Duke U Raises Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour
Duke will increase its minimum wage to $15 per hour for all regular university and health system staff, according to an Aug. 25 university statement. Over 2,300 staff members will get a pay raise by 2019.
Harvard U Achieves LEED Gold on Renovation
The housing renovation aimed to deliver a healthier interior for residents. The project team worked with manufacturers to ensure selected flooring material was produced without any added antimicrobials and all furniture and furnishings are free of chemical flame retardants. Wellness efforts focused on controlling noise pollution and enhancing access to natural light. Energy conservation measures implemented in the renovation include high-performing LEDs, high-efficiency washer and dryers, and natural ventilation strategies.
Emory U Class Revitalizes Pilot Green Roof
An abandoned rooftop garden was recently revamped through a class project and was funded by the university's Sustainability Incentives Fund grant through Emory's Office of Sustainability Initiatives. The original project in 2008 was part of a student-led pilot study exploring the benefits of vegetative roof coverings and had been largely unmaintained since.
Northwestern U Upgrades Lab Ventilation Systems
In an effort to conserve energy and maintain healthy, safe and comfortable labs, eight buildings now have an air quality monitoring system that saves energy by ensuring that lab ventilation systems run only as much as needed to maintain healthy air quality. Research and testing in one of the campus' buildings revealed that, with the new system, the number of air exchanges per hour could be reduced from nine to four, resulting in a cost savings of $117,000 per year.
U Wisconsin Madison Meets Student Needs With Food Hub
The UW Campus Food Shed is a new program that gives students and faculty access to free vegetables and produce, stocked by university agriculture researchers and local farms with excess crops. Many of these excess crops would otherwise be composted or thrown out.
California State U San Marcos to Go Smoke/Tobacco-Free
In an effort to protect and promote the health and well-being of the campus community, the university will become a completely smoke- and tobacco-free campus beginning in fall 2017. Electronic cigarettes will also be banned. The effort will be aided by a $20,000 grant as part of the American Cancer Society and the CVS Health Foundation’s Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative, a $3.6 million effort to accelerate and expand smoke- and tobacco-free campuses. The funding will be used for educational material, supplies and personnel essential to implement and evaluate the initiative.
Indiana U to Offer Paid Parental Leave
Recently endorsed by the board of trustees, all university staff employees will receive six weeks of paid leave after a birth or adoption. The leave will be available to both mothers and fathers regardless of their marital or relationship status.
Tufts U Grad Students to Unionize
Graduate students in the university's School of Arts and Sciences voted 129-84 to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union.
Harvard U Awards Inaugural Campus Sustainability Innovative Fund Grants
The new fund supports projects that use the campus or the neighboring community as a test bed for envisioning and piloting innovative solutions to sustainability challenges. The projects align with one of the five topics in the university-wide Sustainability Plan: emissions and energy, campus operations, nature and ecosystems, health and well-being, and culture and learning.
American U Grad Students Vote to Unionize
Graduate student workers at the university recently voted 212 to 40 in favor of forming a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union. Some 761 students were eligible to vote.
Northland College Pledges to be Sanctuary for Undocumented Students
In a letter dated March 2, the college's president cites a rising national rhetoric of intolerance and acts of hate that threaten minorities as a basis for affirming Northland’s intention to support all students in their quest to pursue their education without government interference. Unless it is legally required to do so, the college will not voluntarily share student information with or grant property access to immigration enforcement officials, nor participate in the enforcement actions of immigration officials on campus.
U Toronto Cafeteria Workers Strike for Fair Wages
Cafeteria workers employed with Aramark at the university's Scarborough Campus launched an open-ended strike recently, an escalation in their fight to end what they describe as 'poverty-wage jobs' on the university campus. These workers, members of UNITE HERE Local 75, have been bargaining a new collective agreement for several months.
U Alberta Creates Multi-Faith Space
The new Multi-Faith Prayer and Meditation Space offers spiritual peace and quiet for students of various faiths, offering more opportunity to rest, recharge and get to know people of other religions.
Southern Illinois U Green Fund Supports Lactation Room
The room, which will be centrally located on the university library’s third floor, is meant to meet the needs of students, faculty and staff who need to breastfeed or pump between classes and study sessions. The student-led project started in the spring of 2014 after a community nutrition class conducted a needs assessment study of the campus. An independent study class that is working to complete the project.
Southern Illinois U Gives Food Assistance to Hungry Students
Having opened in fall 2016, an estimated 300 students have already visited the new food pantry. Visits are limited to once per month and the amount visitors can take depends on the number of people in their family. Managed by a graduate student studying social work, the food pantry is sustained by donations.
