Tuesday, April 20, 2021   
 
Mississippi legalizing home delivery of alcohol as of July 1
Starting this summer, Mississippi will allow home delivery of liquor, beer, wine or light spirits from local package stores or retailers. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed House Bill 1135 on Wednesday, and it will become law July 1. Buyers will have to prove they are at least 21, delivery people will have to be at least that old and deliveries cannot be made to any person who "appears intoxicated." Deliveries also cannot be made to dry counties or cities. The bill specifies that deliveries may only be made within 30 miles of the store selling the alcohol, so Mississippi residents still will not be able to receive bottles from out-of-state wine clubs.
 
Groups plan effort for Mississippi voting rights restoration
Three groups will sponsor an initiative to try to simplify the way Mississippi restores voting rights to people convicted of some felonies, a person involved with the effort said Monday. Danyelle Holmes, a national organizer with the Mississippi Poor People's Campaign, said paperwork to begin a ballot initiative will be filed soon with the secretary of state's office. The Mississippi Prison Reform Coalition and the People's Advocacy Institute will join the Poor People's Campaign as sponsors. Holmes said the proposal is to automatically restore voting rights to anyone who finishes serving a sentence, including probation, for a disenfranchising crime. She said people would not be required to pay any monetary penalties that are part of a sentence before getting back the right to vote. The Rev. William Barber, national co-chairman of the Poor People's Campaign, spoke Monday at a gathering in downtown Jackson and said restoring voting rights to people who have finished serving time is a moral imperative. "We should not hold people captive beyond their sentence," Barber said.
 
George W. Bush: Today's GOP is 'isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent, nativist'
Former President George W. Bush said on Tuesday that today's Republican Party is far from what it used to be. "I would describe it as isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent, nativist," Bush said to host Hoda Kotb during an appearance on NBC's "Today" show. "Well that's not exactly my vision, but you know what I'm just an old guy they put out pasture," he added. "So just a simple painter." The former president also said that he thinks a GOP candidate with progressive positions on immigration laws, young immigrants brought to the U.S. by their parents, gun reform, and education funding for public schools has a shot to win the White House in 2024. "I think that it depends upon the emphasis. I think if the emphasis [is] integrity and decency and trying to get problems solved. Yeah, I think the person has a shot," he said. His comments come as House GOP leaders are struggling to rein in the increasingly open nativism within their conference. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tweeted over the weekend that the GOP is not the party of "nativist dog whistles" after a draft policy platform was leaked for a proposed caucus that called for promoting "Anglo-Saxon political traditions" and infrastructure that reflects "European architecture."
 
Walter Mondale, who rose from small-town Minnesota to vice presidency, dies at 93
Walter F. Mondale, a preacher's son from southern Minnesota who climbed to the pinnacle of U.S. politics as an influential senator, vice president and Democratic nominee for president, died on Monday. He was 93. Known as "Fritz" to family, friends and voters alike, Mondale died in Minneapolis, according to a statement from his family. Former President Jimmy Carter, who chose Mondale as his running mate in 1976, called his friend "the best vice president in our country's history." "He was an invaluable partner and an able servant of the people of Minnesota, the United States and the world," Carter said in a statement. "Fritz Mondale provided us all with a model for public service and private behavior." After serving four years under Carter, Mondale was the Democratic nominee for president in 1984. He lost to the incumbent, President Ronald Reagan, in a historic landslide. Even in defeat, Mondale made history by choosing as his running mate Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to run for vice president on a major-party ticket. It followed a series of political landmarks in a public career that spanned seven decades.
 
Coahoma Community College earmarks $660,000 for SAFE Center
The Coahoma Community College board approved spending $660,000 to complete the new Student Activity Family Enhancement (SAFE) Center during this month's meeting. That led to discussion about other non-athletic facility upgrades on campus from 2019 to 2021 that cost approximately $4.5 million. CCC chief financial officer Deborah Valentine said the money to complete the SAFE Center would come from CARES Act funds. Flagstar Construction out of Brandon will be doing the work. "We've got to install some mechanical, electrical and plumbing," said chief of staff and director of physical plant Jerone Shaw. "Those are the outstanding issues." Shaw said the building is currently standing. "It's on the lake. It's right next to the auto body and collision shop. It's on the north end of the football field." CCC president Dr. Valmadge Towner made a presentation breaking down 11 non-athletic facility upgrades the past two years that add up to nearly $4.5 million. "You just approved $600,000-plus to be approved for the SAFE Center -- the Student Activity Family Enhancement Center," Towner said. "One of the criticisms I may receive is that we spend a lot of money on athletics. Let me say this, too. You see how nice things are here? Go other places. I'm telling you. I know we can't compete, but I'm telling you this is a very modest campus in comparison to a lot of other institutions."
 
