U California System Researchers Vote to Unionize
The 5,000-member union of researchers who are not faculty members or postdoctoral fellows filed representation petitions with California’s Public Employment Relations Board in September, with about two-thirds supporting unionization. The state board must certify the union before collective bargaining can begin.
Pennsylvania State U Goes Tobacco- & Smoke-Free
The university updated one of its policies this fall to prohibit smoking and the use of tobacco in and on all university owned or leased properties, facilities and vehicles. The university will offer support for students and employees who are current tobacco users and those who may be working toward quitting.
North Country CC to Go Tobacco-Free With Aid of Grant
With the aid of an $18,800 grant from the Truth Initiative, the community college will go tobacco-free on its three campuses by 2020. The college will create a Tobacco-Free Task Force to assess tobacco-related issues on campus, educate and engage students and staff on the need for and benefits of going tobacco-free, identify a plan to address treatment for those who are interested in quitting, and develop a tobacco-free policy recommendation.
Pennsylvania State U Gets Nearly $4M Grant for Community Wellness Program
Penn State College of Medicine has received a nearly $4 million grant to promote healthy lifestyles and improve nutrition for Hispanic people living in nearby Berks and Lebanon counties. Awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s REACH project, the grant will help establish healthy nutrition standards, provide healthier food access at community venues and increase electronic benefit transfer acceptance. It will also help create a bilingual hospital-based breastfeeding program.
McGill U Provides Staff With Resources to Incorporate Sustainability
The McGill Office of Sustainability has released two new resources that encourage staff to make sustainability a part of their everyday work life. One resource is for new employees while the other outlines many different ways to engage with sustainability practices, programs and initiatives on campus.
Columbia U Postdoc Students Vote to Unionize
The National Labor Relations Board announced recently that postdoctoral workers and associate research scientists voted 729-339 in favor of joining the Columbia Postdoctoral Workers-United Auto Workers Union. This is the first certified postdoctoral union at a private university.
Duke U No Longer Requires Job Applicants to Disclose Criminal History
Effective Nov. 1, 2018, the university and its healthcare system will no longer ask individuals whether they have ever been convicted of a crime as part of the process of applying for employment. Duke will continue to conduct background checks on criminal history, government sanctions and driving records when relevant at the offer stage for finalists of staff and faculty positions who have been recommended for hire, although a criminal record does not necessarily preclude someone from being hired.
Indiana U Boosts Wellness With 3-Week Challenge
The three-week challenge will start at the beginning of October and aims to encourage everyday physical activities that benefit human health and the environment. Free for all members of the IU community to participate, the challenge focuses on one form of sustainable physical activity per week.
U Strathclyde Begins Employee Well-Being & Sustainability Program
(U.K.) Following a successful five-month pilot period, the employee well-being and sustainability program will be offered to all employees in October 2018. Employees can earn points for tracking activity in areas such as fitness, commuting and waste. Employees who receive the most points are able to win individual voucher prizes, while teams with the most points can award a charity donation.
U Washington Researchers Help Government Building Get Fitwel Certification
Two researchers in the university's Civil & Environmental Engineering department assisted the city of Bellevue with Fitwel certification of its city hall. Administered by the Center for Active Design, Fitwel encourages the adoption of 63 strategies that support healthy behavior by occupants. Out of a total possible 144 points, Bellevue City Hall earned 92 points, receiving a one-star rating.
U Missouri Announces Ban on All Tobacco Use
The new policy prohibits all use of tobacco and electronic cigarettes on campus. The university applied for and won a grant from the American Cancer Society to help implement it.
U Tennessee Knoxville Initiates Smoke-Free Campus Policy
In an effort to protect the health and safety of university students, employees and visitors and to promote a healthy and safe work, educational and living environment, the university passed a smoke-free policy and procedure, which prohibits smoking in and on all university property, including smoking in private vehicles when parked or operated on university property. The policy also prohibits littering on university property with tobacco products or the remains of any tobacco products.
