Recovery House put on hold

The sober Living Learning Community won’t open this year because of a lack of student applications.

University of Minnesota graduate Lauren Feller watches a Minnesota Twins game with fellow SOBER members Lars Gunnerson, Sarah Day and Ashley Ott on Sept. 2, 2014, at Target Field.

University of Minnesota graduate Lauren Feller watches a Minnesota Twins game with fellow SOBER members Lars Gunnerson, Sarah Day and Ashley Ott on Sept. 2, 2014, at Target Field.

Christopher Aadland

Despite promises to welcome University of Minnesota students recovering from alcohol addiction into a sober Living Learning Community this fall, a shortage of applications to live there means those students will have to wait.

Though the Recovery House’s prolonged opening date came as a setback for some students who say the University campus could be more sober-friendly, the school says it’s boosting efforts to provide those resources. In addition, student organizers still hope to make the house, which was previously set to open in Middlebrook Hall, a reality.

Recently, the University created a work group to improve its support services for and resources offered to recovering students, said Julie Sanem, director of health promotion for Boynton Health Service.

Cooper Johnson, student coordinator of the Students Off Booze Enjoying Recovery, or SOBER, said there may be recovering prospective students who don’t end up coming to the University.

“People maybe don’t feel comfortable [coming to the University] if they’re in recovery, and we want to make it so people don’t have to make that decision,” Johnson said.

This year, he said SOBER plans to reach out to local treatment centers and students in local sober high schools and encourage them to attend the University and join the Recovery House next year.

The University’s work group — which comprises members of SOBER, Boynton, Housing and Residential Life and University Counseling and Consulting Services — will look for ways the University can better meet the needs of recovering students, Sanem said.

While the Recovery House won’t be available to students this year, she said there are still options at the school for students in recovery to receive support.

“We have the same plans in place despite not having an LLC,” Sanem said.

The University also encouraged students who had expressed interest in the house to apply for housing in the University’s substance-free Living Learning Community, said Kristie Feist, assistant department director for Housing and Residential Life.

Johnson said SOBER will also continue to provide resources to students, like substance-free activities, service opportunities and assistance in staying sober while they wait for a new home.

Having a supportive community is important, he said, because it helps recovering students develop a sense of belonging on campus.

“It’s tough fitting in socially when there is such a prevalent social drinking scene,” he said. “And a lot of people in recovery are not comfortable being around that.”