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The Blue & Gray Press | August 22, 2019

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Pet possession decreases depression


College is supposed to be your home away from home. You live here, you eat here and you spend the majority of the year here, but you cannot keep your pets here. As outlined by the student handbook, the University of Mary Washington only allows fish, in a tank that cannot exceed 10 gallons, in on-campus housing.

If a resident is found in violation of this policy, he or she “will be fined and will be given 24 hours to remove the animals from the premises,” otherwise, the animal will be turned over to Animal Control and the University will file judicial charges against the resident, according to the Residence Life Frequently Asked Questions webpage.

In a Bullet conducted poll of 54 students, 41 students agreed that pets should be allowed in on-campus housing, but only in certain buildings, such as the UMW Apartments or Eagle Landing.

Two students thought that residents should be allowed to have pets in any building, so long as those pets were small, such as hamsters or gerbils. Only 11 students believed that the pet policy should stay the same.

When 43 of the polled students were asked if they would bring a pet on campus if they were allowed, only 17 said that they would.

The major factor that seemed to sway people’s decisions was consideration of their peers with animal allergies. However, many students agreed that, by limiting the pet-acceptable policy to specific buildings, residents would be able to avoid setting off allergic reactions.

The individuals who were satisfied with the current policy attributed their standings to issues of both cost of caring for a pet and cleanliness of a living space once a pet was introduced.

However, an article on Animal Planet’s website outlines many health benefits of owning and having a pet close by. The best benefit that pets provide is a sense of purpose to their owners, which helps with moments of depression or anxiety. This information is significant considering both depression and anxiety “rank as the most common mental disorders treated at college counseling centers,” according to the American Psychological Association.

Ultimately, students could benefit from allowing pets on campus, especially if the policy is limited to specific dorms. Of course, restrictions that dictate the size of the animal and offer a penal system for noise and cleanliness issues should be implemented. However, students should be allowed to have the option to make this university their true home.