Occidental College Institute Reports on U California Employee Food Insecurity
Occidental College’s Urban & Environmental Policy Institute, in collaboration with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 2010, sent a survey to more than 13,600 clerical, administrative and support employees at the University of California System with a response rate of 21 percent over a two-week period revealed that 70 percent struggle to put adequate food on the table and are considered food insecure, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) definition. The survey was developed by researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics of the USDA. Another finding indicates the level of food insecurity among these UC employees is one-and-a-half times higher than the level of food insecurity among UC students.
Minneapolis College Art & Design Faculty Vote to Form Union
Two years after a national union began organizing in the state, nearly two-thirds of college's faculty voted for the union, which will represent about 100 full- and part-time instructors, according to the Service Employees International Union, which sponsored the organizing effort.
Harvard U Partners on Building Materials Tool
The university is the first founding partner from the higher education community to sign on to Portico, a web-based application designed to simplify the analysis, selection and specification of building products that meet health and transparency objectives. Harvard’s Office for Sustainability and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health's Center for Health and the Global Environment will partner with Healthy Building Network and Google to foster opportunities for faculty and students to use the data available to generate new research and support existing initiatives on healthy buildings that are already underway at the university.
U Southern California Student Center Hires Wellness Dog
The Student Health Center within the university's Office for Wellness and Health Promotion hired its first, full-time wellness dog trained to work with a multitude of people on a regular basis. Research suggests that positive interactions with dogs can create a sense of calm and well-being, and can help remove barriers for students around accessing resources at the student center.
State College Florida Manatee-Sarasota Faculty Vote to Unionize
A recent vote of more than 90 percent of the faculty revealed 75 to 24 were in favor of joining a union affiliated with the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. The vote comes a year after the college’s board of trustees voted to eliminate its rolling contract system, which means now even long-serving faculty members are on one-year contracts.
Seattle U Adjuncts Vote in Favor of Unionizing
The final vote count was 73 to 63 in favor of forming a bargaining unit with Service Employees International Union (SEIU), with some votes from those who teach courses with religious content and specific roles in maintaining the university’s religious educational environment being excluded.
NLRB Rules to Allow Graduate Students at Private Universities to Unionize
In a 3-1 decision, the National Labor Relations Board ruled in mid-August that graduate students employed by private universities are entitled to collective bargaining under National Labor Relations Act. The decision to overturn a prior ruling that denied unionization asserts graduate student assistants can be both employees and students.
Yale U Nursing Students Connect with Food Systems to Improve Patient Wellbeing
Students in their first year of the school's Graduate Entry Prespecialty in Nursing program work with Yale Landscape Lab for a series of workshops that focus on the importance of creating meaningful connections with their patients as they work with them to learn to access and eat healthy foods. These sessions combined with hands-on growing and cooking exercises help the students explore their personal connections with food as a way to empower them to promote healthy lifestyles.
Tennessee Technological U Becomes REAL Certified
The REAL, or Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership, Certification from the United States Healthful Food Council uses a points-based system, implemented with assistance from independent, third-party registered dietitians and is based on nutritional benefit, food quality and experience, procurement from safe and high quality sources, and food that enables better choices.
Auburn U Opens Certified Gluten-Free Restaurant
University students with gluten intolerance now have access to Plains to Plate, a locally sourced farm-to-table restaurant that is now certified gluten-free and is the first retail concept on a college campus to achieve a Gluten-Free Food Service (GFFS) certification, a part of the Gluten Intolerance Group.
Education Dept Announces 2016 Green Ribbon Schools Award
This year's U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition award went to Elon University; Georgia Institute of Technology; Hawkeye Community College; Macalester College; Raritan Valley Community College; Slippery Rock University; University of Colorado, Colorado Springs; University of Louisiana at Lafayette; University of Montevallo; and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Green Ribbon Schools recognition award honors postsecondary institutions that are demonstrating progress in three pillars: environmental impact, health and wellness, and sustainability education.
Columbia U Increases Student Wage to $15 Per Hour
After lobbying from student activists, a recent statement from the university's provost said the hourly wage paid to students on work-study and in other part-time positions will increase to $15 per hour over the next three years.
New York U Sets $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage for Student Workers
A letter to the university community from New York University's president indicated that by the 2018-19 academic year students will receive a minimum of $15-per-hour. All full-time employees, graduate students and full-time employees of vendors with a major presence on campus already receive at least $15-per-hour.
San Francisco State U Launches Cigarette Butt Recycling Program
The university's Office of Sustainability partnered with the Surfrider Foundation to install new ashcans in an effort to curb cigarette butt litter and pollution. The containers will be monitored by students who will send the butts to a recycling company, TerraCycle.
Penn State Students Help Peers Make Healthy Food Choices
Thanks to a new blog, the RHEAL Deal (Residential Healthy Eating and Living Deal), university student nutrition assistants communicate weekly posts highlighting healthy items in the dining commons. The blog posts include information about the nutrients in the featured food, different ways it can be prepared and where it can be found in the dining commons. Food that meets the healthy qualifications of RHEAL are also marked by a carrot icon on the entrée card.
