Taking a university “lab” now has a whole new meaning
Benjamin Jacobs // Contributor
Not many things can top the relaxing and uplifting energy that a dog can bring. If Capilano University truly wanted to foster a serene environment for its students, then looking towards the University of Victoria (UVic) is the way to go.
This past spring, Andrew Newcombe, law professor at UVic, brought his four-year-old black lab, Echo, to the University’s law library. Students can check Echo out and hang out with her for a maximum of 30 minutes. She even has her own “bark-code” and call number.
While the Capilano Students’ Union’s (CSU) annual therapy dog day exists, the school could tremendously improve student stress-levels by at least bringing in dogs on a more consistent basis – especially during exam season.
One benefit to having a “dog library” is that it can reduce stress. According to Christine Junge and Anne MacDonald of Harvard Health Publishing an effective way to help stress is by either petting and/or playing with animals. It releases a stress-reducing hormone known as oxytocin and simultaneously decreases the amount of stress-increasing hormone, cortisol.
Students face numerous stressors, some of which get particularly frustrating during exam season. Crowded libraries, sleep deprivation, lack of eating and taking notes on every last detail of a subject can lead to headaches, chest and stomach pains and muscle tension. Alleviating distress helps reduce the chance of potential physical problems and the proven emotional and psychological benefit of dogs could be exponential useful for busy college students.
According to a report written by Steve Hendrix for the Washington Post, the presence of dogs in classrooms and work spaces have proven to be particularly helpful to students and employees. Hendrix cited a “canine-crazy” region of independent schools in Washington as vanguards of a dog-friendly environment – schools that bring in dogs to help students using their “affectionate” and “soothing” natures.
However, there are potential risks to having a dog on campus. Animal allergies would be a concern, as the comfort and safety of students on campus is the number one priority. Rules would likely have to be put in place to ensure the dogs are only allowed in certain sections of campus. Like a smoke pit, but happier. There is also the liability risk to both the dog and student. Students would probably have to sign a waiver in the unlikely chance of injury, as well as a plan if the dog runs off or goes missing. These things aren’t pleasant to think about, but necessary if there is to be any chance of having man’s best friend on campus.
Dogs on campus might seem like a pipe dream right now, but it is undeniable that they could be a wonderful way to get rid of stress and improve the overall school atmosphere, for both staff and students.