University Gateway Apartments, a popular off-campus housing choice for undergraduate students, recently opened up a sober floor, whose residents are encouraged to battle addiction and pursue a degree in a helpful and welcoming environment. The floor, known as “The Haven,” is the first of its kind in the USC community – meaning that the university itself hasn’t instituted a sober floor yet. This oversight on USC’s part is inexcusable.
USC prides itself on its stellar academics and athletic performance, as well as its commitment to creating a safe environment for students. While there is no shortage of academic and extracurricular offerings, however, the university does little to encourage battling addiction to harmful drugs.
On campus, there are countless advertisements for student government, Greek life and academic opportunities, but I have yet to see a flyer for a public forum for students battling addiction. DPS does an exemplary job of monitoring substances on campus, but there are still instances of students abusing drugs and alcohol and continuing to do so without a support system.
USC has a multitude of community floors in its housing system, and in the case of the honors program at Birnkrant Residential College, even community dorms. What’s stopping them from opening up a sober floor in a dorm or one of their off-campus apartment buildings?
The problem is that the connotation of being attached to the “addict” floor is negative. The brave ones who can call themselves addicts and who are willing to work hard on recovering are few and far between, and that may not be enough to warrant a specialized community in the university’s view.
In order to make developing its own sober special interest community worthwhile, the university must first raise awareness and remove misconceptions about what being an addict is. After raising awareness about sobriety and addiction, as we do for the sports and academics we are known for, then USC will have the interest it needs to open a sober floor and foster a caring environment for students suffering from addiction.