A new breed of roommate


by Ashley Pitkin

Last year, Ally Christenson lived in Kresge and had a great roommate – one who was always there, listened to everything she had to say, liked its belly scratched and used the litter box instead of peeing on the carpet.

“When my roommate moved away first semester I was lonely, so I got a kitten from a friend who’s farm cat just had a litter,” Christenson, a sophomore, said. “Oskr is his name and he lived with me all of second semester.

Oskr now lives in Des Moines with Christenson’s parents. He’s one of the many pets who have illegally lived in campus housing. According to housing rules, fish are the only pets permitted to be in campus living quarters.

“It was a lot of hard work and I know I broke the rules,” Christenson said. “I’m lucky I didn’t get caught.”

The hardest part of having Oskr, according to Christenson, was keeping him a secret – making sure maintenance and neighbors didn’t sniff him out.

“I had the littler box tucked away in my closet and I cleaned it constantly,” Christenson said. “I took good care of Oskr.”

Mandy Fox, director of residence life, believes having a pet in campus housing is unfair to both the animal and to other students.

“Rules about pets exist for many reasons, the big one being we have students who live on campus and have allergies – a cat on the third floor can bother a person with allergies on the first floor,” Fox said.

She said while pets may bother other residents, on-campus living may be bad for their health as well.

“It’s not fair to the animals,” Fox said. “Students don’t have the time or space to care for an animal.”

Fox, so far, hasn’t had a problem with students keeping pets on campus, but does have a policy if the issue should arise.

“If I was told a student had an animal, like a cat, on campus I’d give them 24 hours to remove it,” Fox said. “After that I’d be willing to march up there myself with the cat carrier. It’s not something I want to do, or have had do yet but I would in order to keep housing a safe and comfortable place for all students.”

Fox sympathizes with students who miss having pets because she misses living with her dogs. However, Fox suggests students try having fish.

“Get fish – I know they’re not furry and cuddly but for many students they offer the same amount of companionship as would other pets,” Fox said.

As for Christenson, she misses seeing Oskr watch students out the window but is glad Oskr is at home with her mom.

“I miss having a pet but now I have my roommate,” Christenson said.