Students enjoy a not-so-typical tailgate

A tailgate tent hands out giveaway items and information on resources for students. - Contributor / Sarah Shockey

Before Rowan Football hosted Ursinus College at Richard Wackar Stadium Saturday night, the combined efforts of the Wellness Center, Student Life, and Academic Support Programs held a pre-game Substance Free Tailgate next to the bleachers.

In an effort to teach students about having fun and making meaningful connections without the use of alcohol or drugs, the event featured lawn games including cornhole and giant Jenga along with giveaways like free snacks and Rowan merchandise.

“This event was created to promote opportunities for students to connect with each other and build a sense of community within a substance-free environment,” said Erin Hannah, director of academic support programs. “Our goal is to provide students with meaningful opportunities to enjoy connecting with each other without the pressure to drink alcohol or use drugs,”

In partnership with SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR), a program designed to help those struggling with substance use disorder, the tailgate is part of a larger goal: to teach students that it is still possible to have fun at social events while being “substance-free” even though that breaks the stereotypical mold of a traditional night out.

Director of the Wellness Center Scott Woodside, who also attended the event, acknowledges this unconventional approach when it comes to substance use at social outings.

“We [the Wellness Center] recognize that it can be difficult to steer away from assumptions of what constitutes a ‘fun night out’ however we want to foster an environment that promotes students’ ability to break free of societal pressure, so they know that they have the power to make healthy decisions for themselves on their own terms,” said Woodside.

The tailgate also offered information about resources available for substance-related issues, including counseling services and ways students can reach out for help at the university. 

“This event is more about connecting as a community and offering resources to students so they are equipped with information and know who to contact if they need help,” said Hannah.

Under the leadership of Hannah, along with the partnership of three Rowan departments, the tailgate proved to be aimed at not only helping students see past the commonality of substance use at certain events but also a collective effort to provide outreach and support for students if they ever may need it.

“In regard to our continuous work, we [the Academic Support Program] value each person as an individual and are open-minded in our approach as we connect with students, as we know there are many ways to foster our sense of well-being,” said Hannah.

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