Snakes On Campus

January 10, 2019

Questioner: Anonymous

Posed to: Shari Shuman, Vice President, Administration & Finance

I have recently seen the numerous snake and snake-like creatures on this most lovely campus. I admit that I don’t know which snakes are the poisonous and the lethal – but I am mostly concerned because these snakes are lurking around areas where people are walking and congregating. What can be done to squelch this risky situation? Maybe some lakes should be drained? Or snake predators introduced to this most lovely campus?

Response by Vice President Shuman

Venomous snakes and other poisonous animals are a natural part of the ecosystem. Measures taken to artificially control these animals can have detrimental effects. However, when we are made aware of the presence of these animals on campus, we will investigate and determine if there is a potential threat and take measures to relocate the animal when necessary.

Chemicals in Dust and Higher Rates of Sickness Across Campus

January 10, 2019

Questioner: Anonymous

Posed to: Shari Shuman, Vice President, Administration & Finance

In the last few years, I have noticed many students, staff, and faculty becoming ill – a much higher incidence than in my previous 15 years at UNF. Has any research been conducted on the composition of indoor dust at UNF? Indoor dust is known to contain toxic chemicals. Some phthalates, fragrance, flame retardants, and phenols are consistently found in 90 percent or more of dust samples across multiple studies (according to the Natural Resources Defense Council). Please forward this concern to the appropriate department.

Response by Vice President Shuman 

We have an indoor air quality investigation protocol that is utilized when we are made aware of an issue with a given building population. There are criteria that triggers the need for an investigation and whether or not air monitoring is appropriate. Many air contaminates have no known threshold for toxicity and this can make interpretation of any data inconclusive. The issue is further exacerbated by the fact that contaminates are present in the home, car and other locations where people can be exposed.

Students on Skateboards and Bicycles

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to:  Shari Shuman, Vice President, Administration & Finance

Students riding skateboards and bicycles on the sidewalks and breezeways near the academic buildings has created a very dangerous situation. At least once or twice a day,  I observe one of these students coming down a narrow sidewalk at full speed, weaving in and out of the pedestrians.

Yesterday, one young man rode his skateboard on a crowded sidewalk while looking at his iPhone. I often have to step aside onto the grass to avoid the possibility of being struck.

Response from the Floor by Vice President Shuman:

In the month of November, 80 students were cited for pedestrian moving violations.

Response from UNF Police Chief Frank Mackesy:

The University Police Department (UPD) does enforcement of skateboard violations on a regular and routine basis. We handle both on our own and in response to complaints. This is a problem area that UPD takes seriously and will continue to work as time permits.

Administrator/Faculty Bullying Policy

December 6, 2018

Questioner: Anonymous

Posed to: David Fenner, President, Faculty Association

The new “bully” policy was motivated by concerns for protecting against faculty-on-faculty bullying? However, many faculty have witnessed administrator-on-faculty bullying. Does the new policy apply to administrator-on-faculty bullying? What procedures should a faculty member follow if they are the witness or are the victim of administrator-on-faculty bullying?

There is confusion over its application where administrators who are also members of the faculty are involved. Does the policy protect faculty against bullying by a member of the administration?

Response from the Floor by David Fenner:

The new Bullying policy does not protect faculty from administrator bullying. The purpose of the existing Bullying policy is to protect faculty on faculty bullying. Where there is a difference in level, such as cases where there is a difference in level, such as administrators bullying faculty or faculty bullying administrators that fall under the purview of the United Faculty of Florida and the CBA.

Follow up statement:

CBA article 10.4F has broad language that protects faculty from bullying from administrators:

 “Observe the published rules and regulations of the University, provided that the rules and regulations do not contravene academic freedom, which includes the faculty member’s right to responsibly criticize and seek revision of those rules and regulations;”

Policies and Restrictions on Drinking Alcohol on Campus

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: David S. Szymanski, UNF President

Can you please explain the recent new restrictions on students drinking alcohol?  Are these warranted?

