By Courtney Klaus, Editor-In-Chief
Newman could be the first university in Kansas to approve a policy allowing students to bring cats and dogs with them to live on campus, Director of Residence Life Scott Mudloff said.
The administration is giving strong consideration to reopening Merlini Hall as a pet-friendly residence hall in the fall semester and is currently looking to approve a draft of the policy.
Mudloff said his hope is that a new policy will encourage more people to live in the residence halls and “improve the vibe” on campus after the number of students living in the halls has decreased in recent years.
“Not many places are doing it, but those that do seem to be having a lot of success with it…The thinking was it’s better be on the front end of this trend and not the back end,” Mudloff said.
The proposed policy would open the hall only to indoor cats and certain breeds of dogs that weigh less than 40 pounds, said Mudloff, and all animals must be spayed or neutered and receive proper vaccinations before being approved to live on campus.
The details of the proposed policy, such as the application process, eligible pets and associative restrictions are actively being worked out and discussed, Mudloff said.
In previous years, the only pets that were allowed on campus had to be either fish or emotional support animals registered through the Americans with Disabilities Act Office. The ADA Office has its own set of restrictions that will not be affected by a new pet policy.
Nursing student Lauren Keith lives in Fugate with her emotional support dog Izzie.
Keith said Izzie provides her with comfort and companionship and said she is happy to hear more students could have the opportunity to own a pet on campus.
“I think pets can be very calming, and college can be stressful, so I think it’s a good thing…Like whenever you’re upset she’ll come up to you and rub her head against you. I think there’s a thing animals have where they can just know when people are upset. It’s just been really been good for me and my friends,” Keith said.
Lauren’s friend, graduating senior Hannah Rood, said having Lauren’s dog around has been therapeutic for her too, and that, had the school had a pet-friendly hall sooner, she would have adopted a dog.
Junior Fugate resident Jacob Kleespie said he is a bit more skeptical of the policy. He said he thinks the policy seems like a good idea to get students excited but worries the dogs will not have an adequate indoor and outdoor environment.
“As much as I would love to not to have to leave my two dogs at home and instead have them with me when I’m on campus, I don’t feel like the limited amount of space they’d have to roam and play in a college dorm would be what’s best for the dogs,” he said.
Vice President of Student Affairs Vic Trilli said he knew from student athletes he talked to that there was a strong desire to bring pets on campus. He said he hopes the policy will show that Newman is listening to what the students want.
“I’m excited about where we are going with this. One, for the students, and two, for Newman to be aggressive with the needs of what students may want. I like the idea of bringing more students on campus,” he said.
Merlini Hall was closed this academic year to lower costs and fill vacancies in the other residence halls. It was decided earlier this year that Merlini was to reopen in the fall.