Georgia Tech Green Cleaning Program Earns Third-Party Certification
With certification under the Green Seal Standard for Cleaning Services, the university is now one of six higher education campuses in the nation to earn the certification. Certification verifies that Georgia Tech’s cleaning program has gone through performance testing and on-site inspections to prove cleaning efficacy, while supporting the well-being of people and reducing impact to the environment. Key requirements of certification include cleaning equipment and procedures, purchasing, training, labeling and communication. The custodial department has reduced the volume of chemicals used to clean the campus by 56 percent from 2008 levels.
Well-Being as a Measure of Student Success
Well-being was the focus of a session at a recent meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. The session discussed the role of student well-being in higher education, what colleges can do to support well-being and why it is important. "When students go through college, it isn’t enough for them to excel academically; they should flourish", reports Insider Higher Ed. The results of a climate survey conducted at Iowa State University revealed that different groups of students report different levels of mental health and that institutions should break down data based on specific populations in order to target initiatives accordingly.
State University New York Sets Employee Minimum Wage
Governor Cuomo recently announced a $15 per hour minimum wage for all SUNY employees, more than 28,000. As part of the governor's 2016 agenda, he hopes to restore economic justice by making New York the first state to enact a $15 minimum wage for all workers.
Investing in Students' Mental Health Pays Off
A recent article from the American Association of Community Colleges points to a new study from the RAND Corporation that indicates there is a corollary between mental health and academic achievement. Researchers found that the proportion of California college students at the state's public universities and community colleges increased by more than 10 percent between 2013 and spring 2015. At just community colleges, the increase was 15 percent over the same period. During that time, county governments directed a combined average of $8.7 million a year to campuses for outreach campaigns to reduce the stigma around mental health issues and to train faculty and staff to recognize students who may need help.
U Louisville Extends Living Wage Policy to Contract Workers
Following its 2013 move guaranteeing all employees a living wage, the university recently approved a requirement that companies entering contracts with the university must pay their full-time staff a minimum wage of at least $10.10 per hour. Companies currently doing business with the university will be required to meet the new guidelines when their agreements are renewed.
Harvard U Pledges Chemical Flame-Retardant Free Campus
On Nov. 4, the university became the first in the nation to sign a pledge stating its preference for purchasing furniture that is manufactured without the use of toxic chemical flame retardants. Based on scientific research out of Harvard, it joins Kaiser Permanente, Facebook and Autodesk in pledging to create healthier environments on campus.
Drexler U Reveals New Tools to Prevent Suicide
Attempting to support students' mental health, the university unveiled MindKare, a kiosk that allows students to quickly and anonymously get feedback about whether they have a problem and resources that can help. Many students have admitted a fear of being seen as crazy or stupid, and this new, confidential tool gives them the safety and knowledge to investigate on their own.
AASHE Releases 2015 Higher Education Sustainability Staffing Survey Report
The 2015 Higher Education Sustainability Staffing Survey examines the nature of sustainability positions at colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada, providing insights into salaries, funding, supervision, job satisfaction, challenges and more. This report aims to increase our understanding of the continuously growing career field of sustainability in higher education.
U Virginia and USGBC Partner to Support Public Health
Supported by a $1.2 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the new research initiative aims to result in new tools that create and demonstrate the value of public health through the design, construction and operation of sustainable buildings and that bring a public health lens to assessments of commercial real estate portfolios.
San Francisco State U to Open Wellness Center
The 118,700-square-foot complex, scheduled for completion in 2017, will feature an indoor jogging track, fitness and weight areas, pools, a sauna, a climbing wall, racquetball courts, two multi-use courts, fitness studios and a large multi-use space. The university is pursuing LEED Platinum designation.
Inside Higher Ed 'Minimum Wage Hike'
The article discusses the recent trend among colleges and universities to increase minimum wages above what's required by states and the federal government due to concerns about equitable pay for all employee, changes in local ordinances, or pressure from workers' advocates.
Inside Higher Ed 'Sugar Out, Diet In'
A recently published article spotlights the University of California at San Francisco, where all programs are in the health professions, for becoming the first college to stop the sale of sugary beverages on campus but wouldn't prevent diet sodas from being sold. The move comes after work from university researchers identified negative health effects from a large intake of sugar-filled beverages.
NY Times: 'Anxious Students Strain College Mental Health Centers'
Anxiety has now surpassed depression as the most common mental health diagnosis among college students, though depression is on the rise too. Treating anxiety has become an enormous challenge for campus mental health centers. Many institutions are designing a variety of workshops and therapy groups to address anxiety, depression and their triggers.