By Gabriella Levine
Last week, the seventh floor of College Park Hall was a home for not only students, but also other unusual inhabitants: rabbits. A student was allegedly hiding pet rabbits in his room for fall term and part of winter term, managing to evade Union’s pet policy and the observation of both Campus Safety and the Resident Advisors throughout the residence hall.
Rumors ran rampant as residents in the dorm speculated on the situation. “Everyone was saying that someone was written up for having 10 rabbits in their room!” said Kayla Lawrence ‘13, a resident on the seventh floor explained.
“It’s hard to believe that anyone thought there were 10 rabbits. There were only two rabbits, and the owner had them in his room for a few months,” said a close friend of the rabbit owner. This source further explained that the animals didn’t create a disturbance and were extremely well cared for. “[The owner] wanted to have the animals at college because he loves them a lot and had no one else who would keep them.”
Campus Safety and the Office of Residential Life addressed the situation as a Violation of Pet Policy. The Student Handbook outlines that, “All animals, including those used as lab specimens, are strictly prohibited inside or outside residential facilities.” The only exceptions to this policy are fish in a small tank that does not exceed 10 gallons.
“If a violation comes up, it must be addressed with a fine of $50 right off the bat, and sometimes even more depending on how long the student has the pet on the premises,” described Residence Director of College Park Hall Krista Anderson with regard to the process involving pet violations. The student in question is then given the opportunity to remove the animal on his own. Anderson adds that she usually gives a day for removal before charging additional fines or contacting animal control. In this particular situation, the owner’s friend explains that he was allotted “24 hours to remove the pets, and was also told that if they were not gone within this time, they would be taken away and probably euthanized.”
The lingering question is how the student concealed the animals for such a long duration, spanning back to the beginning of fall term. The close friend of the owner surmises that the rabbits were easy to hide because “they are quiet animals and no one ever had any reason to enter his room except for room inspections.”
Even so, the offense was not discovered during a Life Safety Inspection, and only came to Campus Safety’s attention due to smells of vinegar. The owner used vinegar to clean the rabbits cages rather than cause a disturbance on the behalf of the animals.
[pullquote]“[The owner] wanted to have the animals at college because he loves them a lot and had no one else who would keep them.”Anonymous, Close friend of owner[/pullquote]
Anderson notes that cases involving pet violations are “uncommon on campus.” However, this may only indicate that Residence Life and Campus Safety are unaware that several students may be hiding animals. The friend of the rabbit owner proves the potential ineffectiveness of the policy, confessing that she knows “several other students on campus who have pets and manage to keep them hidden.”
The reasoning behind Union’s pet policy is attributed to the fact that the campus community is not built to maintain animals, and animal presence often proposes a risk to students with certain allergies. In addition, schools like Union may not be open to introducing flexible pet policies since students cannot generally allocate enough time to care for the well-being of an animal.
According to an article published by the Times Union in 2009, it appears that some colleges are beginning to take a different approach towards pet policies by willingly adapting to pet-friendly environments. In an effort to welcome students’ pets, these colleges designate specific dormitories and areas on campus that house animals.
The rabbits made a safe transition to the household of the mother of the owner’s friend. The friend expresses her shock that the animals could be euthanized if not removed. “I was surprised that they can do such a thing. I called my mom and explained the situation to her, and luckily she agreed to watch them until the owner graduates this June. She doesn’t want to have them taken away or killed,” she said.