "In a system that we all participated in or (currently) participate in, we have the opportunity to really affect Black lives, as most of the staff in these houses are overwhelmingly Black," Marano said. Tired of "performative" advocacy, like Greek organizations posting support for the Black Lives Matter movement on social media, Marano and Anderson said they want the Greek system to make concrete changes that will benefit its house workers. Thus, they began the campaign called We Can Do Better, advocating for Greek house workers to be paid a living wage, receive comprehensive benefits and receive hazard pay through the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
JSU enforcing new COVID-19 guidelines in wake of off-campus block party
Effective Friday, Jackson State University will enforce new guidelines to lessen the spread of COVID-19. he university sent the guidelines to students in an email. All students remaining on campus must adhere to these additional guidelines set forth. Failure to comply will result in disciplinary actions and or/removal from on campus housing. Group games, gatherings or events are strictly prohibited. A curfew is in effect for entry back on to campus. Students should return to campus no later than 11 p.m. to gain entry. From 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., campus access is restricted and students should be in their rooms. All students must have their student ID on them at all times. The new guidelines come after the students at Jackson State attended an off-campus block party. Many of the attendees at the block party were not social distancing or wearing masks. Those who were wearing masks were not wearing them correctly. The block party goes against Gov. Tate Reeves's and Jackson mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba's executive orders.
 
Alcorn partners with Upswing to provide increased academic support services
Alcorn State University is partnering with Upswing, an online student engagement organization, to connect students with integrated support resources. Students can connect with both Alcorn advisors and tutors and Upswing tutors through the integrated services platform and receive academic support, tutor session feedback, and analyses.
 
William Carey School of Education adds new programs
Dr. Teresa Poole, Associate Dean of Education at William Carey University, said the university's school of education listened to its student's feedback and added several new programs present and future educators can enroll in to expand their career paths. "Bachelors in General Science with a concentration in education, we have the Pre-K Endorsement for Teachers," Poole said. Poole said the programs are offered 100% online to give educators the flexibility to pursue certifications in areas like dyslexia therapy. "They can actually earn a specialist degree now, so this program will allow a person who may have a master's in elementary education or administration to actually earn a specialist degree," Poole said. Poole said if you would like to be a teacher leader, the Mississippi Department of Education approved a program just for you. "Teachers who are interested in being an academic coach, interventionist or team leaders for their teams, and so this endorsement will allow a teacher to actually formally be a teacher leader," Poole said.
 
U. of Alabama COVID-19 positives dropping, dean 'cautiously optimistic'
A top medical voice at University of Alabama officials is taking a cautiously optimistic view of COVID-19 testing trends three weeks after classes began in Tuscaloosa. Dr. Ricky Friend, the dean of UA's College of Community Health Sciences, on Wednesday said they've seen daily positives drop for a second straight week. He noted the numbers released last Friday reflected 125 positive tests per day, down from 164 a day from the previous round of data. "I'm happy to report that positive trend has continued this week and should be reflected in the System's next data release on Friday," Friend said Wednesday. "The numbers we've seen over the past five or six days have been very encouraging. The number of daily positives, the number of active cases and the number of students in quarantine and isolation spaces continue to fall." Friend said the numbers are going down as a result of mitigation efforts over the last few weeks including a two-week closure of bars in Tuscaloosa. He also noted they were "prepared for the possibility" of an increase in positives after students returned from the Labor Day long weekend.
 
More than 600 Alabama students facing COVID sanctions, 33 suspended
Three weeks into the fall semester, the University of Alabama is enforcing new COVID-19 regulations amid high positive test counts. The school has issued 639 "individual student sanctions" related to new COVID-19 guidelines as of Sept. 8, UA spokesperson Monica Watts told AL.com. Of those, 33 have been issued interim measures which "effectively suspending them from campus while their conduct cases proceed through due process," according to UA. Their final suspensions could vary in length depending on the offense in question. Student organizations also fell under the new guidelines issued Aug. 13 and one is pending suspension for violating measures designed to limit large gatherings. Three others received COVID-related sanctions, the school told AL.com. At Alabama, Watts said "any speculation about refunds is premature" in the cases of students facing suspension.
 
