ST. CLOUD, Minn. – The start of the new semester is an exciting time for many students, however some go into classes fighting a stigma.
Students in the recovery community face many challenges while adjusting to life on campus. St. Cloud State University has spent years developing programs to make these transitions easier.
Thaddeus Rybka is the Recovery Community Coordinator and he has had a major part in helping students in recovery join programs to get them active at the university.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that I can’t do this alone,” Rybka said.
This sentiment is shared by many throughout the recovery community, and many are now making efforts to improve the stigma that surrounds those in recovery. Rybka says that he wants to change how people see those going through recovery as more than just a stigma.
“It’s a miracle what they’re doing…being in recovery isn’t something to be ashamed of, and we want to put a face to it,” he said.
St. Cloud State is also making efforts to change the face of recovery.
Every year the school releases its Annual Drug and Alcohol Notification, reminding students of the policies surrounding substance consumption on campus. Assistant Dean of Students Jennifer Matzke says the notification is just something the school has to do every year to let students know where to get help if needed, but the real focus is on changing the conversation of consumption.
“We use a harm-reduction technique..so it’s more than just telling students to be abstinent,” Matzke said.
Matzke says the biggest goal is to guide students towards a more inclusive community where they feel welcomed. There are many programs on campus that allow students to feel comfortable in their recovery, but where they can also feel like a normal student.
The SCSU Recovery Community offers students benefits such as on-campus housing, weekly support group meetings, sober social events, and community service opportunities.
The recovery community’s mission statement is to “provide a safe and welcoming environment”, and by focusing efforts to giving a face to the community, and the stigma, many students hope to make it just that.