Who let the dogs IN . . . my classroom?

Chapman students and faculty are bringing non-service dogs to class, which may pose a distraction.

Sammy Keane asked her professors if she would be allowed to bring a dog to class before purchasing her golden retriever puppy, Noodle. Photo courtesy of Sammy Keane.

Sammy Keane, junior studio art major, doesn’t attend class alone. Keane, like other Chapman students and professors, brings a furry companion.

Chapman has no policy against dogs in the classroom, according to Equal Opportunity and Employee Relations Specialist Rick Zeiger. Students and faculty have taken advantage of this by bringing their non- service animals to class. Some bring their dogs as a registered emotional support animal. Others just bring their dog to socialize and not be left alone at home. While the owners describe their pets as well behaved, dogs can disrupt the learning environment by running around, barking and whining, or making a mess of the classroom. Dog owners request permission from professors and students before bringing their dogs into the classroom and ensure their dog is a minimal distraction. Some students find dogs distracting and would prefer them to be left at home.

Keane was granted permission to bring a dog to class before she purchased her Labrador and golden retriever mixed puppy, Noodle.

“I bring her because no one is home to watch her and my roommates and I want her to be more social,” Keane said.

Keane says she brings Noodle to class for convenience and to make her more social.

There are a number of faculty members that bring their furry friends to school as well for similar reasons. Keane says she has had four professors who have brought their dogs to class, and sophomore dance major Raea Palmieri has seen five professors with dogs around campus.

More professors in the art department bring their dogs, compared to other subjects, according to Keane and Palmieri.

“Especially as an art major, we have a different type of learning atmosphere,” Keane said.

The laid back and expressive ambiance of art classes is a welcoming environment for dogs, Keane said.

Palmieri chooses not to bring her dog to her math lecture because the environment is more concentration.

“Math is a more complex subject and I don’t want to distract people,” Palmieri said.

Freshman journalism major, McKenna Sulick, has feared dogs since she was young. The presence of dogs distracts her and makes her feel nervous. She is afraid to tell dog owners that she feels uncomfortable because so many people are dog lovers, Sulick said.

“People can get offended that you wouldn’t want to have their dog around,” she said. “I usually just deal with it.”

“If I was more confident in myself, I would ask (students and professors) to leave their dogs at home,” Sulick said.

Palmieri considers that her French Bulldog, Gypsy might be a distraction in her classes. however, she has asked for permission and no one has complained –  to her, at least.

“While I know that not everyone is a dog person, most people don’t mind having her in class and a lot of people actually enjoy it,” Palmieri said.

Gypsy doesn’t bark or bite according to Palmieri, but she has gotten sick in class.

“The worst thing Gypsy ever did in class was projectile vomit,” said Palmieri. “She had a stomach bug and someone picked her up with her mouth facing outwards and she projectile vomited at the front of the class… It was really gross.”

Palmieri cleaned up the mess with the help of two classmates before resuming class, she said.

Facilities did not respond to whether pet waste is an issue in the classrooms.

Despite this messy incident, Palmieri continues to bring her emotional support animal to class.

Unlike service animals, emotional support animals do not require specific training but are required to behave in all settings, according to a website that registers emotional support animals.

As emotional support animal phenomena grows in popularity, researchers question the effectiveness of emotional support animals on personal mental health.

“Isolating the effect of a pet in the context of all the other factors that influence a person’s mental health is so hard, so the evidence there is really, really mixed,” said Molly Crossman, a psychology researcher at Yale.

Emotional support animals and service animals are permitted on campus and in residence halls according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Yet the process of registering a dog as an emotional support animal is as simple as a Google search and a small fee.

“I have told professors that I am bringing my emotional support animal, rather than asking them if it is okay,” said sophomore Raea Palmieri. “I know my rights to an emotional support animal in a collegiate setting.” Photo courtesy of Raea Palmieri.

Gypsy is a registered service dog and Palmieri feels less anxious in class because she can put some of her energy into paying attention to her dog.

“Having my dog in class, surprisingly makes me focus more because I have no additional time to go on my computer and be distracted from the lecture,” Palmieri said.

Professor CK Magliola said she sees no harm in bringing emotional support animals and pets to class. Magliola brings her dog, Ginger, which she describes as small and harmless, to her women’s studies classes. She allows students to bring their pets as well.

“Most folks who ever bring their dogs to class have a dog whose temperament is well-suited for it, or else their owners wouldn’t bring them,” Magliola said. “If there were a dog not well-suited for this kind of public environment (and barked or whatever) or if anyone felt intimidated, I wouldn’t allow it,”

Out of the four of five classes Magliola teaches, she says only one or two students will regularly bring dogs.

