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Sober Living Community Opens Up on Campus

Published: Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Updated: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 16:10

            Beginning this year, William Paterson University students have been given a unique opportunity to engage in a healthier lifestyle. 

The university now offers a residence building on campus that serves as a sober living community for students in active recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.  White Hall is an option available not only for students that are recovering addicts, but any student who wishes to live in a community away from the pressure of drugs and alcohol.

William Paterson University is one of about fifteen colleges across the country that are members of the Association of Recovery Schools and offer recovery residences to their students. With the help of a three-year grant by the New Jersey Division of Addiction Services, Dr. Glen Sherman, Dean of Student Services, spearheaded efforts for the establishment of recovery housing at William Paterson

"Enhancing community life is the goal," Sherman says. "What we wanted was for students to actually feel rewarded as opposed to ostracized."

As part of the initiative, a number of recreational activities are available for students to attend each month, especially during the late night and weekends. Many of the activities have sobriety-based themes such as "Virgin Cocktail Night" and "Alcohol Jeopardy." All students are welcome to attend the activities.

In addition, the recovery housing project has hired its own Coordinator of Residence Recovery, Jonathan Lausell, who provides support and assistance to residents in recovery, all of whom are anonymous.

Resident assistant Vanessa Laforteza explains about Lausell, "If something happens in the middle of the night, they can just knock on his door. He's right there. He's always there to talk to."

White Hall houses roughly 100 people and is currently about seventy-five percent full. In order for residents to live in White Hall, they are required to sign an agreement that states they will refrain from alcohol and drug use in their living community.

Along with providing a substance-free environment and recovery support for students, the agreement explains that the intent is to "eliminate the negative stigma that has been attached to a campus lifestyle . . . associated with the use of alcohol and drugs on/off campus."

How effective has the initiative been?

 According to White Hall resident Precious Jackson, a lot.

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