When Skylar Wilson, a junior media studies major, moved into her suite in the Little Building in September of her sophomore year, something was missing. Even after she settled in, made friends, and arranged her room, she wanted something else to complete her dorm experience.
That is when she brought Bugsy in.
Bugsy the bunny was a sandy tan Holland lop, a Netherlands breed known for being popular house pets. Because of the breed’s sweet disposition, Bugsy was the perfect pet to hide in a dorm room.
“I had never had a real pet before, so it seemed worth it,” Wilson said.
This year’s Undergraduate Student Handbook bars students from keeping most pets in the residence halls — the exception being fish kept in a tank smaller than 10 gallons — to meet regulations. Despite this rule, there has been a growing trend in some dorms for students to bring in fluffier companions.
Wilson and her roommates kept Bugsy in their suite for two months.
“I had four very supportive roommates that would feed it or play with it or let it run around. She was pretty spoiled actually despite our busy schedules,” Wilson said.
Bugsy was smuggled into the Little Building in Wilson’s bag under the cover of darkness, when night security guards were working at the desk.
“They don’t care what goes on or what you are bringing up,” said Wilson.
They were not fully equipped for Bugsy, so Wilson used a roommate’s hamper and a towel as a makeshift cage. The floppy-eared companion lived in this manner for a week, munching Cheerios, which Wilson said Bugsy thoroughly enjoyed. Eventually, they sprang for better digs and got a little house for Bugsy.
Bugsy was not an expensive pet. The only maintenance was lining her cage, feeding her, and keeping her hidden from the resident assistants.
She was a very mobile bunny — she has been in almost all of Emerson’s buildings, and even visited Sweetwater Café.
Another pet-lover who sneaked an animal into the dorm is Max, a junior performing arts major, who requested his last name not be used. Max brought Lilo, his sister’s two month old kitten, into his dormitory in the confines of his bag.
“Well, frankly, I didn’t think we would get caught. I knew Lilo was a good, quiet little kitten,” said Max.
Max lived in a six-person suite in the Little Building, just like Wilson. Max said Lilo was never unattended so they felt confident that the kitten would not be discovered. They even got all the amenities to house Lilo.
“He loved being there, and my suitemates and friends and I loved having him there,” said Max. For him, the kitten was not just another obligation, but a playmate.
Another student, who wishes to remain anonymous, adopted a two month old kitten from the Boston Rescue League.
“The first week was rough. Not only was the cat trying to adjust to the new living situation, but I think I had the hardest time adjusting to her,” she said. As the kitten grew older she became less of a worry and more fun to play with.
A kitten may be small in size but big in expense. Between cat litter, food, toys, and vet expenses, the student spent $40-60 each month on the animal.
“It was definitely hard to give my kitty the attention she needed; however, I had a handful of other suitemates that loved having her around, so they liked to play with her when she wasn’t hiding,” she said.
Apart from the challenge of having someone to watch and play with the kitten, the student faced situations that could have been detrimental.
When she first got the kitten she kept the furball in her personal room within the suite. Once, when the student went to get something, the door closed behind her and she realized that it was locked and she did not have her keys. After trying everything to open the door, she came to the conclusion that she would unfortunately have to get an RA to open it. Luckily, the cat was shy and remained hidden when the RA was in the room.
“Looking back, I was so close to getting caught, on the first day. I should have taken that as a sign for more trouble,” she said. She did eventually get caught when an RA came in to give them a noise violation and the feline came out of hiding. The kitten now lives at her home with her parents.
Kendall Nelson, a junior writing, literature, and publishing major who works as an RA in Piano Row, said she is allergic to furry animals.
“I like them, but personally, I am really allergic, so I am one of those people who would have a hard time if there was a pet in my vicinity,” said Nelson.
Nelson said that if a pet does not fit the regulations, she would have to tell the Residence Director in her building.
Nelson said she thinks another reason specific animals should not be allowed on campus would be the quality of space in which the pet would live.
“A dorm room is not a great living space for a pet,” said Nelson.
In addition to the space issue, most students have countless obligations that Nelson thinks would not give them time to adequately care for the pet.
Frank Kelleher, another Piano Row RA, agrees with Nelson.
“It is something you can’t do and shouldn’t do. Chances are it will be brought to the attention of the RA or RD,” the junior visual media arts major said.
He also said that a lack of time to take care of an animal is a serious issue for college students.
“Anything other than a fish would be tough to properly take care of,” Kelleher said.