Author: Kate Bustamante
Resident advisor Leah Corby (sophomore) submitted an application on Friday for a pet-friendly themed house sponsored by Residential Education and Housing Services (REHS). Corby came up with the concept last summer after spending time with her dog on campus.
“[We] often relaxed on a blanket in the quad during the fall semester,” Corby said. “A lot of people stopped to say hi to the puppy. Many told us how that interaction brightened their day . . . I love how animals bring people together like that.”
In her proposal she states that many students consider living off-campus so they can be free to get a pet. The proposed Pet House would allow students to still live on campus housing while owning a pet.
“By allowing a number of pets in a college-owned house, the desires of animal-lovers and Residential Education will be more closely aligned,” the proposal said.
Corby has worked closely with REHS throughout the year to ensure the quality of the proposal.
“I have spoken about Pet House briefly with various members of ResEd, but I have to thank Juls [White] for meeting with me on numerous occasions to answer questions and help iron out the details. She knows housing better than students or RAs and has been very helpful and supportive,” Corby said.
REHS staff supports the idea of Corby’s theme, but there are logistics that still need to be looked into.
“We think in general we’re supportive of the idea and the thought behind it,” REHS Senior Community Director Chad Myers said. “Leah has put a lot of work and research into the effects of owning a pet and the responsibility that comes along with that and how that can help you be a better person. In general REHS is on board with [the house] but there’s some things logistically and legally we’ll need to look into to make sure we’re meeting all the requirements, the California standards for owning a pet.”
If Pet House is approved the residents hope to live in one of the college-owned houses similar to the Food Justice House or Music House. Modeled after these two houses, Pet House expects to have at least 10 residents along including Corby as resident advisor. The house will host no more than three cats or dogs and all residents will share in the responsibilities of these pets. To avoid complications there will be some requirements for pets to live in the house.
“The pet must have lived with the student’s family for more than one year,” Corby said. “This serves multiple purposes, namely to prevent impulse adoptions and end-of-semester abandonment.” In addition, the pets must be fully vaccinated, be spayed or neutered and have proper identification at all times.
The house will also use its theme to reach out to the greater Los Angeles community. According to the proposal, the residents of Pet House will volunteer at the North Central Animal Shelter, which is approximately four miles from Occidental.
Volunteers will be responsible for showing animals to possible adopters, walking and playing with the dogs in the dog yard and cleaning cat cages.
On campus, the group hopes to host at least two events, working with their advisor, philosophy Professor Clair Morrissey, who is currently teaching a CSP on animal ethics. It also plans to host puppy study breaks during midterms and finals.
REHS supports the sentiment behind Pet House and the drive to create more off-campus themed housing for students. The staff has been working to allocate funds to get more off-campus housing for the students.
“It would be nice to have more of these off-campus houses, especially for upper-division students who want to live off-campus but still be tied to campus,” Myers said. “It is something we’re looking into.”
REHS is continuing to expand their themed housing options in Norris Themed Towers as well. There are at least nine student groups who have submitted themes for the 2012-2013 academic year. Examples include “Club Zumba,” a latin dance themed community, “Green is Groovy,” a sustainability living community and “In N Out,” which encourage integration of the Occidental, Eagle Rock and greater L.A. communities.
The hope for themed housing is for it to play a larger role in the Occidental community as a whole, according to Myers.
“It’s all about having people live around you that are excited and passionate about things that you are excited and passionate about,” he said. “Next year there is going to be a stronger push to do programming around those themes so that we can benefit the campus as well as those who live in the themes.”
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