Perspectives on alcohol (being in a dry or substance-free hall)

Upon first arriving at Gustavus Adolphus College, I recall being nervous and anxious about entering the college social scene. In high school I played several sports and participated in an array of extracurricular activities, so drugs and alcohol never appealed to me. Most first year students are in the same situation when they arrive on campus: anxious, intimidated, and excited. Thrust into such a complex mix, many students seek companionship with their roommates, peers, and classmates. Unfortunately, alcohol is often utilized as a unifying bond by first year students as they seek to “fit in.”

Throughout my tenure at Gustavus I had the opportunity to live in both substance-free and regular campus housing. Living in Pittman and Rundstrom as an underclassman, I did not live in dry or substance-free housing. Although neither dorm was “dry,” I never felt compelled to drink as a means to fit in. There were certainly drinking parties and underage consumption taking place, but rarely was pressure or obligation placed on me to partake. While residents, roommates, and other friends chose to drink, there seemed to be an understanding among everyone that some students chose to remain sober instead.

During my junior year I participated in a substance-free program that was offered when I lived in Prairie View. The Prairie View dorm appealed to my friends and me because of the location, lack of stairs, and air conditioning. As potential roommates, my friends and I discussed our residence hall possibilities for junior year it became apparent that we could feasibly secure rooms in Prairie View provided we pledge to remain substance-free. This was a unique opportunity because I felt like I was being rewarded for something I had already been doing. Recognizing the value and importance of a substance-free lifestyle, Gustavus provided incentives for substance-free students through the use of the housing selection process. This was a win-win situation for students and the college.

Using alcohol or living a substance-free lifestyle at Gustavus really comes down to one specific element: choice. As capable and mature adults, students consciously decide to be substance-free or use alcohol as a means to socialize. While Gustavus, as a whole, benefits from the substance-free lifestyle, ultimately it is students who must recognize the importance and significance of their social actions and act accordingly.