Student Health and Wellbeing
The Student Health Services web page provides a listing of their services and regularly updated health and wellness information pertinent to Wake Forest students. Their many online resources include information on common illnesses and a page of wellness links.
The University Counseling Center also describes their services and provides other highly useful information on their web page, such as guidance for parents, friends, and concerned others.
Staff and Faculty Health and Well-being
Staff and faculty should refer to Human Resources for information about available wellness programs and support.
ARAMARK keeps a full-time registered dietitian on staff who is available by request for individual consults or group talks.
This past fall, undergraduate health communication and software engineering students were asked to work together to design an application that would improve accessibility around Wake Forest’s campus.
From wheelchairs to long boards, students considered the unique ways people maneuver around our 340 acres each day. One student team chose cycling, a theme proposed by the Office of Sustainability that supports our campus-wide transportation demand management goals. The collaboration showcases the advantages of faculty working transdisciplinarily to solve big problems and the benefits of engaged learning for sustainability.
“Working with the theme of sustainability was interesting,” said Jesse Akman, a junior who developed an application for cyclists with his partner, sophomore Adelina Cato, “we ended up looking at a lot of statistics about bikes saving CO2 and alternative transportation options.”
Akman, a Computer Science and Philosophy double major, took the Health Communication course with Professor Steve Giles as an elective. Cato registered because it applied to her pre-med requisites.
The application’s map-like format is interactive and specific for bike users, explained Cato. It is similar to Ride the Wake, a smartphone application developed by another computer science class that provides users with a real-time locater map for the shuttles that transport students to and from off-campus apartments and other locations.
Giles and Professor of Computer Science, Paul Pauca, realized how beneficial collaboration could be after working together on a grant proposal to develop a smoking cessation application.
“We both knew that our disciplines complemented the other,” said Giles, “but we struggled to really understand what the other person did within his discipline.”
By connecting the two classes, the computer science students were challenged to think about health problems and user interaction with an application, while the communication students learned how to develop the actual technology that makes their creative ideas possible.
Pauca, who bikes to work and stores his set of wheels in his office each morning, explained how groups such as Akman’s had to understand how different people approach biking and what major barriers might prevent them from doing so, such as motivation, convenience, or even physical barriers, like stairs.
“For me, it’s transportation, but if I am elder, I would want to make sure I take the path that is safer,” said Pauca.
Pauca’s youngest child inspired his first experience developing an application when he was diagnosed with Pitt Hopkins Syndrome. Named VerbalVictor for his son, Pauca’s program helps to reduce the high price and bulkiness of existing tools available to people challenged by the genetic disorder. VerbalVictor can be downloaded to a smartphone for just $11.99.
Though this semester’s student applications are not ready to sell in an online application store, they are still significant achievements. “The process itself has educational value,” said Pauca, “and it also allows students to create something of value to society.”
According to Giles, the goal for the application is to build it for Wake with the hope that it could ultimately be replicated for other college campuses.
“I’m hopeful we can do this again in the future,” said Giles on the coming together of the two classes, “and perhaps be more strategic in building this collaboration into other courses.”
By Sydney Leto (’14), Staff Writer
Students in my fall 2013 Literature and the Environment seminar (ENG 341G) spent the semester exploring different sites of belonging through world literature. Their course work carried them through critical discussions on the anthropocene, bioregionalism, deep ecology, ecotones and general systems theory. In their final class unit, they targeted their analysis toward key issues of sustainability. Several groups of students got together to reflect on the ways sustainability connected them to different communities of practice. Prominent among such communities was Wake Forest.
In the following essays, students consider the ways environments are composed through participation. They urge other students to be more fully present in the ways they interact with their campus environment, and they propose solutions for more sustainable technological practices. Other essays reflect on the ways Wake Forest has shaped students as engaged individuals; students consider the ways the college’s environs have provided a vital resource for their spirits. Though all these short essays are quite different in their approaches to place values, all share an important central insight: Sustainability is something that needs to be grounded in communities of belonging.
By Dr. Judith Madera, Magnolias Project Participant 2012
If you take a look at your hands, your wrists, or your neck, you will likely see something special, precious even. It is quite dense, glows with an almost aura-like quality, and, as of press time, costs about $1,350 an ounce. The material – gold – is familiar to all of us. Less known, however, is how it gets to us and the role of another unique metal in that process. Liquid Mercury, a toxic substance that has been phased out of equipment and processes in the US over many years, is essential to artisanal gold mining in much of the world.
