Wayne State University Student Senate discussed Computing and Information Technology logistics, the W Food Pantry and graduate program cancellations at its virtual meeting Thursday.

The W Food Pantry recently received a $24,000 donation from the Detroit chapter of Jack and Jill of America, which has “a long legacy of community involvement, educational children’s programming, and cultural activities” according to their website.

“We are just overwhelmed with joy and thanks,” Dean of Students David Strauss said. “That’s the kind of good news we need in this world. And this was raised by teens. They’re our future, and the future looks bright.”

WSU was notified of the donation on Wednesday, but an official press release will be published in the near future, Strauss said. 

Throughout the fall semester, the W Food Pantry, Dean of Students Office and C&IT have partnered to distribute technology to students, said Rob Thompson, interim chief information officer and associate vice president of C&IT.

Technology needs increased when the COVID-19 pandemic forced students into remote learning, Thompson said.

“It's very common to have two laptops and five people in the same household and all of those people need resources too,” Thompson said. “So we found a spike in demand for and need for just computing equipment —the ability to have simultaneous people in the same household participating online.”

Seven-hundred laptops were given to students awarded Pell Grants. Additionally, DOSO distributed 200 Chromebooks, over 200 webcams and 150 T-Mobile hotspots. 

“The Dean of Students Office, Dean Strauss was instrumental in helping us get a quantity of these things,” Thompson said. “It's just been awesome, an awesome partner in all of those activities.”

Thompson expects to see WSU continue to utilize online learning, even after the pandemic, he said. 

“So many people have created great ways to interact online, and online technology and learning tech is going to forever change too as part of this. So part of my job … is thinking about those things that will position Wayne State to be at the forefront of those technologies," Thompson said. 

WSU began hosting classes on BigBlueButton, but Zoom offered more user friendly features, Thompson said. The switch from BigBlueButton to Zoom was completed on July 6, 2020, according to WSU’s C&IT website.

C&IT recorded over 2.3 million “unique meeting participants” for about 229,000 total Zoom meetings since purchasing the licensing agreement on June 29, 2020, according to Thompson’s presentation during the meeting.

C&IT also introduced the Course Information Matrix program, which allows students to take a more in-depth look at classes prior to registering, said Nathan Chavez, associate director of academic applications for C&IT.  

“It's essentially an archive of course materials and it kind of has two sides to it,” Chavez said. “There is the student side where you would be able to browse, of course, materials provided by your instructors.”

Described as a “window into the Canvas course,” the CIM is already running, Chavez said. C&IT is working to get more faculty to upload their course information because there is only a small percentage already participating. 

Six concentrations are being removed from WSU's graduate programs, said Mannat Bedi, director of community affairs for Senate. Four of the programs are in the WSU College of Education while the other two are in the WSU School of Medicine. 

The programs are being cut due to either low participation or repeat qualifications in doctoral programs, Bedi said. 

“The PhD is more applicable than just the certificate and the PhD has all the components that the certificate would have had,” Bedi said. “There's also little interest. There's no current students involved in [the College and University Teaching] certificate program.”

Student Senate will hold its next meeting on Feb. 18 at 6 p.m.

 Alanna Williams is a correspondent for The South End. She can be reached at alannawilliams@wayne.edu.

Cover photo by Guneet Ghotra. Guneet can be reached at fz8387@wayne.edu.

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