By Wylie Post, Contributing Writer.
October is Campus Sustainability Month, and UMF is making sure to do its part through educating and creating opportunities for students and staff to get involved.
Many students at UMF and across the country are aware of climate change and global warming. However, the difference between these two commonly gets confused.
“‘Global warming refers to observed increases in average surface temperatures on Earth” while climate change “refers to changing patterns or trends in “long-term weather,” says Mark Pires, UMF’s sustainable campus coordinator.
In the most recent climate report from the UN, the panel discussed the harmful impacts the earth will take sooner in the future rather than later. The increase in carbon dioxide, mainly fossil fuels, has created higher temperatures in the atmosphere, which is now called ‘global warming’.
Image from United Nations
The UN believes that within the next 30 years, the environment and climate will continue to get worse if nothing is done.
The world has faced many catastrophic disasters. Flash floods, heatwaves, forest fires, and even historic droughts have occurred within the past ten years. Many of these disasters are due to the fact that the people who roam the Earth and call it their home are not taking care of it.
In 2019, students at UMF gathered on Mantor Green to increase awareness of climate change. The students were able to gather over 200 signatures on a petition to help the battle.
Local stores like The Outskirts, Touch of Class, and the Farmington Thrift Shop are all located downtown in Farmington and provide ways for students to shop green.
“Manufacturing new clothes creates a crazy carbon and water footprint,” says Aiden Saulnier, co-student leader of SCC in 2019.
Throughout the country, civilians have discussed their beliefs on global warming and whether it is accurate or not. Most famously coming from the former President, Donald J. Trump, in a tweet, “I don’t think it’s a hoax, I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s manmade,” when discussing climate change. However, campuses worldwide have discovered new ways to be environmentally conscious with climate change activism clubs and even more. At UMF, the Sustainable Campus Coalition gathers students to discuss climate change, global warming, and how students can adjust their daily routines to create a more sustainable place to live.
Worldwide, climate change has been a huge discussion. It is the student’s duty on campus to be aware of these environmental issues and how to deal with them.
“I think that students should take notice of the information they hear about climate change, think carefully and critically about what is being said and who is saying it, and arrive at their own conclusions as to how best to interpret and understand what is happening on the planet at the moment,” Pires said.
After discussing the climate report from the United Nations and the historical changes on our planet within the past ten years, it is well noted that something needs to change. If not, this Earth is destined for darkness. The people are the only ones who can help stop global warming and live healthier.
Make sure to stop by the Ed. Center in room 113 on Fridays during Common Time at the Sustainable Campus Coalition.
“UMF students can keep an eye out for announcements coming out soon around campus and on social media about a series of events being planned by the Sustainable Campus Coalition to acknowledge Campus Sustainability Month during October,” Pires said.
There are several ways students can practice sustainability on campus. “A major thing would be for students to purchase reusable water bottles and bags, as many students already do,” student Kayleigh Brisard said. Students can also find recycling bins around campus in each building.
Paper adds up quickly, so another way to spread awareness for climate change and to practice sustainability is to go paperless! Google Docs, Microsoft Word, and Pages are all free and easily accessible resources for students to take notes on their laptops and reduce the amount of paper being used. Reusable to-go containers are also available at UMF!
UMF also has a community garden for students to use! Gardening is a simple and fun way to get involved with cleaning up the earth and making good use of the environment.
Cleaning up on campus is extremely important and a great way to practice sustainable living in order to reduce global warming and climate change. Remember the golden rule… reduce, reuse, and recycle.
By Paige Lusczyk, Contributing Writer
The Well-Being Committee has created an eight-week program, Wellness Weeks, promoting wellbeing in five main categories: physical, social, emotional, occupational, and nutritional. Open registration began on Sept. 27 and will run until Nov. 21. Going into week three of the program, registration is still offered to any students, faculty, or staff.
Unlike last semester’s Wellness Challenge, Wellness Weeks follows a more personal path in accomplishing goals. The Wellness Challenge drew in people who were more social and competitive as you could compare your wellbeing score. Wellness Weeks still has a weekly raffle and a grand prize raffle as an extra incentive.
“[The Well-Being Committee] wanted to focus a lot more on the individual,” the Chair of the Well-Being Committee, Ben White said.
The Wellness Weeks program has the person fill out a long-term goal according to one to five of the categories that they want to better in. The program structures around the layout of S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) with one larger goal with smaller goals leading up to it.
