Campus update: Mass shootings in Texas and Buffalo; faculty receive Fulbright awards; new director of Jewish Studies; football hosts Victory Day for cognitive and physically impaired community members - May 26, 2022

To the Eastern Michigan University community,

Once again, our nation is plunged into sadness and anger due to gun violence that has claimed innocent lives. Tuesday’s horrific shooting at an elementary school in Texas killed 19 children and two teachers. As a former elementary school teacher and principal, I understand the excitement, optimism, hope, joy, laughter and inspiration that is the typical foundation of an elementary school community. Sadly, parents around the country are faced with fear when their children go to school. Today, in many communities, when students arrive at school, they are greeted by the sight of police -- as officials try to reassure parents and students that our schools are safe.

This follows in the wake of the deadly racist attack in a Buffalo supermarket less than two weeks ago that claimed the lives of 10 innocent people. A young man with a hateful heart destroyed the lives of so many and left a community, and a nation, in mourning.

Americans are reeling under these assaults and the knowledge that, despite the many similar incidents over the past decade, very little in the way of addressing and limiting such violent acts, has changed. The most common concerns that I hear, whether reading or watching the news, talking to associates or even from strangers in the grocery line, are about why, after so many previous tragedies, is the nation not able to improve our laws and practices to more effectively prevent mass shootings.

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell may have said it best yesterday when she stated, “Praying isn’t fixing the problem. Praying isn’t bringing these families’ loved ones back. Praying isn’t enough.”

We must consider the role that each of us can play in addressing these critical matters. We need to do more than offer thoughts of sympathy and hollow platitudes, and not let ourselves become numb to these tragedies or accept them as America’s new reality.

I have several additional matters to cover in this week’s update:

  • Professors Earn Fulbright Awards
  • Researcher Releases Study on Asian Americans and Guns
  • New Director for the Center of Jewish Studies Appointed
  • Football Celebrates Victory Day for Cognitive and Physically Impaired 
  • Summer Hours for the COVID-19 Testing Center
  • Memorial Day Weekend

Professors Earn Fulbright Awards

Two Eastern Michigan University professors are the most recent recipients of Fulbright awards. Designed to build connections between people of the United States and other countries, the Fulbright program is the leading international educational exchange program sponsored by the United States government. The University’s two awardees are Rita Shah, associate professor of Criminology, and Denise Pilato, professor of Technology Studies who is receiving her third Fulbright award. You can learn more about the professors, their work and their international research by reading this story on EMU Today. 

Researcher Releases Study on Asian Americans and Guns

Asian Americans who experienced increased acts of racism at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic were more likely to acquire firearms and ammunition for self-defense, according to a new study led by Tsu-Yin Wu, professor of nursing and director of EMU's Center for Health Disparities Innovation and Studies. University of Michigan researcher Hsing-Fang Hsieh co-authored the study.

Titled “Examining racism and firearm-related risks among Asian Americans in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the study stems from the authors’ observations that hate crimes among Asian Americans are becoming more prevalent.

New Director for the Center of Jewish Studies Appointed

Following a national search, Robert Erlewine has been named the University’s next director for the Center of Jewish Studies. He joins EMU from Illinois Wesleyan University, where he is a professor of religion and has served as Isaac Funk Endowed Professor in Philosophy since 2020. He has served in several other academic roles at Wesleyan beginning in 2006, including chair of the Religion Department.

The naming of a new director comes at a time of great celebration for the Center. It is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and the retirement of its founder and current director, Dr. Marty Shichtman after 40 years with the University. Words cannot express what Marty has done for the University, students, and the greater community. He is a true champion of all Eastern stands for and leaves a remarkable legacy.

Football Celebrates Victory Day for Cognitive and Physically Impaired

After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EMU football team welcomed the return of one of its best and most impactful traditions yesterday, as it hosted its seventh Victory Day. The event welcomes cognitive and physically impaired community members to take part in a day of football with student-athletes, coaches, and staff. Watch this video to see the fun and to learn about the inspiration of EMU student-athletes and coaches behind the event, and of course the heartwarming and joyful experiences of the participants. The event was also covered by WDIV-TV, and you can watch its story on the WDIV website.

Summer Hours for the COVID-19 Testing Center

The free on-campus COVID-19 Testing Center, located in the Student Center, will remain open over the summer. Please review the Center’s website for the hours of operation. The hours for next week are as follows:

  • Tuesday: 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Thursday: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Registration is required in advance. You can find the registration information on the testing center website listed above.

The Testing Center will be closed the following weeks:

  • June 27 - July 4 (reopen Tuesday, July 5)
  • August 8 - 11

Memorial Day Weekend

I wish our EMU community peace and relaxation as we head into the Memorial Day weekend. Many events and parades are taking place across our area to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military, and I encourage you to attend or participate in one if you are able. 

Stay well and stay safe.

James Smith, Ph.D.