Students in dorms lack cuddly support systems


By Olivia Drake
Flapjack Chronicle

Hailey Atkinson, an 18-year-old business major, has been feeling the effects of a petless environment since starting her freshman year at Humboldt this fall.

“I miss my bunny Hobbes,” Atkinson says. “My dorm doesn’t feel quite like ‘home’ without him. He was like a support system for me.”

College is full of new experiences. Some students lose their virginity, some gain 15 pounds in their first year, and some have to adjust to life in the dorms or apartments that keep them from owning a pet. The environmental change from the life of one’s home to a collegiate setting is definitely jarring to most, but one small detail often overlooked is being without animals that are dear to those who leave home.

This idea of a pet being part of a “support system” is not uncommon with students who aren’t allowed to have pets where they live. There’s something about a loyal canine who wags its whole southern half in sheer joy when its human returns from work that makes all of their stresses seemingly fade away. There’s no doubting that after a hard day, having a cat brush up against one’s legs and hearing it immediately start to purr is a quick way to lift one’s spirits. Even reptiles and other various species of house pet bring forth some form of warmness, despite their being cold-blooded in some cases.

There are others who aren’t quite as affected mentally by the absence of pets, however having such companions is more preferred.

“I find that it’s less of a negative effect and more of a lack of a positive one,” says psychology major Jacob Stadtfeld, 21. “I miss having a pet but my life hasn’t been detrimentally affected by the lack of one.  Having said that, if my apartment allowed cats I would most certainly have one by now.”

Krystal Jacob, a staff psychologist for HSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services, makes an everyday job out of talking to students about their thoughts and opinions, and the issue in question is familiar to her.

“I have spoken with many students in that situation, and yes, there are negative effects.” Jacob says. “Pets are family members just as much as members of the actual family are. They are a form of support for many people.”

So what is a poor college student to do when they need to revisit their support system and are far from home?

“I think volunteering with animals is great, both at local Humane Societies and Miranda’s Rescue,” Jacob says. “They’re both non-profit, however it is difficult because their distance requires car travel, and many students are without cars. Now, there’s a thrift store in Sunny Brae called the Companion Animal Foundation that benefits animals, and they have a kitten room that is there specifically for people to come in to play and spend time with them. I highly recommend it.”

Calvin Terrace, a 24-year-old botany major recognizes the positive outcome of animal interaction.

“If I knew that by the end of my day I got a chance to roll around on the ground with a cuddly creature,” he said, “I would regularly be a happier person.”


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