We don’t have much of anything to complain about at Camp Claremont. As we’ve heard time and time again, we’re pretty high up there on the list of happiest colleges in America. We have perfect weather. We have amazing professors, great students; the laundry list goes on. But we are missing one thing: puppies. (Or kittens, parakeets, etc.)
Some students have seen this glaring absence and tried to fix it. Every spring, we get to play with crates full of puppies for stress relief during finals week. And the 5C Animal Shelter Volunteer Program takes dedicated groups of students to go work with animals every week. I love and appreciate both of these things, but sometimes these come too few and far between, and there really isn’t a substitute for coming home to an excited puppy, or going for a run with your dog, or listening to your cat purr.
So what we really need to nudge us that one notch higher on the happiness scale is a pet-friendly dorm. Seriously, just one dorm. That’s all I’m asking. Actually, to be technically correct, what we need is a dog/cat/cuddly animal-friendly dorm. As per page 30 of the Guide to Student Life: “No pets or animals, other than fish in a maximum 10-gallon tank, are allowed in student rooms. Pets other than fish on campus constitute a violation of the License Agreement and may result in disciplinary action.” Only fish? Ouch.
I’m not just saying this just because I miss my dog (not completely, that is). There are significant benefits to spending more time with animals. The presence of animals in our lives can improve quality of life significantly. Workplaces that allow pets (most of the studies revolved around dogs) have seen a rise in productivity and morale of workers. Several studies have found that interaction with animals reduces stress significantly. The benefits are clear; in the studies, workers self-reported lower stress levels when they were allowed to bring their dogs to work versus when they were not.
Having a pet friendly dorm would be a win-win: those who want and miss their pets could have them, and those who don’t want the responsibility involved or the expense could visit whichever dorm and enjoy some quality cuddling time. If you want to get practical about it, studies also suggest that caring for animals can help develop critical skills of self-discipline as well as increasing empathy and awareness.
Now, I admit that there are some good and obvious reasons for not allowing real pets (sorry fish-lovers) on campus. I’m sure it is more expensive to clean rooms after pets have lived in them (years of vacuuming up after my dog that the seller swore didn’t shed can attest to this). And of course people with allergies would have to avoid that dorm. But imagine walking to class and being able to stop and say hello to a frolicking puppy on your way. Imagine waking up to a cat curled around your feet. Or imagine having a bad day (a bad test, a break up, you name it) and spending some therapy time with a cuddly ball of fur that loves you unconditionally just because you pet it behind the ears.
(If a dog-friendly dorm is a bridge too far, I can scale back. Dear Administration, can I have a hedgehog?)
All jokes aside, how can you not want this on campus?