It’s the end of summer and colleges are reopening for a new semester — sadly, for many college students, that means parting with their beloved pets, who are usually not allowed in dorms.
But now, one university is making headlines with a new program that allows students to bring their pets to school.
Ferris State University, a public university in Big Rapids, Michigan, is welcoming some furry friends to campus this semester as they start a new pilot program for a pet-friendly residence hall floor.
It’s an unusual and unique program that officials say is meant to help students cope with anxiety and homesickness.
“One of the reasons that we made the decision to do this is just by listening to our students,” Lisa Ortiz, the university’s director of housing and residence life, told CNN. “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.”
For now, the pet-friendly dorming is limited to the second floor floor of Cramer Hall, one of the school’s 14 dorm buildings. Students are limited to one pet, agree to clean up after their animals and pay a $250 fee.
According to CNN, the students must have had the pets for six months and show proof of their shots and spaying/neutering. The pets are not limited to just cats and dogs: the university says that animals like snakes, lizards and bunnies are also allowed.
The program has been immediately popular with students who jumped at the chance to live with their pets in the Ferris State dorms. Senior Matt Schmoyer submitted an early contract to secure a room so he could live with his golden retriever Pike, whom he has raised from a puppy.
“You don’t really realize it until you have your pet on campus, but it’s definitely a big positive change,” Schmoyer told MLive/The Grand Rapids Press. “He’s a big stress reliever that wasn’t there when I was here (living on campus) previously.”
“He’s family… Just having someone else in the dorm besides your roommate is nice – having a friendly face to come home to.” He added that things have been calm in the unique dorm so far, with students bringing in a variety of animals including his roommate’s pet python.
Ferris State University backed up the new program by citing a 2021 study that shows that students living with pets experience lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as lower anxiety and stress levels.
“We know many students struggle with depression, anxiety and homesickness when they start college, and sometimes the answer is to bring a little bit of home with them,” Ortiz said in a statement. “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.”
Most schools do not allow pets on campus, with exceptions for registered service animals. Ferris State University’s program, if successful, could lead to more colleges and universities implementing pet-friendly dorming.
Ortiz said that if things go well, the university may expand to more pet-friendly amenities on campus, such as a dog park.
What an exciting new program — we know a lot of college students would jump at the chance to live with their pets in their dorm rooms!
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