On October 16th, Luis Fernandez the director of the Carnegie Amazon Mercury Ecosystem Project visited Wake Forest for a lecture on the use of mercury in artisanal, or manual gold mining and its impacts on the environment and people of the Madre de Dios region of Peru. Madre de Dios is a region of eastern Peru extending into the Amazon basin and is marked by some of the most intensive artisanal gold mining activity in South America.
The process of gold mining in the Amazon is much as it was a few hundred years ago here in the US. Water cannons are used to wash away the topsoil from small areas of forest, a few hundred feet square. This leads to extensive deforestation; a new study from Greg Asner, also with the Carnegie Institute, determined that over 120,000 acres have been deforested for gold mining in Madre de Dios and small artisanal mines have become the main culprit. After removing the vegetation and topsoil, the pay dirt is then washed through equipment to separate the gold by gravity. The problem with the pay dirt in Peru, and other areas where artisanal gold mining is common, is that the gold is present only in small flakes, not the stereotypical nuggets. So, miners use mercury to bind the small flakes of gold and concentrate them, separating the gold from other sediments. In the end, the mercury is burned off, releasing it into the atmosphere and environment. This mercury finds its way into soil and rivers, where it is slowly accumulated in crops and fish, contaminating some of the only reliable sources of food in the region.
Fernandez’s research focuses on identification of mercury contamination in fish and people in the region and his latest work has produced alarming information: over 60% of fish sold in markets in Puerto Maldonado, the capital of Madre de Dios, are contaminated with dangerous levels of mercury and 78% of people in Puerto Maldonado had unsafe levels of mercury in their bodies. Even worse, the most vulnerable population, women of childbearing age, had the highest mercury levels at 3 times the safe amount.
So, with all this bad news we ask ourselves, what can be done? What are the long-term effects on these populations? What are the long-term effects on the environment? Can the contaminated areas be reforested and, if so, how can it be done? Can the demand for gold be reduced so that it is not profitable for these small-scale, mostly illegal operations to persist? The answers to many of these questions are still unknown. There are currently few identified major health effects due to the low but chronic exposure to mercury, but cryptic effects such as decreased intelligence in children are being identified. Methods of removing mercury from the environment on a large scale are in their infancy and the gold mines are small but spread across a vast area, further complicating restoration efforts. What is known, however, is that if consumers demand safely and responsibly mined gold, as has been done with diamonds, or if they simply demand less gold, artisanal gold mining activity and the damage it causes will fade.
Contributed by Max Messinger
Joel Salatin, a self-described “Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-lunatic-farmer” lived up to every aspect of his reputation in his lecture to the incoming class of 2017, during their fall orientation. The lecture, which was open to all members of the Wake Forest community, was the denouement in the summer academic project on food access and food justice.
Salatin is undoubtedly the most recognizable, and arguably one of the most successful, sustainable farmers in the United States today. His alternative farming practices have drawn him into contentious battles with government regulators and have contributed to his unique views on food justice. He has captured the attention of food activists, environmentalists, libertarians, and government regulators, in equal measure, illustrating why he named his Virginia farm Polyface – the farm of many faces.
“We have become disconnected from our ecological umbilical,” he remarked. Most of us have little idea where our food comes from, how it is grown, and why either of those things matter. We have done our best to insulate ourselves from the consequences of those realities. Our society has divorced itself from food production. Farming is done by people we don’t know and in places we can’t see or smell, and for good reason: industrial food production is an unsightly and hazardous business. We make decisions about how to expend our monthly budgets based on a disconnection from the real cost of food or its importance in our lives. The question of how we can afford a sustainable food system must be turned around to ask how we can afford the system we have now – one that promotes health crises, ecological crises, and ultimately economic crises.
It is this disintegration that has allowed the industrial food system to flourish. With the bluster of a preacher on a pulpit, Salatin exclaimed, “Injustice thrives in secrecy and opaqueness, justice thrives in openness and accountability.” He suggests that transparency and accountability to consumers is the best form of regulation for safety, quality, and price; he proposes that regulation be modified to allow small farms equal market access.
