Campus Cats Dominate SGA Forum


Photographs courtesy of Giang Nguyen


This past Wednesday saw an SGA open forum held in the Student Union.  Many administrators were on a panel to answer questions posed to them by anyone who showed up.  The administrators included the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Head of Residence Life, and the President of UIS Student Government, among others. 

Immediately the discussion was brought to the campus cats.  The first question posed was about why cats that are vaccinated and neutered are being sent to animal control.  The next half hour of discussion was nothing except more questions among these lines.  The administration members kept repeating the same answers of pursuing campus safety with regards to disease control and citing various sources that stated the vaccinate, neuter, and release programs do not work.  These were countered by multiple people stating various incidences where those programs do work to limit feline populations.  The vast majority of the students, faculty, community members, and alumni agree that the current policy of taking animals to animal control is unwanted, while the old policy of vaccination, neutering, and releasing the Campus Cats is much more acceptable.  This was shown when a student asked for a show of hands and in a room with 136 chairs, less than 5 raised their hands in favor of the current policy while the rest raised their hands for reverting to the old policy.  Any call for a compromise was denied by the administration. 

Several students attended holding signs in protest of the current policy on the cats.  They were shaped as gravestones and said phrases such as “This is Life or Death” or “That’s a Lie”. 

Many other questions were asked as well.  Students asked about work orders. Food services and vegetarian options were discussed. The list of student grievances was brought up, and the Chancellor said that she was glad to see it as it brings up issues unknown to her, yet denied comment on any specifics due to a lack of background on the specifics of the grievances.   

Despite efforts to move the conversation away from the campus cats by the hosts, the discussion was eventually and continually brought back to the cats.  Of the 37 questions asked, 16 mentioned the cats, including both the first and last questions of the night.  More than 60 minutes of the 90-minute forum was a discussion about the cats, with seemingly no headway made into any potential course of changing policy.  The forum ended with a call for anyone who still wanted to talk to do so face-to-face afterwards, and many students left unsatisfied with the failure to achieve any kind of compromise acceptable to both students and administration.