By Emily M. Kochanek – Contributing Writer
Opened for the 2012-2013 school year, the Briggs House has been deemed the first “Wellness House” on the Lasell Campus. Kerry Webster, Residential Life’s Area Coordinator who oversees Briggs, expanded on what the Wellness House means for the campus.
How did the idea for a wellness house come about? It was originally a counseling [center] idea. It was going to be a place for those in recovery, for alcohol, drug abuse, or any other struggles. It was to be a safe environment; alcohol free, drug free. I believe they first started talking about the idea for the wellness house last year… A lot of campuses now have living-learning communities that are… communities of students with a common interest
Was the wellness house created because of a specific incident on campus or was Lasell following the new trend of wellness communities? In general, from a counseling viewpoint, students are faced with decisions they have to make concerning drugs and alcohol and I think it was a good idea to offer them… a good community where they can live a lifestyle that’s free of… temptations.
What is the requirement to live in Briggs? There has to be interest to live in Briggs; you have to request [to live there].
Is there a policy that requires you to abstain from drinking or using drugs outside the house? It has been brainstormed. [Residents have] to abide by all the guidelines in the student handbook… To adhere to a smoke free and substance free lifestyle inside and outside of the house including… alcohol, cigarettes, tobacco, and other drugs… The agreement not to return to the house under the influence of drugs or alcohol. And… that any visitors brought to the house must comply with the expectations.
How important is it that the Briggs House has an effect on campus? Derby [Briggs’ RA] wants to start house programs that are ongoing including healthy dinners… and yoga… From outside the house she wants to have programs where everyone will be invited. One thing she is going to have planned coming up— she is thinking of having it on Halloween— is a Mocktail Briggs house party… Anyone is invited to come and socialize.
What other ideas are being talked about for the Wellness House? Something that was talked about before… was the idea of meditation, the idea to see if Sodexo could send a nutritionist in to teach how to cook healthily… and hoping to get the peer health educators involved.
How are college services going to be an influence within the house? [Residential Life] talked with health services about being able to post info in Briggs if anyone… in Briggs wanted to go to AA meetings or go to any kind of support meetings that they would know where in Newton to go… and times… Because the house isn’t [only people struggling with addictions] but [Briggs] definitely has a place for people like that.
It’s hard to find other students on campus who are substance free or balance substance use well. So it’s surprising that there are people in Carpenter house that wanted to be in Briggs. Do you think Lasell might open another Wellness House? That’s definitely something to look into… If the interest became that big it could.
This year is the “pilot” year; do you think the Wellness House will stay for the next school year? I think [it] definitely will. The students in the house are really interested, bringing their ideas forward.
Do you think that having the presence of the Briggs House might influence the drinking and substance habits on campus? I think having the option would. I don’t think it will diminish alcohol and drug use but I think giving students an alternative to do something with their night instead of to drink or do drugs can show them other fun things they can do on campus.
How would you describe wellness? I think wellness is all encompassing… It’s a circle because… it’s nutritional wellness and then there’s exercise… and I think that goes to together. And I think just being well in general, being happy, having purpose in your life… can go along with spiritual wellness… I think its not only about being free from drugs and alcohol but it’s also about the lifestyle.