Use of RVTD bus passes is on the rise at SOU

Use of RVTD bus passes on the rise at SOU

Southern Oregon University’s free and discounted bus passes for the Rogue Valley Transportation District have seen a sharp increase in 2019, even as student enrollment has plateaued.

“Both students and employees have seen a notable upswing between fall 2018 and fall 2019,” said Daniel Kelly, student coordinator for the Transportation Options program. “The most dramatic increases are that student sales have risen by 37 percent and employee ridership has spiked by 73 percent, even though both populations have shrunk.”

RVTD bus passes are $15 per term for students – 90% off the usual cost – and are billed to students’ accounts, so immediate payment is not required. Directions to sign up for student bus passes are under “Bus Options” on the Transportation Options web page.

Term-by-term bus passes for staff and faculty are offered at no charge. Application instructions and more information are available on the SOU Service Center web page.

The reasons for SOU’s bus ridership spike are multifaceted, Kelly said.

“RVTD has been doing a lot in the past year to expand their services … better quality of service combined with a heightened desire to use personal vehicles less just naturally leads people to use public transit more,” he said. “We’ve also pushed our efforts to get people aware of the student bus passes at the beginning of the term, and even before school starts for the year.”

The expense and other issues with parking on campus could also be factors in the increased bus use, Kelly said.

“It only makes sense for the university and for students to find cheaper solutions to commuting, which is something that everyone has to deal with,” he said.

The Transportation Options program provides information, encouragement and incentives for members of the SOU community to use alternative transportation. Kelly works with environmental and community engagement coordinator Jill Smedstad, RVTD Transportation Demand Management Planner Edem Gomez and fellow student coordinator Danni Keys, who will take on Kelly’s duties after he graduates.

Kelly and Keys have used tactics including events in the Stevenson Union and informational brochures to increase awareness of the bus passes and other alternative transportation options.

“The SOU bus pass program is just one that we advertise, along with the Rogue Bike Share, SOU’s bike shop and the statewide ride-sharing and trip-planning tool, ‘Get There Oregon,’” Kelly said.

RVTD is the public transportation provider for Medford, Ashland, Central Point, Talent, Phoenix, White City, and Jacksonville, with bus routes that run from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Survey will gauge broadband service

SOU community members asked to participate in broadband survey

Oregon’s economic development agency wants to know if you’re well-connected. Business Oregon, through its Oregon State Broadband Office, is conducting a survey through Dec. 15 to evaluate internet access in various areas of the state and help plan for future network expansions.

Individuals, businesses, organizations and state agencies or institutions such as SOU have been encouraged to participate in the statewide survey to determine the reach and effectiveness of Oregon’s broadband services – whether DSL, fiber-optic, cable or satellite. The economic development agency is working to ensure that all households, businesses and organizations in Oregon have reliable access to internet services that allow them to be competitive with their counterparts in other states and countries.

Results of the survey will help direct public policy regarding what has been referred to as Oregon’s digital divide – the haves and have-nots of broadband service – and set recommendations for state funding to address any shortcomings.

“Broadband not only provides the essential capabilities we need for our personal and business needs, but without it our communities risk falling behind economically, making it harder to keep and attract people and businesses and jobs,” the state’s broadband office said in an email announcing the survey.

The Oregon Broadband Office was established last December by an executive order from Gov. Kate Brown that placed the office under the authority of Business Oregon. Its purpose is to promote access to internet services statewide, improving Oregon’s economy and quality of life.

The office coordinates with the Oregon Broadband Advisory Council to develop an internet service map of the state, develop investment strategies and advocate for solutions where problems exist.

Smaller plates avoid food waste

SOU awarded grant for novel approach to reducing food waste

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has been awarded a $7,512 grant from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to try a logical means of reducing food waste on campus: use smaller plates.

The grant pays to replace 10.5-inch plates with nine-inch plates at The Hawk student dining commons.

SOU’s grant application explains that “studies have shown a reduction in plate size can lead to a reduction in food waste as patrons eat the portions allotted on the smaller plate. Larger plates tend toward food waste as patrons take more food than the individual can consume in one sitting.”

