Maryville College doesn’t just want its students to hit the books. It wants them to hit the court, the trail or the dance floor.
Toss a ball or bean bag for cornhole. Play spike ball or strike a yoga pose.
President Tom Bogart even tossed a flying disc with students before delivering a proclamation during a noon rally Wednesday, Oct. 9, celebrating Exercise Is Medicine on Campus (EIM-OC) Awareness Month. This is the third year the college has participated in the program to make physical activity part of its campus culture.
“While not all of us are athletes, all of us can benefit from being physically active in our own way,” Jeremy Steeves, assistant professor of exercise science, noted during the event.
“Find your own way to move, that you enjoy, that is fun for you,” he said, “because there is no best single form of exercise out there. The best form is the exercise that you enjoy doing, because that will make you do it.”
The college is encouraging students to take a broad view of what it means to exercise. “It’s anything that gets you moving and is fun,” Bogart said in an interview before the event.
Exercise is not only good for the physical and mental health of individuals but also for the campus community, he said.
A former college soccer player, Bogart returned to running in his 40s and discovered, “I actually do enjoy running. I just never realized it before.”
Steeves noted during the rally that he often sees Bogart on the Greenway while Steeves is pushing a stroller with his wife and children.
After reading the proclamation, Bogart encouraged the students to join him. “I’ll see you all about 5:15 tomorrow morning on the Greenway for a nice run.”
Wellness Coordinator Josh Anderson highlighted the range of opportunities available on campus, from weekly yoga and line dancing to intramural sports and the Mountain Challenge program Camp 4, which also is open to the public on Wednesday afternoons until early December.
“We believe that people are made to move,” said Mountain Challenge fellow Amy Turpin. “We believe that fitness doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as throwing around a Frisbee or doing a pickup game of soccer or playing some cornhole.”
During the rally they took the “Rock Paper Scissors” game to a new level as “Evolution,” with players starting as eggs and progressing to chicken, snake, eagle and human as they won challenges and showed their new forms with arm movements.
The rally ended with Amanda Matthews, a sign language major, leading the group of about 50 students in line dances to the songs “Katchi” and “I Don’t Like It, I Love It.” Even some students passing on the walkway nearby tried a few of the moves.
Matthews, a resident adviser on campus, was drawn to the community aspect of line dancing and first offered a session at one of the residence halls.
Now she teaches it in the Alumni Gym. When people first arrive for the weekly class they may hesitate a bit, she said, but when the dancing begins, “people start laughing and having a good time, and I see people leaving with a smile on their face and even a little sweaty. Even though it’s just line dancing, you get a little bit of a workout in.”
Steeves explained in an interview after the rally the academic benefit of exercise, too, particularly when done outside, giving students a distraction so that when they return to study they can better focus.
At the Student Health Center on campus, the nurse now measures physical activity along with the five other vital signs: temperature, blood pressure, pulse, respiration and pain level.
She asks on average how many days and minutes students engage in moderate to strenuous activity. The goal recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is at least 150 minutes a week.
Taking the measure is not only an opportunity to gather data but also for the nurse to engage students in a conversation about the benefits of physical activity.
During the past school year, 52% of students measured at the health center were meeting that goal, Steeves said. That’s comparable to the national average and above the state average. The Tennessee Department of Health reported a year ago only 45% of Tennessee adults were reaching the goal.
Last fall, more than 200 Maryville College students participated in physical activity classes at the college, with yoga the most popular, followed by Zumba and Cardio Hip Hop. Participation rose to more than 250 in the spring semester.
In the first five weeks of this semester, 139 students have participated in yoga or line dancing in the newly renovated Alumni Gym.
The college plans to host three more “Play Days” in October and then two a month after that to encourage students to explore different types of physical activity.
On Oct. 26 the college will host its third Pumpkin Run, which started with 40 participants the first year and is open to the public. “We’re hoping to break 100 again,” Steeves said.
The college also is hosting a social media contest, encouraging people to post photos with #MCScotsMove on Instagram.
Maryville College plans to strengthen programs to protect women from violence with a $300,000 federal grant, even though statistics suggest the campus already is a safe space.
