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A furry friend provides students with emotional support

by Kari Ashworth
Tue, May 7th 2019 11:05 pm

The College at Brockport has implemented a new policy regarding emotional support animals. Starting in the fall, emotional support squirrels will officially be allowed on campus. 

Freshman Kay Jeter is all for the new initiative, as she has been living with anxiety her entire life. Her insistence on allowing support squirrels is part of the reason this policy will go into effect.

“I think it’s great,” Jeter said. “I’ve been trying to certify my emotional support squirrel with the school all year, and now they have finally listened to my nagging.”

Jeter has had an emotional support squirrel, aptly named Nibbles, for three years now, and it has been difficult for her to transition to college life without him. Jeter’s mother has also not enjoyed housing the squirrel while Jeter is away at school.

“Yeah, my mom is not happy about having to look after Nibbles,” Jeter said. “This will definitely ease some anxiety for the both of us next semester.”

However, not everyone is happy about the new policy. The Good Boy Society, a club made up of campus emotional support dogs, is rather annoyed. President of the Good Boy Society Bandit is appalled by the college’s decision to allow emotional support squirrels. 

“This has always been our area of expertise,” Bandit explained. “It is difficult to come to terms with other animals being allowed. Last year, we had to let cats into the position, I mean, really? Cats? But now we have to allow squirrels in, too. This is where we must put our paw down and say ‘enough is enough.’”

Good Boy Society is holding a march against support squirrels on Saturday, May 18, to show their displeasure with the new policy. T-shirts will be passed out to anyone who attends the march that read “We’re not nuts about support squirrels” and “They’re barking up the wrong tree,” and a rally with the group members barking their opinions will follow directly after.

The decision does raise some questions. How will people be able to tell the difference between support squirrels and normal campus squirrels? Jaspar Klein, an employee at Student Accessibility Services, explained that emotional support squirrels will have little orange vests to mark their job title. 

“Students cannot just pick up a feral squirrel and say it’s an emotional support animal,” Klein said. “Students will be required to register their squirrels with the college and provide documentation of their need for an emotional support animal.”

A trained medical professional must sign off on an emotional support animal and then the student must explain their situation to the college. Having a trained squirrel before arriving on campus is also a plus, as the college can deny  requests.

Of course, there is the possibility of a turf war, Klein explained. He has already received angry letters from the campus squirrels in regards to the new allowance. One letter read “We, the campus squirrels, will not stand for this blatant symbol of disrespect. If it is a war you want, it is a war you’ve got.” Klein is not too worried about the threats, though.

“They’re squirrels,” Klein said. “What’s the worst they can do?”

One campus squirrel was heard in the distance shouting “hold my beer.” It will be interesting to see the outcome. Some squirrels were seen gathering atop Mortimer Hall, presumably discussing their next steps. There have also already been rumors flying around that campus squirrels may attempt to pose as support squirrels to wreak havoc on campus. Security is warning all students, faculty, staff and emotional support dogs to be careful around the campus squirrels in their aggravated state. 

The advent of emotional support squirrels will likely be a point of contention for months to come. Hopefully, all sides can be respectful of one another and a resolution will be found. 

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