Wesleyan needs more domestic animals on campus. Specifically, we need puppies or dogs. These lovely furry friends will provide many benefits to the campus population. Dogs facilitate many important things. They encourage conversation and socialization, relieve stress, provide comfort in difficult times, and serve as friendly vessels of fun and sunshine that will brighten everyone’s day. With all of these benefits, which I’ll take the time to deconstruct, why wouldn’t Wesleyan want more dogs on campus?
Dogs are very social animals. They are generally very friendly. As a result, many have a tendency to, upon seeing a new person, immediately run up and introduce themselves in a dog-like manner, be it with friendly kisses or an investigative nose. This friendly behavior breaks down existing social barriers and facilitates conversation between people who would otherwise be unlikely to interact on this level. With the many different formal and informal social groups on campus, socialization between groups can be difficult. This leads to a less cohesive campus overall. So, with that in mind, policies regarding dogs on campus should be relaxed in order to break down social barriers and create a more interconnected campus.
For example, this past Sunday morning, as I stopped by ‘Swings for my breakfast pail, I noticed a puppy. Every few minutes, this puppy would attract passersby to stop and play. While there, people would introduce themselves. Some people would have longer conversations than others, but conversations nonetheless. This puppy facilitated socialization, and at least temporarily broke down any social barriers that may have discouraged this interaction. This is a perfect example of how dogs and puppies can make campus more welcoming and interconnected.
Dogs also are great stress relievers. They just are. Anyone who has a dog, or has ever interacted with a dog, will know that they help you take your mind off of things. This is true not just for dog owners, who inherit a routine that takes them out of a solely scholarly mindset. When passersby interact with dogs, the former have reduced stress just by encountering a smiling puppy face. Dogs help people cope with the rigors of life, including the strenuous academic workload here at Wesleyan. This is compounded by the rule of seven advised to incoming first years: getting enough sleep, getting good grades, having a social life, taking four classes, and another extracurricular of your choosing. And this is the minimum. Life can be stressful. And dogs are an easy source of reliable stress relief for everyone. Dogs will ensure that this campus is more relaxed and able to cope with the stress of everyday life.
A great example of dogs being used to relieve stress comes from the many colleges and universities that bring dogs or puppies to campus during finals. On March 15, Brandeis University’s Psychological Counseling Center hosted a “Puppies and Pizza” party that brought therapy dogs to campus for students taking a break from their studies. Many colleges bring in therapy dogs in addition to or instead of puppies, as therapy dogs would theoretically provide greater therapeutic relief than puppies. In my opinion, so long as there are dogs, young or old, trained for therapy or not, students will relax and study for their exams better and subsequently perform better on them.
Similarly, dogs will brighten most anyone’s day. Dogs and puppies are full of energy and love to play. By virtue of being with a puppy, this happiness is contagious, and spreads, thereby making everyone happier. If Wesleyan had a more relaxed animal policy, students would be happier. Happier students equal more productive students who do better in all aspects of life.
Overall, a greater puppy/dog presence on campus will greatly improve many aspects of student life. Dogs facilitate socialization, help relieve stress, and spread happiness and joy. These are all qualities that I believe the administration would want on campus. However, Wesleyan’s pet policy is quite harsh, and imposes heavy fines for even brief stays from pets from home: “The University has a pet policy because of the health and safety considerations of our students and staff and the challenges presented by adding animals to our already densely-populated residential campus.”
I do agree that animals do pose some problems, but these are outweighed by the social benefits of a greater dog presence on campus. And this policy assumes that the instant the policy becomes more lenient, every student who has a dog will bring it to campus. This is simply not true. Not everyone has the time to take care of a dog while being a full-time student. A more relaxed policy will only bring current dog owners out of hiding and bring those who were on the fence about violating the policy to getting off the fence. Current dog owners on campus would feel freer to share their dogs with the campus and spread all of the benefits that come with them. Wesleyan needs a more relaxed pet policy to let more dogs live on campus in order to create a more cohesive, less-stressed, and happier student body.
McCarthy is a member of the class of 2018.
Wesleyan’s Official Pet Policy
Pets are not permitted in any student housing with the exception of fish in 10-gallon tanks or smaller. No other pets or animals are permitted in student residences at any time, even for a brief visit. Students and their roommates who have an unapproved pet or animal found in their residence are subject to the following: a $300 fine for the first offense and SJB referral. The second offense results in a $500 fine, another SJB meeting, and repeat visits to ensure the pet is gone.