"Getting used to the social scene in college can be difficult," said the Cincinnati native, now pursuing a master's degree in counseling psychology at the Lynch School of Education. "There's a lot of expectations for meeting people and making friends, but not everyone feels comfortable doing that."
It's not surprising, then, if alcohol becomes a means for overcoming such unease, Richardson says: The problem is when it assumes too prominent a place in students' lives outside of the classroom.
"I'm an outgoing guy, and I've always been able to talk pretty easily at parties and social events," said Richardson, "but I'd look around and see what was going on, and I thought, 'There has to be another way to have fun.'"
Richardson's efforts to promote another way have earned him a place on the American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team, which honors college players for dedication and commitment to community service. The association cited his work through Another Choice on Campus, whose alcohol-free social offerings include karaoke, club nights, tailgate parties and other programs. ACC also provides support and information on alcohol and drug education to students via a listserver.
The honor has added to an already eventful fall semester for Richardson. A talented vocalist who regularly performs at BC athletic and entertainment events, Richardson sang "God Bless America" still attired in his football gear following BC's game with Army on Sept. 29.
John Richardson performs God Bless America following the BC-Army game Sept. 29. (Photo by Chris Minkiewicz)
Although Richardson is no longer involved on a day-to-day basis with the organization, he continues to offer consultation and "do what I can to ensure the foundation is still there." He credits his co-founder Brianne Nadeau '02 and the current ACC president, Karen Stamm '03, for enabling the group to thrive and grow.
When he and Nadeau began laying the groundwork for ACC, Richardson says, they found many students shared their views on the need for campus events that focus more on cultivating friendship and recreation.
"We made every effort not to look as if we were judging or condemning people for their views on alcohol," he said. "We just said, 'If you're tired of the same old thing, come check us out.' Once we started holding events, in fact, we saw a lot of seniors turn out. They would tell us how much they enjoyed just being able to socialize, and not having to worry about the potential hazards from alcohol."
Richardson also praises the BC administration and faculty for their support of the group's aims.
"BC is a very caring community, concerned with the development of the whole person, not just academically but emotionally and spiritually as well. If we reach out to students as early as possible in their careers at BC, if we all start meeting and talking with one another, that sense of community will be a continuing source of strength."
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