COVID-19 Update to Campus: Oct 1, 2020

To the Eastern Michigan University community:

Homecoming 2020: The Remix began Tuesday and we already have seen great participation among Eastern Michigan students, faculty, staff and alumni. We are certain this will continue through the weekend with several fun events remaining. One event that I am particularly looking forward to is happening this evening, a virtual cook-along with EMU alumna Chef Elle Simone, star of America’s Test Kitchen. There’s still time to pick up the ingredients for all who want to participate. Details about the cook-along, as well as other events such as esports game night, Friday’s drive-in movie at the Convocation Center, virtual house parties hosted by popular DJs, and a virtual 5K walk/run, can be found on our homecoming website.

Please join me in thanking the members of the Homecoming Committee, all of whom are listed on the website, and everyone involved, for their ideas, planning and coordination of the many virtual events taking place. They have done excellent work to create something for everyone with a positive, connected homecoming experience that embraces EMU’s finest homecoming traditions in these unique times.

I have several items to cover in this week’s message:

  • COVID-19 Dashboard
  • Expanded COVID-19 Testing
  • Statement on White House Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping
  • Faculty Listening Session for Students on Oct. 7: Student Conversations about Diversity and Inclusion
  • Virtual Speaker Series: Race, Policing and Social Justice in 2020 (part two)
  • Swoop’s Food Pantry Update
  • Celebrating Eastern Michigan University Excellence

EMU COVID-19 Dashboard

In the seven days ending Sept. 29, the University administered 115 tests that resulted in 14 positive results. We identified a total of 19 positive cases from all sources over the same time period. Of that total, 11 were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive, and eight were on-campus students – defined as a student who was living on campus or had visited campus during the applicable time period prior to the time they tested positive. No cases were reported among University employees.

Since August 12, the University has administered 3,644 tests that resulted in 29 positive results for a percent positive of 0.80 percent.

This data can be found on the University’s COVID-19 Dashboard. 

A reminder that the Washtenaw County Health Department, with University support and assistance, conducts contact tracing on positive cases related to on-campus activities. Any Eastern community members who are deemed to have had close contact with someone on campus who tested positive are notified directly and provided information about what they should do. 

It is the responsibility of every EMU student and employee to submit the COVID-19 Report Form should you become aware of a case or test positive yourself, so that we may follow up and mitigate future spread of the virus. 

Expanded COVID-19 Testing

When we announced the decision in late August to delay residence hall and apartment move-in for most students, and further reduce the number of face-to face classes, one of the key factors was to provide additional time to develop a more robust and ongoing testing process for our campus community. Increased testing has indeed been underway and, as our testing program continues to expand, employees and students who are subject to such testing will be notified with additional details. Please watch your emails for these important communications.

Statement on White House Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping 

On Sept. 22, the White House issued an executive order regarding “race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating” that, among other actions, seeks to limit important training by public institutions regarding diversity, equity and inclusion. Much of the content of the White House’s order runs counter to strongly held values by Eastern Michigan University.

While we are still examining the order, we are deeply concerned over any order that would seek to erase, minimize, or change the quality of diversity and equity training designed to promote racial and sexual equality. On its face, this order purports to affect the content of federal staff training and eventually, all training conducted by federal contractors and pursuant to federal grants.

Eastern Michigan University embraces a culture of diversity and rigorous, deep inquiry. As outlined in our Mission, “we are an institution of opportunity, where students learn in and beyond the classroom to benefit the local and global communities.”

This mission rests on core values such as respect and inclusiveness.

We respect and we care for our people, communities and the environment, and show respect for the dignity of the individual.

We seek to create an inclusive environment that supports, represents, embraces and engages members of diverse groups and identities.

We are a community strongly dedicated to free speech and mutual understanding. As a campus community, we must engage in difficult conversations, learn from our mistakes, and ensure training and processes that push us out of our comfort zones and help us evolve. 

There are major movements afoot, such as Black Lives Matter and the Million Women March, the roots and lessons of which must be acknowledged and studied. We are in a time of major societal change, and we at Eastern Michigan refuse to sit on the sidelines of such critical cultural and intellectual evolution.

We proudly assert our commitment to examining our blind spots, to creating improved learning opportunities for all members of our University community and to becoming better and more empathetic citizens of our city, state and country.

Faculty Listening Session for Students on Oct. 7: Student Conversations about Diversity and Inclusion

The Faculty Senate Task Force on Campus Climate, Race and Diversity will hold a listening session for students via Zoom on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 6:30 p.m. Faculty coordinators of the listening session would like to hear from a broad range of students about how to ensure a welcoming, inclusive and diverse experience in the classroom and on campus. Other faculty members are encouraged to participate. For Zoom information and registration, please visit

Virtual Speaker Series: Race, Policing and Social Justice in 2020 (part two)

Next Thursday, Oct. 8, the College of Arts and Sciences will host the second of its three-part virtual speaker series: Race, Police and Social Justice in 2020. The second session is titled: Working to Bridge the Divide Between the Police and Communities of Color: Reforms in the Aftermath of the Floyd Dent Case. The featured speaker is William T. Riley III, Chief of Police of the Inkster Police Department.

For more information about the series and registration information for next Thursday’s session, visit the event homepage, or contact Barbara Patrick at [email protected] or Stephen Jefferson at [email protected].

This series was developed to examine the systems of policing, including socioeconomic and political challenges. It is intended to generate sustainable relationships among local law enforcement and the EMU community, in order to create systemic support and cultivate collaborations.

Swoop’s Food Pantry update 

The fall hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays and Thursdays from 12 - 5 p.m., and Wednesdays from 12 - 6:30 p.m.

Shoppers are requested to complete an Online Shopping Request Form before arriving. Items will be bagged by staff and brought out to clients when they arrive. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator. Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the new 2020-21 Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

If you wish to donate items – those most needed are grape jelly, cereal, gluten-free items, hot sauce and black beans.

Please email [email protected] in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery.

Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

Celebrating Eastern Michigan University excellence

It always gives me pride to celebrate another example of Eastern Michigan University excellence. 

The Student Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has been awarded a 2019-2020 Superior Merit Award for providing exceptional growth and development opportunities to its student members. The EMU SHRM chapter has received the Superior Merit Award from the national society every year since 1996.

“Today’s members of our student chapters are the HR leaders of tomorrow,” said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, and President and CEO of the national society. “They are the movers and shakers of the future, and we cannot understate the vital role they play in SHRM’s success.

The EMU SHRM student chapter is evidence that the future of HR is, indeed, in good hands. I applaud their accomplishments and ability to fiercely move forward during a time of such change and uncertainty in the workplace.”

Dr. Fraya Wagner-Marsh, one of the faculty advisors for the chapter, said that for this past school year, the EMU Student Chapter of SHRM focused on sustainability and HR for its merit award project. As a student chapter, the goal was to bring awareness about sustainability and HR’s role. Sustainability has been a major focus for most organizations today, and HR professionals are at the heart of their organizations' sustainability efforts, Wagner-Marsh said.

The chapter’s faculty advisors also include Dr. Anushri Rawat and Dr. James Krolik. EMU SHRM’s student President is Olivia Smith, a current Masters student in Human Resources and Organization Development.

Congratulations to the students and faculty members who make the Student Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management another point of pride for the University!

Health and safety reminder

As I do each week, I will conclude with an important health and safety reminder. Please continue to:

  • Practice effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers;
  • Wear face coverings; and,
  • Observe physical distancing.

These three actions, when taken together, dramatically reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Please continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness website for ongoing updates.

James Smith, Ph.D.