My photo story embodies Black Girl Magic. The event took place on campus in Saint Andrews Hall and was called the Back Girl Magic Ball. My photo story captures a Wakanda themed dance performed by young black girls who gave their all while they danced. One dancer, Lanija Shavings, expressed to me how much the dance and the dance team meant to her. She shared beautiful stories about the bond she has with her dance team and how much she’s learned dancing with them.
One of the organizers of the Black Girl Magic Ball, Jaylin Moore, felt like this event was much needed. Moore wanted to show women on campus that they are valuable and indispensable by giving them a night to dress up, eat good food and be constantly admired while having a good time. My photo story also captured a few poets who poured their hearts out to the audience while reciting what they wrote. Being able to express themselves to their peers who can relate to exactly what they were speaking about made everyone feel good.
The energy at the ball was amazing and it showed in my photo story. To make the night more enjoyable, there was a woman in a beautiful white dress who won best dressed and a fashion show for a “Black Girls Rock” clothing line. At the conclusion of the event, some women were recognized and awarded for their work on campus and in the community. Shooting this assignment helped me to learn how to shoot at different angles strategically, how to handle shooting in difficult lighting situations and how to have fun while I work as well.
After reading the News Photographer magazine, I learned a few things about humanity and photography. I read about photographers who have traveled abroad to get the perfect shots they need for a story. It says a lot about someone who will travel to another country for a story. To me, that shows passion and boldness; two characteristics any good photographer should have. While reading this magazine I learned that it’s important to get the story but it’s also very important to be mindful of the feelings of those you are photographing. For example, there was an eighteen month old child who was lying lifeless on a stretcher with severe burns all over his little body. The child was a victim of a bombing that had taken place in Afghanistan. Although the shot was necessary and impactful, the family of this deceased child was in great pain. The photographer comforted the family and made sure they were okay with him taking the photos.
I believe that the photographer showing empathy toward the family of the victim certainly made them more open to the idea of photographing the moment. I also learned that all kinds of stories can be found in a News Photographer magazine. I thought for sure that this magazine was going to be filled with random images that were chosen as the best of the best from all different corners of the world with small captions and nothing more. Instead, I found interesting stories about war, what happens after you graduate and how to better operate your camera to name a few. Reading this magazine also opened my eyes to the harsh effects 9/11 had on other countries, which is insane. I didn’t think any other countries were impacted by what happened on September 11, 2001, but ten years after the tragedy there were still wars and more tragedy as a result of the event that happened here. I enjoyed reading News Photographer magazine and learning some new things in the process.
Believe it or not, many college students experience a mental illness at some point in their college careers. Some students deal with mental illnesses in unhealthy ways because they are unaware of how they can get help. This needs to change. There are actually a number of different places on Wayne State’s campus where students can seek help when dealing with mental health issues.
Counseling and Psychological Services, (C.A.P.S.), is the university agency that provides students with consultation, support and understanding. Students who are dealing with any psychological issues that cause anxiety, depression or any serious problems are encouraged to reach out to this agency. The problem is, a number of college students are completely unaware of organizations on campus that can help with mental illnesses.
“Oh I actually had no idea there was any places on campus that help with mental health issues, said WSU junior Kayla Sanders. “That’s awesome that we have that though,” she said.
According to a survey from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, (NAMI), 40 percent of college students didn’t even know their institutions had helpful mental health organizations. WSU Counseling and Testing Center provides counseling services for students and faculty. This is another organization on campus that students know nothing about.
The WSU Psychology Clinic is yet another center on campus that is willing to help students who are dealing with a mental health crisis. Too many students have these issues and don’t know they can find help right on their campuses. In fact, NAMI conducted another survey in which they found 73 percent of students have suffered a mental health crisis while in college.
To bring greater awareness about mental health programs on campus, C.A.P.S., the Counseling Center, and the Psychology Clinic need to be a part of Festifall and Winterfest. Festifall is an event that Wayne State holds every fall semester for students to attend and learn about all the different organizations on campus. Winterfest is the exact same thing only it’s held during the winter semester since more students enroll every semester.
