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How many of us know that pets can provide safety, profit and companionship especially to the youth? With recent experiments proving that pets can provide a sense of homeliness and unconditional companionship to students living in dorms, the pet policy of Arizona State University that currently allows only fish tanks in Residence Halls or Shared Houses should be changed so as to allow pets in dorms taking into account the numerous benefits pets can bring to students.
First, students, who live in dorms, live away from their homes and hence are likely to feel lonely in their new environment. They are often vulnerable to fall victim to bad friendships, gangs, drugs and alcohol. Most colleges around the country do not allow students to have pets in dorms the reasons being pets are noisy, dirty, smelly, and unhealthy and can be dangerous. Students who live in dorms are often under huge stress. They are yet to form friendships and likely to feel homesick and lonely. This can make them fall victim to drugs and alcohol within the campus. How to escape from all this loneliness?
Recent experimentation show that pets provide numerous benefits to students. Much has been written in recent years about pet therapy. Dean Warren, in his book “Small Animal Care and Management” says that a pet will provide individuals with basic acceptance and a sense of being loved and wanted. Moreover, by learning to understand a pet’s body language, emotions and needs, these individuals can develop a stronger sense of responsibility and personal worth. Pet therapy has also been found to help students cope with stress and illness. Rubbing the stomach of a dog, or stroking a cat can be a profoundly relaxing experience.
Research shows that pet owners have less stress, with decreased heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension. Soft fur or feathers are not only soothing to the touch for human skin, but also appear to decrease the firing of muscle neurons, which in turn decreases muscle tension (Seaward 236). The present generation is one that relies more heavily on parental support – both financial and emotional than did previous generations. And as this new generation struggles to adapt to college life, companion animals can provide the much needed relief from stress.
Interestingly, according to the rules of ASU one fish tank/bowl, no larger than 1.5 gallons, is permitted per resident. However, residents of family houses can have pets other than fish subject to completing a Pet addendum and paying a Pet Deposit of $350 (ASU 1). There are cases where pets have been allowed inside dorms successfully. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology tried allowed cats in four dormitories at MIT, two years ago.
It was required that the cats must be spayed or neutered, have all their required shots, be registered with the campus housing office, and have the approval of every resident on the floor. Cats have also been welcomed at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena where each cat is given a collar that identifies its owner’s dorm. The State University of New York at Canton has been allowing pets in the “Pet Wing” of Mohawk Hall since 1996 and claim the decision has been a huge success (Clyburn 1).
The only condition was that pets should be small enough to fit in a small cage. This has resulted in students having snakes, cats, hamsters, rabbits and chinchillas. However, the University has also ensured that the pets are safe by ensuring that animals have their shots and are healthy. The cats are required to have a flea collar. It will not be surprising if there is a huge welcome if pet policy were changed at ASU allowing students to have them in dorms.
While pets are prohibited for reasons such as them being unhygienic, noisy, smelly, and unhealthy and can be dangerous, it is true that allowing pets in dorms can bring in more students to ASU. The Arizona State University Housing Manual states that violation of the pet policy will result in charges that may exceed $1,000 for the entire replacement of the carpet, door(s) upholstery, and the painting of walls, and deodorizing the room/house. Another commonly cited reason for not allowing pets in dorms is that pets can be allergic to some people.
Subsequently it is important for people allergic to pet induced problems to have accommodation in dorms free from pets. Animal cruelty concerns also thwart authorities from allowing pets inside dorms. At Stephens College, students pay a $200 refundable pet deposit, but they are also required to confine their pets to a kennel or cage anytime they leave their rooms (Moore, 1). The college requirements are that all animals must be less than 40 pounds in weight, and there is just one small, fenced dog run (Moore 1). There is the potential for neglect when students get caught up in schoolwork and don’t have time for pets.
However, these problems can be solved with some forethought and planning. For example, the problem of allergic reactions has been solved by the Shimer College in Waukegan, Illinois which has allowed pets for years, by allotting one pet-free dorm to accommodate students with allergies. The other dorms are full of birds, fish, snakes, various rodents, large turtles, and cats. Students who neglect to take care of pets should be held accountable and realize that owning a pet is a huge responsibility. It is possible to have registered authorities check periodically on the rooms and pets to ensure they are being taken care of (Clyburn 1).
Last and most important, while allowing pets in dorms need not necessarily eliminate all problems associated with you, students living in dorms would get adjusted to the dorm environment faster when there are pets around. In a world that is full of stress due to increased expectations from students, pets would provide the much needed relief from stress. As defined in the dictionary, stress is a physical, mental, or emotional response to events that causes bodily or mental tension. Simply put, stress is any outside force or event that has an effect on our body or mind.
Therefore, allowing pets in the dorms agrees with this description of stress. According to the resolution passed by USG in 2002 pets on campus contribute towards the mental well-being of students on campus and the enhancement of a sense of community (Yuhasz 1). Pets help in creating such a homely atmosphere in the dorm. Moreover, maintenance of pets involves some physical activity that can be de-stressing. According to MIT Housing Director Karen Nilsson, students desire companionship and a homely atmosphere in the dorm.
In fact, Dr. Wendy Libby of Stephen’s College, Columbia University (Arango 1) says that college is the place where young adults first develop independence and self-reliance as they adjust to life away from home. According to her, pets in dorms help in this growth process of developing self-reliance and reduce the stress level. The Delta Society, a nonprofit group that promotes the presence of pets in workplaces says that research shows that pets have a calming effect on people of all ages and temperaments (Moore 1).
Consequently, it can be easily seen that pets result in positive outcomes when they are allowed within dorms. They help students in handling stress in a healthy manner and also help them have a sense of homeliness in the campus. By managing them, they learn to cope with their own emotional and intellectual and physical vulnerabilities.
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In conclusion, ASU should allow pets in the dorms of ASU. It should take into consideration the many benefits acquired from such a pet policy. Presently the ASU allows fishes. Extending the pet policy to include small pets that require minimal maintenance can improve student performance and also bring in more students to ASU.
Arango, Andrea (2006). Pet-friendly dorms. The Cavalier Daily. Web.
ASU (2008). Pet Policy. Web.
Clyburn, Erin (2004). Pet-friendly dorms for future. The Reflector. Web.
Moore, Armstrong Elizabeth (2005). Animal Dorm. The Christian Science Monitor. Web.
Seaward, Luke Brian (2006). Essentials of Managing Stress. Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Warren, Dean (2000) Small Animal Care and Management. Thomas Delmar Learning.
Yuhasz, Misia (2008). Students ask for pets to be allowed back on campus. The Observer. Web.