By Annalisa Purser, communications specialist, University Marketing and Communications
The University of Utah was recently ranked among the top 26 Healthiest Colleges of 2016 by Greatist.com, a health and wellness website with more than 9 million monthly readers. The ranking took into account criteria including special dietary options on dining hall menus, number of fitness classes offered, available mental health resources and more.
According to the article on Greatist.com, writers Molly Ritterbeck and Jeremy Glass said Greatist staff “looked for schools that go the extra mile in creating an environment where students have access to not only healthy food but also top-notch fitness facilities and robust medical and mental health services.”
To be considered for the list, schools were nominated via social media; were listed in the American College of Health Association’s Healthy Campus Partners; came from Trojan’s Sexual Health Report Card; or were listed in The Princeton Review’s list for best campus food, best health services, best athletic facilities, best quality of life, and happiest students. From this group, Greatist narrowed it down to the top 26 colleges.
The University of Utah was recognized for its food composting efforts, use of biodegradable food packaging and its Center for Student Wellness, which helps students stay healthy by educating them on a variety of topics like stress, sleep and relationships.
“In order for students to succeed academically, we must recognize their physical, social and mental health needs as individuals,” said Barbara Snyder, vice president for Student Affairs. “We strive to work with students as whole people in order to aid their success at the U.”
Some of the U’s programs designed to promote health include:
Dietary options: University Dining Services serves a variety of vegan, vegetarian and made-without-gluten meals every day. It provides rBGH-free milk and cheese that comes from a local dairy, and produce is brought in fresh daily. Dining Services uses produce grown on campus at the Campus Edible Garden when it is in season. Dining Services only serves cage-free eggs, purchases 100-percent-certified seafood, uses hamburger that comes from a local vendor and provides Fair-Trade-Certified sustainable coffee. A minimum of 10 percent of the produce, meat, dairy, cheese and artisan products come from a 400-mile radius, and the university has committed to increase this to 20 percent by 2020. Dining Services also works with the city to compost food waste, uses biodegradable consumer food packaging and provides reusable containers for those using the to-go option in the dining hall.
Fitness facilities: The 180,000-square-foot Student Life Center, which opened in 2015, has racquetball, basketball and volleyball courts; an indoor soccer field; a six-lane, 50-meter pool; a four-story climbing wall; a combative room with heavy bags and speed bags; a cardio and weight center; a 320-yard indoor track; a personal training studio; study spaces; an outdoor fire pit and more. Additionally, it houses intramural sports programs, fitness programs and the Outdoor Adventures program, which plans and coordinates trips and provides affordable equipment rentals.
Health center services: The Student Health Center offers immunizations, preventive care, travel clinics, women’s health and family planning and pediatrics. The Center for Student Wellness educates students on a variety of topics, including how to cope with stress, get better sleep, incorporate physical activity and quality nutrition into their busy schedules and stresses the importance of healthy relationships free of violence. It provides classroom presentations on these topics; offers direct services, such as free flu shots and STD/HIV testing and wellness coaching; and offers a free leadership training designed to teach students the importance of wellness and of protecting the campus community by preventing and intervening in sexual assault.
Mental health services: The U’s Counseling Center offers a individual, couples and group therapy; workshops; and a mindfulness clinic. The Women’s Resource Center also offers counseling with counselors who have special interest and expertise in in the psychology of women and gender. The center also offers support groups and workshops.
Drug and alcohol education: The Center for Wellness offers a variety of presentations and programs related to drug and alcohol education. Educators strategize with students to find realistic and low-risk techniques to safe partying. Additionally, alcohol education specifically highlights the intricacies of combining alcohol use with sexual relationships and the added need for consent in such situations.