Usually, only the fun organizations are featured, but the helpful and necessary organizations need to be included in these on campus events as well. More students will definitely be more aware about places on campus that help with any mental health issues they may be experiencing. Awareness can also be spread to every student by sending mass emails.
If each of these organizations sends out a mass email to students and faculty about who they are and what they do, the students will know where to find help when they need it. All of the organizations are not only for students who need help, they’re also here to inform other students on how they can help when they notice a friend dealing with something mentally.
“I used to be really depressed,” said WSU sophomore Sandra Alecks. “Now I just have like high anxiety and a lot of stress from school,” she said.
“Anxiety and depression are the most prevalent mental illnesses in college students,” said Dr. Francesca Pernice of the WSU Counseling and Testing Center. “Many students don’t like to speak up about it but their peers can assist them in more ways than you think. Sometimes just calling and reaching out or even being a good friend can help a student get through the illness they may be experiencing.”
If you or any student is in need of these services, you can visit caps.wayne.edu/resources/on-campus.
The Wayne State University Police Department has programs set up on campus that inform students about crime alerts, safety awareness and how students can get involved with crime prevention. Some of these programs include: CAMPUSWATCH, Street Smarts Personal Safety Seminar and Orientations. CAMPUSWATCH sends emails to all students, faculty and staff every month to keep everyone updated on any recent crimes, suspicious assailants or areas and provide safety tips.
Street Smarts Personal Safety Seminar teaches students how they can avoid being a victim and is a free seminar. Orientations are mandatory for all new students, transfer students and faculty. During Orientation, all who are in attendance are informed of the WSUPD’s phone numbers, safety programs, common crimes and how to avoid them and any questions and concerns attendees may have.
Rape Aggression Defense is a 13 hour program where women are taught special techniques used to handle their aggressors, safety tips, avoiding situations and more. R.A.D. offers instructor certification courses, as well as basic and advances courses. More intense levels of the program include weapons defense options, keychain defense options, and aerosol defense options. Domestic violence seminars, teen seminars and resisting aggression with defense for men are also offered.
These different programs do make a difference in campus safety. Certain crimes have been trending downward the last few years at WSU according to the 2017 Annual Security and Fire Safety report. Robbery and Assault have decreased between the years of 2014 and 2016. Student housing robberies decreased from one robbery in 2014 to zero robberies until 2016. On campus robberies decreased from seven in 2014 to four in 2015 and three in 2016. Student housing assaults decreased from one in 2014 and 2015 to zero in 2016. On campus assaults consistently stayed at one assault in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
The programs aren’t the only things making a difference. The WSUPD has uploaded the entire Safety Awareness Handbook on their website for anyone who needs to view it. WSUPD has placed phones all around campus with the emergency number in sight for anyone to use. WSU students feel comfortable on campus and believe they attend one of the safest schools in the state of Michigan.
“The WSU police department does nothing but assure me they’re doing their best,” said WSU senior Sara Batzdorfer. “Honestly, I think Wayne State is one of the safer major Universities within the state of Michigan,” she said.
Students are pleased with the job WSUPD has been doing.
“Most of my classes are during the day but um even at night I don’t feel unsafe at all,” said WSU sophomore Bayan Chbib. “Even if I’m studying super late and I’m walking alone to the parking structure, nothing has really happened on this campus to make me feel unsafe.”
Some students weren’t even aware that robberies and assaults ever took place on campus.
“Um it’s very nice that police at Wayne State are keeping the crime rate low,” said WSU senior Danielle Kulesza. “I had no idea that anyone was ever actually robbed here. It makes me feel good that the crime rate was so low I didn’t know about it.”
Some students feel safety precautions have been improved.
“Certain things have improved and the campus here is really focused on safety and making everyone feel safe and secured,” said WSU sophomore Olivia Esparza. “The WSU police really do a good job alerting you with anything even if it’s considered like a small thing. They’re always watching and that’s great.”
