Weekly ESA News Report Nov 19: Ex-MSU Sorority Member Files ESA SuitReading Time: 3 minutes
As more students than ever are heading to college with the intention of bringing their ESAs with them, many colleges seem ill-prepared to implement the laws under the Fair Housing Act. College housing must allow ESAs into housing, but as the following incident shows, not many are aware of what the law entails!
Ex-MSU Sorority Member Files Emotional Support Animal Suit
An ex-MSU alumnus who was denied an emotional support animal in her sorority house has filed a lawsuit against her former residence this week.
Former Michigan State University student, Kayla Hicks, has a history of suffering from chronic anxiety and panic attacks. For this reason, she uses an emotional support rabbit which helps to ease her symptoms.
However, Hicks ran into problems when her Netherlands dwarf rabbit Sebastian was rejected by the house manager of an MSU sorority. The sorority is listed as part of the Alpha Omicron Pi Fraternity Incorporation, which is based in Tennessee.
The debate over ESAs continues to rage on in public spaces, with recent incidents leading to public outcry about the seeming lack of rules regarding the animals.
The laws that apply to emotional support animals in accommodations are found within the Fair Housing Act (FHA). These state that anyone with a physical or mental disability has the right to fair and reasonable accommodation without discrimination against them on the basis of their disability.
For those living with emotional support animals, this means that no landlord shared accommodation or group housing is able to discriminate against a potential tenant who uses an emotional support animal.
It means they cannot be denied accommodation because they have an ESA, be charged an extra fee to have an ESA with them in the accommodation or be charged an extra pet cleaning fee.
Attorney Kerry Morgan says that while Ms. Hicks’ case is one of the more unusual cases that he has taken on, he was confident that the evidence to support his client was strong. “This is a housing case, not a pet-accommodation case,” he said. He also stated that his client filed the case primarily as she wanted to see her old sorority “step up and do a better job going forward with other students.”
Colleges Not Fully Aware of Their Responsibilities of Allowing ESAs Into College Housing
The popularity of ESAs on campus has been growing in recent years. However, some colleges are not fully aware of their responsibilities in terms of admitting disabled students with ESAs into college housing.
On the other hand, students with disabilities must be aware that while service dogs are permitted in all public spaces, emotional support animals do not have the same freedoms. Most colleges only allow students with ESAs to reside in the room of the student, and they do not allow them in public places such as the grounds of the college and classrooms. The ESA is also expected to be well behaved. A destructive or aggressive ESA will be denied housing!
Many college-age students with a disability are finding that using an emotional support animal is an excellent way to further their education. With the confidence an ESA can help to instill in those struggling with a disability, students are better able to meet their academic and social goals. An emotional support animal can provide comfort and companionship to anyone coping with mental illness or other conditions.
CertaPet’s Views on ESAs in Campus Housing and Emotional Support Bunnies
According to federal law, colleges must provide reasonable accommodation for people who have an ESA letter prescribed by a licensed mental health professional. We are all for encouraging people to implement the laws in place and do not wish to see these laws abused or ignored.
“We do not certify anything but cats and dogs and the occasional rabbit. We understand that other animals may have therapeutic value and we do not discredit that at all, but it is our policy to only recognize dogs cats and rabbits due to zoning restrictions, health concerns and regulations, and public safety.”
If you think an ESA might help you, answer the questions in our free 5-min pre-screening to see if you qualify. If you do, we will put you touch with a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). The LMHP can help you get your ESA letter in as little as 48hrs!
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