In my country, most of universities give the students freedoms for drinking the alcohol when legal age is attained. To me it now seems that UNF wants more restrictives for students drinking the alcohol. How come is this? We know the students will drink – we now should focus the efforts on education and safety. Please someone to explain the reasons for more alcohol restrictives.
Thank you much.

Response from the Floor:

We have a new alcohol policy. It is modeled off of national trends set forth by the National Institute of Fraternity guidelines will be followed; alcohol will be allowed on a permission basis.

Smoking on Campus

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: David S. Szymanski, UNF President

UNF has an official “No-smoking” policy. Since its creation, both the Faculty Association and SGA passed resolutions asking for enforcement of the policy and more prominent signage on campus about the policy. And yet, we still see students and staff smoking on campus, spreading carcinogens on the rest of us. Can you please find a way to enforce this policy as other SUS institutions and other universities do?

Response from the Floor by President Szymanski

Yes, we will.

Geese Feces

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Shari Shuman, Vice President Administration & Finance

QUESTION SYNOPSIS-I:
The other day I did see my faculty colleague walking in our building with goose feces on her shoe. Due to my background, I do not say such things to people, but it is a concern of mine. With all of the geese and people that walk, we shouldn’t have to suffer through this situation. Are there solutions? Can sidewalks be washed regularly? Must geese stay near people? Are there other options? Thank you for the consideration.
ADDITIONAL QUESTION SYNOPSIS– I:
At the last meeting, my question was read and I sensed most people joking, so please let me try again to share the serious issue of the goose feces in building. Now I see the geese causing issues of making feces on sidewalks. I saw the students – and even the faculty – having the geese feces on their shoes and making public building carpets and floorings so messy. I researched the issue and found that Chattanooga State Community College had similar issue. Their maintenance crews remove up to 100 pounds of geese feces each day. Goose feces in ponds are bad for the water and cause much algae growth. Stony Brook University had similar issue and used the border collie dogs with trained handlers to humanely remove the geese. Other idea is the Solar Super Sonic system. With this technology, the system plays pre-recorded goose distress calls every ten minutes to alert geese of danger. There must surely be more options the university can enact before we have a feces crisis.

Response from Shari Shuman, Vice President of the Administration & Finance:

I understand your concern about the geese droppings on our campus. It is a daily reminder that life existed on this plot of land before UNF was built and hopefully it will be here long after we as individuals are long gone. Our campus has a tradition of coexisting with the natural beauty that surrounds us, which makes us very attractive to prospective students and visitors. Still, it is not fun to have to dodge droppings as you walk across campus.

Physical Facilities works hard to clean the walkways of the droppings daily. Pressure washers are going full speed every morning.

We have researched various ways to handle this dilemma, including the very unconventional method of using what’s called a Goosinator. It is essentially a remote controlled creation that can go as fast as 25 mph to scare geese away. If you want to see for yourself, watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=junuoSsHqks

After much debate, it left us with a variety of concerns, including how we treat wildlife on our campus and dangers of possibly scaring the geese into crowds of people. Goosinators have been successful on golf courses, but we are a campus, with activity 24-hours a day and 3,000 residential students.

We are continuing to research ways to make the campus safe for all: faculty, staff, students, visitors and yes, even safe for the geese.

 

Shari Shuman

VP, Administration and Finance

University of North Florida

1 UNF Drive

Jacksonville, Fl 32224

904-620-4727

Supporting Students being Threatened by Campus Protesters

January 11, 2018

Questioner: Curtis Phills

Posed to: Radha Pyati, President Faculty Association, UNF President John Delaney

As a faculty member at UNF, one of my great passions is working with and supporting our students. As we all know, it is exam week and our students are hard at work studying and completing our exams. Last week was world aids day and our LGBT center was handing out condoms. Someone not part of our community came on campus and started targeting and intimidating our students during this stressful period.
He was specifically targeting individual students and saying hateful things based on gender and sexual orientation. For instance, he targeted individual female students who were wearing yoga pants and told then that they would be going to hell. He also targeted individual LGBTQ students and also told them that they were going to hell. Members of the University Police Department (UPD) were present while our students were harassed and intimidated, and they did not intervene.
I have been told by General Counsel that targeting individual students, as this individual did, is a violation of UNF policy for outside groups exercising free speech on campus. Students who were targeted reported not being able to concentrate and take their exams to the best of their abilities. Some even reported skipping class or going home. Their ability to participate in educational activities is restricted by being individually targeted by this individual.
What advice does the FA President have for faculty to support students targeted by an individual in this way? What can we do when these students come to our offices or classrooms, upset and looking for support? What should we expect UPD to do in support of our students?

