Domesticated bison discovered in South Campus sparks controversy

Olivia Lawlor, Staff Writer

Residential Advisor Dave Lansky ’18 heard a loud commotion coming from inside Apartment 320 in Building 1 of the South Campus Apartments on the evening of Oct. 20. Expecting to find a group of senior students preparing for a rowdy night downtown, he entered the apartment ready to spew his usual lecture regarding quiet hours. Instead, Lansky was dumbfounded when he found an enormous bison standing alone in the common room.

Lansky submitted a report to Residential Education describing the situation:

“At 11:07 p.m., I entered Apartment 320, Building 1. Inside the common room was a large bison, approximately 1,460 pounds,” Lansky wrote in his report. “The bison was positioned in front of the television, watching the Discovery Channel. The apartment was clean, and the bison appeared to be content. After some investigation, I found that bison are not on the list of prohibited student pets. Without grounds to distribute any citations, I vacated the premises.”

When Lansky’s Residential Director read the report, she expressed immediate outrage. In order to prevent a repeat of the “Mod Monkey” incident from earlier in the semester, she immediately launched an investigation and discovered that the bison belonged to Hayley Smith ’18. The Community Directors on campus ruled that Smith was prohibited from living with a bison, and demanded that she remove the animal from the apartment by the end of the week.

However, since the ruling, Smith has filed to appeal their decision and to keep the bison at the University. She argues that her pet embodies the spirit of the student body and that it belongs here as much as any of the other students belong here.

“Bertrand [the bison] is essentially a member of the community,” Smith said. “He follows me everywhere. He loves our football team and is so excited for the basketball season to start. He also eats more caf food than anyone I know. He is literally the symbol of the University.”

Members of the student body and distinguished alumni have come forward to support Smith and Bertrand, and have taken action to stand up to the administration. Student advocates are holding a bake sale outside of the library for the rest of October called “Brownies for Bertrand.” Additionally, the Alumni Association has set up a gofundme page, where people can make direct donations to provide Bertrand with Dining Dollars and a subscription to Netflix to enjoy Planet Earth as he waits out the appeals process.

“I just hope that the Directors will see the merits of having a real-life mascot on campus, as well as the joy that Bertrand brings to students here at the University,” Smith said.

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