After low participation in pilot, pet-friendly community lowers cost
Participation in the pet-friendly community has only grown slightly in the program’s second year, despite efforts designed to improve the college experience of students living with pets. The program takes place in Myers Hall on the first and second floors, with room for 92 students and their furry family member.
Currently, there are about eight participants in the community.
Location for the community hasn’t changed, but the registration fee of $200 has been reduced to $100 for dogs and cats. Caged animals such as gerbils, hamsters and turtles come with a $50 registration fee.
Residence Life extended the 2018-2019 pilot in an effort to “gauge responses from students,” according to Kendra Skinner, director of Residence Life. Last year, Skinner said about five individuals participated, despite the numerous requests from prospective students.
To improve student engagement, the department discussed potentially establishing a focus group to analyze the efficiency of the pet policy and current standards of the pet-friendly community. Methods such as adding new housing options were not on up for negotiation, however adjusting the registration price was a compromise that lead to rising numbers in participants.
“Extending the community into other dorms is not in the interest of the department due to the response of participants do far,” Skinner said. “ Myers provides adequate living for pets, having things like tile floors and lots of outdoor space.”
The policy has many stipulations regarding weight, age and family membership. Fostered or adopted animals are not permitted, as stated in the policy. These limitations eliminate the challenge of bonding, house breaking and training new animals.
“Attending college can be a time consuming and stressful process,” Skinner said. “I, too, am a new pet owner, so I understand what it takes to get established with a new pet.”
Skinner continued supporting the policy by mentioning the time it takes getting established in college for the first time, as well as getting adjusted to class. The time away from your room and pet can vary depending on the day. Being unable to control your four-legged friend can result in a disturbance fine.
“The pet-friendly community has allowed students to reduce anxiety, ease stress, increase exercise, and socialization,” Skinner stated in a press release.
It is not to be confused with the emotional support and service animal policy, which the emotional support animal policy defines the “ESA” as one that improves the identified symptoms or effects of a disability. It does allow more variety in pet options, however, it does have strict rules about keeping small animals caged in the assigned room and not allowing the animal to disrupt the quality of life of other residents.
The pet-friendly program allows Southeast the opportunity to diversify its housing options in appealing to students, Skinner stated,primarily for incoming freshmen.