More Dogs on Campus: A Much-Needed Reform

I believe Amherst should provide more resources that benefit the community and make us more productive, happy and engaged. A simple way to accomplish this: increase the number of emotional support dogs on campus. Amherst has an enormous budget and should allocate more of it to improve the happiness of all students. An easy way to do so would be to hire dogs to be on campus and who could have office hours every day. I love the fact that dogs are already on campus for students to pet and see, but having dogs full-time, seven days a week, would be a wonderful improvement for all.

How would this benefit the school? Studies have proven that interaction with animals makes people less stressed and more happy, which is good for everybody. This reduction of stress and increase of happiness will benefit students; they will be more productive and engaged throughout their days. Students would be more productive because reduced stress allows people to focus more and engage with others more consistently. This translates to less distraction while doing work (therefore more efficiency), and creating more free time, which is vitally important in developing personal interests, goals and relationships.

Meeting a dog is one of the most reliable ways to make most people smile. Increased happiness among students will benefit the campus community immensely. Students will engage with others more, and as they do so the community will be strengthened and their Amherst experiences improve. Having this program would also be a bragging right to tell prospective students. This plan would show that Amherst is fun, happy and open to new ideas.

How would this really work? The school would hire a dog trainer who would be responsible for taking care of the dogs and shepherding them around the campus. This trainer would incur some cost for the school, but I believe that this cost would turn out to be a net gain in the end. The dogs could have a schedule divided between buildings on campus, and students could hang out with them for as long as they want. Another method for bringing dogs to campus would be to partner with UMass Amherst, which has a class dedicated to training service dogs. Seeing that it would be manageable to create this program, it seems to me that this idea is both logical and doable, with significant benefits.

The three biggest issues with this plan are that some students may not want to interact with dogs or are severely allergic, that it would be expensive and that there are more pressing issues for the school to address. However, I believe that there are strong rebuttals to these points. First, the concern of dog dislike and allergies: dogs already exist on the campus and only benefit those with whom they interact. They are easy to avoid if one so wishes. My suggestion would be to confine the dogs to certain areas. The second point concerns the price of this plan. Hiring a trainer and accomodating the dogs would be additional costs. This argument is easily refuted considering the benefits dogs would bring and the vast endowment the college has. The third of these issues is that other priorities exist. While it is true that other issues may be more pressing, this plan is simple and does not need to replace other changes. I believe that this effectively makes the argument that more dogs would be beneficial and that this program should happen as soon as possible.