U. of Alabama Theatre and Dance to produce all-virtual season
Actors and dancers often train on stages with the belief that techniques, the basics of creating a character or performance, will translate to film when needed. This pandemic year has urged changes on the University of Alabama Department of Theatre and Dance, with more focus turning to performance for cameras, as its 2020-2021 season will go all digital. Actors, directors, choreographers, dancers, designers, technicians and management will proceed through their work as if preparing for shows, though the end result will be not full-length live plays or concerts, but shorter videos, part documentary, part performance. Since the pandemic hit in spring, the department has been thrashing out ideas, consulting with other academic training programs, trying to find the most effective ways to move forward, said Sarah Barry, chair of the department. "In spring you just had to adapt super quickly, and try to figure out how to finish," said Barry, also a professor of dance. After a summer of study and consultations, "the faculty came into the fall semester with a much better idea of how things could work."
 
LSU announces plans for early detection of coronavirus
LSU officials said Wednesday they plan to use wastewater tests around dormitories and on-campus apartments to pinpoint potential hotspots for the coronavirus before students even show any symptoms. The work involves studying the sewage of between 350 and 500 students at a time by the College of Engineering and the School of Veterinary Medicine. "It just tells us one simple thing: How many people are shedding the virus or has the disease," said Environmental Engineering Professor John Pardue. "We hope to be able to identify places on campus where maybe we have outbreaks that haven't been identified yet and move to snuff those out," Pardue said. Thomas Galligan Jr., interim president of LSU, noted that examining wastewater will not allow officials to identify specific individuals carrying the virus. But if it looks like are positive tests in a single residence hall, for example, the school can alert students and get them tested.
 
U. of Tennessee will clear out a residence hall as it runs out of quarantine spots
The University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where the number of students with COVID-19 has almost tripled this month, to 612, told students in one of its residence halls Wednesday that they would have to move out to make room for self-isolating peers. "I recognize that this is unexpected news and that shifting residence halls will disrupt your semester. I am sorry for the disruption, and we are here to support you academically, socially, mentally, and financially," Frank Cuevas, vice chancellor for student life, said in an email to residents of Massey Hall Wednesday. "I know this is not how you envisioned your semester, and we will work to support you through this. As circumstances evolve on campus we are adjusting our operational plans to help manage through this pandemic, with our top priority being the health and well-being of our campus community." Tennessee officials said the hotel they had secured was inadequate to house all the isolating students. They chose Massey for the overflow, they said, because of its size and the fact that it has proportionally few students living there now.
 
U. of Arkansas, Fayetteville leaders talk of online 'pivot' as virus spreads
With the number of coronavirus cases growing among students at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, top administrators have discussed a temporary "pivot" to online-only instruction but "don't feel there's a need to pivot to that extent yet," interim Provost Charles Robinson said Wednesday. Robinson, speaking at a meeting of UA's faculty senate, said he and Chancellor Joe Steinmetz talked Tuesday about possibilities that "might include reducing our face-to-face offerings at least for a temporary period of time." "If indeed there is a need to pivot, we will pivot," Robinson said. UA reported having 888 cases as of Wednesday that were active, meaning the person had tested positive and had not yet recovered. That was down from 923 active cases as of Monday. The latest total comprises 876 students, seven staff members, three faculty members and two graduate assistants.
 
UGA student COVID numbers spike again, surveillance testing to increase
COVID-19 surged again at the University of Georgia in the second full week of fall semester classes. Some 1,417 members of the UGA community reported testing positive for COVID-19 through the university's mandatory "DawgCheck" reporting system. Almost all of them -- 1,402 -- were students; 14 were staff and one a faculty member. Last week, UGA's COVID monitoring system counted 821 positive tests -- 798 students, 19 staff and four faculty. The positivity rate for voluntary testing that UGA is conducting at Legion Field also jumped again to just over 8%. Last week, 125 of the 1,557 Legion tests were positive, about 8%. The week before, 96 of 1,810 tests were positive, 5.3%, and the week before that, about 2.4% were positive. The numbers show that the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is not happening on campus, according to Garth Russo, the executive director of the University Health Center and chair of UGA's Medical Oversight Task Force. "With only one faculty member testing positive during this period, we can surmise that the preventive measures the university has taken to control the classroom environment -- such as installing HEPA filters, marking off social distancing, installing Plexiglas shields and mandating masks -- are working to make our classrooms safe places for students and faculty," Russo said in a news release.
 
