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Sympathy for allergy sufferers

Letter to the Editor | Friday, March 2, 2007

The article “Conflict arises over pets in dormitories” (Feb. 28) is outrageous. The idea that dormitories would value the option of getting a “dorm pet” over that of retaining their residents is not only appalling but against the very nature of the dorm system that Notre Dame promotes.

“The Notre Dame family” of dorms is supposed to be an answer to the fraternities and sororities common to campuses nationwide. This system is intended to nurture relationships between residents. By allowing students to live together for three or more years, dorm residents learn to live independent of their families while developing new lifelong bonds, expanding their extended family to include the Notre Dame community. However, it appears that when choosing between a pet and a son or daughter, the Notre Dame community is putting the child out in the yard.

This is the impression I got from Wednesday’s article. While not quite as dramatic, this pet situation would be the equivalent of removing all the ramps from around the dorm and replacing them with stairs on the basis of aesthetic appeal. When a wheelchair-bound resident comes to the new stair and asks why he can’t get in, he is turned away because the rector/rectress and the rest of the dorm like the stairs more than they like the handicapped person.

I am sad to admit that this happened on our campus and outraged that more wasn’t done to help Catherine Wetten, Lauren Carr.and Jacqueline Collins. Allergies are a significant issue, and while not necessarily as debilitating as a physical handicap, they have no cure and can make you miserable on a daily basis. The fact that this occurs in dorms specifically targeted for allergy sufferers is even worse. If having a dog is as large of a benefit as the Pasquerilla East rectress suggests it is, then there should be designated dorms with pets in which animal loving students can elect to live.

In my mind, there is no question that the dog should be removed from Pasquerilla Hall immediately. Even if the Office of Residence Life and Housing does not act (which it should), the rectress and residents of Pasquerilla East should do so of their own prerogative. Any faculty or student who feels differently is valuing the presence of an animal over that of a brother or sister in the Notre Dame family. That this is even an issue suggests that the University’s commitment to the “Notre Dame Family” needs to be seriously reexamined.

Patrick Wolohan

senior

O’Neill Hall

Mar. 1