Look, I really like my cats. With a total of seven of them back home in Texas, I’m well on my way to becoming a crazy cat lady—something I’m totally fine with. But the 1,100 miles separating me from my furry friends can be frustrating, and I’ve often found myself contemplating the plausibility of hiding a kitten or tiny dog in the armoire in my room in Elizabeth (don’t worry or write angry letters though, I would never do that).
But having a pet at school would be nice. Familiar pets can help make the transition from home to college easier, relieve stress (NCM’s famed Puppies and Cupcakes, anyone?), and add a cute factor to your life that most roommates just can’t provide (no offense to my own; she’s adorable).
From Caltech in Pasadena to Florida’s own Eckerd and Stetson, colleges across the country have begun to recognize this and include a pet-friendly housing option for students living on campus. The guidelines vary, though most include an application process of some sort, restrictions on weight and breed of dog, and recognition of and clear procedural processes to deal with potential issues such as noise, allergies, and safety concerns.
Many students have expressed interest in having such an option available at Rollins. Most students I spoke with were enthusiastic about the idea, but also exhibited a clear understanding of the multiple potential issues. Many worried that the animals would not have enough room in any of our current housing options, that full-time Rollins students might not have the time or the maturity level to care for an animal, and that a college campus with a thriving, well, social scene, might not be the safest home for a pet.
Leon Hayner, Director of Office of Residential Life, is aware that there exists a hope for pet-friendly housing on campus, but is also understandably cautious about implementing such a program too rashly. He’s discussed it with the Rollins Dean of Students, Director of Facilities and Vice President and been in touch with individuals at institutions that have already implemented such programs. He characterizes Rollins’ current position on the issue as a “wait and see kind of mode,” while we weigh individuals’ desires and needs against the needs and desires of the Rollins community as a whole. Pending feedback from peer institutions on issues such as facilities concerns (carpet vs. hardwood flooring, shared air conditioner vents, etc.) and the health and wellness of the on-campus animals will likely play a significant role in Rollins making a firm decision one way or another on the issue.
It is unlikely any current Rollins students will see pet-friendly housing implemented on campus, but such a program is not an impossibility. So for now, it looks like I’ll have to be satisfied with my mother’s patient compliance with my request, as we skype, to carry the computer around the house to each one of the cats.