Whitman College's Wellness House from the outside

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Adjusting to college life can be a challenge for any student, but perhaps especially so for those who are in recovery from substance misuse. With two new programs introduced in the 2021-2022 academic year, Whitman is actively creating a more supportive environment for those students.

Wellness House, the newest residence in Whitman’s Interest House Community, created with the help of a $60,000 grant from Washington State University’s Collegiate Recovery Grant Program, is believed to be the first sober living house on a Washington state college campus. However, the programming doesn’t focus on the absence of substances but centers around positive lifestyle elements instead.

Like Whitman’s other Interest Houses, such as La Casa Hispana and the Fine Arts House, the Wellness House residents—aided by Resident Advisor Shamiya Griffin, a junior psychology major from Chicago—are responsible for hosting regular house programs. Past activities included a get-together where students were supplied craft materials and encouraged to write love letters to themselves, which they could later look back at for affirmation.

“My goal for programing is to have a space where the students who live in the house and who visit can learn some daily wellness practices, but also just come to relax and take a break,” says Griffin.

The initial grant, supplemented by a subsequent $20,000 award, has also helped establish a program of group meetings for students on campus facilitated by the Walla Walla-based organization Trilogy Recovery. The students-only meetings are based on the Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) program, which is designed to help participants feel empowered to change and to provide guidance toward leading fulfilling and balanced lives.