Substance-free housing to transition to suite option
Starting next year, healthy living communities for freshmen, more commonly known as substance-free floors, will be eliminated from the South 40.
Incoming freshmen who wish to reside in healthy living communities will be placed in either suites or rooms with others who mark the same option on their housing preference form but on the same floor as other students who did not.
Associate Director of Residential Life Tim Lempfert cited multiple reasons for the change.
“We’ve had this program for a while, and now we’re looking to make some improvements,” he said. “There are a number of students who have mentioned there’s a stigma of healthy living floors for being quieter and more studious, which isn’t a good representation because it implies that other, non-healthy living floors aren’t. We want all students to be respectful of others both academically and socially and want to remove this stigma.”
The healthy living suites and rooms that will be introduced as the new option next year would not necessarily be publicized as sub-free, and they would be spread across different freshman floors.
“Students don’t necessarily like all the facets of living on an entirely healthy living floor,” Lempfert said. “Hopefully this will help us improve and make the floors more integrated.”
Some students are opposed to the decision.
“For the concept of a sub-free floor, I think this probably isn’t the best idea,” sophomore Anchal Saxena said. “I think the reason a lot of people choose to live on a sub-free floor is to avoid having alcohol on their floor, and this new system defeats that purpose.”
Saxena added there might be additional difficulties for freshmen who sign up for the healthy living option in adjusting to college.
“When you’re a freshman, at the beginning you’re pretty much only interacting with your floor,” she said. “I think if you have a floor that’s not sub-free, the people who live in the sub-free rooms might have a more difficult time adjusting to the floor dynamic and meeting people who want to do the same things as them.”
While the issue of floor dynamic is one upon which many students agree, senior Hanna Xu expressed optimism for the new system.
“There were a lot of people placed on my sub-free floor freshman year who didn’t want to be placed there, so this will be a good way of avoiding situations like that,” Xu said. “But even though my freshman floor was so close-knit, there was still the issue of the common rooms between those who wanted to play video games in it and those who wanted to study, and that might be a problem that comes up more often with this new situation.”
Junior Maddie Polk, a Washington University Student Associate for the second floor of Rubelmann Hall, a healthy living floor, said her floor had a strong reaction upon hearing about the changes for the upcoming year.
“I’ve talked to my WUSA kids about it a lot, and they’re generally surprised because a lot of why they love being on their sub-free floor is because they get to come back to a space that’s clean and quiet and separated from the norm of other floors,” Polk said. “A lot of my freshmen are apprehensive of the idea just because they’ve had such a positive experience.”
Polk stated that the strength of the relationships built on the floor is partly due to the fact that the people all stand on the same ground in terms of drinking, and as a result they can do things together without isolating others on the floor.
“It’s much more inclusive when everyone’s on the same page about what they want to do over the weekends,” she said. “It might be different when there are suites instead of rooms on traditional floors because then at least there would be shared spaces with a number of people.”
Sophomore Max Fleisher agreed that the feel of community on a floor might be impacted slightly but overall does not feel that the change will result in a significant difference.
“I think there’s the risk of the floor community feeling a bit more separated between suites that are sub-free and those that aren’t, but then again, even on sub-free floors now, there are those distinctions between kids who like to go out and those who don’t, and, at least on my floor last year, everyone still got along,” he said.