Asian and Asian American student activists call for changes on their campuses
In the month since the March 16 shootings at three Atlanta-area spas that left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent, Asian and Asian American student groups at campuses across the country have renewed their activism and advocacy efforts and are demanding changes on their campuses. The student activists are variously calling for the establishment of Asian American studies programs, expansion of mental health services for Asian American and Pacific Islander students, increased resources for cultural centers, improved processes for reporting hate and bias incidents, and more. The activism comes in the context of intense concerns about an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. At Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tenn., students launched a campaign on March 15, the day before the Atlanta shootings, calling on the university to establish an Asian American and Asian diaspora studies program. Vanderbilt is currently hiring for a three-year, non-tenure-track assistant professor position in the field, which a spokesman described as "an important step in an overall strategy to build interdisciplinary curricular efforts." "Students should not have to pay $70,000 a year to teach themselves their own history and identity," said Iris Kim, a senior who founded the Vanderbilt Asian American Studies Initiative. "That has been the most heartbreaking thing to witness is when people leave this university with a bachelor's degree and are still unable to recognize where they fit into our American history and system."
 
Asian Americans wary about school amid virus, violence
A Chinese American mother in the Boston suburbs is sending her sons to in-person classes this month, even after one of them was taunted with a racist "slanted-eyes" gesture at school, just days after the killings of women of Asian descent at massage businesses in Atlanta. In the Dallas area, a Korean American family is keeping their middle schooler in online classes for the rest of the year after they spotted a question filled with racist Chinese stereotypes, including a reference to eating dogs and cats, on one of her exams. As high schools and elementary schools across the country gradually re-open for full-time classes, Asian American families are wrestling with whether to send their children back out into the world at a time when anti-Asian hostility and violence is on the rise. Swan Lee, a Chinese American mother in the Boston suburb of Brookline, isn't so sure keeping Asian American students at home is the answer to what ails the country. Her two high school-age teens are preparing to return to classes full-time later this month, and she's emphasized the importance of being strong and staying positive, though she admits she's worried about what might happen outside the relative safety of the school building.
 
New Tiger Transit buses en route to The Plains
Auburn students will soon be riding to and from campus with added comfort and convenience. The University's Tiger Transit system is set to receive a facelift in the form of an entirely new fleet of buses slated to arrive on The Plains beginning at the end of May. Ten hybrid-electric buses and 60 new fuel-efficient diesel buses will fully replace the existing fleet, which has been in operation on campus for eight years, according to Don Andrae, director of Auburn University's Transportation Services. "[The hybrid-electric buses] will look a whole lot different because they're more city-type buses," Andrae said. "They'll have all inward-facing seats and every seat will have a USB charger. There'll be WiFi on the buses." Andrae said Transportation Services employees will be traveling to Livermore, California, next month to watch the first of the diesel Tiger Transit buses roll off the line at the headquarters of Gillig, a bus designing and manufacturing company. From there, 56 of the diesel buses will be driven cross-country to Auburn. "You can't get a better testing than that," he joked. "It won't impact our warranty but we'll definitely know if the buses work by the time they get here."
 
LSU leaders say they can't require students to get COVID vaccine, but strongly encourage it
LSU leaders won't require students to get vaccinated against coronavirus ahead of the fall semester -- they say the university doesn't have that authority -- but they are strongly encouraging students, faculty and staff to get the vaccine. "We're all very encouraged by the more than 10,000 students and employees who have already gotten vaccinated against COVID-19," LSU officials said in a Facebook post Monday. "Although we can't require vaccinations under FDA Emergency Use Authorization status, broad immunization is critical to helping end the current pandemic and to protecting our overall university community," said Tom Galligan, LSU's interim president, and Stacia L. Haynie, LSU's executive vice-president and provost. The vaccinations for COVID that Americans are currently receiving have not been fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but are being distributed under emergency rules. Health experts say they are safe. Galligan and Haynie said vaccinations would "help us return to pre-pandemic normal this fall, including face-to-face courses, a wider range of events and activities on campus, expanded dining and recreation options, and greater interpersonal collaboration among faculty, students and researchers."
 
Texas A&M scientists identify new COVID-19 variant
Texas A&M University scientists announced Monday that they have identified a new COVID-19 variant in a saliva sample taken from an A&M student in College Station as part of the university's ongoing testing program. A team at the Texas A&M University Global Health Research Complex named the variant -- which is related to the United Kingdom variant -- BV-1, after the Brazos Valley region. Ben Neuman, a Texas A&M professor who is chief virologist at the GHRC, said in a phone interview that the sample tested positive at the A&M research complex on March 5; a university press release states that the finding was confirmed at St. Joseph Regional Hospital. The student lives off campus but is active in on-campus organizations, according to the university. "We have some of the U.K. variants on campus, and this is one of those -- but it's like a U.K. variant with a little twist. We think this is fairly recent and that it's pretty local," Neuman said. Neuman said the student provided a second sample that tested positive on March 25; he said it is difficult to glean too much from one case, but the length of positive results may indicate that the BV-1 variant could cause a longer-lasting infection than is typical of COVID-19 for adults ages 18 to 24. A third sample obtained on April 9 was negative and revealed no evidence of the virus.
 
