Campus pets are being evicted

By Catharine Hernson
November 8, 2001

A discrepancy in the student handbook pet policy may affect the lives of many fish on Cabrini’s campus. The fish have to go due to the recent interpretation of the policy.

Residence life was notified of two conflicting policies in the student handbook that left a loophole for students to bring pet fish to live at school. One policy, on page 111, stated that pets of any kind were prohibited except for non-meat-eating fish in a tank less than five gallons. On the following page the policy stated that absolutely no pets of any kind are allowed in residence halls.

When the conflict was found, David Carpenter, Director of Residence Life, had to make a decision on what to do about the fish. It was decided that students would have until the end of the semester to remove all the pets and associated products. Fish and other pets must be removed by Dec. 15 with no exceptions.

Students do not agree with the administration on the policy. ‘They want it to feel like home to you, but they won’t let you bring everything that makes it feel like home,” said Christina Callahan, a freshman.

“I think it’s heinous,” said Antonio Masone, a sophomore.

Dr. Laura Valente, vice president of student development, has had to explain why the policy was changed since the notice went out to all students. “It’s not the existence of the pet fish that’s problematic, it’s the tank that can potentially cause a flood and damage to room. Further, we have the concern about how the pets of any kind will be taken care of over the break.”

The policy was changed not to take away the students’ rights but to protect the buildings and the pets themselves. Tanks have to be maintained carefully, some with chemicals that need to be added a few times a month. Over a long break, like the month long winter break, these requirements cannot be met and the fish may die. Also, a concern is when students go on these long breaks the school will shut down power in the residence hall again leaving dead fish in the room for weeks.

It is the dead fish that is a sanitation concern for Residence Life. Leaving a dead animal in a confined space for more than a few days may cause an odor. This would be a problem for more than just the students in the room.

There are also students who have no problem complying with the updated policy. “Accidents can happen. The next thing you know there are fish all over the floor and water everywhere,” said Michelle Palandro, sophomore.

There have also been concerns with how roommates handle the fish. David Carpenter relayed that there have been times that one roommate ate the other’s fish and a room change was requested quickly after.

There are always exceptions to every rule. Carpenter told of a prospective student who uses a seeing-eye dog wanting to live on campus next year. The department does not yet know how to handle this situation but is working to do what is best for the student and the school.

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Catharine Hernson

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