Drew Gilliland, director of SOU’s Department of Facilities, Management and Planning, said that any money left over from the dish replacement will be used to “purchase additional smaller plates and purchase marketing materials to encourage healthy eating.”

SOU’s grant application was submitted last year by then-sustainability and recycling manager Roxane Beigel-Coryell, who has since left the university for a similar position in southern California. The plates were replaced in mid-September, before fall term classes began, so first-year students attending SOU won’t have noticed a change.

The grant requires that food waste measurements be recorded this year to determine the effectiveness of the reduced plate size. Gilliland said early indications are promising.

“It’s my observation that there is already less food waste and we want to continue to reduce that,” he said. “Publishing the results of the study will hopefully encourage our students to discuss food consumption.

“We plan on using the study as part of a marketing program to encourage mindfulness around our consumption and its impact on the greater environment.”

He pointed out that the discarded 10.5-inch plates weren’t thrown away.

“(The larger plates) will be used for special events and other events where food is provided,” Gilliland said. “We may also consider donating any excess to a non-profit.”

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

SOU to adopt Purple Heart proclamation

SOU president to sign Purple Heart proclamation

Southern Oregon University will become the first Oregon university to adopt the Military Order of the Purple Heart proclamation during a formal ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 27, pledging the university’s support to military veterans and placing SOU on the “Purple Heart Trail.”

The Purple Heart is the United States’ oldest military award that is still issued – awarded to any member of the armed forces who is physically harmed or killed in action. The Military Order of the Purple Heart is a U.S. nonprofit organization made up of military veterans who have been awarded the Purple Heart.

“(This proclamation) is a way to show appreciation and support for those who have earned the Purple Heart in service to our country,” said Kevin Stevens, coordinator of SOU’s Veterans Resource Center. “It also correlates with the core values and mission of our university.”

More than 200 SOU students each year are considered military-affiliated. Most of them are veterans or dependents, while many others serve as cadets in the Army ROTC program. SOU also offers a Military Science Program that serves nearly 150 students per term, and various campus organizations are dedicated to helping veterans – including the Veteran’s Resource Center, the Student Veterans Association and the Veterans’ Student Union.

SOU President Linda Schott will sign the proclamation on behalf of the university at 10 a.m. on Nov. 27, in SOU’s Veterans Resource Office – Room 301 of the Stevenson Union. The proclamation encourages SOU students and others to “show their appreciation for the sacrifices the Purple Heart recipients have made in defending our freedoms, to acknowledge their courage, and to show them the honor and support they have earned.”

The proclamation will also induct SOU into the Purple Heart Trail, a symbolic system of roads, highways, monuments and cities that give tribute to those awarded the Purple Heart. These locations have special signage to denote their participation in the trail.

While SOU is the first university in Oregon to make the declaration and become a part of the Purple Heart Trail, the trail includes 21 cities in Oregon, as well as Grant and Jackson counties.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Stanley Crawford to lecture on garlic battle

SOU guest to lecture on garlic, international companies and uncertainty

(Ashland, Ore.) — Stanley Crawford – garlic farmer, author and focus of the Netflix documentary “Garlic Breath” – will speak at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 13, in SOU’s Meese Auditorium (Room 101 of the Art Building).

Crawford’s free lecture will lead off the university’s 12th annual “Campus Theme” lecture series. Each year’s lectures follow a theme, with past series including “Ignorance and Wisdom,” “Truth” and “Shapes of Curiosity.” This year’s theme is “Uncertainty.”

Crawford is an author who moved to Dixon, New Mexico in 1970, where he and his wife Rosemary started their garlic farm, El Bosque Farm. There, he wrote “A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm” along with other essays and novels.

Crawford started a legal battle in the fall of 2014, when he petitioned the US Department of Commerce to look into Chinese garlic importer Harmoni International Spice, which Crawford claimed was exploiting an anti-dumping loophole. The fight between Crawford and Harmoni continues, but his account of the case has been told both through his upcoming book “The Garlic Papers: A Small Garlic Farm in the Age of Global Vampires,” and in the episode “Garlic Breath” of Netflix’s six-part documentary series “Rotten.”

SOU faculty members are asked to encourage their students to attend Campus Theme presentations.