According to Salatin, if we want to change our food system, if we want to see food access in our communities, we must re-integrate our food system. Food production must be localized and consumers must make the sometimes difficult choice to purchase locally and seasonally grown food. He challenged students to imagine the university covered with an edible landscape, to substitute meal-plan reliance with whole foods preparation, and to imagine adjusting the academic calendar to coincide with seasons of peak local food production.
Salatin reiterated again and again that our human cleverness – our desire to outrun nature– is getting us into trouble. He urges us to exercise more humility and less hubris. He suggests that personal responsibility is the starting point for change – that each of us must take up what Dr. Miles Silman, director of the WFU Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability, described as the “hard and happy labor of change,” during his introduction to the lecture.
As a final take-away, Salatin emphasized the need to start somewhere and not be afraid of failure. He challenged the old saying that anything worth doing is worth doing right by suggesting that, “anything worth doing, is worth doing poorly first!”
By Jamie Sims, Campus Garden Intern
Campus sustainability efforts often begin with Environmental Health and Safety enforcement. Without first addressing the environmental and safety regulations that protect
our resources and our overall health and safety, we would not be able to create sustainability goals and programs that take us beyond compliance. The men and women of the Wake Forest Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) provide the foundation for our campus sustainability work.
The office navigates federal, state, and local regulatory compliance requirements by assessing possible hazards, risks, and unsafe working conditions; defining the applicable environmental health and safety programs; and implementing those programs, when necessary. These include hazardous waste management, the development of procedures to protect employees in hazardous or potentially hazardous work environments on campus, conducting training for employees and students on safe practices, and ensuring that mechanical devices are working properly for the protection of students and faculty while working with chemicals. In these operations, EH&S partners with departments such as chemistry, physics, biology, nanotechnology, health and exercise science, art, theater, athletics, and other departments within Facilities and Campus Services.
Through these programs, campus not only complies with the regulations, but also moves towards a more sustainable future. We e-interviewed Michelle Lennon, Director of EH&S to learn more about her office’s work on campus.
Of the things that you have accomplished as an office, of what are you most proud?
We conducted an environmental compliance audit with a third party auditor in 2008. There were findings such as how we collect our chemical waste in certain laboratories, labeling, training, etc. We disclosed our findings to the EPA and corrected the findings within an agreed period with the EPA. Since that audit, we have worked with our campus partners in ensuring that the programs developed for the university to maintain compliance are working and working well. We have developed an environmental management system (EMS) that keeps track of scheduled compliance requirements such as reports, training, reviews, etc.
Another proud accomplishment of EHS is our Space Hazard Assessment Program for the university. EHS works closely with space owners such as laboratory PIs (Principle Investigators) or maintenance workshops to identify hazards within that space. Based upon the existing hazards or potential hazards, EHS will work with the space owner to ensure that the occupants are safe when working in that space. Another great accomplishment for EHS is the online training program that is accessible on our web page. For example, the training requirements for laboratories can be completed by taking the “e-training and completing a short quiz.” This is far better than the traditional method of delivering training by calling everyone into a classroom for an hour. E-training is flexible to the person who completes the training. It allows flexibility for the people to take the training without ever leaving their desk.
Does your office have any input during the construction of new buildings, or upon their completion?
Yes. We work with the University Architect and project managers during the design phase of new construction.
What are some of the ways we can prevent the growth of mold inside our buildings?
As mold growth is identified, it is removed and the area of the growth is cleaned. What everyone needs to keep in mind, is that mold spores are all around us. We do not live in an environment where there are not mold spores present. The key is to understand what causes mold growth in buildings and what you can do to reduce the opportunity for growth. Please refer to the Mold Management Plan on our website for more information.
What are some of the greatest challenges that you all have faced as an office?
The change of mindset is at the top of the list. It is complicated at times to convince people to invest in their own safety. I had a great mentor tell me years ago, that the biggest challenge for EHS professionals is tell people and ensure them that “I am here to protect you from yourself.”
What are some the steps that people could take to be more responsible and even make your jobs a bit easier? We recommend that people buy products with long life cycles, encourage product replacement with less hazardous environmental and safety consequences, reduce usage of extremely hazardous substances, and be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention for your safety and the safety of others.
