At our school, SEMO, we are only allowed to have fish as pets, unless we have an emotional support animal - but they do not make getting an emotional support animal easy (otherwise everyone would have one). While I do understand why not every student is allowed to have their own dog or cat or snake, I do not understand why we can't have one of the best pets of all:
The hamster! Hamsters are inexpensive, cuddly, friendly, creatures who make a great companion. They only cost roughly $75 to get started with one and after that you really only have to buy food and clean bedding (which is also inexpensive).
Hamsters make great dorm room pets (once you escape-proof their cage) because they're caged, small, they do not shed, their bites are often minimal, especially if basic precautions are taken, and they do not squeak or caw or bark! They even groom themselves! Hamsters are also solitary animals, meaning you only need one and it will be completely content to be a lone ranger - unlike dogs, who need lots of socialization.
Sure, fish may be lower maintenance, but you can't cuddle a fish! Hamsters are also more expensive and have more personality, making college students more likely to take care of them. Taking care of something more high maintenance than a fish gives students a sense of responsibility and makes them feel needed, which is a wonderful thing for all students, even those not formally diagnosed with depression or anxiety.
Another great hamster trait is that they are not nocturnal, as is commonly thought, but actually crepuscular, meaning they are most active at twilight, because hamsters in the wild often feast on insects, which are most active around twilight as well.
How could we properly allow students living in resident halls to have one, you ask?
- Have the student's roommate sign off.
- Implement a 3-strike policy: if the smell/noise of the hamster is complained about more than 3 times by the persons roommate, the hamster has to go home. Both of these are things that can be easily controlled by the owner, if they are taking care of their hamster properly.
- Only allow certain cages: some cages allow hamsters to escape easily. A cage like this would be best, and if the door seems loose, a tiny, simple combination lock will solve that problem quickly.
While getting this policy changed could take a long time, I believe it would be a great thing to do for generations to come. In the meantime, consider getting your warm a fuzzy fix by volunteering at the Humane Society!