Students move off campus, adopt animals


Many students at the University find a way to balance school, friends and having a pet.

The University does not allow pets in the dorms with a few exceptions such as fish or guide dogs, according to Carla Dennis, the interim director for administrative service and communication.

“There are a lot of students who have some severe or even mild pet allergies, where pet dander would greatly impact their living experience,” she said.  “Even other issues, like pest control. Some of our students have some very strong fears of different animals, and that would not make for a comfortable living and learning environment.”

Dennis said University Housing doesn’t allow for pets, with few exceptions, due to an overall concern for both students and pets.

“It is an awareness of what are the needs for pets, what are the needs of students, what are the needs of our facilities,” she said.

Because pets are not allowed in dorms, after fulfilling the first-year live on requirement, many students move off campus so they can bring animals.

Allie Merdinger, a junior pre-business major and Spanish minor from Alpharetta, feels having a pet is definitely beneficial.

Many students agree and own pets, despite increased work and having to financially support a pet by paying for food, care and pet fees.

While most people, Merdinger included, have more traditional pets like cats or dogs, she said she has heard of some strange choices.

“My best friend’s roommate has a teacup pig as a pet.  It gets up to 6 or 7 pounds, and it is supposed to be super clean.  You can train it like a dog,” she said.  “I haven’t met the teacup pig yet but it’s on my to-do list.”

Merdinger got her pet, a dog, during her sophomore year.

“I got Sarge second semester sophomore year, the Friday of spring break,” she said.  “It was just kind of a no-brainer that I would get a dog to have with me all the time.”

Merdinger said she believes having a pet adds a lot of responsibility.

“I think it’s just making sure that you are planning your schedule around the dog and not be so selfish.  You have to make sure that you do have time for a dog because you do have to take care of it.  You can’t just throw it in your apartment,” she said.

Hannah Edwards, a junior health promotion major on a pre-med track from Woodstock, also has a dog.  She moved off campus her sophomore year so she could bring her dog Atticus.

“I got him for my 16th birthday, honestly. Mom was finally like, ‘OK, you can have a puppy.’ I had always wanted one,” Edwards said.  “My mom kept him for me my first year, and he has been here last year and this year. “

She said she also feels having a dog is a lot of additional responsibility that non-pet owners don’t have.

“When you schedule your classes you have to think about your dog and your animal,“ she said. “You can’t stay on campus all day, and when you have a break you have to come home and walk your dog and feed him and take him out in the morning.  That is an extra 30 minutes you have to be up in the morning.”

Though a pet is more work, owners agreed it is worth it.

Merdinger said the extra work is well worth it and the benefits of having a pet outweigh the difficulties.

“It is a really easy and great way to meet people, just walking around my apartment complex. You have a dog, and everyone wants to be your friend,” she said. “He is a fantastic reason to get up in the morning, and it motivates me to just get everything done. If it weren’t for him, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be walking 30 hours a week.”

Edwards agreed having a pet is worth it, but said she was surprised by how many students own dogs, despite the increased responsibility.

“The students here absolutely love their dogs. Everyone loves their animals, and I would never have imagined that as many students would have dogs as they do because it is such a big responsibility,” she said. “I could not imagine living here without him.”


‘Kitty Cams’ study cat behavior


Researchers at the University recently paired up with the National Geographic Society to do a study on free roaming cats, known as Kitty Cams.

The project was intended to answer questions about how cats behave in natural environments without disrupting their behavior.

According to, the kitty cams were used to study both cats’ effects as predators on the environment and to try and analyze common risks faced by owned outdoor cats.

Kerrie Anne Lloyd, a recent graduate of the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University, studied the effects of domestic cats on wildlife. She did work on the project as a part of her dissertation, working with Sonia Hernandez, a leader on the project and an assistant professor in the department.

“We started working with National Geographic, they made the cameras called Crittercams back in 2009, raised the money in 2010 and got the cameras [on the cats later that year],” She said. “We have a little bit of footage [from most of the cats] that participated over the course of a year.”

There were 60 participating cats, each wearing a collar mounted with a Crittercam, going outdoors for seven to 10 days, according The cats were spaced out over a number of habitats in the Athens area and through every season.

According to the website, the Crittercams are lightweight and waterproof and are equipped with LED lights to gather night footage. National Geographic has also used them to film the behavior of other animals, like sea turtles.

Lloyd said of the 2,000 hours of footage, only about 39 hours were useable, and usable footage was only obtained from 55 of the 60 cats. All statistics are based on those 55.

“Everything on the website came out of my dissertation results. It was a lot of work but it came down to not a lot in the way of numbers,” she said. “We were looking at risk behaviors. Lots of footage, lots of work, but it came down to smaller amounts of numbers.”

Lloyd said there are approximately 9 million owned cats in this country, about half of which are outdoor cats.  There are even more strays.  Due to numbers, cats are slightly controversial.

Llyod said because cats are not native to the United States, some people feel they should be heavily controlled to preserve wildlife, but many people don’t want to be told what to do with their cats.

“Cats having an impact on wildlife is a concern,” Llyod said.

Monitoring that impact was part of the project.

Lloyd said only 44 percent of the 55 cats demonstrated hunting behavior, and that such behavior was more prevalent in the warmer months, 85 percent according to the website, because cats are opportunistic predators.

As far as risks roaming cats face, the biggest was observed as crossing the street, based on website statistics.  Other risks included encountering strange cats, exploring drain systems and eating and drinking away from home.

Increased time outside augmented the risks, and male cats were found to be more likely to engage in risky behavior.

