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.

Student Targeting: Advice for Faculty and UPD

Questioner: Curtis Phills, Assistant Professor, Psychology

Posed to: FA President Radha Pyati

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.

Zika Preparation at UNF

October 13, 2016

Questioner: Anonymous

Posed to: Radha Pyati, President/Designee, UNF Faculty Association

What is UNF’s plan to prevent and address Zika virus, including public health/safety issues and standing water/landscaping issues? UNF is a beautiful campus with ponds and swamps, and all water need not be removed, but we need a plan.

Response:

I asked Dan Endicott of EH&S, Doreen Perez of UNF Student Health Services, and Chuck Hubbuch of Physical Facilities and have compiled their responses per below.

Student Health is following the Governor’s request to educate the Campus community and has insect repellent available. Doreen Perez gave a presentation to the campus community that will be posted on YouTube. More info is available on their main page:https://www.unf.edu/shs/ , and other informational items from the Florida Dept of Health will be posted on the Faculty Association webpage Q&R site.

Florida_Health_General_Mosquito_ Bite_Prevention
Florida_Health_Card_Mosquito_Prevention
Florida_Health_Think_Zika

Birth Defects_Zika

EH&S has met with grounds staff from Physical Facilities, Housing, Athletics and COJ Mosquito Control to discuss the preventative measures they are taking and what we can do on campus.  Our grounds departments are monitoring for standing water and have plans in place to treat areas should the vector mosquitoes become an issue in our area.

Mosquito Control explained that two only mosquito species transmit Zika. These two species do not breed in running water or in bodies of water large enough to contain fish and other natural predators. So, draining swamps and ponds is not necessary. Instead, the larvae of these two mosquitoes are found in small, temporary bodies of water like untended water in bird baths, concrete storm water basins, bottle caps and other litter. Targeting the breeding places and young of these two species is more successful and less damaging to other living organisms (including us) than spraying large areas. That means that litter control provided by the Recycle crews may be our most important line of defense. Biological controls are effective and Grounds is prepared to treat storm water basins in the event that it becomes necessary.