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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Opinion: Texas State should allow a greater variety of pets in residence halls

Pets+on+campus+illustration
Pets on campus illustration

Texas State currently only allows two kinds of pets within on-campus housing: emotional support animals and “fish contained in aquariums no larger than 10 gallons.”
The university’s position is that other animals pose multiple health concerns, are unpredictable and may “contribute to accidents.” This policy, while on the surface logical, is arbitrary in practice and denies opportunities for residents to have other safe pets besides fish within their on-campus housing.
Texas State should modify its pet policy to allow a greater variety of pets in on-campus housing. This change would create positive mental wellbeing in students.
The only non-emotional support animal pets allowed under current university policy are fish due to their relative ease of care and ability to contain them in a tank. Yet this completely ignores other non-fish creatures that are just as easy to care for and can have them kept in a maximum of a 10-gallon tank.
Animals such as African dwarf frogs, small-aquatic creatures that grow to about 2.5 inches, are easy to take care of and require at “least a 5-gallon tank.” African dwarf frogs are efficiently the same as freshwater fish in pet care. Yet, they are banned while freshwater fish are allowed.
Other animals easily set up in small terrariums, such as tortoises or hermit crabs, should be allowed in residence halls. These creatures, considered easy to care for, should not be banned while fish are permitted. The university’s current pet policy needs to be more logical regarding what pets are allowed in on-campus housing.
An example of a favorable university policy toward pet ownership in on-campus housing can be found at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. Eckerd is a private liberal arts college located on the waterfront in St. Petersburg. However, Eckerd is fascinating because it is considered the “most pet-friendly college in the United States.”
At Eckerd College, first-semester students can register small pets with the university and bring them into approved housing as long as they can be caged. Students are also able to get large animals into certain dormitories.
Eckerd’s website states, “We know that by bringing your dog or cat or ferret, you’re bringing a little bit of home with you.” According to the administration at Eckerd, the result of this policy is a happier student population that is better able to stay connected to their homes while living at college.
There are some significant differences between Eckerd College and Texas State. Eckerd is a small private school with a student population of around 2,000. In contrast, Texas State is a large public university with a population of about 40,000. The policy at Eckerd should be a blueprint for the favorable pet policy Texas State could implement.
The most apparent benefit this new pet policy would provide is improved mental health for students living on campus. The first year of college can be pretty scary for many students; moving out and living alone for the first time is a significant transformation that all first years must go through.
A National Library of Medicine report found that “at least 30.5% of students experienced feelings of depression” and around “70% … have been found to experience homesickness.” Pets provide a feeling of homeliness to an area and allow for an emotional connection in unfamiliar places. In addition, a study found that “animals can reduce loneliness [and] increase feelings of social support.”
The university already allows students to apply for emotional support animals if they are experiencing forms of anxiety or depression. Texas State should consider changing the pet policy for the better. This change would be more inclusive and better support the mental wellbeing of the on-campus population.
-James Phillips is a history freshman
The University Star welcomes Letters to the Editor from its readers. All submissions are reviewed and considered by the Editor-in-Chief and Opinion Editor for publication. Not all letters are guaranteed for publication.

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