The themed lectures are presented by the Oregon Center for the Arts in partnership with the Office of the Provost and the Division of Humanities and Culture.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer


Naloxone overdose rescue kit

Opioid overdose rescue kits available throughout SOU campus

Last year’s initiative to place overdose rescue kits at various locations on the SOU campus, enabling friends or passersby to save the lives of those experiencing opioid overdoses, has expanded this year.

A total of 20 Naloxone rescue kits – up from 18 last year – are now located at SOU: in the Shasta, McLoughlin, Cox, and Madrone residence halls; the Greensprings Complex; Aspen and Hawthorne halls in the Cascade Complex; the Education/Psychology, Theatre, Music, and Science buildings; The Hawk; the Facilities, Maintenance and Planning building; Stevenson Union; Hannon Library; two locations in Lithia Motors Pavillion; the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the Campbell Center; and Britt and Taylor Halls. A map of all kit locations is available on Inside SOU.

Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, can legally be possessed and administered in Oregon. It has no narcotic effects, and works by reversing opioid-induced depression of the respiratory and central nervous systems. Opioids include drugs such as heroin and methadone, along with prescription pain medications including hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, hydromorphone, morphine, oxymorphone, fentanyl and buprenorphine.

Overdoses requiring lifesaving treatment can occur in a wide variety of settings and circumstances, so everyone is encouraged to prepare as emergency responders. Self-training tools include an eight-minute video with details on how and when to administer naloxone, and a step-by-step description of the medication’s use.

An average of more than 115 people per day die of opioid overdose in the U.S., and a spike in opioid use and overdoses has been seen in southern Oregon. SOU’s proactive approach to addressing the issue has been effective, as one kit was used last year.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

SOU sustainability and recycling manager Rebecca Walker

Rebecca Walker hired as SOU’s new sustainability and recycling manager

Southern Oregon University has hired Rebecca Walker, who has worked for the past 15 years with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, to serve as the university’s new sustainability and recycling manager. She will begin at SOU on Friday, Nov. 8.

Her mother is from Maine, but Walker has spent most of her life in Scotland and gained an appreciation for environmental work and nature.

“I am in awe of the beauty of nature and our world,” Walker said. “We are here temporarily for a very short time and it feels right that when we are here, we should be acting in a way that ensures future generations will also see and enjoy such a beautiful place…. I wanted to be part of this.”

She received her master’s degree in environmental technology in 2001 from the University of London. She began working in the field and then in 2004 found a long-term employer in the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

SEPA is a public agency of the Scottish government that focuses on the sustainability of Scotland’s natural resources and services. It tests pollution levels, develops and enacts legislation, partners with other agencies to make the environment a priority, and even runs Scotland’s flood warning system.

Walker started with SEPA as a technical support officer, reviewing policy and supporting waste strategy area coordinators. She then became a waste strategy area coordinator and eventually worked her way up to the head of materials and sector planning. Her responsibilities included setting priorities, implementing policy, mentoring newer employees, managing budgets and coordinating with businesses – all while running four waste and landfill teams from a previous position.

“SEPA has been a brilliant place to work for 15 years of my career and I have had various roles in climate change, circular economy, management and senior leadership,” Walker said.

But she didn’t want to stay with SEPA forever and felt the time was right for a change.

“Something I have always believed is that change and pushing boundaries outside our comfort zone is how we grow,” Walker said. “I have worked in government for most of my career and so the idea of doing something different is exciting.”

With U.S. citizenship and “the desire to have a change of job and lifestyle,” she started looking for jobs in America and particularly in higher education.

“What particularly attracted me to education is the opportunity to work with those who are our future,” she said. “Not only do students have new, fresh and energetic ideas on how to tackle problems but they are also the future innovators, entrepreneurs, workers, teachers … and if sustainability is built into everything we do as a society and in our work and it is no longer an afterthought, real progress can and will be made.”

SOU’s previous sustainability and recycling manager, Roxane Beigel-Coryell, left the university in July to take a similar position at California State University, Channel Islands. The vacant position attracted more than 30 applicants – “one of the strongest applicant pools for searches that I’ve conducted recently,” said Drew Gilliland, director of the Facilities, Maintenance and Planning Department.