U. of Florida research examines police presence in schools
A new University of Florida study suggests that a state law meant to curb school violence following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting may be doing more harm than good. In the study, "The Expanding Presence of Law Enforcement in Florida Schools," researchers from UF's Education Policy Research Center found that despite the required presence of armed security in all of the state's public schools, there may be unintended consequences caused by the added law enforcement. Their findings: Juvenile arrests increased; And while more threats and drug-related incidents were reported to the state and law enforcement, little evidence suggests that such behavior actually decreased. "At the end of the day, all students deserve a safe, supportive, and equitable learning environment," the study said. "The results of this analysis suggest that the use of law enforcement in schools may be compromising student well-being without increasing the safety of schools."
 
U. of Florida will pay Anita Hill $30,000 to speak virtually
University of Florida Accent Speakers Bureau will pay Anita Hill, lawyer and Brandeis University professor, $30,000 in student fees for her virtual event on Thursday, according to the event contract. The Accent and the Women's Student Association 6:30 p.m. event will commemorate the hundred year anniversary of the passing of the U.S. Constitution's 19th Amendment, which granted white women the right to vote. Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle were paid $50,000 for an in-person Accent event last Fall. John Mulaney was paid $50,000 for his virtual Summer event. Black Lives Matter movement founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi were paid $10,000 each for their virtual event over the Summer. Hill's event will be a 45-minute virtual conversation between Hill and moderator Debra Walker King, a UF English professor and ordained minister at Greater Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. It will be followed by a 15-minute student Q&A session, Wolf wrote. King said she will talk with Hill about the pandemic, Black Lives Matter uprising and the role that Black women have played in major changes in the country.
 
NIH grants $1.9 million to U. of Missouri for neurodegenerative studies
Two University of Missouri professors have been awarded a $1.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to ultimately improve the quality and lifespan of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients and those who suffer from similar diseases. The grantees studying swallowing and breathing retention are co-investigators Teresa Lever, associate professor of otolaryngology at the MU School of Medicine, and Nicole Nichols, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine and investigator at the MU Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, according to an MU School of Medicine news release. The research will allow them to further study how swallowing and breathing diminishes over time in patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. It will also allow them to determine if tongue exercise can preserve swallowing and breathing function and coordination, the release said. "With diseases like ALS, we're dealing with dying cells that control movement," Lever said in the release. "But not all cells die at the same time, and some will continue to live."
 
Texas A&M hosting events in September to promote suicide awareness, prevention
Texas A&M University is hosting its fourth annual suicide awareness and prevention campaign throughout September as part of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and World Suicide Prevention Day. A&M will host a series of virtual events for the campaign, which will highlight campus and community resources and provide support for survivors and those struggling with suicidal thoughts or depression. "Our goal is to increase connection and awareness through our various virtual events and programs," said Santana Simple, assistant director of counseling and psychological services, in a release. "We are still working to break the stigma associated with suicide so that students in distress and those of us who are here to support them can make meaningful connections to resources." The main event of the campaign is the Suicide Awareness Virtual Walk Challenge Sept. 10-Oct. 7 in which participants can form teams of up to eight people while tracking the number of miles they walk in support of suicide awareness and prevention.
 
Education Department Finalizes Religious Freedom Rule
The Department of Education on Wednesday finalized its new rule requiring among other things that public universities uphold the First Amendment, including freedom of speech and academic freedom. Private colleges and universities are required to follow their own policies on freedom of expression. Initially proposed in January, the final version of the Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities rule also prohibits institutions from denying faith-based student groups "any of the rights, benefits, or privileges that other student groups enjoy." In addition, the rule codifies how educational institutions can show they are exempt from Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972's sex discrimination rules because they are religious institutions. Religious groups were already exempt, but regulations have until now not defined what it means to be controlled by a religious organization. The rule will take effect in about 60 days. The rule was praised by a number of faith-based groups. But Dena Sher, associate vice president of public policy at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the rule will prevent universities from keeping religious student groups from discriminating based on religion, race, sexual orientation and other factors.
 
Experts warn against closing residence halls, but some say it's not that simple
In interviews and in a call with several governors last week, three of the nation's top medical leaders dealing with the coronavirus outbreak urged colleges not to close residence halls and send potentially infected students back home. "That's the worst thing you can do," Dr. Anthony Fauci said on the Today show, echoing Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, and Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But on the ground, university officials who have decided to do just what the health leaders are urging them not to do say that continuing to house students amid a rapid outbreak is easier said than done. While some, like the University of Alabama system, have decided to continue housing students even as they've seen large spikes in students testing positive for the disease, others like California State University, Chico, have opted to stop housing nearly all students, saying that so many resident assistants got sick that keeping residence halls open poses its own dangers.
 
