New policy changes for Moorpark College campus arise from De-Stress Fest

Following+the+shooting+at+a+local+country+club+and+fires+directly+after%2C+ASMC+worked+with+President+Sanchez+to+get+therapy+dogs+on+campus.+Photo+credit%3A+Michelle+De+Leon
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New policy changes for Moorpark College campus arise from De-Stress Fest

Following the shooting at a local country club and fires directly after, ASMC worked with President Sanchez to get therapy dogs on campus. Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

Following the shooting at a local country club and fires directly after, ASMC worked with President Sanchez to get therapy dogs on campus. Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

Following the shooting at a local country club and fires directly after, ASMC worked with President Sanchez to get therapy dogs on campus. Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

Following the shooting at a local country club and fires directly after, ASMC worked with President Sanchez to get therapy dogs on campus. Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

By Danitza Romero

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As finals week approaches and anxiety levels increase, Moorpark College is helping students find innovative ways to de-stress. However, there have been some changes to this semester’s De-Stress Fest from last year. Well, for one, no more therapy dogs. ASMC led event has brought attention to an un-polished phrasing of the board Policy 3503.

In spite of ASMC’s advocacy for therapy dogs, nothing seems to relieve the district’s uneasiness and concerns with the phrasing of the policy which leaves vulnerable to interpretation. Currently, the policy is meant to permit service animals and those involved in the Exotic Animal Training Management program (EATM) at Moorpark College.

Last semester, ASMC president Andrew Lopez worked with Moorpark College’s president Luis Sanchez to permit therapy dogs on campus for the De-Stress Fest. The request was approved in response to the mental health of the college community following the Borderline shooting and Woolsey fires last November.

Fellow ASMC Vice President Shida Delgosha confirmed that Moorpark College was the only college in the Ventura County district that was approved since the events occurred in proximity to Moorpark’s campus. Delgosha stated ASMC created a contract between students and owners to protect both parties from any liability.

“[Volunteers] who did bring their dog [on campus] had a four million dollar coverage,” said Delgosha.

Kirsten Robinson, student activities specialist, explains ASMC hopes to discuss with the District Technical Review Workgroup for Student Services (DTRSS), a district-wide committee, before the recommended modifications on the policy are made.

“And so I think that [ASMC feels] that the administration is being a bit rigid and not being mindful to the student’s desires in this instance especially when [ASMC sees] other campuses are able to bring dogs on,” said Robinson. “And [other colleges] obviously having to address the liability concerns as well. How is it that they’re able to do it and our district won’t allow it?”

Cal State University Channel Islands’ student union plans stress-relieving activities that take place during Dead Week for students to participate in which includes “Love on a Leash” therapy dogs event. Students can take a study break and boost their spirit with a playful interaction with the dogs.

Samantha Torres, a CSUCI student union program assistant, is one of the masterminds behind this stress-busting event for students on campus to experience before finals.

“Our students love it! We have students say it was the highlight of their day,” said Torres. “It’s important to have therapy dogs on campus, it allows students to cope with daily life.”

Although there are other activities to decompress from the anxiety of finals, therapy dogs are a low-cost attraction.

“It was free, getting the dogs on campus because everyone was a volunteer. I had some companies contact me and say you have to pay like a thirty dollar insurance so it is not costly at all,” said Delgosha. “You can find sources that are free to little cost.”

Time and time again, ASMC brings the same recommended stress-busting activities for students to appreciate at De-Stress Fest. But their one suggestion continues to be denied.

Matthew Campbell, ASMC director of campus events, is aware of the same encounter with Ventura County’s district policy and for that reason, ASMC has pursued other angles to having animals on campus.

“We’ve also tried to talk with the zoo and get like some animals that are already on campus,” said Campbell. “But we seem to not make it work.”

Patti Blair, Administrative Officer to Chancellor and Board of Trustees, states there are plans underway for the recommended phrasing on the current board Policy 3503.

“The workgroup from DTRW-SS will be recommending modifications of appropriate language when it reconvenes in the new academic year,” said Blair.

As Moorpark College waits on the new adjustments on the policy, there is still hope that modified phrasing can be in the student’s favor.

“I definitely want the next board, whoever decides to take on this event, or if they even choose to do this next year to definitely fight for it,” said Delgosha. “Get your voice heard because we are representing our students and who is a better voice than we [ASMC] are.”

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