U. of Missouri plans to restructure student resource centers
When University of Missouri students seek resources related to their ethnicity, gender, sexuality or disability, they turn to various centers on campus that cater to those needs. Online conversations cropped up over the weekend about these centers and plans the university has to restructure them. Students and alumni wanted to know what this would mean, and it led to a demonstration Monday in support of the centers and their staff. Posts on social media expressed dismay over the notion that resource center staff could be facing layoffs by the end of June, using #Justice4MUSocialJustice. Suzy Day, alumna and former women's center coordinator, expressed "horror" Sunday on Twitter over the restructuring. She sees the changes as a way the university is decreasing support of the centers and said she planned to bring her concerns to Maurice Gipson, vice chancellor of inclusion, diversity and equity. But what exactly will the restructuring entail? There is no definitive answer yet, even though there were media reports Monday that some positions may be eliminated. "It depends on what happens in the restructuring process," said MU spokesman Christian Basi. Assistant director roles are being developed, he said.
 
U. of Missouri students protest diversity and inclusion staff restructuring
Students at the University of Missouri are confused and upset about pending changes to top staff positions at campus centers focused on supporting underrepresented groups on campus, including LGBTQ and Black students and survivors of sexual assault. The university plans to eliminate coordinator positions at five social justice-focused centers that are part of the Division for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, including the LGBTQ Resource Center, Women's Center, Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center, Multicultural Center and Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center, according to a private message shared with members of the LGBTQ Resource Center. The message, which said the changes are to be implemented by June 30, was shared with Inside Higher Ed by a member of the message group. Christian Basi, director for media relations for the Columbia campus and the university system, said the university is "elevating the supervision positions" as part of a broader restructuring plan and some coordinator roles will be promoted to assistant directors. When the plan is complete, "the centers will be in a better position to support students, faculty and staff at the university," Basi said.
 
Sororities delay vote on inclusion of nonbinary members
Leaders of national sororities delayed a vote last week on whether to allow their organizations to change their definitions of "women" in order to be more inclusive of nonbinary members, according to a statement from Dani Weatherford, CEO of the National Panhellenic Conference, an umbrella organization that governs the policies and practices of 26 national and international sororities. The vote was seen as a potential turning point for the organizations, which have historically been women-only groups and criticized by some as unwelcoming to LGBTQ people. But Weatherford said there is "a need for further consideration and research to ensure that all members have an understanding of the implications of any potential changes." "The current policy, which was adopted specifically to ensure that transgender women were eligible for recruitment, remains in effect, and NPC staff will continue to engage campus-based partners in the months ahead to provide additional clarity when and if questions arise about recruitment eligibility," Weatherford's statement said. Nicole DeFeo, international executive director of Delta Phi Epsilon, a sorority that has been pushing for the policy change, said the vote delay was shocking and disappointing. She said the sorority is determining when to bring the change to a vote again at an upcoming conference meeting.
 
Here's Who Was Hit Hardest by Higher Ed's Pandemic-Driven Job Losses
Since the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in March of 2020, institutions of higher education have shed a net total of at least 570,000 workers, according to preliminary, seasonally adjusted figures from the U.S. Labor Department. Put another way, for every nine workers employed in academe in February 2020, at least one had lost or left that job a year later. Mirroring trends in the larger economy, certain workers in higher education have endured a disproportionate share of the losses. Workers with limited labor protections, like those providing administrative support or working in food service, were particularly hard hit. So were employees of color, who saw outsized losses relative to their share of the overall work force. Job losses were worst in the early months of the pandemic, when higher ed shed hundreds of thousands of jobs in a relatively short period. Despite a significant increase in recent months, the net loss in jobs remains so large that it's erased more than a decade of job gains for the sector, with higher ed's work force now matching its size in February 2008.
 
