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Substance-Free Housing Offers a Safe and Healthy Oasis

College is often thought of as a time to experience as many things as possible, including frat parties or homemade dinner and drinks with friends. Even movies like the infamous "Animal House" show so-called classic "college-life," which somehow equates to constant drinking and living in filth. But, this hyped-up housing portrayal doesn't hold true today. Substance use and abuse is on the outs these days at campuses nationwide.

Recently, the state of New Jersey passed a law banning smoking in all state college and university housing. And New Jerseyans aren't the only ones faced with the difficulties of substance abuse (including cigarettes, alcohol, and illicit drugs) on college campuses, nor are they the only ones doing something about it. Many colleges and universities are jumping on the bandwagon of the latest trend -- substance-free housing.

Though there are advantages to the new wave of substance-free housing (you don't have to worry about the "alkie" next door throwing another kegger on a school night, or the "chimney" downstairs constantly lighting up), there are still less obvious reasons. Substance-free housing allows students to focus on academics, say advocates, while enabling colleges to provide cleaner living environments, stop the deterioration of facilities, and even keep insurance rates low.

National fraternity Phi Delta Theta knows this firsthand, as all of their chapters went alcohol-free in 2000. "We are value-based, not entertainment-based," says Robert Biggs, the group's executive vice president. "We are refocusing on values, friendship, and sound learning, as well as attracting a higher-quality student."

Alumni, advisors, and vice presidents aren't the only ones who agree substance-free housing benefits campuses everywhere. According to Don Bowers, president of Phi Delta Theta and a student at the University of Oklahoma (Norman, OK), having a substance-free living environment has enabled him to keep a clearer focus on the important aspects of his college career. "I've maintained a 3.95 GPA, held numerous leadership positions, and made a lot of great friends," he says. "[We're] currently experiencing clean and safe facilities, above-average GPAs, and a strong focus on sound learning and moral integrity."

So, when on the hunt for your perfect college, take into account your living environment. Of course, you want to live in the dorm with the largest rooms or the best view, but now you also have the option of substance-free housing which will makes a huge difference in your college experience.