It should be easier for students to have pets on campus

By: Alexis Stallard, Editor-In-Chief

It’s that time of year again: The leaves are starting to turn, temperatures are falling, and students are slowly slipping into worse mental states.

I can definitively say that I am among them: A girl can only put up with so much before she snaps. However, I have a secret weapon that keeps me from snapping and that would be 65 pounds of golden fur.

My dog, Ellie Mae, is my entire family’s pride and joy. We talk about her like she is our most important reason for existing, and Ellie comes first in all our lives. She is everything good in the world, at least according to me.

While I live on campus, it’s only about 30 minutes from home, so I regularly go home throughout the week. The main reason is to see my dog, and I get a little antsy if it’s been more than two days.

She’s an incredibly smart girl and has more love in her fluffy little tail than most humans possess in their whole bodies. Ellie is a trained and certified therapy dog, making her extremely well-qualified to keep my mental well-being in check.

However, not everyone is lucky enough to have their own Ellie to take care of them, which is why I am making this recommendation: It should be much easier for students to have pets in the dorms.

As it currently stands, only certain circumstances allow students to have a pet in their dorms. The animal must be a certified service or emotional support animal, and only cats or small dogs are allowed.

Newman tried to allow students to bring pets to live with them in 2019, but the program was short-lived. It allowed students to have cats or dogs under 40 pounds that did not have to be certified. Merlini was the designated dorm and the school even had plans to build a pet park on campus. However, low interest and COVID interrupted the program so it never got a chance to take off. I think the low interest was probably due to Merlini being the chosen dorm. It is the most outdated dorm on campus and students would much rather be in the other dorm halls before choosing Merlini.

I think that as long as all roommates agree to have the pet in the room and the pet can easily live in the space, it should be allowed. Of course, I think that students with pets should be held responsible for any damages or problems that occur. I think it would also be acceptable that only students who live in certain dorms, like Fugate, should be allowed to have pets. That limits it to be in one building -- one that is meant for older students, who tend to be more responsible. Also, it should probably be a more updated dorm that students are more likely to want to live in.

Regardless of how it’s done, I think it is incredibly important for students to have the option of companionship. I know that I would love to have Ellie with me to keep me grounded all the time and not just when I’m able to make it home. Some students live much farther away from home than I do, and I think I would be devastated to not get to see her as much as I do.

Spending time with animals is a proven stress reliever yet most college students, who deal with extreme stress, have no way of spending time with their pets. In the spirit of mental health awareness month, I think more needs to be done to ensure that students who want to have a companion while away from home can.

PHOTO: Alexis Stallard, Editor-In-Chief