For those living in the residence halls a trip home generally guarantees two things, a home cooked meal and visiting with family, for others there is the bonus of reuniting with their best friend – often their dog or cat or other household animal.
Animals with gills are the only pets permitted within the residence halls. The specific guidelines can be found within the Residence Hall Handbook and read:
* Residents are permitted to have fish in their rooms. Residents having pets other than fish may face disciplinary action and be charged for damages or cleaning.
* Students are permitted to have aquariums provided the aquarium is stocked with fish only. Aquariums must be no larger then 25 gallons.
* Snakes, turtles, salamanders, newts, frogs and rodents are specifically prohibited.
While many residents brought their fish from home at the beginning of the year, those that did not, are offered many opportunities to find a scaled replacement for their furry buddies.
Goldfish bowls and food were given as a prize in a carnival-style game during Ram Welcome in the Lory Student Center. Programming Activities Council (PAC) also sponsored an evening in which students were allowed to decorate bowls and were given beta fish to add the final touch.
Occasionally there are students who feel they cannot live without their fuzzy buddy and that is when housing intervenes. The general policy regarding illegal pets is that the staff will work with the student and will usually involve a meeting with the hall director.
Mary-Ellen Sinnwell, director of Residence Life said events revolving around illegal pets are generally minimal and there have been no major incidents so far this year.
"We do a really good job of sharing pet policies" said Sinnwell. "The students are very well informed. They typically know they cannot bring the pet and that pet usually goes home with Mom or Dad during move in."
Sinnwell also said the most common illegal pet found is gerbils and hamsters because they tend to be the pet students have at home and that students would like to bring.
Towers Hall Coordinator Chris Loveall agreed students caught with illegal pets were most commonly rodents because larger animals were more difficult to hide
While it is not practical to have anything larger then a fish living in a resident hall it is possible to still have a dog.
Former resident Dana Miller, a sophomore natural resources recreation and tourism major was able to sneak her dog into the building using stairwells when no resident assistants were present on her floor. Most of the time the dog stayed with a friend who lived off campus.
"They should have a separate hall for students with pets." Miller said.