The Weal – SAIT student newspaper
By Séamus Smyth

Simba; Bunny; Bobo; Bear; they are some of the world’s best listeners. They adore cuddling.  They want nothing more than to participate in an endless, tearful embrace. The best part is that their sole request is for one to refrain from sleeping on their torso once they have tucked in their respective companion. So who are these gracious figures that I write of? Tragically, these characters are merely fine pieces of fabric sewn together with simplistic features aimed at resembling a human face. Yes, these are the titles of just a few of the stuffed animals that SAIT students run home to when times get tough.

“When school is hard and you need a good cry, a stuffed animal is a lot nicer than having a person judge you,” said legal assistant student, Kimberly Ma.

“I can’t remember when I got him.  We’ve been together forever; he’s my best bud,” she explained.  Ma said that having a boyfriend does not complicate her relationship with Bear as both parties understand their role in Ma’s life. When asked why she thought many students still have a furry comrade, Ma called it a security blanket for many students.

Megan Ruark, from the same program, isn’t sure why as a college student she still has a “stuffie,” but she knows that it evokes a sense of happiness every time she sees it because it was a gift from her boyfriend.

SAIT psychologist from student development and counseling services, Terri Scoville said the reasons for students to continue having a stuffed animal waiting for them in their bedroom is varied, but overall she said the theme is that it inevitably reminds one of a special time or person in one’s life.

“A lot of people keep something from their childhood. Sometimes it’s a memory of good times gone by or an accomplishment,” she added.

Journalism student Alyssa Kramer agreed, referring to her and Simba’s life-long relationship, who she has said had since the age of three.

“We do have a tendency to put a lot of into our possessions, especially something we get at a young age,” said Kramer, who admitted to giving Simba regular embraces before drifting to sleep.

Scoville said it shouldn’t be considered a dependence issue unless the mute creature begins venturing out with their master on a day-to-day basis. She compared the attachment to the way many students interact with their cellphones and computers:  tools that may eventually replace the stuffed animals once a student has moved on or forgotten about their teddy.

“It’s a sense of connection. Students certainly don’t want to be disconnected. I guess some people could interpret the cellphone as the grownup stuffed animal, but it’s more like the grown up way of connection,” she said.

Although certain SAIT students admitted that they have moved on to more balanced relationships, business administration student Jenna Price said that if she could see her former stuffed cat “Amber,” she would know exactly how to react.

“I would give her a hug and tell her how much I miss her.”