By: Jessica Ryan ‘19
Before winter break, the only animal that had an impactful presence on campus were the geese.
Times are changing, however, as a new policy was put into place at the beginning of the 2017 spring semester that allows Resident Directors (RD) to have dogs as a pet.
Since the policy has been enacted, many RDs have adopted a new furry friend. One of these RDs is Katie Breitigan who has adopted a 3-month old yellow lab named Belle. Breitigan said, “It has been great seeing students get excited when they see Belle on our walks. She’s a cute puppy and I have had many students offer to dog sit anytime.”
The policy refers only to dogs (not cats, primarily because of increased allergies) and the RD has to receive permission in order to have a dog. The policy reads, “A Resident Director (RD) is a live-in member of the Gordon College professional staff who is responsible for the total administration and direction of one or more on-campus residence halls and the supervision of a staff of Resident Advisors and Apartment Coordinators.
Michael Curtis, Resident Life Director, said, “In recent years, a number of institutions have updated their policies to allow RDs to have dogs or cats. We were allowed only to have fish and aquatic turtles (like students). My staff had developed and submitted a pet policy proposal a few years ago, but it did not gain any traction at the time. We were able to propose the policy again and it was passed.”
Curtis continued, “The intent of this policy is to present the points for which the Gordon College RD Staff have collaborated to advocate for pet ownership, including the guidelines proposed for a safe, clean, and responsible addition of dogs to our campus community.”
Living on-campus is both necessary and can be one of the most rewarding aspects of the position for an RD. Many institutions are have started allowing pet ownership as a source of self-care for the RD, as well as a welcome addition for residents who desire interaction with an animal.
However, students with allergies will likely need to take the time to adjust to this change. Factors such as allergies, fear and general dislike of dogs were taken into consideration during the policy’s formulation process. Few colleges and universities nationwide allow pets on campus and/or service dogs, at least.
Applying the policy has various benefits. Petting a canine companion can help lower blood pressure and ease depression. People with heart disease, who own dogs, tend to live longer than those with the same ailments, who don’t own a dog. Pets also help decrease stress and can be a calm presence to an otherwise tense environment.
The outcome of the College’s new policy has brought joy to staff and students. However, when the geese return in the spring, they might be in for an unwanted surprise.