In the event that a student or faculty member forgets any of this information, they can always go to https://police.wayne.edu and find different tabs that talk about everything you would need to know about your safety and more.
The Detroit Public Schools Community District met on Monday, February 26, for a Board of Education meeting to discuss the curriculum, academics and progress made for DPS and EAA students. About 30 members of the community and 5 members of the board were in attendance. The academic update for students presented by Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti was well below the required academic standard. Members of the community were shocked by the lack of progress the students in our school systems are making.
“To see that our curriculum was not aligned with the standards was just shocking.” said retired Principal Bessie Harris, “I’m very appalled. It’s terrible.” Elementary, middle and high school literacy results were 3 out of 21 points for DPS. The McDougal-Littell text books DPS uses apparently do not align with the Common Core standards, giving the students low marks on their literacy exams.
This information will affect parents of those who have children in these schools systems and anyone who cares about the education of our children.
“When you hear things like that it’s very daunting.” said community member Myrina Scott. “Our new leadership has a plan to erase those deficits and allow our students to be better prepared.”
To make matters worse, the percentages for students who were reported college ready are also very low. Only 37% of DPS students and 13% of EAA students are college ready. The graduation rates from 2015-2017 for DPS is 78%, while the graduation rate for EAA is 56%. New plans are being implemented around the city to raise test scores and graduation rates.
The Board of Education is working to develop a more modern student information system to help faculty members better meet the needs of their students. New early warning systems that proactively alert students and parents of a possible failing grade will be installed to ensure four year graduation progress.
“We will be hiring new College Readiness Coordinators.” said Chair of Curriculum/Academics Dr. Deborah Hunter-Harvill. “I need someone that knows how to talk with that age group of students. Adolescents sometimes speak a different language so you have to know how to process that language. I need someone that’s creative and innovative and knows a lot about FAFSA, where to find scholarships and knows a lot about colleges and universities.”
The Board is also going to make it a requirement for all high schools to offer College Readiness classes for students who are in 10th-12th grades. Before any of these plans can take place, The Board has to request proposals, analyze their options, recommend the correct materials and then the development of education can begin.
“The students are being put at a disadvantage when the curriculum is not up to par. This is unacceptable.” said Hunter-Harvill. “There was a woman from EEVPA who came to us and did a presentation on this program called Khan Academy. We are in the beginning stages of getting our students involved with Khan Academy. We believe that it gives them some extra reinforcement and learning.”
Khan Academy is an organization that provides students with free educational video tutorials for tutoring purposes. It will also be used to help students prepare for the SAT and ACT. The Board of Education plans to have all their ideas put into action as soon as possible for a better educational outcome for our students.
“We are normal students just like you guys, don’t be afraid to talk to us. We want to know you.”
Wayne State University students and members of the National Pan Hellenic Council (NPHC) gathered together for an event called “Greek 101” in the Bernath Auditorium at David L. Adamany Undergraduate Library. There was a panel of Greek students from the NPHC discussing many things like what Greek life is like, the money you would have to pay if you were to join, brotherhood and sisterhood, meeting the requirements to join and more. The NPHC is an organization of nine different historically African American Greek lettered fraternities and sororities.
The above quote came from Kiera Kinsey of Zeta Phi Beta sorority incorporated. There were many good points the panel gave to the audience but the main topic was getting to know the Greeks as people first. Collectively, every member of every fraternity or sorority on the panel talked for a while about those students who are interested in pledging.
They said they know how intimidating it can be to go up and try to talk to a Greek student but they assured the audience that they’re just normal people who want to get to know their interests. It is important to get to know the Greek students and allow them to get to know you as well because even if you meet all of the requirements, you will not be picked if the members of the organization you want to join don’t know who you are.
