June 10, 2024

Skin Smart Pilot Program Provides Touch-Free Sunscreen Dispensers

Michigan State University (MSU) is taking a proactive approach to sun safety with the launch of the Skin Smart pilot initiative at Spartan Greens and the Varsity Tennis Courts. This collaborative effort between University Health and Wellness (UHW), Student Life & Engagement's Recreational Sports and Fitness Services (Rec Sports), and Infrastructure and Planning Facilities (IPF) aims to increase awareness of sun protection and encourage healthy habits across campus and the greater community.

Student Research Sparks Initiative

The idea for this initiative came from an MSU medical student working on a research paper assessing photoprotective measures among skin of color populations. Recognizing the need to address potential knowledge gaps on campus, the student approached UHW, aligning with the division's commitment to student voices and data-driven programming. 

“UHW believes in elevating student voices and using data to drive programming,” says Executive Director for Health Promotion, Engagement, Accessibility Kristin Traskie. “The division agreed that becoming a Skin Smart campus would provide a positive impact on the community.”

Collaboration Brings Skin Smart to Life

Collaboration between UHW, Rec Sports and IPF was a natural fit, with each division playing a pivotal role:

  • UHW spearheaded the initiative, identifying an opportunity to enhance campus health.
  • Rec Sports pinpointed high-traffic outdoor areas frequented by students, staff and the community, which led to the strategic placement of the touch-free sunscreen dispensers at Spartan Greens and the Varsity Tennis Courts.
  • IPF ensured the dispensers were installed and will maintain their stock.

Student Health

The program's launch in May was purposeful. As warmer weather encourages outdoor activities, it coincides with National Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness Month, highlighting the importance of proactive measures like sunscreen use to safeguard against harmful UV rays and potential skin cancers.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, over five million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year, making it America’s most common cancer. Additionally, having five or more sunburns doubles the risk for melanoma, so wearing sun protection is crucial.

“While 56% of MSU students reported not wearing sunscreen in a 2022 survey, wearing sunscreen is one easy way to protect your skin,” says Traskie.  

For further information on student health data, visit the National College Health Assessment data: The State of Spartan Health | Health Promotion & Engagement | Michigan State University (msu.edu).

Spartan helmet