Partial answer from the Floor by FA President Radha Pyati
My advice for faculty would be to provide the most supportive environment for students so that they feel that they are in a safe space. I can discuss this issue with Tom VanShoor, Dean of Students, and representatives of the UPD to determine what can be expected of the UPD and student conduct code in such circumstances. The Faculty Association can provide a short version for faculty regarding the limitations of the conduct code so that we can express to students what is expected in this situation. The provision of a supportive environment is an expectation that we need to fill for our students. I will follow-up a more complete answer and provide a summary regarding these policies to which faculty can refer.

Partial answer from the Floor by Interim Provost Pam Chally
In situations like this, we should lean on our Counseling Center. They are open every day and can provide support for our students in these situations.

 

Response from UNF Police Chief Frank Mackesy

Current case law and new legislation by the Florida Legislator continue to recognize free speech as highly protected and for such targeting to be actionable it must be severe, persistent and pervasive (in other words, repeatedly occurring and causing the student harm) for it to be actionable. In addition to being severe, persistent or pervasive it must also have the impact of limiting or denying the student’s ability to effectively participate in the University’s programs and activities. This is a very tough standard to meet. If any member of the UNF family should observe such behavior as described above , according to UNF policy 7.0040R the following course of action should be taken:

“If, in the opinion of the President or his/her designated representative, an event is disrupting normal University operations or infringing on the rights of other members of the University community, the President or his/her representative may:

(a) Identify him/herself to the participants, giving name and official position;
(b) Inform the participants that they are in violation of the University policy and/or in violation of the law and specify the nature of the violation;
(c) Request that the violation cease; and
(d) In the event of noncompliance with this request, enlist the assistance of the University Police in restoring order and enforcing the law.”

The current designated representatives are identified by the President as the Interim Provost, or later the Provost, and any associate vice president under their supervision, in Academic Affairs or Student Affairs, to act as the President’s designee in enforcing the regulation. If that administrator’s efforts to enforce the regulation are unsuccessful, the University Police, as the President’s designee, may take necessary steps to enforce the regulation.

 

 

Altering the Student Code of Conduct to Protect Students/Staff from Hate Groups

November 2, 2017

Questioner: Anonymous

Posed to: Radha Pyati, President Faculty Association

A UNF student has served in a public role as a Grand Dragon of the KKK, a known hate organization that devalues and actively threatens the lives of non-white non-Christian students on campus.

  1. Given free speech rights, what is the threshold at which his speech, writing, or behavior would trigger a student conduct code violation? What actions trigger expulsion?
  2. If the student code of conduct as written allows faculty and administrators no ability to refuse to teach this student, can the code of conduct be updated to deal with this problem?
  3. If the student behaves calmly in class, but serves in this position very publicly off campus, what recourse do faculty have to protect themselves and their students from him? How might the university ensure that faculty’s home addresses are not provided to these hate groups via a FOIA request?
  4. Among our diverse student body, we may have KKK members as well as known affiliates of ISIS. How would UNF treat a student who was a known affiliate of ISIS, in a practical sense? Are these same practical measures applied to members of the KKK and other such domestic hate groups?

Response from Karen Stone, Vice President and General Counsel:

Please see the ACLU primer on Speech on Campus linked below.  I realize that one of the question subparts ((3.))  asks about Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and faculty home addresses. Employee home addresses are public information unless the employee falls within a limited number of categories, such as current and past judges, prosecutors, police officers, etc.  But, we do not publish a directory of this information. Instead, someone would need to make a public records request for the information.

ACLU Speech on Campus link