By Kiana Courtney, Communications and Outreach Intern
As a member of the graduating class of 1986, Wake Forest’s new Provost, Dr. Rogan Kersh, is no stranger to the university. Neither is he a stranger to sustainability, an interest he has explored for several decades, or as he quips “since before Al Gore made it cool.” Dr. Kersh has two motivations behind his long-term exploration of sustainability: family and politics. He explains “I am the son and husband of deeply committed environmentalists, [who share a] lifelong passion for environmental preservation, appreciating the bounty of nature, and helping to sustain what it means to be on this earth.” In addition, a general interest in politics also spurs Dr. Kersh’s exploration of the field. He adds, “as someone interested in political science and public policy, you find your way to an issue as a way to channel your energies; environment and environmental sustainability have been that for me.”
These twin inspirations keep sustainability a continual theme in Dr. Kersh’s professional and personal life. During his tenure as a professor and associate dean at NYU, he advocated for sustainability through seats on numerous committees and incorporated an environmental perspective into his classes. His apartment in New York, located within an NYU student residence hall, was also designed to model sustainable campus living. Dr. Kersh owes much to his former apartment, created by retrofitting a historic building with sustainable features like cork floors and countertops made of recycled medical glass. Not only did living in such a space illustrate his commitment to reducing his impact, he maintains that his wife, Sara Pesek, most recently the Director of an EPA sponsored Environmental Finance Center, agreed to marry him in part because of his “eco-forward apartment.”
Sustainability will play a role in a comprehensive wellbeing initiative led by Dr. Kersh and the Office of the Provost. Environmental wellness is one of eight dimensions of wellness the Office of the Provost will incorporate into the holistic examination of wellbeing for all university constituents. Specifically, Dr. Kersh identifies the built environment as one pertinent aspect of environmental wellness to be considered as part of the new wellbeing initiative. He is proud of Wake Forest’s existing leadership in environmentally responsible construction, particularly South Hall, a LEED Gold-certified first-year student residence hall that features low emission materials and a low-impact ventilation system.
According to Dr. Kersh, sustainability should also play a role in the Wake Forest classroom. His own initial academic exposure to sustainability traces back to his undergraduate career, when he studied the Green Party of West Germany in a course on western European politics. Dr. Kersh believes incorporating sustainability into the classroom can go well beyond explicit course content though, serving as an aspect of university-wide pedagogy. He explains “what is special about a Wake Forest education is that subject matter is communicated in the most advanced way possible and the professor also brings other kinds of life enhancing [perspectives] to the classroom…sustainability, which I define as being a responsible steward of the planet we inhabit, is a part of that.”
Dr. Kersh has both the heart of a Deacon and the experience and insight gained from a remarkable career. He has a vision for the university that both honors Wake Forest’s heritage and embraces necessary innovation. His lifelong commitment to sustainability bodes well for the continued forward momentum of social and environmental responsibility on campus; as he states “I stand ready and excited to implement new ideas.”
By Annabel Lang, Presidential Fellow for the Office of Sustainability
This month, Sophomore Amanda Chou won a national contest for college students called, Project Green Dorm hosted by teensturninggreen.org. An eclectic panel of judges ranked the entries by asking each participant to construct a Pinterest board online, featuring 25-50 of the eco-friendly products that, “make up the ultimate green dorm room.” The panel of judges was a diverse set of consultants and activists who were authorities on different aspects of sustainable product supply and design. However, they all agreed that Amanda’s Pinterest board was exceptional.
Amanda’s selections include several products that are both fashion-forward and eco-friendly— eco-chic, some might even say. A new generation of sustainability enthusiasts, like Amanda, are looking for form and function with selections like bamboo iPhone cases and pencil sets made from recycled newspaper (both found on Amanda’s Pinterest board).
To Amanda, the decision to opt for a Zippit reusable sandwich bag is an easy one. “Green companies want to serve a greater purpose, and by supporting them, I can take part in their initiatives, whether it be Zero Waste, Fair Trade, etc.” She also added that, “It’s easy to go from conventional to conscious. Start small by switching out one conventional product for an eco-friendly alternative and go from there.”
For a look at some of the products in Amanda’s room, check out the following newscast!
