Substance free housing increases on campus: students and administrators weigh in on the expansion

Roger Williams University students who dislike or abstain from drugs and alcohol have the opportunity to apply for substance free housing.
Two suites have been designated as substance free on the third floor of Stonewall 2 for the 2018-2019 academic year. Those interested in living there completed an application through OrgSync. Applicants were approved on Wednesday, March 7. Space was limited due to the high demand for substance free housing.
“The demand actually exceeded the spaces that we had,” said Tony Montefusco, Director of Residence Life and Housing. “That is why we are going to increase it a little for the following year.”
Substance free housing is in high demand because some students want an area that is free from drugs and alcohol. Although all of south campus is supposed to be substance free, this living area is held to a higher standard.
The RWU Department of Residence Life and Housing has offered substance free living areas for many years. Previously, substance free housing was located in Maple Hall. The area was so popular that it became its own unit in Maple. The Department of Residence Life and Housing has begun to distinguish Maple Hall as freshmen housing, and moved the substance free living area to Stonewall Terrace last year.
“We converted Stonewall 1, which had some freshman in it, to all returners,” Montefusco said. “All of Stonewall will be predominately sophomores and juniors. Stonewall 4 will have about 60 freshmen in it because of its Honors Program.”
There have been male and female substance free suites offered in the past two school years. The Department of Residence Life and Housing plans to establish an entire substance free floor if the high demands persist.
There are many reasons why students choose to live in substance free housing. Some wish to block the distraction of substances and focus on their studies. Others simply have no desire to consume drugs or alcohol. Regardless of their reasons for choosing substance free housing, these residents unite to create a community.
“I chose to live in substance free housing because both my roommate and I felt that we didn’t want to come into college not knowing what our living situation would be like,” said Kelsey Novy, a senior who lived in substance free housing her freshman year. “We wanted to know for sure that the other people we would be living with would be just as respectful to our common areas as we would be.”
Although college is a place where many experiment with drugs and alcohol, these temptations are not for everyone. If a student does not wish to be exposed to drugs, then he or she has every right to apply for substance free housing. Substance free dorms are just one example of how RWU caters to its students’ specific needs.
“I think we need to be realistic; when we say that south campus is dry that doesn’t mean that there’s not alcohol in it,” Montefusco said. “These students are looking for an area that will be committed to being substance free.”