Stephens College has a reputation for providing students with a superior fashion curriculum, theater and dance and intimate classroom settings, but there is an eminent quality that makes Stephens unique: pets.
Stephens welcomes the presence of dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, rats, mice, gerbils, sugar gliders, guinea pigs, lizards and birds. This unique recruitment tactic – to allow women to share their new home with a pet – has caused students without pets to have constant complaints and restless nights.
Beginning in 2004, beloved animals were introduced in Searcy Hall. After increased interest, Stephens has extended the program to Prunty Hall, the second and third floor of Tower Hall and the first floor of Wood Hall.
For friends Haley Padilla, junior film student, and Antonia Howard, third-year technical theater student, all of the animals have become too overwhelming. Both Padilla and Howard have allergies and enjoy living a pet-free lifestyle.
“It’s not fair for those of us who have allergies or don’t want to deal with the noise and smell,” Padilla said. “Don’t get me wrong, I think animals are great. I just think there needs to be a limit on this campus. Our housing options are already so limited that it doesn’t make sense to keep narrowing it down for us.”
Padilla and Howard made the decision, or felt “forced”, to move to Columbia Hall because that was the only place at the time that did not allow pets.
As sophomores, the two women chose to live in Pillsbury Hall with the freshmen to avoid animals at all costs. They wanted to live in Pillsbury Hall again this year, but a pet floor was being added when room assignments were taking place last semester.
“Obviously, they ended up making changes to that option and adding the floor in Tower, but we were already irritated enough that we decided to stay with Columbia,” Padilla said.
Padilla said that she is concerned that pets are being treated better and before the students.
“By making more and more pet areas available, it almost feels like they are putting the pets above the students. The number of places that pets should be allowed should definitely be limited. I think we are at the maximum amount now,” she said.
Although Padilla is concerned with the number of pets, she doesn’t see responsibility for the pet owners to be a problem. However, Andie Albin, senior graphic design major, said responsibility is her only problem with the program.
“Since I have a dog on campus, I enjoy the program, but often feel like pet owners as a whole could be more responsible,” Albin said.
Albin said she is eager for Residence Life to create punishments and enforce harsher consequences for students who are being irresponsible by not controlling or taking proper care of their pet.
Those students without pets, however, are putting their foot down in regards to the constant barking in the dog pen early in the morning or late at night, the smell of a dorm room that is not cleaned by the owner and animal whining throughout the course of the day.
Third-year theater student Emma Delfosse said she welcomes the idea of having pets on campus and “doesn’t see what the fuss is about.”
“I’m a huge animal lover and so the fact that there are so many pets on campus makes me really happy,” Delfosse said. “They are great for people to have and to be around because they can help keep people calm and help to reduce their stress.”
At Stephens College, there seems to be a good mixture of people who enjoy the company of animals on campus, students who want nothing to do with pets and others who feel that there simply needs to be more rules and regulations. Will there soon be more animals than students at Stephens? Only time will tell.
Story by junior Anne Robertson