Students like Jamilla Johnson, a sophomore marketing major from Cobb County, feel that the project is an effective way to observe cats, but the time spent on the project might not be worth it.

“[It is a good idea] because I think it’s harmless. You see them in their natural element doing what they normally do, not knowing they are being watched as opposed to putting them in an environment, so I think it’s a good idea,” she said.  “Actually, I don’t think its worth a lot of time and it shouldn’t be worth a lot of money either.”

Brittney Winbush, a sophomore public relations major from Atlanta, agreed it is an effective way of studying behavior but said she feels the project could have enough value to be worth time and money.

“I guess I would say it depends. If after a few tests are run, if the problem is really big or if it is having an immediate large effect, then yeah, it is something they should spend money on,” she said.

Lloyd said she is neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with the results, though she felt a larger sample size would have been beneficial.

“We always have bigger expectations in science, so there will always be some things that go wrong.  I can’t say I was satisfied or dissatisfied because it is exploratory research,” she said. “We actually envisioned a much larger sample size of 100 cats, but there were some limitations.”

Lloyd said she feels the project yielded a lot of information about cats in the Athens area, but more work needs to be done.

“People have been trying to extrapolate from our work here in Athens,” she said.  “Repeating the study in different geographic areas would be interesting.”

She said she is pleased with her involvement in the Kitty Cams project.

“Overall, cats are fascinating and it was fun to participate in,” she said.

Man On The Street: Gun Control


The University of Georgia does not allow weapons of any kind, even with a legal permit, to be carried on your person or in living quarters on campus. Students were asked whether this makes them feel more or less safe while at UGA.

Sabrina Lewis
Junior, Public Relations, Peachtree City

“It makes me feel more safe. I don’t know the legal age, but I don’t think younger people should be allowed to have weapons. They may not be mature enough to make good decisions.”

Joe Halligan
Senior, Biology, Savannah

“Although criminals may be deterred to some extent, I would feel less safe with as many students as there are at UGA carrying guns, even if they don’t have a criminal record.”

Taylor Lawrence
Sophomore, undecided, Savannah

“Probably more safe. I don’t have one. I would feel less safe with everyone else having one on campus. I think having them banned keeps us all on the same playing field.”

John Ashton
Junior, Accounting, Thomasville

“It makes me feel less safe. People who get robbed are less likely to get hurt if they have a gun, and you’re also just less likely to get robbed if someone knows you have a weapon. If I have a legal permit in Georgia, it shouldn’t change when I’m on UGA’s campus.”Edna Fuentes
Junior, Animal Health, Woodstock”It makes me feel more safe. There could be a ton of people walking around with guns when they’re not even evaluated well when they get one.”

Anna Tucker
Freshman, Pre-Journalism, Richmond, Va.

“Since I live in a dorm, I don’t ever feel threatened, but if I lived somewhere other than a dorm and I was used to having a weapon, I would feel less comfortable if all of the sudden I couldn’t have one.”

Students may deal with class changes


 Sophomore Jacob Maddox had his entire fall semester schedule figured out by April of last semester. He felt ready to advance in his international affairs major.

Then Maddox found a class schedule change notice in his email.

More students than usual may have been frustrated by “notification of class schedule change” emails from the Office of the Registrar this summer, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences adviser Clayton Foggin said.

“This is the most I’ve seen [class schedule change complaints],” she said. “I’ve never really noticed it this bad before.”

Foggin confirmed receiving “three or four” emails from students complaining that the class changes they had been notified about in some way damaged their schedules.

“They didn’t know what to do because their class time had changed,” she said. “Actually, I had one student who they changed her class time, and it was still on her schedule at the same time as another class. She essentially had two classes at 10 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or something.”

Foggin doesn’t know for sure whether this semester has seen an increase in class schedule changes. She notes that students could just be “more vocal” this semester than in the past.

The Office of the Registrar was contacted for further clarification on the issue but were unavailable at this time.

Maddox didn’t seek an advisor when one of the two prerequisite international affairs courses he had signed up for changed times and conflicted with one of his other required, scheduled classes.

Instead, he made the decision himself to drop the class with the conflict and simply make it up during a later semester.

Then he received another “class schedule change” email saying the economics class he thought would be taught by Professor Caroliniana Sandifer would instead be taught by a different professor.

“My economics teacher was changed the day I had the class,” he said. “I knew about Sandifer. That’s why I signed up for the course.”

Freshman Adriana Vicuna also received two separate class schedule changes by email before the semester began.

“My speech class actually got cancelled,” she said. “It was kind of frustrating to try to find another class.”

Vicuna ended up dropping the class only to find that her Spanish class had been moved to a less than convenient time.

“I wanted to take it at 9 a.m., but I think it got cancelled and switched to 2:30,” she said. “I don’t like taking afternoon classes because you’re sleepy by then. It was just so frustrating because that’s the only class available.”

But both Maddox and Vicuna said they felt some good came out of the schedule changes.

The changes helped Vicuna see that she probably should not have taken on such a full course load, she said.

Maddox said although he’s worrying he might not graduate on time now, he “wouldn’t really mind” graduating a little late. The change also helped him to explore some options other than on-campus classes.

“I’ve thought of study abroad opportunities I could do instead of taking [the class] at school,” he said.

Still, Maddox said he feels as though more strictly enforced stability should be applied to class scheduling.

“I think it would be great if the University was more strict on their policies with teachers and professors about coming into the school and just having them ready before classes start,” he said.