He described Walker’s application and presentation as “outstanding,” and she was hired for the position.

“When I was researching for my interview, I was overwhelmed with what had been achieved to date,” Walker said. “My predecessor has (left) big shoes to fill and the students were energized and active in so many areas of sustainability. To be part of this and to build on this is exciting.”

SOU recently received a prestigious “Excellence and Innovation Award” for sustainability from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. The university’s numerous other awards and recognitions for sustainability practices include an honorable mention two years ago at the Presidential Climate Leadership Summit and the national Best Case Study sustainability award in 2015 from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

“My initial plan is to talk to as many students and staff as possible to understand their views of the opportunities, challenges and barriers (to sustainability),” Walker said. “I am keen to work … with staff and students to look at our long term goals and the actions we need to put in place to achieve these and to look at this holistically in terms of where we focus our efforts.”

Some of those goals include improving the management of plastic, food and electronic waste. But Walker said it will take many people on various fronts to effectively address the problems of sustainability and climate change.

“We need to try things, push boundaries and see where it takes us,” she said.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Kyle Riggs uses a battery-powered leaf blower on the SOU campus

New battery-powered landscape equipment reduces campus noise and pollution

Leaf blowers may seem somewhat comical: gangly plastic tubes that push air to corral bits of dead trees. But the pollutants they emit, the gasoline they waste and the hearing-damaging noises they produce are no laughing matter, so SOU is working to replace them and other gas-powered landscape tools with battery-powered versions.

Some communities have considered outright bans on gas-powered leaf blowers, in particular, but SOU landscape supervisor Zack Williams has initiated a more gradual phase-out.

“When I began working for the university in January of this year, we had several battery tools, and I’ve expanded our fleet,” Williams said. “As the technology and power output improves, we’ll continue adding until we can replace gas-powered tools completely – perhaps in another two to three years.

“The benefits are obvious: zero emissions and low noise.”

An hour of gas-powered leaf blower use produces pollution equivalent to about 1,100 miles driven in a 2017 Toyota Camry, according to the SORE (small off-road engines) Fact Sheet, published by the California Air Resources Board. Similarly, the automotive review and shopping website Edmunds did an emissions test in 2011 which showed that half an hour of leaf blower use created as much pollution as 3,887 miles driven in a 2011 Ford Raptor.

Gas-fueled blowers, trimmers, mowers, chainsaws and other landscape equipment create environment-damaging emissions due to their engine design. A 2017 New York Times article, “On Banning Leaf Blowers,” said the two-stroke engines they use “are light enough to carry but produce significant exhaust and noise.”

“The gas and oil mix together, and about a third of it does not combust,” the Times story said. “As a result, pollutants that have been linked to cancers, heart disease, asthma and other serious ailments escape into the air.”

The story also cited a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said as little as two hours of unprotected exposure to a leaf blower can lead to permanent hearing loss.

Williams – who oversees landscape maintenance as part of SOU’s Facilities, Management and Planning Department – said battery-powered tools address nearly all problems associated with the gas-powered versions. They cut down the noise to non-damaging levels and release no emissions to harm the environment, students or others. The batteries are also easy to use.

“Wall-mounted chargers are at our shop,” Williams said. “We remove battery packs from the tools and plug them in to charge.

“They are high amp-hour output lithium-ion batteries that last for many years,” he said. “At the end of their life cycle they are returned to the manufacturer for recycling – but that hasn’t occurred yet, and some of our batteries are almost five years old.”

One downside to battery-powered equipment is that it isn’t as powerful as gas-powered counterparts and there are some instances where that power is a necessity.

“We have not converted all of our landscape power tools to electric … this category of tool is not yet comparable to gas-powered equipment in performance, and we use a mix of both depending on the needs of the project/site,” Williams said. “We’ll favor battery-powered tools if noise is a concern, or if the job is appropriately sized. We use battery-powered chainsaws for tree pruning, but will opt for larger gas saws for tree removals or large limbs.”

There’s also the matter of cost – Williams said battery-powered equipment is at least double the cost of gas-powered equipment. The gradual conversion won’t add to students’ expenses or take away from other SOU departments or services, but has required a shift in Williams’ budget and that of Facilities, Management and Planning.

