Can I Take My Pet to College?

Many students who are enrolling in their first year at a college or university feel that one of the easiest ways to transition is to have pets at college, as a sort of built-in support system in their dorm room. Unfortunately, however, this is rarely possible at most of the colleges and universities in the United States. There are many reasons why the practice of bringing a pet to college has been prohibited at most schools, including the potential for allergies, proper care of the pet throughout the academic year, and cleanliness issues that could affect an entire room, suite, floor, or dormitory building. Noise issues have also raised concerns at some campuses, and this has led to an outright ban on having pets in most dorm rooms. With that said, however, the ban on pets isn’t in place at all colleges nationwide.

A New Stance on Pets: At Some Schools, They’re Now Welcome

While the vast majorities of American colleges and universities have a no-pets policy clearly spelled out in their student code of conduct, this policy has been repealed at some smaller institutions across the country. The most recent school to repeal such a rule is Delaware Valley University, located just outside the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The school once banned all pets from its on-campus housing options, but instituted a new policy that allows students to bring a dog to campus. Beginning this year, the school is piloting the program in just a handful of its dorms. If successful, the policy will expand to all on-campus residence facilities in 2016. Other schools, from smaller liberal arts colleges on the east coast to larger, state-funded universities in the western and southwestern parts of the country, have also implemented similar changes.

So, What’s the Catch?

Bringing pets to campus offers both great opportunity and great responsibility to today’s students. First and foremost, students at pet-friendly colleges and universities will be presented with an entirely separate list of rules and conduct guidelines. They must take care of their pet, clean up after the pet according to university standards, and ensure that noise or other issues do not become a significant nuisance to students sharing common areas or floor space with the pet. In most cases, a disciplinary system governs the inclusion of a pet in university housing. If students are found to be ignoring these crucial rules, they’ll be asked to remove the pet from their on-campus residence.

Essentially, the catch is that the pet must be clean, friendly, and well-behaved. If not, it stops being in the university’s best interest to permit the practice in its dorms. The university must, after all, watch out for the safety and well being of its students, and not just animal lovers, above all. Students who are considering bringing a pet to campus for any reason, should make sure they receive permission from university officials before they take any action.

A Rare Opportunity at Universities Across the Country

Without a doubt, pets in on-campus housing remain a rare sight at most colleges and universities in the United States. Even so, the official stance on bringing a pet to campus continues to soften as administrators continue to study the safety, feasibility, and long-term benefits of the practice. Students who wish to have pets at college should perform careful research on each school’s policies regarding this emerging privilege in on-campus dorms.