There is a golden rule one must follow in human society. There will be countless adorable little furry faces that are using every cell in their bodies to look as cute as possible for you. But you must remember not to fall in love with one of them until your ability to take them home is secured.
Alas, that rule is almost impossible for any tiny-furball-loving human to follow. Including me. I went to a humane society, and I met a kitty. We had a connection and bonded over our shared love of food, and now I love this kitty. And yet here I am, writing this article without a cute tiny kitty to distract me.
I truly believe universities all around the world need to rethink a crucial part of the learning environment they create for their students, and that is stress management. An environment focused on the needs of the student and dedicated to creating a place in which that student can learn to the best of their ability is vital to the college experience. Within this environment, the ability of a student to cope with higher amounts of stress is crucial, and that is where pets can really make an impact. Therapy animals are just recently starting to make an impact on campuses as people are realizing animals truly do help relieve stress. But having a visiting therapy animal for a few hours during exam time is nowhere near enough to actually do any permanent good. So then one could argue the justification of emotional support animals on campuses. And emotional support animals are wonderful — they are a progressive advancement in the educational reform of colleges to focus more on their students’ needs.
Now, I think colleges need to push even further in the realm of educational reform and allow all students to bring their pets to campus. The certification of a pet as an emotional support animal serves numerous purposes because it keeps a campus from having too many animals, as well as ensuring the owner is diligent and responsible in their promises to properly care for their pet while on campus. I can understand why a university would rather have a select number of specialized pets instead of allowing every student the ability to bring one. But I truly believe if a university allowed students to bring pets to campus without approval from a medical field for that student´s wellbeing the positive outcomes would outweigh any negative setbacks. When a student has their pet with them on campus, they have a permanent support system and tie to home that can help relieve stress and bring comfort during the various trials of the college experience.
Also when a student brings their pet to campus they will be forced to learn responsibility because they will be the main caretaker of this animal. They will have to maintain their pet’s normal routine and keep it in good health all while also being a full time student. Along with this any worries university staff may have about pets on campus would be settled due to the fact that the owner is fully responsible for the actions of their pet. If, for example, an animal scratches furniture in a dormitory, the student is then responsible to provide funds for new furniture.
Allowing pets on campus may seem exciting but really it is a lot of hard work to be responsible for oneself, a rigorous curriculum, as well as a pet on top of that. So personally I do not believe many more animals than what we currently see now on campus would be added if Lawrence allowed more lenient guidelines for pets on campus. But with these additional pets would come positive experiences for students as they learn valuable skills for life after Lawrence by learning how to take care of their pets by themselves. And the invaluable addition of more cute animals to our Lawrence community would bring only positive impact as students could then use their pets to relieve stress both for themselves and those around them.