Williams expects the issues with battery-powered equipment to be resolved over time.

“Like electric cars, as market adoption increases, and technology improves, the price will come down,” he said. “When electric vehicles can be purchased for the same price as conventionally-fueled vehicles, we’ll see the same situation with smaller tools.”

Even now, he said, the benefits of battery-powered tools outweigh their shortcomings.

“I think (the adoption of electric tools) meshes well with our values – low-noise, zero emissions,” Williams said. “SOU’s sustainability initiatives certainly call for this.”

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Real food – sustainable, human and socially equitable

SOU exceeding expectations in Real Food Challenge

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University joined universities across the country last year in working toward sustainable food practices by participating in the Real Food Challenge. Now that a year has passed, statistics show that SOU is exceeding expectations.

SOU joined more than 40 U.S. universities and four university systems by joining the Real Food Challenge, a student-founded activist organization dedicated to supporting and creating ecologically sustainable, human and socially equitable food systems.

When President Linda Schott signed the “SOU Real Food Campus Commitment,” she pledged that at least 20 percent of SOU’s food budget would be Real Food – created through sustainable, human and equitable systems – by 2023.

SOU also committed to establishing a transparent reporting system and filing annual progress reports to evaluate where the SOU Real Food Challenge team should focus. The data of the first year’s budget was recently released, which has been organized by category and color-coded for easy comparison.

Bar graph of SOU's real food by category

The bar graph shows percentages of SOU’s overall food budget by categories (in brown), and the percentage of the overall food budget that Real Food accounts for in each category (green). For instance, produce makes up 13.1 percent of the overall food budget, and the produce that qualifies as Real Food accounts for 3.2 percent of the overall budget. The Real Food percentages from all of the categories add up to 9.4 percent of the university’s overall food budget – nearly halfway to the university’s goal of 20 percent by 2023.

Pie chart of real food at SOU, across all categories

All of that progress was made in a single year of the five-year challenge, and even more changes have been made to how the school purchases coffee, produce and grocery items since this data was collected.

By the end of the spring term 2020, SOU’s Real Food Challenge team will be able to compare the changes they’ve made across multiple years to see how quickly they’re reaching the 20 percent goal. The Real Food Challenge team’s student leaders, Jamie Talarico and Jessica Zuzack, can be reached via their email for questions about the program.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Third annual observance of Indigenous Peoples Day at SOU

SOU celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day

Southern Oregon University’s third annual Indigenous Peoples Day observance will take place between Sunday, Oct. 13 and Monday, Oct. 14.

The events start off with a film festival at South Medford High between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday. The festival is free and open to the public, and – like the other events the following day – is designed to celebrate the survival of Native American/Indigenous cultures and to encourage decolonization activism.

The film festival is just the start, however, as Monday is packed with free events, starting with a salmon bake. The salmon bake, situated in the Stevenson Union courtyard between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., will feature food, activities, performances and guest speakers.

The festivities continue with the Intergenerational Activism Panel between 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. in the Stevenson Union Rogue River Room. Afterward, a Decolonization Celebration will be held in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Courtyard Stage between 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Throughout the day the OSF campus will host a Native plays exhibit in the Black Swan Theatre. This celebration of OSF’s Native American and Indigenous plays will conclude in the Thomas Theatre at 8 p.m. with a showing of “Between Two Knees” by the 1491s. Tickets, which can be purchased online, will have a special price for Native/Indigenous students.

The SOU community overwhelmingly decided to formally recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day in June of 2017, making SOU one of several universities, seven states and over 100 U.S. cities to observe the holiday. It is typically celebrated on the second Monday of October, which the U.S. has observed as the federal Columbus Day holiday since 1937. Oregon and at least 16 other states do not recognize Columbus Day as a holiday.

No classes at SOU are canceled for Indigenous Peoples Day, but the occasion is observed through special programming and events.

SOU’s celebration of Indigenous Peoples doesn’t end on the 14th, as the Schneider Museum of Art will be housing a solo exhibition of Victor Maldonado between Oct. 24 and Dec. 14.

SOU’s Indigenous Peoples Day is sponsored by numerous SOU departments and student organizations as well as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Red Earth Descendants and the city of Ashland.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer