Sep 5, 2009

More College Tails

Pets in a college dorm are usually restricted to minor members of the fish family—something like Tyrone, my son’s sorry-looking beta, or an equally inoffensive ornamental goldfish. But even these come with a set of responsibilities like regular facilities cleaning and/or vacation pet sitting. And anything larger would appear to pose allergy and space issues not easily resolved in typical congregate housing arrangements.

So it came as a surprise when I learned while visiting Eckerd College, in St. Petersburg, Florida, pets are not only allowed, but welcomed in dorms. I’m told pet owners are happy with the policy, and others really enjoy the interaction. Eckerd has permitted pets in dorms for decades and has had as many as 40 dwelling in three residences. Pet housing is typically full, and students are clamoring for more. Obviously, there are rules, some of which have evolved as a result of specific incidents such as the one involving the over-sized boa, but complaints appear minimal and Eckerd isn't about to ask students to leave their furry friends at home.

But Eckerd isn’t alone in its pet policies. Schools worried about losing pet-loving students to off-campus apartments are increasingly loosening pet restrictions in university housing. In fact, the trend has resulted in a ranking of the top 10 pet-friendly colleges by, which considered the kinds of pets permitted and the type of housing and number of units included. Points were also awarded based on school size, how long the school has had the policy in place, as well as prevailing rules concerning deposits or weight/breed restrictions. Here are the results:

1. Eckerd College, FL: Students are allowed to have cats and dogs (under 40 lbs.), as well as snakes and fish in 4 pet-friendly, air-conditioned dorm “clusters.”

2. Stephens College, MO: All students are required to live on campus but may have dogs, cats, hamsters, or guinea pigs on a pet floor for which they must apply in advance.

3. Washington & Jefferson College, PA: Cats, dogs (less than 40 lbs.), small birds, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, turtles and fish are permitted as long as they have been owned by student families for at least a year and are registered as well as spayed or neutered.

4. Principia College, IL: Seven dorms and university apartments allow dogs, cats, rabbits, caged animals, and aquatic pets.

5. Cal Tech, CA: All dorms allow cats, as well as small caged and aquatic animals, but rabbits and dogs are not permitted.

6. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Students staying in the Ashton Woods apartments may keep up to two “companion animals” such as dogs, cats, rabbits and fish.

7. University of Idaho: Cats and birds are permitted in all of the university’s 4 apartment-style housing buildings; fish are allowed in all dorms.

8. MIT, MA: Cats are allowed in 4 of the university’s dorms as long as owners have the written consent of their roommates, is approved by the dorm’s “Pet Chair," has all shots, is neutered, and is registered with the campus housing office.

9. State University of New York at Canton: Mohawk Hall allows a maximum of 48 pets, not including dogs or snakes.

10. Lehigh University, PA: One dog or cat is allowed to live in each fraternity and sorority house on campus.

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