Goucher College Goes Smoke- & Tobacco-Free
As part of continuing efforts to improve the health and well-being of the Goucher community, Goucher College is a smoke-free and tobacco-free campus, as of mid-July. This policy applies not only to smoking any substance, but also to the use of e-cigarettes and any form of tobacco anywhere on campus.
U Iowa Allocates Benefits to Non-Tenure-Track Professors
Following months of protests and meetings with administrators, non-tenure-track faculty members at the university won expanded health insurance benefits, dependent coverage, retirement and sick leave. As of next month, visiting faculty members with half-time or greater appointments for a year or more are eligible for the same university benefits as full-time university employees.
U South Carolina Health Center Earns LEED Gold
The Center for Health and Well-Being's sustainability features include a central automation system for the HVAC equipment, occupancy sensors for lights, recycled content materials, and water efficient fixtures in bathrooms and kitchens.
U Bristol to Pilot Well-Being & Sustainability Program
(U.K.) The three-month Be the Change pilot program started in July 2018 and encourages the university’s 6,000 staff members to adopt well-being behaviors, such as volunteering, mindfulness and keeping active. It also promotes sustainable travel, energy and water conservation, and sustainable purchasing.
Nazareth College Adjuncts Form Union
In an effort to improve their working conditions, adjuncts who taught in the 2017-2018 academic year recently voted 3-to-1 in favor of unionizing through Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
Education Dept. Announces 2018 Green Ribbon Schools
The U.S. Department of Education's 2018 Green Ribbon Schools program selected six postsecondary institutions, 46 schools, and six districts as honorees. They are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.
Emory U Opens Biking & Pedestrian Trail
Developed through a partnership with Emory and the Path Foundation and opened on Earth Day, a new, 12-foot wide, paved bicycle and pedestrian trail opened that will eventually link Emory’s Clairmont Campus to a scenic, off-road trail system. The new trail replaces a previous section of narrow sidewalk.
U Washington Postdoctoral Researchers Form Union
Postdoctoral researchers recently voted to form a union affiliated with United Auto Workers. More than 700 of the campus’ 1,100 postdocs participated in the election, with 89 percent of unchallenged ballots being cast in favor of unionization.
Wesleyan U Offers Bike Sharing Service
In mid-April, the university placed 100 orange bikes on campus through a company called Spin, a bike sharing program that allows students to use the bikes for a small fee. The system works with an app that allows registered users to scan a QR code on any bike, which unlocks the bike for use. In the first seven days, nearly 1,000 individuals used the bikes for 2,082 total trips.
U Bath to Pay Voluntary Living Wage
(U.K.) The university is applying for formal accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation to reinforce its commitment to ensure salaries keep pace with the cost of living. The Living Wage Foundation announces living wage rates in the first week of November each year and, once accredited, the university will be committed to implementing that rate.
Harvard U Graduate Assistants Vote for Union
Graduate students at Harvard University voted 1,931 to 1,523 to form a union affiliated with the United Auto Workers. The election, held earlier this month, was the second on the union issue, as a 2016 vote proved inconclusive.
U North Carolina Wilmington Student Creates Wellness Campaign
UNCW sophomore Victoria Rause founded a new student organization called PERK, People Encouraging Random Kindness, that seeks to help students cope with stress by doing encouraging things for fellow students, like distributing notecards with nice thoughts written on them or passing out candy, all while teaching students to look for opportunities to promote kindness and rethink the way they view their perceived obstacles.
Cornell U Promotes Climate Literacy for Staff
Members of the university's Employee Assembly voted earlier this month to support staff involvement and participation in campus climate change literacy policy and programs, in an effort to ensure the success of the Climate Action Plan. Highlighting the scientific consensus of global climate change, the resolution notes the impact of climate change on employee happiness and well-being. Climate change literacy was defined in the resolution as an understanding of an individual’s influence on climate and climate’s influence on individuals.
Harvard U Installs Rails on Trucks to Protect Cyclists & Pedestrians
After a successful pilot to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety, university fleet technicians have begun installing side guards on all existing, eligible Harvard-owned trucks, including box trucks, and solid waste and recycling trucks. Harvard has also begun asking vendors that drive large trucks to campus to install side guards on eligible trucks as quickly as possible.
