One thing I really love about Caltech is how much freedom students get due to the Honor Code. Unlike many other schools, we have students sitting on nearly every major academic and disciplinary committees. Some of the things I’m involved with include being a member of the Board of Controls (a committee that deals with academic violations of the Honor Code), ASCIT (our campus-wide student government), and the COUCH committee (a newly-formed committee that will help decide who will live in the new residence hall, Bechtel). I also have friends leading the art committee, sitting on the Conduct Review Committee (a committee dealing with social violations of the honor code), part of StewComm (a committee that interfaces with housing), and the ARC (our academics and research committee).
My favorite freedom that Caltech allows us to have, though, is the freedom to have pets! Anyone can have animals that live in a 20 gallon or smaller tank. Most houses also allow cats in a designated “cat ally.” This policy allowed me to get a snake within two weeks of moving in to my room in Blacker!
My little ball python’s name is Athena, and she’s the sweetest reptile I know. She can fit in the palm of my hand, be worn like a necklace (affectionately known as a sneklace) or bracelet, or slither around next to me while I’m working. She often likes to sit on my keyboard while I’m trying to code for my surf project (more on SURF in my next post!). Her favorite thing to do, besides sleeping, is meet people. She was a fan favorite amongst the summer research students as they were moving in, and was able to boop some of Blacker’s alumni at our spring associate’s tea (man, she is great at breaking the ice!).
Besides Athena, I have six hermit crabs and am pet-sitting for another three snakes and a frog. They are a fun bunch. My friends like to call my summer room a zoo, but I’m having a great time playing with them all in my free time. Having a pet has been a great way for me to escape the stresses of academic life at Caltech by focusing on other lives for a few hours each week.
Here’s a picture of Athena and me enjoying some lemonade at Blacker’s Associate’s Tea: