This semester has been a controversial one for pet owners since the beginning with key changes most noticeable in the pet policy for the 2018 Fall Semester. Graduate Assistant and new to Wilson College Sean Alan Miller was part of the process in restructuring this new pet policy which is said to have a considerable amount of “grey area”. This “grey area” concerns; the way in which animals are secured in their crates or cages as well as the size requirements, the difference between ESA (Emotional Support Animals) and pets, and most controversially the pet fee. Due to these alarming and unfamiliar policies, Miller is conducting a redrawing of the current “generous” pet policy and is engaged with VMT professors on how to address these issues.
One area that is also discussed is the role of Pet Proctors and Residential Assistants (RA’s) and how they can deal with animals. In this, a new initiative for Pet Proctors and RA’s
is that they will be trained by VMT professors for the Spring Semester of 2019 to deal with larger animals in the room. This will allow more of an influence when it comes to problems with larger animals and ESA’s. Essentially, Miller hopes to assemble a committee to address the “grey area” issues and “ideally have a senior from the VMT Club…do their thesis on the pet policy” to address the “little things that don’t line up”.
Moreover, the most drastic and noticeable change to the pet policy is the implementation of a Pet Registration Fee. This fee according to Jared Hirtz, Director of Reslife and Dean of students Mary Beth Williams, was introduced by President of the college, President Mistic, and the cabinet at an approximate starting price of $100. Hirtz of Reslife, highlights the research done on other colleges and the fees they implement at West Virginia University and Echard College to be upward of $100. The implementation of these fees has a variety of implications for students and their pets to promote further responsibility of having a pet on campus. It is important to note that ESA’s are not part of the fee, by law the college can not charge students for having an ESA on campus. Hirtz of Reslife notes that the fee was discussed with students as well highlighting that some Hall Senators and pet owners were asked their opinion on the matter. With Wilson College being such a pet friendly campus there are bound to be numerous pets registered as it currently stands at thirty-forty registered pets excluding ESA’s. Dean Mary Beth notes that the fee was implemented “because of high numbers of pets on campus”.
You might be asking where this money goes or what it might go to? According to Dean Mary Beth Williams it goes to such remediation services as: additional costs, dead pet removal program and maintenance. Essentially the fee is comparable to paying rent and assuming responsibility. With a large amount of grey area in the pet policy, students can expect to see changes as soon as next semester.