U. of Wisconsin-Madison moves classes online, quarantines students in two dorms as coronavirus cases spike on campus
The University of Wisconsin-Madison is moving all classes online and quarantining students in two of its largest dorms as it deals with rising cases of COVID-19. Colleges across the country have been grappling with outbreaks in recent weeks after choosing to return to in-person instruction, but system President Tommy Thompson insisted on opening campuses this fall despite the warning signs. According to UW-Madison data, 1,044 students and 26 employees have tested positive for the virus since Aug. 6. The city-county public health department said there are at least 46 separate outbreaks currently tied to UW-Madison. Chancellor Rebecca Blank ordered the 2,230 residents living in Sellery Hall and Witte Hall to quarantine for 14 days, starting at 10 p.m. Wednesday, the State Journal reported. Blank ordered an end to in-person classes through at least Sept. 25.
 
'Not lab rats.' Black colleges blasted for urging Louisiana students into COVID trials
The presidents of two historically Black colleges in New Orleans have joined early vaccine trials for COVID-19 and are asking students and staff to consider doing the same. But not everyone is on board with the idea. Dillard University President Walter M. Kimbrough and Xavier University of Louisiana President C. Reynold Verret co-penned a letter to students last week encouraging Black people and other non-white groups to ensure coronavirus vaccine trials are racially diverse. Both Kimbrough and Verret are already taking part in Ochsner Medical System's current vaccine trial,saying it's "of the utmost importance" that a significant number of Black, Latino and non-white subjects take part in the study. The call for students to consider enrolling in the clinical trials sparked immediate concern among some parents who balked at the idea of their children being used as "test subjects," citing the historical exploitation of Black people for the advancement of medicine. "Our children are not lab rats for drug companies," one parent wrote on the Xavier University Facebook page. "This is very disturbing given the history of drug trials in the black and brown communities."]


SPORTS
 
'He plays with his hair on fire': How Aaron Brule is adjusting to Zach Arnett's blitz-heavy scheme
Aaron Brule stands hunched over a podium in the Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex bearing an effervescent smile from ear to ear. Speaking a mile a minute, Brule races through his thoughts on new defensive coordinator Zach Arnett's 3-3-5 scheme, what's stood out through fall camp and how he's approached an offseason in which he's slated to become a major cog in the MSU defense. And while the Bulldogs are still a little over two weeks away from opening their season at LSU and at least a week and a half short of disclosing their first depth chart of the year, there's reason to believe Brule is set to be a linchpin in Arnett's free-flowing defense. "The thing I really appreciate about Brule is he plays with his hair on fire on a daily basis," outside linebackers/special teams coach Matt Brock said. "There's not many plays where you flip on the tape and Brule is not playing hard."
 
'Ultimate competitor': Why Charles Cross is ready to start for Mississippi State football
Like all of his Mississippi State teammates, Charles Cross is a Bulldog. But offensive line coach Mason Miller considers Cross to be a different breed. "He's a like a pit bull," Miller said. "When he gets his hands on you, he doesn't surrender." Cross is much bigger than either of the aforementioned canines. He's much bigger than he was when he arrived at Mississippi State as a five-star true freshman in 2019 too. The 6-5, 290-pound Laurel High School product isn't the same undersized, over-matched player he was a year ago. Cross played in three games during his redshirt season last year. His growth and development mentally and physically has him slated to start at the oh-so-important left tackle position when the 2020 season starts Sept. 26 at No. 6 LSU. "I'm ready for it," Cross said. "I've prepared myself to the best of my ability to do my job at the highest level."
 
Mississippi State soccer, volleyball release updated schedules
Mississippi State soccer and volleyball both released their updated schedules Wednesday. Both programs will play a truncated conference-only schedule, with soccer starting on Sept. 18 and volleyball on Oct. 17. MSU soccer opens its season at Auburn, then plays Alabama at home, Ole Miss on the road and LSU at home. The Bulldogs close their season with road matchups with Texas A&M and South Carolina while hosting Missouri and Arkansas. The Southeastern Conference Championship will be held in Orange Beach, Alabama, from Nov. 13-22. All 14 schools qualify for the tournament and each team is guaranteed at least two matches. "We're so grateful once again for the opportunity to play whilst also keeping the safety of our players at the forefront of our minds," MSU coach James Armstrong said in a news release. Volleyball will only play four conference foes, but will have two matches against each. The Bulldogs open at home against Arkansas on Oct. 17-18, then will play LSU twice in Baton Rouge. MSU then faces Texas A&M twice on the road before closing the year at home with two contests against Kentucky.
 
