Recovering from alcoholism, Thomas Emmons ’48 felt he had to avoid Reunions, known for an abundance of alcohol, said his widow, Marcy Emmons. That was the impetus, she said, for his co-founding, with classmate David Reeves, of AA Haven — a welcoming place for alumni with alcohol problems that is believed to be celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
Emmons and Reeves, who died last November, wanted to make it easier for alumni with alcohol problems to return to campus. Reeves “thought, very rightly, that there would be a lot of alcoholics who would not come back to Princeton for Reunions because that’s just tempting fate,” said his good friend Henry Martin ’48.
AA Haven runs meetings on the Friday and Saturday of Reunions from 5 to 6 p.m. in Murray-Dodge Hall. For many years, Reeves also arranged to have that room in Murray-Dodge open until midnight.
It was a place where Reunion-goers could head if they “were starting to feel overwhelmed by the amount of liquor at their reunion site,” said Jan Runkle, the associate director of administration at Princeton’s University Health Services, who manages AA Haven now. Four years ago, Runkle reinstated those late hours — moving the location to the Class of 1952 Room in Frist Campus Center, which is open from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. both nights. About 50 people attend the 5 p.m. meetings, said Runkle, and perhaps a dozen stop in to the Class of 1952 Room at some point during the evening.
AA Haven is “vital” to Reunions, said Runkle. “For someone who’s been an active alcoholic — to come into these Reunions is scary. ... To know that there is a safe place to come is really helpful.”