Cats and dogs will be new residents in South Hall next fall for the new “Pet Hall” pilot program. David Tuttle, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, has been pursuing university approval of the program for several years.
Tuttle was motivated to start the Pet Hall to fulfill a student need on campus.
“I think our students would generally enjoy the opportunity to have pets on campus. With the three-year residency requirement, I want upperclass students to leave campus thinking that they had a good experience,” Tuttle said.
Wanda Olson, assistant director for housing operations, has been overseeing the research of the new pet-friendly dorm. The policies of ten other universities across the country were analyzed before the pilot program was drafted.
Sophomore, junior and senior students are eligible for the program. Students must submit an application, an application fee of $15, veterinary records and pictures of the pet. Once the application is accepted, students will interview in front of a panel.
“I think students may find the process to be a bit tedious and the interviews to be a hassle, but we can always lighten up in the future. What we need is to start slow and see how it goes and then determine if we can start to make it less limiting,” Tuttle said. “I don’t want people to look at this and say this is too much work. We want to do it well and do it right, so it will be fully operational in the future.”
South Hall was selected as the dorm for the Pet Hall because of its location, according to Olson.
“South Hall was selected for the number of reasons “” the number of rooms and the location for the dog park that will be in between North and South Lounge,” Olson said.
Only one pet is allowed per dorm only two pets per suite. If there are two pets in a suite, the pets must be within the same species.
Pets have to be 18 months old and have been in your family for a year, which will be checked through veterinarian records. The dogs cannot be larger than 30 pounds. There are restrictions on dog breeds that exclude pit bulls, Rottweilers, wolf breeds or any mix of these.
Regarding the 18 months old requirement for pets, Olson said that, “The purpose for that is so the student will be well acquainted with that pet and know its behavior, as well as the family to be comfortable sending their pet off to college with the student.”
If students are selected, they must have their roommate and suitemates sign a consent form and submit a $150 non-refundable registration fee.
“This fee goes towards the upkeep of the grounds and buying pet waste bags for the fenced in area for the dogs,” Olson said.
The Pet Hall is an effort to make the living experience better for students, according to Tuttle.
“One of the things that we do for upperclass students is block housing, so that students can live with their friends. The second thing is what we’ve done with the renovation in North Hall and by addressing student privacy needs with single rooms. By having a Pet Hall, it’s really a continuation of that trend, by giving students another opportunity to improve their experience,” Tuttle said.
There are many benefits behind the Pet Hall for upperclass students, according to Olson.
“This will give upperclass students something to look forward to, as well as the comfort of having a pet for students that have grown up with pets their whole lives. This allows them to bring their family pet with them. It will be like bringing a little piece of home with you,” Olson said.
Benjamin Gomez, junior (marketing, management, and ISM in entertainment business) major, believes pets are beneficial to students’ mental health.
“Pets are historically a therapeutic reliever of stress and anxiety. I think it’s great there’s finally a place on campus where pets and students can coexist,” Gomez said.
Tuttle emphasized that the university could have easily denied the pilot program instead of approving it.
“There’s every reason in the world for the university to say “˜no’ to this. What if an animal has fleas? What if somebody’s allergic? What if they damage the dorms? What if they bite someone? I really appreciate that the university has approved this as a pilot program to see how this will go. I’m a fan of taking safe risks and I think this is a safe one to take,” Tuttle said.
The pilot program will run for a year and then the university will analyze whether it was successful and if it will continue in the future.
“The success of the program is really determined by the responsibility of the students to make this a positive experience for the community and the pets. At the end of the first year, we will assess the program,” Olson said.
There will be two information sessions on Feb. 17 and Mar. 1 for students to learn more about the Pet Hall.