The college’s latest annual security report, published this month, shows no reports on campus for the past three years of sexual offenses, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking, although Melanie Tucker, vice president and dean of students, noted that those types of incidents often go unreported on campuses nationwide.
Before students arrive at Maryville College for classes, they already have received education on sexual assault prevention through an online platform, according Tucker.
With the new grant awarded through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women, the college plans to build on that and other efforts with a Preventing Assault and Violence through Education program.
That includes opening a new violence prevention and education center in Bartlett Hall and hiring a prevention-educator coordinator. The center will provide ongoing education and facilitate a coordinated community response team.
Part of the grant also will be used to train peer educators on topics such as healthy relationships and navigating conversations about healthy consent, Tucker explained.
Other education efforts will be designed to deepen and broaden the understanding of safety and security officers, residence life staff and student conduct board representatives who may respond to victims.
The college plans to develop protocols and services specifically to support students who don’t speak English as their native language, including international students and those with limited English proficiency. It will also develop resources for victims who are deaf or hearing impaired.
In applying for the grant the college developed memorandums of understandings with community partners with whom it has long worked, including the Helen Ross McNabb Center, Haven House and the Maryville Police Department.
Tucker explained that the campus statistics include only reports made to the college, and a student may report to another organization. The college is working with its partners to ensure that with a student’s permission it can receive information to support the victim without the person having to retell what happened.
Alcoa’s Public Works Department and the landfill in the city limits are both making some much-needed updates to several pieces of equipment after approval from city commissioners.
Commissioners voted unanimously late Tuesday to approve a path forward to replacing pumps at the Alcoa-Maryville-Blount landfill and a street leaf collector for the city.
The bill for the landfill pump will be footed by Landfill Services, according to Solid Waste Manager Kelly Hembree.
Alcoa will purchase the leaf collector.
Neither piece of equipment comes cheap. Notes on the approval for purchase show the leaf collector will cost the city a total of $81,844.46. The package pump station may cost up to $90,000, according to city officials.
But the replacements are more than standard upkeep for the city. Both pieces of machinery were old and had undergone several repairs.
The city was not able to meet all of its leaf-collecting goals last year, Assistant Director and Chief Engineer at Alcoa’s Public Works & Engineering Department Simon deVente told The Daily Times in a phone interview.
The old machine a — an Xtreme Vac LCT6000, which is towed behind a truck — broke down during fall of 2018 and has not been replaced since.
“Last year, leaves weren’t getting picked up like they normally are and people were calling in questioning that,” deVente said.
Notes on the purchase approval show that the leaf blower expenditure will be $1,844.46 over budget.
In the case of the pump that needs replacing at the landfill — specifically known as a leachate pump station — the city has authorized Smith Seckman Reid Inc. as consultants on the pump-replacement project.
Design services and the construction costs were included in the 2020 budget, but notes show they are not to exceed $48,400.
But why replace the pump in the first place?
Said deVente: The pump system may be more than 25 years old and since it was originally installed, lines that send liquid to the the local sewer system have been rerouted. So today, the pumps have to work harder.
“Because of that and because of the nature of the material that comes from the landfill itself, the pumps were wearing out,” deVente said.
Liquid was getting in the electrical inner working of the pumps, which are submerged in the liquid.
So why not simply replace the existing pumps?
Said deVente: The exact model of pump they need is no longer available. Now they’re looking to purchase a suction lift pump that is placed above ground, out of the sewage and is easy to maintain.
Pumps last on average a total 25 to 30 years, and deVente said he thinks this will be a good investment but that the city will need two to keep up with the landfill’s needs.
The leaf blower may be purchased just in time for the fall leaf collection, deVente said.
The pumps should be purchased and installed before July 2020.
In other action Tuesday night, Alcoa commissioners:
• Declared four electric department trucks as surplus, released them for sale and committed the proceeds to replace other electric department equipment
• Authorized a new certificate of compliance for Topside Wine and Spirits because a revision to the original application added another owner
• Approved the creation of a new plan of services and amended the zoning to general business district for two properties on Topside near Pearly Smith Road. The property owners — Steve Cable and Johnny Shore — are interested in developing it for commercial use
• Approved amendments to city law regarding traffic, parking, cars and funeral processions.