Some long term goals like social or emotional goals are not always measurable and do not exactly follow the S.M.A.R.T. goals layout. “They are not really judged. [the Well-Being Committee] are really leaving it up to the participants,” White said.
It is mentioned in the form that any unhealthy goals like losing too much weight in a short period of time will be addressed but White stated that “[the Well-Being Committee] didn’t have to reach out to anyone” and White was “really really happy with what people came up with.”
The Well-Being Committee checks in with those who have registered every Monday to see if they completed their weekly goal and put them into the raffle for the week. The prizes include $25 gift cards to local businesses, Mainely Outdoor Gear Rental, and a Fitness Design from the FRC. There are two grand prizes valuing up to $100.
White realized there were a lot of ways that UMF’s community could advance their wellbeing. White created these programs and the Well-Being Committee to create such opportunities and give the community an extra boost of support.
“Times are hard for a lot of people right now and engaging in well-being practices and activities can help people in a lot of different ways that I view that they could use some help,” White said.
Being part of the UMF community is not just about getting a degree or working. It is important to also ask “were they happy? did they thrive?” White said. “I wanted to contribute to that portion.”
Wellness Weeks will continue to accept new participants. The registration form can be found on MyCampus → Campus Life → Wellbeing. All information will be forwarded to late participants so they are caught up to speed. The only downside to starting late is the possibility of not being entered into the grand prize raffle.
The Well-Being Committee is currently looking for student representatives as well to bring new ideas for future programs. Please reach out to email@example.com if you are interested.
By Wylie Post, Contributing Writer.
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted students’ mental health tremendously. September is National Suicide Awareness month. UMF has created new resources for students to access for mental health concerns as well as having several professors/admin that are always available to talk.
The mental health crisis in college students has skyrocketed since the pandemic. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in June 2020, over 40 percent of adults over the age of 18 reported they were struggling with mental health or substance abuse. The suicide attempt rate amongst teen girls has increased by almost 50 percent due to the pandemic, according to researchers from the CDC.
The question is why? Why are the rates so high?
Well, ever since the start of the pandemic, almost all college students have been stripped of using any social skills and experienced a sense of loneliness nobody has ever experienced before. Zoom became the new way of learning, and students had mixed feelings about it. Some are not so happy about remote learning while others found it nice to be alone and not in a physical classroom.
“I feel like everyone spent a lot more time alone than ever before and without the social aspect of it, it definitely made it worse,” UMF sophomore Sidney Belanger said while talking about remote and virtual learning.
Healthcare workers are feeling the same way. “The pandemic in itself has placed stressors on relationship building and it has created an environment for young adults to have very minimal contact,” Lisa Avery, R.N, BSN, practice in-home healthcare said. “Isolation has impacted their sense of self-value and importance, which separates them from having the true college experience.”
Many college students, especially those who just started last year, are experiencing difficulties finding locations on campus and meeting new people because of all the socialization they missed due to COVID protocols.
“They are missing out on opportunities in traditional college life because of social isolation, physical distancing, and masking,” Avery said. “The mask itself causes a separation from human expression, not to say that masking is bad, but human expression and emotions are vital to growing.”
However, UMF has allowed students access to multiple resources to help anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health struggles. SilverCloud is a new system that allows students to learn new coping mechanisms, social skill-building tools, and different self-guided programs for anxiety, depression, etc. The UMF mental health counselors are also a great resource when looking for more personalized treatment/help. Any professor you are comfortable with speaking and opening up to may also be happy to help.
When discussing resources for mental health for college students, there are multiple ways to go about it. Whether that is SilverCloud, licensed counselors, professors, or even a kind friend, these are all appropriate and healthy resources. Some students prefer different types of therapy.
“I listen to podcasts, some about mental growth. They help me have a better perspective on situations and myself,” Belanger said.
“Students need to identify a safe person they can express their feelings to. They need to identify what their safe environment is,” Avery said. “There are healthcare professionals and there are many options online for support groups, therapy, and counseling.”
No matter what you are going through, there are always people who are willing to listen and to help you in any way. With the pandemic slowly starting to fade out, even though it may not feel like it, students are still struggling. If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health issues, feel free to talk to someone and find ways that help you the best. The National Suicide Hotline is 800-273-8255 and the Maine Statewide Crisis Hotline is 711.