By Joey DeRosa, Communications and Outreach Intern
On September 17, Wake Forest Dining hosted the fall 2012 Nutrition Fair. The fair has been a semi-annual event, some of them coinciding with campus Earth Day celebrations in the past two years. Learning more about the issues surrounding personal health and wellbeing can often provide individuals with a window of understanding into the wellbeing of the larger campus ecosystem. This concept, sometimes referred to as environmental wellbeing, is one of the pillars of the new campus-wide wellbeing initiative.
This semester’s event was held in front of the Fresh Food Co. and was very well-attended despite a light drizzle. The fair included several tented booths representing an array of local vendors and a diverse collection of groups on campus. There was plenty to sample.
Here’s a brief look at some of the interests represented:
- Campus Nutritionist, Beth Audie, offered a “Wheel of Nutrition.” Participants could spin the wheel for a chance to win a variety of free and, of course, nutritious foods available for purchase on campus.
- Reynolda Farm Market, a small, locally owned store-front market offered local produce, locally finished products, and preserved goods for sale. They also offered samples of muscadines, giving several students their first introduction to these southeastern native grapes.
- The Wake Forest Campus Garden brought samples of heirloom tomatoes and fresh salsa made on site.
- Eco Reps, the campus peer-to-peer educators for sustainability, engaged faculty, staff, and students with a quiz about the impacts of our choices on regional food systems and the health and wellbeing of our community.
- The campus representative for Fresh Point, ARAMARK’s primary produce distributor, educated attendees about the supply chain for campus dining. He offered samples of several popular recipes, including a delicious and nutritious quinoa dish.
Wake Forest University’s alternative transportation options have expanded over the summer with the addition of Zimride, an online ride-sharing network. Zimride works by connecting drivers who have extra seats with riders going to the same destination or somewhere else along the way. Drivers and riders connect via Zimride’s website or Facebook page, where drivers can list their destination and the number of seats available and riders can book a seat in a car headed in the right direction. Cost-sharing arrangements are made by ride-sharers up front before the departure date. Zimride is an excellent way to offset costs for all kinds of trips, but is especially useful for students traveling to and from campus for breaks, like Thanksgiving break, fall break, and winter break.
Wake Forest students can also use Zimride to connect with students at nearby universities who have similar travel paths. Zimride is an economically prudent choice for drivers, who can save 75% on travel costs by sharing a ride with three passengers, and for riders, who can save the cost of a plane, train, or bus ticket. Many Zimride users report extremely positive experiences, like meeting people who become close friends or even significant others (remember When Harry Met Sally?) by using Zimride.
Both Zimride and Zipcar, the car-sharing option on campus, are part of the collaborative consumption movement. Collaborative consumption uses online network technologies to strengthen our communities and to use goods and services more efficiently through shared access and direct exchange. By using Zimride, students can reduce the total impact of our campus community on the environment, help one another by sharing travel costs, and get to know each other better on the road back and forth to Wake Forest.
Explore local foods on and around campus by participating in a guided walk to Reynolda Village Farmers Market. You can dine all day on local cuisine in the Reynolda Fresh Food Company and the Magnolia Room.
Guided Walk to Reynolda Village farmers market
When: 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Where: Benson University Center circle
Meet a guide in the Benson University Center circle and walk together to the Reynolda Village Farmers Market. The market runs from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on Fridays from April until October. Bring your local food home in a free, reusable “WFU <3s Farmers” tote bag. Supplies are limited.
Earth Day at the FFCo. – Farm to Fork Friday
When: Regular dining hours
Where: The Reynolda Fresh Food Company and the Magnolia Room
Enjoy locally-sourced food during lunch or dinner at the last Farm to Fork Friday of the semester. While you dine, take a minute to learn more about other sustainable initiatives in dining like the new composting program and the innovative, green cleaning methods used in campus dining locations.
Local foods to be featured in the Fresh Food Company and the Magnolia Room include:
- Sweet Potatoes – Ham Produce, Snow Hill, NC
- Strawberries – Cottle Farms, Faison, NC
- Salad bar items (wheat grass, alfalfa sprouts, bean sprouts, tri-colored cauliflower, tri-colored carrots, tri-colored grape tomatoes) Sunny Creek Farms, Tryon, NC
- Apple Cider with sliced apples, Henderson Farms, Henderson County, NC
- Whole Baby Carrots – Bolthouse Farms, Suwanee, GA
- Beef for Tacos – Grayson Farms, Scottsville, VA