Should colleges mandate Covid-19 shots? Encourage? Incentivize? All of the above?
It's clear: With students eager to get back on campus this fall and college leaders eager to have them, most institutions will try to provide an experience that's something close to normal. It won't look quite like it did before the Covid-19 pandemic, however. According to scores of college officials, masking will remain the norm at most campuses at least through the end of 2021. Social distancing will still be required, but might gradually be relaxed depending on infection rates. Students will continue to monitor themselves for symptoms and, at many colleges, record those data on apps. Where possible, they will live in less densely populated dorms. And many classes and activities will stay at least partly online. But whatever else colleges do right, if students, faculty, and staff members aren't vaccinated in high enough numbers, institutions' plans will crumble. "To us," says Michael Huey, interim CEO of the American College Health Association and former assistant vice president for student-health services at Emory University, "the key thing is to get as many students, faculty, and staff vaccinated before the fall semester, because everything is going to hinge on that."
 
Is it ethical to pay students to get vaccinated?
Colleges are giving out a wide range of freebies -- gift cards, T-shirts, free courses or hard cash -- for students who can show proof of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. But decisions about whether to incentivize the vaccine and how to go about it are fraught with ethical questions for scholars and campus leaders. At the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, students who upload a copy of their vaccination card through April 28 receive gift cards for a drink at the Starbucks on campus. They can also win serious money toward food or textbooks, and even free housing. The university is raffling off 10 $150 flex meal plans and 10 $350 bookstore scholarships. One student will receive free on-campus housing for the next full academic year. The funds for the raffle come from federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds, which were part of the coronavirus relief package passed in late December. The list goes on. Vaccinated students at the College of Wooster in Ohio get free shirts bearing a Scottie dog, the college's mascot, wearing a mask with the hashtag #ScotsProtectScots. Students with campus jobs will also be compensated if they miss work hours for a vaccine appointment, which is in line with the college's policy to pay student workers through the pandemic even if their campus jobs were shut down.


SPORTS
 
Mississippi athletes will be able to earn money for likeness
College athletes in Mississippi will soon be able to earn money from their own name, image or likeness. Gov. Tate Reeves signed Senate Bill 2313, also known as the "Mississippi Intercollegiate Athletics Compensation Rights Act" on Friday. The legislation becomes law July 1. A small number of other states have also enacted such laws. A Florida law that also takes effect July 1 will let student-athletes make money through contracts. A similar California law takes effect in January 2023. All eight of Mississippi's public universities and the state College Board supported the proposal, which officials said will help the schools compete for talent. The NCAA, which governs intercollegiate sports, says that it is "best positioned to provide a uniform and fair name, image and likeness approach for all student-athletes on a national scale." The NCAA and the Power Five conferences have been lobbying Congress to set nationwide standards for how college athletes could earn money from endorsements while also remaining amateurs. But the prospects of congressional action remain uncertain.
 
Gov. Tate Reeves OKs bill allowing Mississippi college athletes to get image, likeness compensation
College athletes in Mississippi will soon be able to get compensated for their image and likeness. Gov. Tate Reeves approved Senate Bill 2313, better known as the "Mississippi Intercollegiate Athletics Compensation Rights Act" on Friday. The bill goes in effect July 1. Mississippi becomes the seventh state, behind California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska and New Jersey, to pass the bill. Mississippi, along with Florida, is also the state that will enact the bill the earliest. It won't come without national pushback, however. The NCAA can seek an injunction against or sue states that legalize NIL payments without a federal ruling. Or there could be a federal ruling that renders all state decisions moot. Jackson State football coach Deion Sanders, athletic director Ashley Robinson and school president Thomas Hudson recently met with Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker to discuss the bill. Sanders has been a public supporter of the bill for months now. On Monday's SWAC call with media, Sanders said he was focused on getting the bill passed because his duties as a college coach go beyond what takes place the field.
 
South Carolina expanding capacity at home park
South Carolina is expanding its seating capacity at Founders Park for the remainder of the baseball season, beginning with this week's series against No. 1 Arkansas. A maximum attendance of 3,350 will be allowed for future games, up from 1,938 for earlier games this season. Founders Park has a total listed capacity of 8,242, including 6,600 seats. South Carolina campus guidelines recently narrowed the recommended social distancing from 6 feet to 3 feet between parties. Those who attend games at Founders Park are still encouraged to wear face coverings. The No. 11 Gamecocks (24-10, 10-5 SEC) are 16-2 at home this season, including 5-1 in SEC games against Florida and Missouri. "Obviously everybody wants a home field advantage, and as many fans as they'll let in here, I hope that that many come because our guys feed off it, there's no question about it," South Carolina coach Mark Kingston said following a 13-4 victory over Missouri on April 11, according to The State newspaper. "And they've all seen the videos from a while ago when this place when it was packed full pre-pandemic. They've seen how emotional and great it can get and how exciting it is and they love that and hopefully we keep playing well and hopefully they keep letting more fans in because it could be a really fun ride." South Carolina is one of several SEC schools to increase capacity since the beginning of the regular season. Ole Miss and Mississippi State have reported weekend attendances in excess of 33,000 as covid-19 guidelines have been lifted in that state.



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