by Zazie Tobey, staff writer
College can be a lot to handle, especially at a work school and as a new student. It can be even more unmanageable when addiction and substance dependency are consuming your energy. As a community, most of us are aware that substance abuse is a present and prominent issue. For a campus that has resources from personal trainers to wellness crew, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are a feasible addition to our community and have finally made it on the scene.
Spiritual Life has worked hard to provide a much needed outlet for students and community members seeking support and is pleased to announce that Alcoholic Anonymous meetings will begin the first Tuesday of October at 6 p.m., and continue to run every Tuesday at that time. Meetings are hour an long and will be held in Lower Fellowship Hall located behind the chapel.
“The meeting will have no group leader, and will be based off 12 step-programs literature,” said Grace Loveland, a member of Spiritual Life crew and a transfer to Wilson this year. Loveland has taken on a major role in bringing AA to campus and will be sharing her story to start off the weekly meetings. “You also don’t have to identify as an alcoholic to come to meetings,” said Loveland. The Anonymous component is essential to the group’s concept and respecting that anonymity is a must.
“Supporting an AA meeting on campus is a great way for Spiritual Life to work with other campus efforts around health and wellness”, said Brian Ammons, the director of Spiritual Life Crew, who is new to Wilson this semester after leaving his previous staff position at Duke University.
Upon his arrival to Wilson, Ammons has been working with the crew, which is mostly all new members, to define the mission and intention of Spiritual Life, while also considering effective changes they can facilitate on campus. Since the start of the school year, Spiritual Life has been working to get AA meetings on Campus. Ammons notices the logical connections running between Spiritual Life, the Alcoholic Anonymous 12-Step Program, and Wilson’s Mission.
“Spiritual Life is intentionally engaging the outside community. It’s a piece we can provide and offer,” Ammons said. Providing support for outside community members and recognizing the support they could give back speaks directly from a Wilson’s service minded mission.
“Community members will be supporting participation in meetings and provide important insight,” Loveland said.
AA’s program has been running strong for 75 years, initially started by two friends and struggling alcoholics that needed help to stop, the organization has proved to be a major community outreach tool that provides support for those anonymously participating in the pursuit to overcome an umbrella of issues and addictions.
According to a pamphlet titled, “This is AA” a part of general conference-approved literature, “AA members are not reformers, and we are not allied with any group, cause, or religious denomination. We have no wish to dry up the world. We do not recruit new members, but do welcome them.” The Wilson AA group will follow those same guidelines and although there is a spiritual component to the meetings it does not mean that spirituality has to pertain to religion.
“The 12-step programs are among North America’s greatest contributions to the history of spirituality,” said Ammons.
There is only one AA meeting in Swannanoa, and although Student life used to provide transportation for this, the ‘anonymous factor’ quickly became the ‘obvious factor’. Now that transportation is no longer an issue students and community members can gather in Lower Fellowship anonymously to meet in a private space, set farther back from main campus. The on-campus location will provide convenience and privacy for students as well as an added location for community residents.
We want students to understand they are not the only ones seeking recovery, they are not alone,” said Megan Letworth, the new AC for the Ballfield’s as well as campus Health Promotion Coordinator. From surveys conducted during orientation Letworth, estimated that around one fourth of new students expressed interest in participating in substance free activities.
“AA is recovery for themselves, for their friends. It’s more than just dealing with issues of alcoholism; there’s also help for emotional problems, drug addictions, eating issues,” said Loveland. “Anyone can come for support.”
The journey to healing anything, from physical injury, to a fight with a friend, to drug addictions, is a trip down a path lined with multiple resources and loving community members who are available for support. Students can access a multitude of resources campus; Student Life, individual sessions with counselors at Student Health Services, Rise Crew, Wellness Dorm, body work by Wellness Crew, Herb Crew’s herbal blends for aspiring quitters, Spiritual life as well as the addition of Tuesday AA meetings.
“AA emphasizes individuals developing their own working understanding of a higher power, while simultaneously insisting on the need for community and working with others.That play between the individual and community defines so much of what we struggle with as a culture,” said Ammons.