A pilot program for a more secular version of Alcoholics Anonymous, years in the making from conception to implementation, has made its appearance on campus this fall. The counseling center, a third party and various staff members have made this a possibility through campus affiliation. Aggregate information concerning meetings is to be provided to the college so that they can know the extent to which the program is being utilized without identifying individual student participants.
Matthew Park, associate vice president and dean of students, said there will not be a sign in or attendance sheet to protect the privacy of participants.
“Within all of those areas, there are certain limitations,” Park said. “If there is a legitimate threat to someone’s health or safety, there’s pretty much obligations that that information has got to be reported.”
Although this is an alcoholics anonymous type of program, there’s not a higher power for prayers. It’s open to all students, employees and the general population. The only requirement is the desire to stop drinking.
“It’s secular in the sense that it’s open to any students regardless of their beliefs so that it can be truly inclusive in that way,” Park said.
Keith Lamb, vice president for student affairs, is pleased that this is a resource the university can offer the community. He feels that the secular part of the program was appropriate for the student population and inclusive of all religious beliefs.
“If anyone [students] is harassed or singled out because of their participation they would be protected under the university’s code of student conduct,” Lamb said. “We would certainly initiate disciplinary proceedings against any individuals who are targeting them.”
Meetings are once a week, they serve coffee and sweets, and have a community mindset. All levels of sobriety are welcome. If a person is worried about having to attend meetings alone or needs help getting to meetings they can contact a third associated party through the offices of Mathew Park or the counseling center.
The step work and “higher power” are optional. Prayer isn’t required and reading materials are secular. Although focused on alcohol, other addictions are welcome to attend. It has been emphasized that a student doesn’t have to be alone and meeting outside of the program is also possible.
To find out the information needed to attend, contact the counseling center.