News & Publications
Letter Home, Summer 2009
New this Fall: Sophrosyne Hall
A student-led effort to carve out space in the residence halls as an alcohol-free zone has led the college to create "Sophrosyne Hall," a floor in Spector Hall for students who want a quieter—and drier—living place on campus.
The students chose the name Sophrosyne from the Ancient Greek, meaning soundness of mind, moderation, prudence, or self-control. The idea that reason should rule the passions is one that students encounter in works by Aristotle and Plato, among other authors on the Program.
Taylor Waters, director of Student Services, explains that a group of students, led by a rising senior, approached her with the idea. Ms. Waters incorporated the option into the spring housing lottery, and she was pleased to fill an entire floor of Spector: 16 students in all. Students in the hall don't have to abstain from alcohol, but they agree not to have alcohol on the floor or to drink alcohol in their dorm. "They organized themselves and are in the process of establishing their rules," says Ms. Waters. "Their goal is to have an atmosphere promoting healthy living and respect for each other."
The student who launched the effort, a recovering alcoholic, did so in part to establish a support system for students who don't drink. With others on the hall, she hopes to organize snack nights, study breaks, and gatherings that don't involve alcohol. "Sometimes people who don't drink have a hard time finding each other," she says.
Ms. Waters hopes to extend the idea to an entire dorm if there's enough interest next year. Sophrosyne Hall fits well with the college's plan to educate students about alcohol, to curb underage drinking, and to offer alternatives to parties involving alcohol. The college has a part-time counselor, Jerry Januszewski, a licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor, on staff. Additional senior residents have joined the Student Services staff to lead activities such as camping and rafting trips, and community service activities.
Last spring—after several incidents in which students became seriously ill after binge drinking—the college invited Dr. Ken Gummerson, Emergency Room medical director at Anne Arundel Medical Center, to give a talk on the effects of alcohol poisoning on the body. "We had some incidents last year that caused us serious concern," Ms. Waters says. "And though young people are always going to make their own choices, we continue to educate students about alcohol, enforce the rules about underage drinking, and encourage students to seek balance and moderation."