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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Student Affairs cracks down on cats

Despite last year’s lenience with cats on campus, Student Affairs has begun to take steps towards reducing cats in campus dorms citing complaints from students and parents to take action against the dorm pets.

According to the Office of Student Affairs, the calls and complaints regarded the estimated 10-15 cats on campus. “The calls were in reference to the fact that we have, in print, a policy about cats—they’re not allowed in the residence halls,” said Andrea Conner, the Assistant Dean of Students & Director of Residence Life and Orientation. “The complaints were that we are not enforcing this policy, and that even in a self-governing community, the college needs to respond to these sorts of violation a violation that the parents feel is serious.”
According to Conner the solution stood out at the office of Student Affairs. “The fairest thing to do was to converse with those who have cats on campus,” Conner said. “The point of the conversation was to find alternatives for having cats live on campus, not just kick out the cats. It’s not O.K. with me for a cat to have no shelter and be neglected.”

Conner, along with RLCs Eric Vos (Jamaland) and Rachel Wike (Loosehead), approached several students with cats and discussed viable alternatives. “The conversations we had with the cat owners discussed the differences in interests between the Office of Student Affairs and the cat owners themselves,” Vos said.

While the cat owners’ interests lie in having friendly companions, “Student Affairs’ interests lay in making sure students feel they are safe in the environment, and to be consistent with enforcing rules that apply to everyone,” Vos said.

Vos was impressed with the way the cat owners handled the situation, and how they responded with multiple solutions. “We had very, very good conversations with the owners,” Vos said. “I’ve been really impressed with how empowered the students are, as the owners were able to draw out many different solutions, including the possibility of a cat-friendly residence hall.”

Conner agreed. “I’m happy to say that the conversations we had with students were very thoughtful, mature and respectful, despite the tough nature of the conversation,” she said.

Some cat owners were understanding of Student Affairs’ concerns, and appreciated how well the conversations went. “Andrea Conner was a good listener,” Mona Ghadiri ’11 , who owned one of the cats on campus, said. “She was trustworthy, and I didn’t feel like she was just humoring me.”

Initially, Conner and the RLCs did not look forward to confronting the issue, since there is considerable emotion involved with keeping cats as pets, and the question of floor self-governence playing a role in the discussions.

“It’s a tough position we were in,” Vos said. “The issue wasn’t high on our agenda and we certainly didn’t want to be labeled ‘cat Nazis’. However, as the phone calls came in, we were put in a position where we had to respond.”

In the future, Student Affairs trusts and hopes that students will find alternatives to keeping cats in their dorms. To date, cat owners have suggested alternatives that include having family or friends off campus, including project houses such as Spanish house, provide a new home for the cats. “A vote is made in the project houses,” Conner said. “If there is no dissenting opinion, then the student will be allowed to have a cat.”

Some students still privately keep cats, despite the crackdown “We love our cats,” said a cat owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, since RLCs have not found the owner’s cat. “As long as she doesn’t bother anyone, we will keep them here. It’s nice, during the winter, to come to your dorm room and find someone waiting for you.”

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