By Andrew Theen
Oregon State University will open an on-campus dorm this fall specifically designed for students recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.
The university said it believes the new housing and support center is the first of its kind in Oregon, at either a private or public institution.
OSU is converting the Dixon Lodge, a former student co-op living center, into the new dorm, which it is calling The Recovery and Learning Community. OSU alumnus Tom Skoro and his wife Joan are funding the center. The cost of the donation wasn't immediately made available.
John Ruyak, OSU's alcohol, drug and recovery specialist in the student health services office, said the housing and support center will provide a more supportive living environment for students in recovery. "Through a unified community, we seek to strengthen students' sobriety and support their success as academics, leaders, and community members," he said in a statement.
OSU already has a Collegiate Recovery Community, where students can get services, hang out with fellow students recovering from addictions, and book private rooms to "socialize in a sober environment."
But Steve Clark, a university spokesman, said separate living quarters are a necessary next step.
"There are students with drug and alcohol addictions who are in recovery and they're not being well-served by universities across the nation," Clark said.
While not all first-year students use and abuse alcohol or drugs in the dorms, Clark said, some students "may not be as mature in an independent living arrangement."
The new housing center will ideally be a mix of younger students and older non-traditional students who Clark said "have more of an experience with life."
In the first year, OSU expects nine students to live in the newly configured Dixon Lounge, with up to 24 students eventually moving into the dorm.
OSU is also providing scholarship opportunities for some students, Clark said, to bring down the cost of living. He said the dorms, in some cases, will be less expensive than student housing, which can cost from $5,000 to $10,000, not including food plans.
Students can move in this fall, and OSU said it still has space available.
(c)2016 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)