"There is a dust-up at Vermont Law School over the American with Disabilities Act. The hippie bastion is being accused by a graduating student of denying her service dog entry to commencement ... is there a vast conspiracy against Dog Lover because she filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, as her email alleges?" - Kathryn Rubino, "Battle Over Service Dog At Law School Graduation," in Abovethelaw.com, May 23, 2016. Here is the article.
One reason why is this: Thanks to medication and technology many of the disabled who might not even tried to earn degrees in the past now can take a stab at it. Some of those disabled are finding it helpful or necessary to have a support animal on campus.
The kind of service animal it is could range from a dog or cat to bird or gold fish. Student housing is often required by law to allow the service animal to reside with the student. That is what happened at the University of Nebraska.
As I reported in this blog back in October 2015:
"The recent $140,000 settlement by the University of Nebraska at Kearney with the Justice Department is providing guidelines [to academic institutions across the nation]. Initially in 2011, the school rejected Brittany Hamilton's request to keep her small dog in the university apartment. He eased her panic attacks. In 2013, a federal judge ruled that the school had to comply with the Fair Housing Act. The law prevents discrimination against those with disabilities."
In the court of public opinion, many cheer on the disabled who, against so many odds, struggle in the stressful environment of academia to get a degree. So, they would consider it a ding to the school's brand if the institution was too restrictive in their service animal policy.
Of course, there are also those who view much of the emotional support animal issue as hogwash. They figure they got through final exams without Fido by their side. Also, there are those who have animal-related allergies or are phobic about certain animals. In addition, there is fear that the dog could bite them.
Overall, it probably would have enhanced the University of Vermont Law School brand to have the service dog attend graduation. Just consider the photo-ops. National media could have been invited.
The disabled student could have given a brief speech on how the law has made it possible for her to maintain a support animal. Without it, she may never have been able to obtain her law degree and help America become a more just nation.
There wouldn't have been a dry eye on social networks. Since the late 1980s, it has taken a four-footer by my side to tame my anxiety disorder as I do client assignments. Otherwise I might have had to file for disability, costing the taxpayer a bundle versus contributing to the tax system and increasing GDP growth.