Friday, October 14, 2005

In the "Odd News" part of Yahoo! News

Is this article.

The story is that a 19 year old student attends Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. She wants to keep her pet ferret with her in her dorm room. The college won't allow it, for reasons unprovided. So, the girl does what any other bright, young enterprising college student would do - file an Americans With Disabilities Act complaint. Her disability? She suffers panic attacks, and the ferret helps calm her. She says that she has post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from a physical disorder and depression [and that] her problems are related, legally, to a physical disability.

She reassures us, "I'm not suing the school and I'm not asking for money, I'm just trying to get [my ferret] here."

You see, the school probably has a no pets policy, or a no furry animal policy, or something like that. I can imagine that would be normal in a college environment, and it would make sense. She wants her ferret, which, of course, would be against a no pet-type policy. So, she files a complaint, and then says "but I'm not suing" so that her request to get the ferret seems more reasonable. I personally don't buy the "I need a ferret because I have PTSD from a physical disorder and depression." If you can't live without your ferret in your room, then you probably don't need to be at college, you need to be getting help somewhere else. Additionally, is she only going to suffer her panic attacks in her room, where said ferret would be? What if she has a panic attack during a stressful time, such as, I don't know, a final? Would she expect the school to let her stop the final for a bit so that ferret can calm her (I'm hoping with some aromatherapy candles and celtic music), until she's ready to go back and finish her test?

That's Friday's odd news article!


particleman said...

someone tried to bring a keg into my freshman dorm once. could he have brought an ADEA claim for that?! said...

Not ADEA - that's Age Discrimination in Employment Act. And I very, very seriously doubt this ADA claim will work AT ALL. I spent the summer working on ADA stuff, reading the ADA, measuring bathrooms, doing research on whether or not obesity is covered under the ADA (it is, but mostly only if it's accompanied by other physical impairments that inhibit a major life activity). As far as I can tell, she doesn't even have a disability under the ADA, so yeah, uhm, summary judgment, anyone?

Bookworm said...

I don't think anybody imagined, when ADA was passed, with a vision of making it easier for wheelchair bound people to get around, or for blind people to be accommodated with special computers, and that kind of thing, that ADA would eventually become a pass to everybody to do exactly what he or she wants, and to pass the cost and convenience on to society at large. Feh!! said...

My experience has been that it doesn't give people a pass to do whatever they want. I think this claim is frivolous & won't be covered by the ADA. First she has to show that she has a disability recognized under the ADA, which is a physical or mental impairment that restricts a major life activity. Without researching it, I can't say if PTSD (if that's what she claims she has) is covered. Then, she's not being denied any services, programs or activities. If they wouldn't let her take anxiety meds, then maybe she'd have a case, but keeping a pet in a dorm isn't exactly a denial of services!

The purpose of the ADA is to make the day-to-day experiences of people with disabilities comparable to those without disabilities and to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities & for the most part, I think that's how the law has been applied. Frankly, I don't see what the discrimination is here. None of the students are allowed to have pets (and with good reason - ferrets are pretty smelly, nasty little creatures & I should know. I used to own one!), so there's no discrimination there. Unless Suzy Q was allowed to have her cat & they're not letting Mary Melodramatic have her ferret. My money's with the university here.