Icelandic javelin star Sindri Gudmundsson hopes to 'make some more magic' at Mississippi State
Sindri Gudmundsson has seen up close and personal what Mississippi State's javelin throwers are capable of. At the NCAA championships in both 2018 and 2019, the only thing standing between Utah State's star Icelandic thrower and a national title was the Bulldogs. Several of them. Gudmundsson finished behind Mississippi State's Anderson Peters and Nico Quijera in 2018, settling for third. The following year, he took fourth behind an all-Bulldog podium of Peters, Curtis Thompson and Tyriq Horsford. So when Gudmundsson looked for a transfer destination this summer, he already had a destination in mind: Mississippi State, a.k.a. "Jav U." "If you can't beat them, join them -- and beat them," Gudmundsson said. "That's kind of my mentality: They've got this great corps of throwers, and I'm going to join them and eventually hopefully beat them." Of the four Bulldogs who finished ahead of Gudmundsson at NCAA championships, only Horsford is still on the roster. But with the prolific Icelandic thrower, who officially signed with the Bulldogs in July, in the fold, Mississippi State can be just as good come spring 2021 -- or better.
 
MHSAA football championships moved to Jackson
The state's high school football championships are going back to Jackson this year. The six MHSAA championship games will be played Dec. 3 and 4 -- a Thursday and Friday -- at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium, which hosted the games from 1992 until 2013. The championships were then moved to the state's Division I college campuses, rotating between Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss. They were scheduled to be played Dec. 4-5 at MSU this year, but the Bulldogs are hosting Missouri on Dec. 5 due to the SEC's reconfigured schedule. An official announcement about the move is expected to be made Thursday or Friday.
 
Scotty Walden lays out plan for Southern Miss football. 'Attack all things head on.'
Shortly after being informed that he was selected as interim head football coach at Southern Miss, Scotty Walden sent a text message to his wife. "It's me." "She went nuts in the text. She thought I was lying." Walden said Wednesday in his first media briefing since taking taking over the program. The 72 hours that followed have been a blur for Walden, who Monday replaced the resigned Jay Hopson. "There's not been a lot of sleep," Walden said. "I haven't seen my wife or kids. I've had a lot of meetings. It's been a whirlwind." Along with the excitement of the promotion came the mixed emotions of replacing Hopson, who Walden said he deeply respects. "Kind of the best way to describe is it's bittersweet," Walden said. "My feelings have been up and down like a roller coaster. Coach Hopson is a mentor for me and a guy I look up to. He helped my career and took a chance on me. I called him and told him I love him. He's been very supportive." When he accepted Southern Miss athletic Jeremy McClain's offer to take over the program, Walden instantly became the youngest head coach in FBS.
 
How Hattiesburg supported USM reporter who took his first steps in months
There aren't two things Heath Hinton wanted more since April than the chance to walk again and watch Southern Miss football. This past week, he got to do both. Hinton is a textbook Southern Miss expert. Since 2014, he's hosted radio shows and managed the Southern Miss Rivals site BigGoldNation. On command, Hinton can name the entire Golden Eagles depth chart and the program's top recruits. "I love sports," Hinton said. "I'm really not working. I'm having fun." Hinton loves Southern Miss athletics, but he had no idea how much it loved him back -- until late March. Shortly after baseball season came to a halt due to COVID-19, Hinton cut his left foot and it became infected. He took antibiotics, followed the doctors orders but two days later, his foot got worse. Hinton then went back to the hospital, and had to get his entire left leg amputated. Looking back, Hinton said he's somewhat thankful events took such a quick turn because he didn't have too much time leading up to the amputation to get anxious. A couple of days after the surgery, Hinton was sitting in his hospital room. His new reality had sunk in. He reached down and noticed his leg wasn't there. Then, he checked his phone. His notifications were full of messages from athletic director Jeremy McClain, baseball coach Scott Berry, men's basketball coach Jay Ladner, as well as other coaches, administrators and players.
 
