The University of Rhode Island’s Peck Hall was much quieter today without the familiar black and white husky, Ivy, a therapy dog who plays with residents while her owner, housekeeper Mike LaPolice, works in the building.
In response to an article about Ivy in Thursday’s Good 5 Cent Cigar, Jeff Plouffe, associate director of Housing and Residential Life, confronted LaPolice Thursday afternoon, ordering he and Ivy to leave without the day’s pay. LaPolice would only be allowed to return the next day if he left Ivy at home.
“What they’re doing is completely wrong,” LaPolice said in response to yesterday’s events.
Students were also shocked by what transpired.
“I was completely mortified when I heard what had happened,” said Andrew LeCampion, Peck Hall resident.
Another Peck Hall resident, Cara Liberati, is also upset about the situation.
“I believe this is a bad representation of what the university stands for,” she said.
Before Thursday, LaPolice had gone seven months without HRL staff complaining about Ivy. In his opinion, the Good 5 Cent Cigar article reignited their efforts to remove Ivy from the residence hall.
“I was happy about the article because I thought it would open people’s eyes to how amazing Ivy is,” LaPolice said. “I never thought this would happen.”
According to him, the worst part of what happened is that Plouffe refused to give him answers, keeping his responses short and vague. Â Plouffe would not comment on the situation at this time.
“Nobody will tell me who has a problem with Ivy,” LaPolice said. “All of the HRL staff that I’ve talked to keep referring to some person who doesn’t like her being here, but I don’t know who that is.”
He has faced these problems since the first day he brought Ivy to Peck, and has been fighting for her ever since. Last year, in an effort to keep Ivy at work with him, he made her a registered therapy dog with the National Service Animal Registry. However, according to LaPolice Plouffe has called Ivy’s presence on campus “unprofessional” several times despite her certification.
Despite his many setbacks, LaPolice plans to do everything in his power to make sure that Ivy can keep bringing joy to Peck Hall residents. His current plan is to talk to his doctor to figure out if he can be permitted to keep Ivy with him because of a medical need.
“I’ll go to a psychiatrist if I have to,” he said.
Students are just as adamant about Ivy belonging in Peck Hall.
“They [HRL] need to realize that we love her and she brings such a positive energy to the dorm,” LeCampion said.
He and several other students have already begun discussing what they can do about the situation. According to LeCampion, one student has started another petition, similar to the one that circulated through Peck Hall last year, when the conflict began.
“Starting a petition is good, but it won’t be enough,” LeCampion said.
He thinks that the best plan of action is to speak to President David Dooley and explain the situation.
“I don’t want to be confrontational, I just want to get the point across that Ivy deserves to be here,” LeCampion said.