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Floor makes effort to be substance-free

April 17, 2008

Students who wish to live in a substance-free environment at UW-River Falls now have that option with the fourth floor in Johnson Hall.

  The floor, which includes a male wing and a female wing, became substance-free in the fall semester of the 2007-08 school year. 

  “Of the students who were placed on fourth floor Johnson, about 80 percent requested substance free,” Jason Neuhaus, the west area coordinator for Residence Life said.

  Currently the floor is only for freshmen, but plans are in place to add more rooms for upperclassmen. 

  “[The returning students] liked it so much that they started a little petition to gain interest, and they found that 78 percent of the males that replied to the survey said they would be interested in living on a substance-free wing for upper class students, and 93 percent of the women said they would be interested,” Neuhaus said.

  Freshman Adam Sibenaller was the driving force behind the petition. He surveyed the residents about how they like the substance-free floor.

  “The surveys came back positive,” Sibenaller said. “So I came up with a summary and gave it to the director of Residence Life.”

  Sibenaller was one of the students who requested to live on the floor this year.

  “I feel better knowing I am not going to be pressured into anything that would have a negative effect on me,” Sibenaller said. 

  The men’s resident assistant on the fourth floor is KenWeigend, who came to Johnson after being an RA in Stratton Hall in spring semester of last year.

  “I was nervous at first [about coming to Johnson] because it was an experimental wing,” Weigend said. “[But] it is almost easier because the people are more outgoing and open to interaction.”

  Fourth floor Johnson will stay substance-free for upperclassmen, allowing the students currently residing there to keep their rooms; third floor Johnson will become the substance-free floor for next year’s freshmen.

  The freshmen floor for next year is in high demand.

  “There are already too many freshmen,” Sibenaller said. “Anything open on the fourth floor will go to overflowing freshmen.”

  Students that live on the floor are required to sign a contract to stay substance-free.

  “One thing we have found is maybe their behavior off-campus is taking away from the integrity of the wing, so we have asked a couple of students to move,” Neuhaus said. “But that happens very rarely, and most of the students are able to honor the contract for the duration of the year.” 

  Additional substance-free floors at UWRF are a possibility in the future if the wings in Johnson Hall fill up.

  “It will certainly be a conversation we will have next year, but I imagine it would probably go to another building,” Neuhaus said. “Johnson Hall will not necessarily become a substance-free building, but we might be able to implement a community in the east area.”

  The floor has become one of the most sought-after since spring break, from students who want to get away from the negative influence of alcohol, Neuhaus said.

  “It is a fun and active place,” Weigend said. “It is cool to see a group of people having so much fun without the alcohol crutch.”