Students say being around them has a calming affect, makes them to laugh and eases homesickness. No, they're not talking about the newest designer drug but a furry friend who, at some colleges, is allowed take in dorm life with its owner.
The New York Times reports from Stephens College in Missouri, which has seen a 20 percent increase in students requesting to bring their pets with them to school. The college complies -- and is even fixing a dorm nicknamed Pet Central for human/animal coeds.
Students attest that having a pet at school can ease the transition from home to college life. Colleges are beginning to agree with that notion -- campuses that allow pets range from Stephens to MIT to tiny Eckerd College in Florida.
The Times has more on the trend, and how it might make some schools more attractive to potential students:
While about a dozen colleges have explicit policies permitting pets of some kind -- Eckerd even allows snakes, provided they are "less than six feet long and nonvenomous" -- [Stephens College President Dianne] Lynch predicts that that figure will soon rise.
"Colleges will begin to recognize that this is important to students," she said, adding that in an increasingly competitive recruiting market for top students, becoming known as pet-friendly is another way for a college to differentiate itself.
True to form, Stephens and other colleges do not hesitate to bar pets from campus should they elicit noise complaints. Some schools even established Pet Councils to process issues. There's also the lingering problem of pets being abandoned on campus once the school year lets out, as Fox News reported in 2009.
What do you think? Would you bring your pet to college? Leave a comment with your opinion.