Officials: healthy living dorms not working out as planned

LaGrange Hall residents Sara Chaffin and Ashley Ravenscraft relax in hammocks outside the healthy living residence hall on campus.

The LaGrange residence hall this year was a healthy living option on campus. According to officials, though, LaGrange next year will be an all-female residence hall.

Kevin Jacques, director of Residence Life, said healthy living, meaning that residents signed a contract stating that they would be substance free, had never been done in an entire residence hall at UNA.

“We thought that we would be able to move it to an entire building, and we thought it would be successful,” he said. “It has not been so much so as we thought.”

The healthy living option had previously just been offered on two floors of LaGrange. The move to the whole building going substance free this year was really a test run, Jacques said.

“The idea behind it is that the people that live there choose to live there because they want to live in an environment where they don’t have to come into contact with alcohol, tobacco or other drugs,” Jacques said.

LaGrange served as the overflow residence hall this year as well, Jacques said. He said this forced students into the healthy living option who may not have chosen to be there otherwise.

Also, Jacques said, this made enforcing the rules of the contract more difficult. With LaGrange serving as the overflow residence hall, there was nowhere on campus to relocate the students who did break the contract.

Next year, Jacques said LaGrange will be all female primarily because there are more females attending UNA who need the housing option. The healthy living option has the potential to return because there is a demand, he said.

As far as options for students living on campus besides strictly traditional housing, Jacques suggested the Freshman Opportunities and Connections for UNA Students (FOCUS) program that will be offered on the first four floors of Rivers Hall. This is along the same lines as the First Year Resident Educator (FYRE) Fellows program this year, which is first come first serve.

The loss of the healthy living option can be negative, though, said Amber Lamm. Lamm is a freshman majoring in exercise science. She lived in LaGrange and found the experience to be positive for her.

Lamm wanted to live in an atmosphere that coincided with her personal choice to remain substance free. Of course, some people are going to break the rules, she said. Overall, though, LaGrange offered the positive environment she expected.

“I found all my best friends in LaGrange, and it is really nice knowing that their values are the same as mine,” Lamm said. “I would have loved to say that LaGrange is a place that is substance free, but now I can’t say that.”

Julia Henderson, senior art education major and LaGrange community adviser for the past three years, said she feels the healthy living option is more feasible in a smaller setting.

“Right now, there isn’t really enough space—as far as residence halls go—to house such a community and make it as successful as it is capable of,” Henderson said. “But I do think it would be great to look into in the future.”

Henderson said she would love to see the healthy living option remain available to students. Perhaps offering healthy living in a residence hall around the size of LaFayette Hall would be better, she said.