Baylor’s BARC makes a mark in student livelihood

Houston senior Will Havens has found a very supportive community at the BARC , a place that has been very helpful to him since it's opening. Baylee VerSteeg | Multimedia Journalist

By Vivian Kwok | Reporter

The Beauchamp Addiction Recovery Center (BARC) is celebrating its second semester inside the East Village Residential Community. The BARC fosters a safe community for those in recovery, and its numbers have grown since the fall.

Baylor Regent Bob Beauchamp and his wife, Laura, gifted Baylor $2.5 million to go toward the BARC, which was to provide support services for students who are in the initial stages of identifying an addiction.

Houston senior Will Havens, who is in long-term recovery with over three years of sobriety, said the Beauchamp’s donation provided more than just a room. Havens said the BARC has helped him not feel ashamed telling his teachers that he is an alcoholic.

“This is such a great place,” Havens said. “The Beauchamps are great people for donating this place, which is a godsend.”

Havens said that he did not feel comfortable with his addiction when he first arrived at Baylor because there were not resources like the BARC for people in recovery.

“Now that they have the BARC, I have a community of people that have gone through the same struggles,” Havens said. “Seeing that other students are going through what I’m going through has made me feel a lot more comfortable.”

Dr. Meg Patterson, director of wellness, said national statistics show that 9 to 10 percent of incoming college students have experienced addiction and are in recovery. Patterson said the data at Baylor is supportive of the findings.

Patterson said that college is an especially hard setting for students who struggle with addiction.

“You don’t have the accountability that you used to have and the support that you used to have,” Patterson said.

Patterson also said according to the literature, stress levels and opportunities to act out an addiction can be especially impactful to students with an addiction.

Patterson said she believes college campuses are a breeding ground for both of these factors.

“With college, you already have a high opportunity to act out,” Patterson said. “It’s pretty easy to get your hands on alcohol or other drugs, and then 90 percent of college students say they’re stressed on a regular basis.”

Lilly Ettinger, senior coordinator for recovery services, also said students’ GPAs increase once they are in recovery or are seeking help.

“These are not problem students we’re trying to house and hide,” Ettinger said.

Ettinger said the number of students in recovery has easily tripled this year. She also said the BARC has helped combine the different recovery communities into one hub open to all recovery.

“I used to never see walk-ins,” Ettinger said. “Maybe one or two walk-ins a semester, and now we get more than that a week.”

The BARC’s location may have also helped with its growth because students do not need to swipe their ID. Ettinger said its location is less intimidating than the Recovery Program’s old location in the McLane Student Life Center, where students must sign in to enter. Ettinger said she believes a lot more students are willing to walk in and seek help now.

Patterson also said the BARC’s new location has helped with anonymity, especially for meetings.

“The BARC is open. You don’t have to identify yourself when you come,” Ettinger said. “Your identity, both your name and what you’re going through, is taken very seriously in the BARC.”

Ettinger said she has received support from every level of administration at Baylor.

“I think that students need to know that I view and Baylor views students in recovery as an asset to campus,” Ettinger said.

The BARC also has other events open to other Baylor students. New Braunfels junior Morgan Pettis encourages students to attend events and join the BARC community even if they are not recovering from an addiction.

“It’s a pretty judgment-free zone. We’re all really friendly to each other,” Pettis said.

Pettis is starting the Peers Allied Coalition. It is a group of students, significant others or children who support people in recovery. The Peers Allied Corporation also helps promote BARC events especially during high-stress times.

“There is such a big need for it,” Patterson said. “It could be a topic that a faith-based institution may shy away from. I’m really glad that Baylor’s really embraced it and been willing to expand on it and be excited about it.”