By Paige Lusczyk, Contributing Writer.
An on-campus role typically reserved for upperclassmen has been offered to first-semester freshmen this year as the University of Maine at Farmington faces a shortage of student employees. Four freshmen joined the Community Assistant training earlier this semester, with only a campus tour and Summer Experience under their belts.
Typically a full CA staff would need 36 positions. When COVID-19 struck campuses nationwide in March 2020, many UMF residents had already applied and accepted CA positions.
Director of Student Life and current Scott Hall Professional Staff, Brian Ufford, explained that when Dakin Hall closed to become the allocated quarantine building, many applicants were brought into the other halls as extra help instead of firing a large group. That is the reason the third floor of Scott Hall North had three CAs for the fall 2020 semester when the number historically has been two.
When the spring 2021 semester started, many former CAs decided not to return. When asked, Ufford replied that the CA shortage is “a product of COVID more than anything.”
Ufford said the job was “not nearly as rewarding” due to COVID-19 restrictions and less on-campus resident interaction. As of right now, Scott Hall is short five CAs that will hopefully be filled before the fall 2021 semester ends. A few residents have already applied including more freshmen.
Hannah Levy is currently a CA in Mallet Hall and feels “very confident in [her] ability to be a CA.” She, like the other three current freshmen CAs, was approached during Summer Experience.
“Brian [Ufford] had mentioned in a big group that they were looking for CAs and that this was the first time that they were allowing freshmen first semester to apply,” Levy wrote in an email.
Levy has had a bit of experience already because she was an RA in high school and loved it “because [she] was able to be a part of people’s lives and hopefully make an impact on someone.”
Although Levy admitted to feeling nervous and intimidated at the beginning of the training week, she still exclaimed, “I am excited to take what I have learned from my high school and CA training and incorporate it into my hall.”
Hunter Kemp, who is currently a CA in Scott Hall, shares similar thoughts. Kemp also admitted a nervous feeling about the position. Fortunately, his confidence has continued to grow with more experience. He mentioned that in the beginning he “was nervous about becoming a resource figure on campus, mostly because [he] didn’t know the campus yet.” Kemp added that everyone has been helpful.
Both Kemp and Levy said they believe that they’ll be able to connect to first-year students on a more personal level than the upperclassmen CAs since they would be going through the same experiences other first-year students go through; newly found independence, real college classes, self-care, and time and financial management.
Ufford said he has full confidence in the freshman CAs, explaining that in his opinion all high school graduates have the skill sets for many jobs similar to the CA position. Coming into the job they just lack the “familiarity with campus resources, but [Ufford] thinks [UMF staff] did a good job [during training].”
As the Fall 2021 semester goes on, Professional Staff plan on interviewing and hiring potential candidates. As predicted by Ufford, the new applicants will start by being placed in Scott Hall and will most likely go through a mentorship process, on top of regular training, where they will be able to continue learning with returning CAs.
By Annie Newman, Staff Writer.
With the Dining Hall returning to “normal,” one new addition combines the accommodating ways of COVID-19 with UMF’s drive for eco-friendliness: reusable to-go containers.
They allow students to take home a meal or any leftovers from the Dining Hall with a $5 deposit that the student gets back at the end of the year. For those who wish to socially distance themselves, it provides a meal without needing to be in the crowded dining hall.
“You fill up whatever you want in here with food, you bring us back the container, rinse it out, and we’ll give you another one,” manager for Sodexo at UMF Adam Vigue said. “We wash all the containers so we make sure it’s safe, so it’s gone through the Board of Health.”
As of Sept. 7, Vigue estimated that the dining hall had given out between 20 to 25 of them.
One of the bigger benefits that the containers promote is the drastic reduction of trash. Dex LaFrance, a sophomore at UMF, remembers last year when this was not the case.
“The plastic packets with the napkin and the plastic utensils, those were all over campus last year,” LaFrance said.
“We’re going through way less trash packaging wise,” Vigue said Sept. 13. “Last year we had a dumpster that we needed to bring in just to keep up with all the trash we had. We no longer need that.”
As a campus that prides itself on sustainability, the disappearance of styrofoam and plastic-packaged meals can be a welcoming sight in the dining hall. With the reusable containers, sustainability on the tail-end of a pandemic is on the rise.