December 6, 2023

The Boston Globe

There’s rising curiosity in substance-free residing at Boston-area schools lately, together with at Tufts College. Tufts scholar Nick Dahlen (center) and fellow college students attended a dedication reception within the new substance-free housing at Simpson Home, the place he’s staying. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Workers

Partying in faculty isn’t what it was.

For a rising variety of Massachusetts faculty college students, it’s a night of board video games, motion pictures, and tacos in a dorm with no kegs within the basement, and no smoking pot out the window.

Substance-free housing is turning into a extra well-liked selection for faculty college students eager to dwell away from social pressures and the temptations of alcohol and medicines.

Officers with the School of the Holy Cross, Tufts College, and Boston School report a latest uptick in curiosity from college students on the lookout for residing environments with out alcohol. The explanations vary from private or familial struggles with alcohol, a need for a more healthy way of life and deeper relationships to an elevated consciousness of the risks of alcohol.

A number of college students interviewed for this story mentioned substance-free halls, or homes, present a peaceful area for community-building and genuine friendships, away from overserved friends stumbling again to the dorms. The rising development echoes 2020 analysis that discovered the variety of US faculty college students who abstained from alcohol elevated from 20 % to twenty-eight % between 2002 and 2018.

“A few of my closest buddies on campus are from this place,” Styx Parrett, a Tufts scholar from Kansas, mentioned about their substance-free dorm.

Whereas technically, nearly all faculty dorms are alleged to be freed from alcohol and medicines, they’re not. However college students in these specific residences pledge to abstain from substance use whereas residing there, and schools officers and college students mentioned in interviews they abide by it.

“Bodily and psychological well being is large for college students,” mentioned Christina Alch, Tufts’ director of residential life and studying. “And this era has an enormous concentrate on their well-being. Lots of our college students report eager to be part of a neighborhood the place they know different college students share their values and pursuits. Whereas a number of our college students will discover that by means of golf equipment and organizations, the substance-free housing additionally gives that inside their house.”

Mindy Duggan, a graduate scholar at Boston College and up to date Tufts graduate, mentioned in an interview that she made the choice to not drink in highschool for her personal bodily and psychological well-being, and she or he was apprehensive about being surrounded by a celebration tradition in faculty. The actual fact Tufts supplied substance-free residing choices on campus was an enormous promoting level. She discovered neighborhood amongst like-minded friends and mentioned a few of her closest friendships had been shaped in Tufts’ substance-free residence.

“I simply had a tremendous time from the get-go,” Duggan mentioned.

In a typical yr, about 40 first-year college students will specific a need to dwell in substance-free housing at Tufts, Alch mentioned. Curiosity jumped this tutorial yr to 108 first-year college students eager to dwell there, plus 17 upperclassmen.

One in all Tufts’ substance-free buildings was lately renovated, a undertaking supported financially by Tufts graduate and actor Hank Azaria, the voice behind many characters on “The Simpsons.” Azaria, who has personally struggled with alcohol abuse and is now sober, mentioned in a latest interview with the Globe that he thinks it’s essential for schools to offer housing choices for college students who abstain from substances as a result of a lot of faculty campuses’ social scenes revolve round alcohol.

Actor Hank Azaria delivered the graduation tackle at Tufts in 2016. JESSICA RINALDI/GLOBE STAFF

“I keep in mind being on that campus and drunk as a skunk quite a bit,” Azaria mentioned. “What it will have meant to me to have a spot the place I may have investigated that downside, and to know that there was one other selection of find out how to dwell.”

The renovated dorm, aptly referred to as Simpson Home, now has an out of doors area with a patio, grill, and video games, together with cornhole, for college students to assemble and luxuriate in one another’s firm. Azaria, coincidentally, lived in that very same home throughout his sophomore yr.

“I do know what it meant to me to search out my folks in faculty,” Azaria mentioned. “I used to be all the time within the theater. I used to be within the drama division, which turned my household. And I seen the same factor occurred to them. They only all dwell collectively over a typical curiosity, and that created this bond.”

Azaria declined to reveal the worth of his donation. He additionally donated 4 animation cels from “The Simpsons” — authentic handmade artwork of the characters earlier than the animation course of turned digital — to the home.

An annual survey of incoming college students at Holy Cross exhibits that extra college students yearly are opting to not drink alcohol, prompting faculty directors to supply substance-free housing final yr for the primary time.

Lily Nguyen, a fourth-year scholar at Holy Cross, was the resident adviser for the faculty’s substance-free dorm rooms final yr and mentioned everybody there had a blast. She remembers one notably well-liked outing the place college students journeyed to the Natick Mall earlier than having fun with Thai meals again within the communal kitchen.

Holy Cross senior Lily Nguyen stood within the shared kitchen of Loyola Corridor, one of many dorms at Holy Cross, that options substance-free housing. LIBBY O’NEILL FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

“I do know the stereotype that media portrays [about] substance free — it’s like no enjoyable and so they’re the quieter ones within the group,” Nguyen. “I needed to vary that narrative the place it’s enjoyable, and you’ll nonetheless hang around individuals who use substance. It’s simply extra so a life-style folks have [that is] extra laid again. Going again to the house that’s quiet and enjoyable.”

Boston School officers mentioned that they’ve additionally seen an elevated curiosity in substance-free residing over time.

“We marvel if the rise is because of a shift in attitudes in direction of substance use, so the wholesome residing neighborhood is extra interesting to college students,” mentioned Jeannine Kremer, the college’s director of the Middle for Scholar Wellness.

Parrett, the third-year Tufts scholar from Kansas, mentioned that dependancy runs of their household, so it was essential to discover a neighborhood to “assist make sure that I wouldn’t have to fret about alcohol points or drug points,” as a school scholar.

“We don’t actually go to events or something — it’s simply us hanging out and simply having fun with one another,” Parrett mentioned. “Final yr, there was a extremely enjoyable taco evening and there was a desk simply completely coated in taco stuff and it was so good simply to eat and hang around with buddies. . . . We simply sat on the ground for 2 hours consuming, watching motion pictures, and hanging out.”