Dear Collegian staff,
I am a first-year student who lives in McBride Hall. This year, I have had a long struggle against an anxiety disorder. After talking to my primary care doctors and counselors, we concluded that an emotional support animal (ESA) would be a wonderful way for me to take care of my anxiety. I immediately set out contacting the Office of Student Accessibility and Support Services (SASS) to see about the possibility of getting such an animal.
I talked to SASS Director Erin Salva, and although I had officially missed the application deadline for an ESA, I understood that I could fill out the paperwork and be confirmed for an ESA. My primary care doctor filled out the ESA verification forms and, I, believing that everything would be in order, started looking for a suitable companion.
Out of this search came my Corgi puppy, Lemon. I purchased her on Jan. 26 and had her on campus for a week. In that week she was leash-, name- and potty-trained, and she met and bettered the lives of many people on campus. She was a quiet and well-behaved puppy and the responsibility of raising her eliminated my anxiety symptoms without medication.
At the beginning of February, I went back to SASS to finalize the ESA paperwork. Instead, I was given under a week to get rid of Lemon. Luckily my saints of parents stepped in to watch her. Lemon is currently in Charlotte, N.C. My bonding with her as an ESA, as well as her training, were interrupted.
My anxiety disorder is worse than it has ever been. I have nightly anxiety attacks and leave campus whenever I do not have class. In fact, it has gotten to the point where I have been forced to apply to transfer to another college next year.
My friends and I, confused about how this could have happened, appealed the decision. We not only visited with Vice President of Student Affairs Meredith Harper Bonham ’92, but also submitted a written appeal to Dean of Students Robin Hart Ruthenbeck. This appeal was declined.
I write this letter not only for my own sake, but to try to prevent something like this from happening in the future. Here at Kenyon, we know that mental health matters. We just need to remind the administration.
Michael Trevallion ’22