The panel members said to the audience that pledging is not cheap, easy, or fun but after you get through the process, it’ll be worth it. Every sorority and fraternity has dues. These include chapter dues, national dues, sometimes regional dues, trips out of town with your organization, matching outfits for shows, and funds for events, if needed. Another topic discussed was researching which organization is right for you. The panel told the audience that many people want to pledge for the wrong reasons. Some want to pledge to be popular and stroll at parties. Some want to pledge for the perks and connections you get when you become a part of a Greek organization. The panel repeated to the audience to research all the organizations well and come to events so that you will know where you fit best and with whom. After you pledge, the organization you become a part of is for life so you don’t want to be with a sorority or fraternity that doesn’t suit you.
“Being a part of a sorority or fraternity is not all about fun even though there’s a lot of it,” said Kiera Kinsey. “You will have to work so be prepared for that.”
Other students said they enjoyed the event.
“I liked the event,” said Sequoia Mitchell. “It definitely clarified some things for me and I’m glad I came.”
Another student, James Howard, said it was pretty much what he expected to hear.
“I feel like they gave a lot of good information,” he said.
Surviving a home invasion made a young Wayne State University student discover that she has a purpose in life and she’s in the process of figuring out just what that purpose is.
Alexis Brown, 20, majors in broadcast journalism with a minor in sociology. She was born in Louisville, Kentucky and raised here in Detroit and is also a multimedia artist. Brown has dabbled in every kind of art you can think of from painting to modeling to music arts. She has also practiced videography, poetry, graphic and web design and she makes her music from scratch.
Brown can make her own beats, write her own lyrics and sing her own songs as well. She is a focused young woman with big goals and aspirations; these aspirations include owning a media firm and becoming an author on the side. Brown is also looking into a career in radio for the time being because music means so much to her. She would like to have creative freedom over the way she wants to dress and wear her hair, so an office job is certainly not something she’d be interested in.
Brown feels that she’s very picky and particular about many things. She likes an organized environment and thinking space, even her closet is color coded. Brown practices yoga and meditation in her free time to get away from the chaos of the world. In her three years of undergrad, Brown has attended three different institutions. She was originally supposed to attend the University of Michigan but her admission was revoked. Brown later attended Eastern Michigan University because the institution granted her the most money but she soon found out it just wasn’t the fit for her. She came back to Detroit and attended Oakland Community College for one year then transferred to Wayne State University to continue working on her degree. Both of her parents were students at WSU and she loves this institution because of it. Brown has learned through her experiences to take school very seriously and she is excited to continue her parent’s legacy here at Wayne State. Currently, Brown has interesting opportunities with Channel 4’s Kimberly Gill who invited her to the station to learn the ropes. At the moment, Brown is not sure whether or not she wants to intern with them but the option is available. Brown is looking to graduate from WSU in December of 2019.
Sports photography was definitely harder than I expected. I shot a softball game on Wayne State University’s campus and there were a few complications. The weather wasn’t great. It wasn’t terrible, but it was super cold and windy. This made it hard for me to take a few of the pictures because even while wearing my gloves my hands were still very cold. At one point, my fingers got so cold from being outside so long that I couldn’t feel them anymore. Another complication I had was trying to shoot pictures through the fence. There was a giant fence around the softball field to keep the balls from hitting the people in the audience and trying to get good camera shots through that fence wasn’t easy. I found a spot that was more open and not blocked by the fence but a lot of the players had their backs turned to that spot so those shots weren’t great either.
I found something really enjoyable though. I liked to watch the players who were off of the field cheer on the ones who were on the field. When someone went to go bat, that person’s teammates were yelling her name, encouraging her and having fun with it. If the person who was batting kept striking out, their teammates would still yell encouraging things like “You’ve got it girl!” or “It’s okay, this is why you get three tries!” It was really heartwarming to see the bond these girls have with one another as teammates and to me, it showed that winning wasn’t what was most important to them. The seats in the audience weren’t very full but there were some parents there to support their daughters. It sucks that WSU lost, but their teamwork was spot on and they played a great game.