Oxford Film Festival donates nearly $9,000 to Chucky Mullins Endowment
Despite not being able to hold the planned charity gala in connect with the world premiere of the Chucky Mullins film "It's Time," the Oxford Film Festival still made a sizable donation. Last week, OFF announced it will be donating $8,825 to the University of Mississippi's Roy Lee Chucky Mullins Endowment, which benefits student-athletes. The donation total is comprised of half the sponsorship funds and some donated ticket sales from the postponed "Its' Time" special screening and premiere gala. The event was schedule to be apart of this year's Oxford Film Festival in March before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the in-person event. Filmed in Mississippi, "It's Time" tells the story of Mullins, who played for Ole Miss and suffered an on-the-field injury during their game against Vanderbilt on Oct. 28, 1989. Mullins died two years later of complications from the injury, which left him paralyzed. The film centers around Mullins and Brad Gaines, the Vanderbilt player Mullins was attempting to tackle when he suffered the injury.
 
The Surest Way to Get a Coronavirus Test in College: Play Football
According to a Wall Street Journal analysis of rosters and testing policies, athletic departments in the ACC, Big 12 and SEC will consume between 600 and 950 tests a week. That represents the least amount of testing mandated by the respective conferences. The ACC's Duke, which plans daily testing for athletes in high-risk fall sports -- football, soccer, field hockey and volleyball -- will consume nearly 1,780 tests a week. Meanwhile, testing for the rest of the undergraduate population, which can number in the tens of thousands, is much scarcer. Public data from universities in the ACC, Big 12 and SEC is incomplete and often doesn't include testing capacity. At the 21 schools sharing weekly data, tests administered last week ranged from 209 at Kansas to 6,840 at Duke. If this seems like a lopsided policy, that's because it is. The differing approaches to athletes and other students is based on the assumption that football players are more likely than their undergraduate peers to be exposed to Covid-19 when tackling each other for hours each Saturday. The trouble is that undergraduates are only at a lower risk than athletes if they abstain from risky behaviors, like partying on fraternity row or frequenting campus bars.
 
LSU fan reaction to tailgating ban at Tiger Stadium? Understanding, but '2020 sucks'
Zach Rau expected this decision. Based on public health trends, bar shutdowns, restaurant restrictions and the absence of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, he doubted his tailgate -- much less football season -- would look anything like years past, if it existed at all. Still, Rau felt disappointed when LSU announced Wednesday the school won't allow tailgating on campus during the 2020 football season. Rau had structured his fall schedule for eight years around pulled pork and a 400-square foot patch near the Indian Mounds. He'll spend his Saturdays this season at home. Tailgating at LSU has formed a reputation separate from that of the football team or university. But like every other Southeastern Conference school that has announced finalized plans, LSU prohibited tailgates in its game day protocols around Tiger Stadium. In order to comply with public health guidelines, LSU stopped a practice designed to bring people closer together. "The paramount and most important thing is that we're scheduled to play football," LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said. "That's a reason for celebration. Hey, let's do it in this proper fashion so we continue to do it."
 
How Sanford Stadium is and isn't changing with reduced attendance for the 2020 UGA football season
Sanford Stadium is set up for social distancing seating. Georgia's athletic staff is putting the finishing touches on about 16,000 seatbacks in the bowl of the stadium for donors ahead of a four-game home schedule set to begin on Oct. 3 against Auburn. "Every donor we have will be able to attend at minimum one game," senior deputy athletic director Josh Brooks said. "They're building an allocation process now. Hopefully they'll be a few more that get two games than originally thought." That is a result of season ticket holders -- who account for about 58,000 tickets in a regular season -- opting out at a more than 50 percent rate, athletic director Greg McGarity confirmed Wednesday. LSU reported a similar number. "It's on par with our peers in the SEC from what we've heard," McGarity said. "Ours is in line. I knew early on I had heard some schools at minimum of 50 percent, which might have been surprising not knowing what our numbers were going to be. Now that I know others are in the same situation it's not alarming."
 
