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Iowa State Daily

Students share experience with Emotional Support Animals on campus

Freshman Mackenzie Brummer and her ESA, Aya.
Chris Aukes
Freshman Mackenzie Brummer and her ESA, Aya.

Iowa State University has many furry, scaley and even-winged creatures on campus that help support students as they go about their day-to-day lives.

An emotional support animal (ESA) is “any animal that provides emotional support alleviating one or more symptoms or effects of a person’s disability,” according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These animals are allowed on campus with the permission of the Student Accessibility Office, located at the Hixson-Lied Student Success Center.

Abi Kinney, a sophomore in animal science, said she prepared herself and her dorm room to bring her ESA, a Holland Lop rabbit named Luna, to college.

“I made sure that… I have a space laid out for her cage, any toys and her food and hay bins,” Kinney said. “I made sure that all cords were up and off the floor.”

Kinney said she would “100% recommend” the experience of bringing an ESA to college to any incoming students who may need it. Though Kinney did note having an ESA requires a lot of time and care and sometimes means sacrificing a night out with friends to keep Luna happy, she said having an ESA helps with stress and anxiety related to college.

Mackenzie Brummer, a freshman studying geology, also utilizes Iowa State’s emotional support animal policy. Brummer has a domestic long-haired cat named Aya who lives in her dorm room.

Brummer said she met Aya originally when she came to her as a foster cat. Brummer said she immediately felt a strong connection and realized that Aya helped ease her everyday stresses and anxieties.

Brummer said that she recommends the experience to anybody who just needs a buddy to get through the day.

“I found that I come home from school, and she would always come out, greet me, give me a few meows, and I would just be happier and comforted,” Brummer said.

To make sure Aya has an adequate place to live while Brummer is at class, Brummer took measures to adjust her dorm and was able to communicate with her roommate about how the room should be set up before the move-in day.

“When I saw the floor plan, I chose to go with the small corner for her little setup,” Brummer said.

Brummer said she is able to keep all of Aya’s necessities consolidated in one corner so as to not crowd the room.

Brummer said if any incoming freshman is hoping to set up an ESA, it’s worth it, but to be prepared for a long process with lots of paperwork.

The office of Student Accessibility Services (SAS) can assist in setting up an emotional support animal through Iowa State, with a guide on the SAS website.

Iowa State’s assistance animals website clarifies the difference between an emotional support animal and a service animal, as there is a significant contrast between the two when applying.

Though ESAs can be helpful to students wherever they go, “Approved ESAs are allowed in a student’s dorm room and the most direct path out of the dorm building, they are not allowed in any other buildings on campus, but can be in public outdoor spaces as long as they are on a leash,” SAS policy states.

While these animals are not allowed with students to classes or dining halls and are designed to provide most of their support from inside a dorm room, students with ESAs can still find a place for their furry, scaley or winged companion on campus.

Students can contact SAS at 515-294-7220 or [email protected] to register an ESA on campus.

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