New pet policy would bring few changes to current rules

by Cory KeaseyStaff Writer

Simpson College’s policy on pets may seem straightforward – students living in on-campus housing can have fish, but nothing else.

But, some students see the policy as inconsistent when they see staff members who have pets living in residence halls or faculty members with their pets in academic buildings.

Simpson is currently considering a new policy that would prohibit any animals in campus buildings.

However, this new policy would include exceptions and allow most animals to remain. Currently, this policy has been put on hold while staff and faculty have an opportunity to give feedback.

In a March 3 e-mail to faculty and staff, Brenda Wickett, assistant to the president and assistant secretary of the board of trustees, explained why the college was considering updating Simpson’s pet policy.

“Our insurance consultants have advised the college that pets in campus buildings present significant health risks,” Wickett said. “In addition to the risk of trauma-type injury, there is the potential for allergic reaction and concerns regarding sanitation.”

Area coordinators are allowed to keep one pet, but they must fulfill several requirements. The current policy states that there must be a written request for the pet and a deposit of $200. Pet owners must keep their apartments in excellent condition and as free from animal hairs and odors as possible. In addition, owners must provide a certificate of health and the pet must be confined to the staff member’s own room. If harm is caused by the pet, it will be removed immediately and permanently.

A policy has been proposed that would prohibit the presence of pets in campus buildings and residential facilities, even to visit, due to health, sanitation and noise concerns.

The proposed policy does make an exception for pets owned by faculty and staff members living in on-campus housing. This is positive news for Luke Behaunek, area coordinator for Kresge and Barker halls. Behaunek keeps a small dog, Casper, in his apartment in Barker Hall. Area coordinators in other apartments keep pets as well.

“I like the flexibility of the college to allow pets within the Residence Life professionals’ apartments, and I also appreciate that the exception for live-in staff was made in the proposed new policy,” Behaunek said.

The proposed policy also allows for service animals such as seeing eye dogs, and it makes an exception for laboratory animals used in an academic setting.

In contrast, any students that are living in campus-owned housing are not allowed any pets. This policy excludes fish kept in tanks of ten gallons or less.

“I understand why the pet policy is in place for students, and can see why it may seem unfair for area coordinators to be able to have a pet,” Sophomore David Turner said. “But it is their home, and as long as they are taking good care of the pet and cleaning up after them, there should not be a problem.”

Faculty and staff were asked to respond by March 19 with any questions or suggestions. No action on the policy has been taken yet.