“If the school was a crazy zoo and any untoward incidents happened then there would be cause to regulate the matter, but there seems to be no evidence or just cause for this as far as I know,” Magliola said.

Night from Hell: How PIKE’s Halloween event went wrong

Heaven and Hell partygoers enjoy themselves while more than 100 ticket holders were marooned back at the Chapman dorms. Photo by Evan Hammerman.

Pike’s “Heaven & Hell” party turned into hell for the 100-150 students who bought $20 tickets and were denied transportation promised to them on the event page. It is unclear if any of the stranded students have gotten or will receive refunds.

Chapman fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike) sold 800 tickets for its Oct. 25 “Heaven & Hell” party, at which attendees were encouraged to dress as devils or angels, according to anonymous Pike executive. Transportation to The Federal Bar in Long Beach was included in the $20 ticket price and the event page advertised, “free buses from the Chapman dorms will be provided.” The shuttles would start at 9 p.m. and run all night, according to the event page.

However, after students began shoving to get on the buses around 10:45 p.m.  Public Safety officers told the drivers of two empty buses to shut their doors according to sophomore business major Jack Allara. The buses drove away stranding 100-150 students, according to Chapman Public Safety Captain John Kabala. Stranded students paid for alternate transportation (about $30 by Uber), bummed rides or stayed behind, losing the price of their tickets. Those who attended the event said it ended more than an hour earlier than its advertised 2 a.m. cut off. At least three students who requested Pike’s Venmo for refunds have not been reimbursed.

“I have been present at approximately 300-400 Greek Life Events,” said Kabala. “This was the first one that has ever had to suspend operations due to safety considerations.”

The students were not cooperating with orders by Public Safety Officers such as ‘Please step back 3 or 4 feet back from the white barriers’ which are located in the fire line,” Kabala said. “Many students were intoxicated and in some cases were just refusing to comply with straightforward safety requests.”

People who rode the buses to the party were still given bus rides back to the dorms later that night.

Sophomore integrated educational studies major Emily Andris said she waited an hour to get on a bus, was shoved around by a hectic crowd of devils and angels trying to board, and was eventually told no more buses would be transporting students to the event.

“I’m pretty infuriated specifically because I already paid to get on these buses, to have a safe ride there and back, and now they’re forcing me to figure out another way to get there,” said Andris.

Andris did not want to Uber to the event so she ended up walking home a mile and a half in her red dress and devil horns.

Andris said that drunkenness was not the reason for noncompliance with the officers’ orders.

“They assumed that because people were shoving to get on the bus, it meant that they were too drunk when in actuality we were just eager to go to the event,” Andris said.

Not obeying orders of public safety officers is a violation of the student conduct code. Bus drivers were told to leave because Kabala was concerned about students getting struck by the buses.

This reporter bought a ticket to the event and was at the dorms to be picked up by buses at 10:45 pm. Instead, she found dozens of angry, drunk students.

A man who said he held an executive position in the Pike fraternity said that seven or eight Pike members were trying to coax the crowd into a single-file line. Pike members removed students that were belligerent and rowdy, but the students returned, said the executive, who declined to have his name used because he was not authorized to speak for his fraternity.

“We’ve had this event for the past 6 years and this has never happened,” said the Pike executive.

Despite selling out all the tickets, Pike lost money on the event, which cost the frat $16,000-$18,000, said the Pike executive. He didn’t say how much revenue was made but that the tickets were not priced high enough to completely cover the costs.

President of Pike, Michael Garcia, declined to comment when asked to confirm figures concerning the number of students stranded, the amount of money lost, the number of buses rented, and also refused to say whether refunds would be provided.

“We had 7-8 pike members as well as event staff and public safety attempting to control the crowd. I do not know if a Pike event has ever been shut down due to [a] rowdy crowd,” said Garcia, the spokesperson for the fraternity.

Danny Trainor, external vice president of Pike, was emailed twice on the official Chapman Pike email, twice on his personal email, and texted over a two week period. Trainor didn’t respond by deadline.

Treasurer Maereg Kiros also did not respond by deadline when emailed about the same questions.

Pike members who were asked for correct contacts of executives (their website was dated) physically ran away and blocked this reporter.

The party apparently had problems as well. Sophomore integrated educational studies major Kimberly Cameron said that the party – scheduled to last until 2 a.m. – was shut down at 12:30 a.m. She said a fire alarm went off and all of the students were told to move to the other room of the two room venue by staff of the bar.

The event did not end because of a fire alarm according to Captain Kabala.

“The event was suspended early because of guests failing to comply with safety requests announced by Public Safety Officers via loudspeaker,” Kabala said by email.

Pike executives did not respond to why the event ended early.