Memphis AD: After Houston game would be 'appropriate time' for officials to reevaluate fan mandates
Memphis athletics director Laird Veatch doesn't know whether the same health and safety mandates in place for the school's season opener will be relaxed for future games. But, based on his dealings with Shelby County health and government officials, he is optimistic. "The health department has been really good about having very open, ongoing dialogue with us and not necessarily getting locked into one thing at one time for the long-term," Veatch told The Commercial Appeal. "My impression is they recognize the need to continue to evaluate things. That would certainly be our hope." Shelby County currently requires 12 feet of social distancing between groups (of no more than eight fans) at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, part of ongoing efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19. Those requirements at the facility that normally would seat 58,000 fans mean only about 4,500 are allowed to attend Tigers football games. Memphis, which does not have a game this week, returns to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium for a game against Houston on Sept. 18 (6:30 p.m., ESPN).
 
Clemson football, a mask ordinance and student resistance: 'This is sooo dumb'
When economic desperation and college-age invincibility collide with a global pandemic, you get something like what happened last week on College Avenue in downtown Clemson. Three men dressed in T-shirts, blue jeans and cowboy boots stood beside a police car Thursday night, one of them leaning against a sign that read: "Open containers prohibited." Except these three were not toting open containers. Shortly after 10 p.m., the men had strode onto the bar-lined strip, carried forward by the promises of the night, their faces uncovered. A Clemson police officer mellowed the vibe. The three were in violation of the city's mask ordinance, the officer said. He needed their IDs. They now faced $25 fines. Soon, two more officers walked by with three more offenders. This trio had been yanked out of Tiger Town Tavern, known around campus as TTT, and had looser tongues than the others. "This is sooo dumb." "We tell people, we're like 'Hey guys, we're trying to get us a football season back. We're trying to go back to normal,'" Clemson city patrol Officer Joseph Dempsey said.
 
Ohio AG Dave Yost thinks Ohio State can sue Big Ten over football cancellation
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is ready to recommend that Ohio State University officials file a lawsuit seeking monetary damages from the Big Ten and member schools that voted against playing football this autumn. A team of state lawyers studying Ohio State's contracts with the Big Ten believe an "excellent contract claim for several tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue" can be demanded in a lawsuit, Yost told The Dispatch. Yost, a Republican, said he has not yet discussed the filing of a potential state-court action against the Big Ten and some of its schools with Ohio State officials as conference talks continue on when -- and if -- to play football amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "I think we have a cause of action" for violating contracts between the Big Ten and Ohio State and for illegal interference in a business relationship, Yost said. "If these negotiations (over playing football) fall apart, we will be recommending legal action to our client, Ohio State University," he said, adding his office believes the Big Ten lacked legal authority to cancel or delay the football season.
 
The Town Defined by Penn State Football Becomes a Void
When Penn State traditionally kicks off its football season -- almost always at home on Labor Day weekend -- this small town and the surrounding hamlets buzz with life. Fans clog the sidewalks along College Avenue, an armada of recreational vehicles invade otherwise empty fields, and the Blue Band's percussive thumping echoes across campus. The sights, sounds and smells generate a distinct energy in the days leading up to each home game. Football permeates the air. When game day arrives, the hulking monolith of Beaver Stadium fills with 107,000 fans --- more than double the town's resident population. Those circadian rhythms were interrupted this holiday weekend, just as they will be all fall in many towns that are pins on the college football map: from Eugene to East Lansing and perhaps beyond, to places like Starkville, Stillwater and South Bend if the coronavirus pandemic, which is especially active at the moment on college campuses, isn't reined in. Instead a new cadence has taken root in Happy Valley, as the area that encompasses State College is known.
 
USGA to create campus at Pinehurst; No. 2 gets 4 more Opens
The United States Golf Association announced Wednesday it will move its equipment testing center and other offices to North Carolina as part of a $36 million investment within the iconic golfing village of Pinehurst. The USGA Research & Testing Center, along with the association's foundation and turfgrass management agency, will relocate from New Jersey to Pinehurst, 60 miles south of Raleigh. USGA headquarters will remain in Liberty Corner, New Jersey. As part of the agreement, the USGA also announced it had awarded four additional men's U.S. Opens to Pinehurst No. 2 in 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047. The dates are described as an acceleration of the USGA's strategy to stage the U.S. Open more often at a handful of prestigious anchor courses. USGA CEO Mike Davis said other anchor sites will be released later. A visitor center and USGA satellite museum also will be built on what's being called a "Golf House Pinehurst" campus in the village. Through legislation approved last week and a state government committee's award earlier Wednesday, the state has agreed to give up to $18 million in taxpayer funds to help the USGA offset project costs. The association also will benefit from $3.4 million in local and other state incentives.



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