Students interested in living in a substance-free environment next year may have found what they are looking for. Residential Living officials have announced that most of the ninth floor of High Rise East will be reserved next year for students who do not want any smoke or alcohol in their living space. According to Residential Living literature informing students of available living options, the program is designed for students who are serious about "making an affirmative commitment to maintaining their environment free from tobacco, alcohol and other substances." In order to participate, students must sign "an addendum to their occupancy agreement to maintain a substance-free apartment," the literature said. Eleanor Rupsis, the Associate Director for Occupancy Administration, said last week any student may apply for a spot in the program. "You don't have to have a drinking or smoking problem," Rupsis said. "It's just that you don't want to be in an environment where others may be drinking or smoking." Jo-Ann Zoll, the director of the Office of Alcohol and Drug Education, emphasized that the substance-free community will not simply be a rehabilitation center for students with past alcohol or other drug-related problems. "It's not solely students who are recovering from alcohol or drug problems," Zoll said. "It's very clearly people who have an interest in promoting healthy behaviors. "It will be a non-alcohol community but it is not a recovering community," she added. Rupsis said although the program's purpose is to keep the area free of cigarettes, alcohol and other drugs, the particiants will not be monitored differently from any other University students. "It's up to the residents," Rupsis said. "They have to commit themselves to this on their own. We're not going to monitor it any more than what we do in a regular residence." But according to Zoll, particpants will be expected to fulfill their agreement to live substance free. "It's not like there are new and different rules being imposed on these students, but it is important that when people make a commitment, they abide by those guidelines," Zoll said. "We will, in fact, be following guidelines, but they are being generated by students and staff together," she said. Many of the program's specific details have not been finalized, but both Zoll and Rupsis said students will be a part of the process. "The initial impetus was on the part of some students who had an interest in being able to live within a community where other people were not going to be using alcohol and other drugs," Zoll said. "And those students will continue to be involved." "I think what's important is that this is a community which people are electing to live in and help shape," she said. "It's not as though this is something the University has come up with." Although many substance free programs are already in place at other universities, Rupsis said the University's program will not be specifically modeled after any existing program. "Other schools might have floors for students who are in recovery, whereas we have no specific intent," Rupsis said. Several students last week praised the University for developing the program, and although none said they intended on applying, all agreed that the demand is there. "I think it's a great idea for people who are uncomfortable around those types of substances," Wharton junior Katherine Cook said. "Those spaces will fill up pretty fast." College junior Richard Kwait had not heard about the program, but he said he thought it was a good idea. "I'm not against drinking now and then, but I know people who are," he said. Rupsis said Residential Living will take applications on an individual basis and match them with other interested students.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.