California State U Northridge Rolls Out Bike Rental Program
In mid-January, LimeBike delivered 400 bicycles to the campus that are now part of a rental program to provide an alternative mode of transportation to the campus community. There is no membership fee required, however the rental fee is 50 cents per half hour with no time limit. Solar-powered GPS units will allow the university to determine where bike lanes are most needed.
Bemidji State U Unveils Center for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
The new Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is a student-driven initiative that promotes and reinforces fundamental values of civic engagement and leadership, and international and multicultural understanding in a space safe for all students, faculty and staff. Dr. Brian V. Xiong has been hired as the center’s coordinator.
U Wisconsin–Madison Increases Pay for Staff & Faculty by 4%
The university has announced that the 2017–2019 pay plan will be distributed to faculty and staff in phases, with the first two percent increase taking effect in July 2018 and the second two percent in January of 2019. Other recent compensation changes designed to benefit some of the university's lowest-paid workers included an increase in the living wage standard to $13.01 per hour beginning Dec. 24, 2017, and an increase in the differential pay for employees working night and weekend shifts.
Emory U Creates Zero Waste Policy
In an effort to divert 95 percent of campus waste from municipal landfills by 2025, the university recently formalized its commitment by publishing a new waste management policy that engages the entire campus in the push to enhance recycling efforts. The new policy calls for adding additional collection stations, making existing stations more efficient and creating a new team to assist with removal of compost and recycling at campus stations.
Broward College Adjuncts Form Union
Adjunct faculty members at the college in Florida recently voted to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union. The new unit has approximately 1,700 eligible members, and some 92 percent of those who voted approved of the union bid.
Rutgers U Raises Pay to $11 Per Hour for Student Workers
The minimum wage for student workers will go from $8.44 an hour to $11 an hour, starting Jan. 1, Rutgers President Robert Barchi said in a letter to students. The 30 percent raise affects more than 13,000 students who work in dining halls, libraries, offices and other facilities on the New Brunswick-Piscataway, Newark and Camden campuses.
Cornell U Launches Staff Sustainability Champions Program
The university's Employee Assembly and Campus Sustainability Office staff created the new recognition program as a way to capture and better recognize the hundreds of daily acts that staff demonstrate to reduce waste, create a more welcoming environment, save resources and champion new ideas for sustainability.
U Nottingham Agrees to Living Wage to Low-Paid Staff
(U.K.) Two weeks after protesters asked the university to pay a living wage, the university agreed to do so for the 2017-18 academic year. The agreement guarantees the lowest-paid staff 8.75 pounds ($11.72) an hour.
Cornell U Launches Food Security Grocery Store
Based on results of a Cornell University survey indicating a high percentage of students were regularly without access to food, the Center for Transformative Action launched Anabel's Grocery to provide nutritious, affordable food that includes low-priced meals, daily meal kits and fresh staples. The store is student-led and has served over 1,000 students in the first semester of operations. The store also offers educational programs around quality food, food choices, wellness and positive social change.
U Nebraska-Lincoln Installs Ventilation Technology for Efficiency
Several buildings on campus now use Aircuity, a technology that monitors the ventilation rates of buildings for optimal level of airflow to save energy and maintain air that contains low contaminants. It is estimated that Aircuity can reduce lab energy use by 40 to 60 percent.
Fordham U Professors and Postdoctorals Vote to Form Union
After an agreement was signed by the administration and non-tenure track faculty that allowed for a free and fair election, adjunct faculty, full-time non-tenure track faculty, and postdoctoral fellows recently voted 16-to1 to join Service Employees International Union.
Baker Center at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Wins 2017 Livable Buildings Award
The Baker Center for Science and Mathematics received the award from UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment (CBE) for a sustainable design that includes operable windows, radiant heating/cooling in offices and conference rooms, chilled beams in laboratories, a green roof, active monitoring of laboratory air, and an atrium designed to take advantage of daylight and passive ventilation. The award - the only building industry honor that includes feedback from occupants in its selection criteria - recognizes buildings that demonstrate exceptional performance in occupant satisfaction, resource efficiency and overall design.
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.