Allow Pets in On-Campus Housing at Florida Southern College

Allow Pets in On-Campus Housing at Florida Southern College

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Pre-Vet Society FSC started this petition to Florida Southern College Department of Community Living and

To the attention of the Department of Community Living at Florida Southern College,

For years, studies have shown that companion animals reduce stress and increase productivity. For many students entering college, an already stressful time in their academic experience, leaving behind a pet can be traumatic and overwhelming. Some students even have to give away or sell a previously owned pet, increasing the sense of loss and separation anxiety a student may experience as they move to college. 

Allowing small pets in some or all dormitories and apartments would only have positive benefits on students. Having a pet or even an animal nearby has been proven to lower cortisol levels (a stress hormone), decrease blood pressure under stressful circumstances, increase goal setting, and increase self-confidence (Rodriguez, 2012), as well as decrease stress during significantly overwhelming times, such as during finals week (Jarolmen and Patel, 2018). In an already stressful environment such as college, having a companion animal nearby could help students achieve more, while doing so with less stress than would be present otherwise. In a study from 2017, it was found that non-pet owners scored higher on the Smith Stress Symptoms Inventory in areas such as worry/negative emotions, depression, and striated muscle tension (Sane and Sawarker, 2017). The Journal of College Student Psychotherapy sites interaction with pets as an easier and more soothing interaction than what individuals may have with peers, and the absence of pets may increase symptoms of anxiety and depression (Adams, et al. 2017). Overall, pet owners display a higher quality of life than non-pet owners, which colleges should attempt to promote during a potentially stressful period of social and academic adjustment in a student’s life. 

In order to allow a pet on campus, a student could be required to pay a pet-owner fee upon signing up for housing, so the college knows where pets are located in dorms and apartments as well as who owns them, and have extra funds in case of damage done by the pet. All roommates must agree to having the animal within the room or apartment, and privileges of owning an animal on campus can be taken away at any sign of disruption or damage (including but not limited to aggression, damage of school property, or uncleanliness) by the animal or owner. No animal could ever be left unattended on campus if the student was away on break or on weekends. 

A way to regulate the placement of animals may be that some dorms and apartments, or specific floors within them, could be set aside for those students that are allergic to certain animals, or that simply do not wish to be around them. In order to possess a pet on campus, the animal must be able to be housed in a cage for the majority of the day, while still taking into consideration the health of the animal. Such animals would include small rodents, reptiles, and invertebrates, housed in a tank no more than 100 gallons or in an enclosure (for rodents) no more than four square feet. Such animals would include hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, chinchillas, small turtles, geckos and lizards, invertebrates, and snakes measuring less than 5 feet in length. Since it is not to the benefit of cats and dogs to be housed in a small crate for the better part of any given day, they would not be permitted at this time; excluding cats and dogs from the dorms ensures animal health, and prioritizes the cleanliness and integrity of on-campus housing. No animals that are not registered service animals would be allowed in classrooms in order to avoid distractions. 

Other schools across Florida, such as Eckerd, Stetson, and the University of Florida allow numerous species of pets in their dorms. All of these colleges, as well as the students participating in the dorm life at these schools, site success with the program, making the transition from home to college easier, as well as improving students’ quality of life with the company of an animal. For many incoming college students, whether or not a school allows pets in the housing unit is a deciding factor when choosing a university, and allowing more than just fish in even a few dorms and apartments can make Florida Southern more competitive in that aspect. 

Pets would only provide benefits for students in terms of mental health, as well as making the college seem more like home by bringing a beloved companion animal onto campus. Florida Southern College could benefit with a pro-pet stance in on-campus housing by increasing the quality of student life and collecting a pet-fee from those interested residents, and all issues associated with pets could be managed swiftly by taking away privileges from those individuals that take advantage of this luxury. 


The Pre-Veterinary Society and students of Florida Southern College


Adams, Aimee C., et al. “The Role of Pets in the Lives of College Students: Implications for College Counselors.” Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, vol. 31, no. 4, 2017, pp. 306–324., doi:10.1080/87568225.2017.1299601.

Jarolmen, Joann, and Gunjan Patel. “The Effects of Animal-Assisted Activities on College Students Before and After a Final Exam.” Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, vol. 13, no. 3, 2018, pp. 264–274., doi:10.1080/15401383.2018.1425941.

Rodriguez, Tori. “Pets Help Us Achieve Goals and Reduce Stress.” Scientific American Mind, vol. 23, no. 5, 2012, pp. 19–19., doi:10.1038/scientificamericanmind1112-19.

Sane, Pallavi, and Anil Sawarker. “Comparative Study of Stress Levels between Pet Owners and Non-Pet Owners.” Indian Journal of Health and Wellbeing, vol. 8, no. 9, 2017,

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