Should pets be allowed on Beloit College campus?
By Courtney Bingham, Jamie Lepito, Sydney Mercado, and Vince Zhang
One of the saddest parts about leaving home for college is saying goodbye to a loved pet. According to the Beloit College pet policy, “Pets, other than fish in an aquarium, are not allowed to be on campus with students”. Although qualified students are allowed to have therapy animals, these are not considered pets due to their service status. Allowing pets on campus, while maybe unconventional, is not uncharted among colleges. Eckerd College in Southern Florida, for example, allows students to own pets on campus and even has a full- time Pet Life Staff.
By recognizing and authorizing the possession of pets on campus, Eckerd is able to regulate possible adverse consequences because students who own pets are not afraid to ask for help.
Controversy regarding pets on campus tends to revolve around problems arising over students with allergies or who are afraid of animals. This would be resolved with regulations such as housing restrictions to allocate specific “pet- friendly” as well as “pet- free” spaces on campus. With such an exclusive pet policy and the secrecy of pets on campus now, there is no way of knowing where an animal will or will not be. Another example of a school with guidelines in place to monitor pet ownership on their campus is Reed College. It is a small liberal arts school similar to Beloit located in Oregon. According to their Pet and Animal Guidelines, “If a roommate [of the pet owning student] or community member is allergic, the pet will not be permitted to reside in the room and/or common spaces.”
Students at Reed have to register their pet with Residential Life ahead of the pet’s arrival on campus. The school has the right to ask students to remove their pet from campus at any time. The Pet and Alumni Guidelines of Reed College also state, “Pets must remain in the resident pet owner’s room unless there is explicit agreement from the community that the pet can be in common spaces. Pets are not permitted in kitchen spaces.” Since students have and will continue to have “illegal pets” on campus, it is in the best interest for the safety of students to allow pets so the details that would otherwise be unchecked can be controlled by the college.
Beloit College prides itself in its advocacy of experiential learning, with the Liberal Arts in Practice Center being an office designed specifically for the advancement of such. The experience of caring for an animal outside of the home environment offers a unique opportunity for students to grow individually by caring for something other than themselves.
Provided emotional support animals are allowed on Beloit College campus. According to Learning Enrichment & Disability Services (LEAD) and Residential Life policies, “under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), a person with a disability may keep an emotional support animal in the individual’s dwelling when there is an established need for the therapeutic nature of the animal that is connected to the individual’s disability”. The biggest hurdle for students applying for a therapy animal is getting documentation for mental illness. Some students do not have accessibility for insurance to prove their eligibility.
In addition, EMS animals are not concerned as pets. What’s the difference between an EMS animal and a pet? Although they functionality serve different roles, there is no physical difference. As mentioned in the article, “Why Pets Should Be Allowed in College Dorms” on The Odyssey, pets help with loneliness and depression, while also serving as a form of stress relief. Whether or not someone has a mental illness, college is a stressful time that can be improved by having a pet.
The solution for pets on Beloit College campus is to have a better pet policy that is inclusive to those who do not qualify to have a registered therapy animal.This policy will help students enjoy being in the presence of their lovely cat. The possible policies that can get put in place are an additional fee for students with pets, regulation on the types of pets are allowed, and a special dorm or house for students with pets among other things.