Students are now permitted to keep animals on Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s campus for emotional support.
However, the new policy brings many challenges for Student Life and Residential Life.
Campus officials say they must be sensitive to many issues, including the confidentiality of any student requesting an emotional support animal, and the concerns of roommates or other students who may be uncomfortable with animals in student dorms and apartments.
“We have to look at the needs, the wants and the rights of the student with the support animal,” Dean of Students Aaron Quinn said. “We also have to
consider noise, allergies, space and how it will affect others.”
As students begin to take advantage of the new policy and bring animals onto campus, “we have to find that balance,” Quinn said.
The policy covers any animal needed for emotional support, not just dogs. At Kenyon University, students have received permission for guinea pigs and cats on campus.
So far, at least two students have received approval for animals on campus at MVNU. Students can gain approval for an emotional support animal on campus by contacting the Coordinator of Accessibility Services Deanna Shira-Tackett.
If the student’s medical documentation meets the required, legal criteria, Shira-Tackett approves the request and informs Residence Life and Facility
Services of the decision.
MVNU officials say this policy was incorporated to comply with federal and Ohio laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Fair Housing Act.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires all public and private organizations to adjust their policies, practices or procedures to allow the use of a service animal.
Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, no individual may be denied benefits or be subjected to discrimination. This applies to prohibiting service animals on campus if it will limit the involvement and participation of an individual.
The Fair Housing Act brings the two together, requiring all entities to accommodate untrained emotional support or therapy animals as well.