The Gustavian Weekly

On-Campus Critters

By Daniel McCrackin - Opinion Columnist | April 28, 2017 | Opinion

There are many health benefits that come from taking care of a pet. Gustavus does not allow pets on campus except in special circumstances.

There are many health benefits that come from taking care of a pet. Gustavus does not allow pets on campus except in special circumstances.

Humanity has shared a bond with other animals for a long time, for farming purposes, or for companionship. As time has marched forward, so has the way modern pets are taken care of and the restrictions on where they can be. It is unfortunate there are buildings and tenements all over the world where it is simply not allowed to keep a companion, and for various reasons that is not necessarily a bad thing.

There are certain environments that are not conducive to the life and well being of certain animals. The Gustavus campus is not one of those places that poses a major risk to life and limb to any such pets. So why are they not allowed to be kept on campus?

The major arguments against them being kept is that there are numerous people who might have allergic reactions to certain animals. While valid, this argument is also true all over the country.

There will always be people in close proximity, and as the world’s population continues to grow, people’s living quarters will become closer together. Yet many of these people still keep pets and animals, and while they are hopefully respectful of those with allergies, this does not mean they have to give up their companions.

Another argument made against having a pet on campus is that there is the potential for damage. While also valid, damage is also a constant around a college campus. As college students who engage in various activities involving alcohol prove time and again, humans are the most destructive creatures around.

These problems are not to be taken lightly, yet there are also a number of benefits to keeping a pet. Having an animal companion can be a great stress relief to college students. An animal companion gives a student something to look forward to and provides an outlet for positive interactions.

While students can apply to own a therapy animal if they really need it, it is restricted by the approval of a mental health professional. Visiting a mental health professional is not necessary for all students who would benefit from having an animal companion. The companion animal could act as a stress reliever in place of sessions with a professional.

Students also learn a fair bit of responsibility from keeping a pet. A large part of going to college is learning to balance and manage responsibilities reasonably well. A student might be figuring out how to pay for college, juggle grocery shopping, as well as getting their studies done on a daily basis.

However, none of these really help teach a student how to take care of another living being, a skill that is worth pursuing not only for those who might someday wish to be parents, but also those who wish to engage with other people and animals in an empathetic manner. In denying students the privilege to keep a pet on campus, there is also a denial of an aspect of learning that could be gained.

Having animal companions may also serve to cut down on the reported irresponsible conduct that can occur on college campuses over a weekend. How many students are going to get heavily intoxicated when they know that they have an animal who needs their love and attention in the morning or later that night?

Finally, pets provide a great medium for improving social interaction between students. Playing with a pet can be a bonding activity for people and animals alike, but one that is not fully able to be pursued because of their restriction on the Gustavus campus.

In this case, the benefits to students seem to far outweigh the risks, so why can’t we have pets on campus?