Substance-free dorm struggles to stay sober
Only two of 42 residents on clean floor volunteered
November 8, 2007 11:15 AM
Although dorm parties are synonymous with on-campus residences, substance-free living has been an option at SF State for a decade. This semester and in recent years, however, adhering to that theme has been tricky.
“It’s not as successful as we had hoped,” said Resident Assistant Carlo Delgadillo of the substance-free floor located at the Mezzanine level of the Towers at Centennial Square. “But no floor is, really.”
Resident Ben Langholz, 18, attested to that.
“It’s not very substance free,” he said, and added that he was aware of smoking and drinking on the floor all the time.
The Towers have been home to those who wish to live drug and alcohol-free for four years. This semester, out of the 42 students who live on the substance-free level, only two chose to live there, which floor advisor Kevin Kinney said accounts for the problems the floor has had with broken policies.
“Not all residents on the floor necessarily wanted to live on a substance free floor,” Kinney wrote in an email. “But that was the option that was available to them and they knowingly chose to take it.”
Kinney wrote that students who live there must sign a written agreement indicating they will not consume or possess alcohol or illegal drugs on the floor or they will lose on campus residency. Students also agree to not to return to the floor under the influence of a controlled substance.
This semester, some students have been moved off the substance free floor due to violating the polices. Delgadillo added that they’ve been shifting people around in an attempt to cut back on the number of conflicts in the future.
According to Kinney, a number of students on the floor have had their contracts cancelled on the floor as well. To preserve confidentiality, exact numbers could not be given.
Substance-free resident Jamie Nickerson, 19, said although she doesn’t drink in the apartment, she does like to party on the weekends.
She did not choose to live on the substance-free floor and said she was upset when she found out she was placed there.
“I think it’s really lame that they have it,” she said of the substance-free floor. “No one seems to take it seriously.”
Kyle Noland, one of the two voluntary floor residents, said his reasons for choosing the floor were, in part, due to his mother’s influence but he also wanted to live in a quieter environment.
Noland said there have been two tense meetings in which the RAs “were just yelling at the residents for not being substance free,” but said overall he is content with his living arrangement.
Delgadillo said the people that live on the floor represent a diverse group of interests regarding substances.
“You get some people that want to be there, people that don’t and people that don’t care,” he said.
Kinney said that some students need a substance-free floor to succeed at SF State. These students may have a desire to avoid a drug and alcohol environment or they may have a history of alcohol or drug use and are working towards sobriety or overcoming addiction, he said.
The first floor of Mary Ward hall is also considered substance-free, and, like the Towers, has its own set of problems with maintaining the sober status.
“I don’t want to be surrounded by people who party, do drugs, and that kind of stuff,” he said.
Olea said he didn’t have to sign an agreement as is done on the Towers' substance-free floor, but Olea said the floor seems much quieter compared to what he’s seen elsewhere.
Fellow resident Kyle Morris, 18, also cited silence as his reason for moving to the floor. Morris said he liked the fact that he could leave the dorms for the evening and not come back to a party.
Morris added that he has heard rumors of substance use on the floor, but he hasn’t seen it personally.
One freshmen on the Mary Ward floor substance free floor, who asked to remain anonymous, said he didn’t chose to live on the floor but said he didn’t think his neighbors took the substance-free policy very seriously.
“Sometimes I’ll be walking through the hall here and it smells like weed,” he said. “I think one of my neighbors got busted for it.”
Kinney acknowledged that while some students on the designated floors will “challenge the policy,” he said he didn’t see how that style of living should be too much to ask of students.
And Kinney claimed that the majority of the students living on these floors are living substance-free.
“On-Campus Housing is not a requirement for SF State students,” he wrote. “People who do not wish to live on a substance-free floor should probably look for other options out in the city.”
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