Comfort Animals on Campus

From a Millennial reader who teaches at an Ivy League university:

Did you see this story? “Campuses Debate Rising Demands for ‘Comfort Animals.’” It reminded me of your Coddling thread. Fearing litigation, colleges are now allowing students to bring into campus housing their own dogs, cats, pigs, and other creatures (“schools have had requests for lizards, tarantulas, potbellied pigs, ferrets, rats, guinea pigs and sugar gliders — nocturnal, flying, six-ounce Australian marsupials) … and those animals frequently lead to the destruction of said housing.

How can administrators discern a troubled adolescent’s legitimate request from that of a homesick student who would really, really like a kitten? If a student with a psychological disability has the right to live with an animal, how should schools protect other students whose allergies or phobias may be triggered by that animal?

The topic is being hotly debated by college housing and disability officials in the wake of discrimination lawsuits filed by students who were denied so-called emotional support animals. Last month, on the eve of a trial in a case closely watched by administrators, the University of Nebraska at Kearney settled with the Justice Department, agreeing to pay $140,000 to two students who had been denied support animals, and spelling out protocols for future requests.

Everyone and their creepy uncle can get a psychiatric diagnosis. And it’s no secret that millennials are not only overdiagnosed, but see diagnoses as categories of oppression/identity (because of course oppression = identity). So we have the intersection of entitlement, coddling, hysteria, and identity politics, all in the person of a pot-bellied pig who’s allowed to crap all over a college dorm because the administration fears a visit from the litigation bogeyman. Oy gevalt.

Have you seen this trend on your campus? Email hello@theatlantic.com you want to share your experience—or your sugar glider: