Bill Mandates Substance Abuse Recovery Housing Program at Colleges

On Aug. 10, 2015, Governor Chris Christie signed a bill that was part of a 21-bill package to combat the increase in heroin and prescription drug use in New Jersey. The new bill signed by the governor makes it mandatory for all public state schools that have at least 25 percent of their student body living on campus to provide a substance abuse recovery housing program by 2019. This “Sober Housing” option mandates that colleges provide a supportive, substance free dormitory environment that provides support programs to recovering students. This program will include on-site counseling, mentoring and peer support and could be located in a separate wing or floor of a pre-existing residence area.

In addition to providing support for students in need, this bill aims to positively affect graduation rates at Ramapo and across state colleges in New Jersey, keeping students enrolled who could have withdrawn without support. Ramapo’s current four-year graduation rate stands at 61.3 percent, with the six-year graduation rate standing at 72.4 percent.

Ramapo appears to be well equipped to implement this bill within four years. Currently, Ramapo has a comparable substance-free housing option located in the College Park Apartments. Also, Ramapo fulfills the program’s requirement of providing on-site counseling. The bill also requires that the college provide peer support, which might be satisfied by additional training for resident assistants.

It should be noted that these changes could result in increased costs, which in turn, could increase the tuition of Ramapo students. However, Ramapo may apply for a state, corporate or federal grant to fulfill this requirement.

Do you agree that sober housing should be a required offering at all New Jersey colleges? You can contact your political representative to share your thoughts and make sure to vote in the upcoming elections on Nov. 3. Also, please join in on these discussions at our weekly CA$H meeting on Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. in SC-225.