In an unprecedented decision in higher education in the United States, Columbia University’s School of General Studies has announced the acceptance of a German Shepherd to its 2015 incoming class of undergraduates. The dog, Banjo, is a female 72 pound 4 year-old transfer student from Madison, Wisconsin. She is housebroken and great with kids.
“The diversity brought to Columbia through the students in GS is part of what makes Columbia stand out among the top research institutions in the United States,” said Peter J. Awn, Dean of the School of General Studies. “Like all non-traditional students, Banjo brings with her a different set of experiences, and that in tandem with her unique canine perspective can only serve to contribute to the education of the university’s student body as a whole. Banjo is gentle and obedient, and we couldn’t be happier to have her.”
The transition from Obedience School to an Ivy league School will likely be a challenge for the dog, as it is for many transfer students. “She may have a woof time of it at first,” said Awn. “She’s house broken and great with kids, and her mastery of basic commands will serve her well. But at Columbia many of her peers will have been walking off leash since elementary school, and even the most impressive tricks like ‘High Five’ or ‘Roll Over’ are par for the course. It will take a few weeks of consistent training, but I’m confident that she’ll find success here. I tell the same thing to all my new students, we didn’t send that acceptance letter to the wrong doggie door. She’s a good dog, a very good dog, and she belongs here.”
The decision doesn’t come without controversy. Particularly outraged are many members of Columbia College’s sizable Eastern Gray Squirrel population. Sarah Williams, CC ‘17 responded to Banjo’s arrival by urinating in her Art Humanities classroom as a means of marking her territory as belonging to CC students (squirrels in particular).
Banjo was not immediately available for comment, as she was searching for a stick one of her professors had pretended to throw.