Pets, theme houses discussed

Ray Feller

Monday’s meeting of LUCC saw the approval of the theme house recommendations and the tabling of Residence Life’s new proposal for pet legislation. The Committee on Committees reported on their 15 May meeting. Eight students were selected to join the Judicial Board: Angela Frocillo, Laura Gray, Erin Knapp, Danielle Knight, Adam Locke, Dwight Mills, Ryan Peterson, and Nina Weisling.

The Theme House Selection Committee reviewed eight applications based on each group’s “demonstrated need for such premium living space as well as the benefits the theme would provide to the Lawrence and/or Appleton communities.”

This year, only three houses were allocated for theme houses, following eight groups being given formal group housing. The Backstage: Theatre Outreach House, The E.A.R.T.H. House, and The Language House were given houses. Both the E.A.R.T.H. House and the Language House had theme houses for 2001-2002.

Representatives from the Asian Culture House and Religious Tolerance House were present to refute the board’s decision, asking in both cases for reasons why their houses were not selected. Members of the committee defended their decision, insisting that the selected houses had best expressed that their group’s survival depended on having a house. The council put the recommendations to a vote, which was approved.

The discussion next shifted to a proposal from Residence Life regarding pet legislation. The changes challenge current policy to allow fraternity houses to have cats or dogs.

While with the current system this has been a fraternity right, with formal group housing in place and homes no longer belonging solely to a single group, Residence Life recommended prohibiting these pets.

In a copy of the proposed changes to the student handbook, Residence Life provided rationale for their decision in the categories of “Health Reasons,” “Group Membership,” “Equity and Flexibility,” “Physical Plant,” “Animal Rights,” and “Fraternity Pets and Formal Group Housing.”

Amy Uecke, Assistant Dean for Residence Life, explained that a lot of students on campus are allergic to cats and dogs. She reported that dander from these pets can last for years, even if fraternities remove their furniture, curtains, and carpeting.

In the interest of allowing all students the opportunity to live in these houses, Uecke said that Residence Life had concluded that cats and dogs would no longer be permitted.

Arguments on both sides of the issue came both from the council and from the spectators. Randall Edwards pointed out that pets have a lot of value to the campus, and specifically mentioned how the two dogs currently owned by the fraternities bring smiles to faces.

Uecke said that she understands that students want the freedom to choose a pet, but that students with allergies also want the freedom to choose housing, and that needs to be considered.

The discussion focused on equity and whether having cats and dogs as options means limiting group membership. Vice President Cene Ketcham moved to call the question, but was not able to get a second, as students on the council wished to discuss the matter further.

Community member Adam Locke pointed out that the decision to have Formal Group Housing was to extend the fraternity lifestyle to other students, not to end it.

The discussion was concluded by tabling the proposal until next week, when students in can bring amendments to the proposal.

Finance Committee passed new legislation, including the ability for LUCC to fund student group travel as well as lodging and registration at conferences. Earlier in the meeting, Finance Committee reported that LU College Democrats had been given an allocation for $219.00 of their $339.00 requested for attending a conference because money for transportation is against the current by-laws.