A Michigan-based university has introduced a new program starting this year that will see student pets allowed to live on the upper floor of Cramer Hall, located on Ferris State’s Big Rapids campus. It’s all part of an effort by the university to appeal to students who don’t want to or can’t bear to leave their pets behind at home.
While most colleges still ban pets from living on campus, several have opened up to the idea in recent years in order to compete. One of them is Eckerd College in Florida, which holds an annual graduation ceremony for student pets.
Colleges Compete for Students
Another of the nearly three dozen colleges permitting pets in dorms now is Stephens College, a private women’s school situated in Columbia, Missouri, that touts itself as being the “pet-friendliest campus on the planet.”
By way of explanation, Ferris State aptly noted that pets help students who may be struggling with depression, anxiety, and homesickness.
“Students may really miss that dog they’ve had since they were a little kid or that cat they got when they were 12 years old,” remarked Lisa Ortiz, Ferris State’s director of Housing and Residential Life, before adding, “Sometimes the answer is to bring a little bit of home with them.”
Pet-Friendly Pilot Program
Under the school’s new pet-friendly yet fairly stringent guidelines, students are only permitted to have one pet cohabitating with them. They must also have had their pets for at least six months prior to enrollment or request, so it doesn’t apply to new puppies or kittens.
Of course, pet owners must provide proof of all necessary shots and a certificate of spay or neuter. Students who qualify will also be charged an additional $250 for the luxury of having their pets live with them.
Ferris State University, which is celebrating its 139th anniversary this year, has approximately 8,000 students enrolled at its Big Rapids campus. They added that there is ample research to support the many benefits of pet ownership, including companionship, better health, and motivation to stay physically fit.
Listening to Student Input
Ortiz explained to CNN, “One of the reasons that we made the decision to do this is just by listening to our students. Students have been very vocal in letting us know they would like to bring their pets to campus if there was an environment that would welcome them.” She noted that the university picked Cramer Hall due to the fact that the flooring is vinyl, which is much easier to clean than carpet.
While it is a new program, the university acknowledged that students who have pets in their rooms report decreased feelings of isolation, which is a huge plus the first time you’re living miles away from home, family, and friends.
Alleviating Isolation & Depression
“Right now, we’re not limiting any pets,” Ortiz continued. “It should be a typical household pet, so we’re expecting dogs and cats, but I’ve had conversations with students about whether or not a snake, lizard, or bunny would be allowed, and they are at this point.”
If all goes well at the end of the trial run, Ferris could potentially expand the pilot program to include a dog park and other pet-friendly amenities down the line, according to Ortiz.Whizzco