Snowflake Melt

Spring is no longer the only thing that causes snowflakes to melt.   Apparently stress is engulfing increasing numbers of college students.  And when exercise, unwinding with friends, or even anxiety medication aren’t relieving the angst caused by final exams, the University of Utah has come to the rescue with a stress antidote, or better known today as a “safe space.”  Believe it or not, for you older folks who were pretty much on your own to deal with final exam stress, the University has actually designated a small enclosure in the school’s library as a “Cry Closet.”  Set up for “students to cry it out if they’re overwhelmed by college life,” it comes complete with a “plush” floor and stuffed animals.  There are closet rules, of course:  Knock first, only one inside at a time, decompression limited to 10-minutes.  No word yet on utilization or any stigma attached to its  use.  When Spring finals are over, the closet closes, an event which, itself, may trigger tears.

And now comes word that Yale College (liberal arts undergraduate campus for Yale University) will allow students to have pets in their dorm rooms if said animals are for “emotional support.”  Turns out that there is a provision within the federal Fair Housing Act that states: “Persons with disabilities may request a reasonable accommodation for any service animal, including an emotional support animal.”  This ties in directly with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.  Universities have actually been sued successfully for preventing students from having such animals in their dorm rooms.  One such winning plaintiff received a financial settlement whose “emotional support animal” was a guinea pig.  In another case, denying a student permission to have two dogs in the dorm room resulted in a hefty settlement.

It is hard to believe that, for regular straight-out-of-high-school students, such accommodations need to be made.  The only bona fide exceptions, especially with legitimate need for emotional support or service animals (dogs), are those courageous men and women who have served our nation in combat, who have seen and done things that none of us would ever hope to have to experience.  Having those still-vivid memories and/or incurring serious injuries, resulting in PTSD issues or actual physical/mental disabilities, more than qualifies those very special Americans for all of the support and assistance our grateful nation can give to them.

But for those of today’s students (hopefully a minuscule number) afflicted with such high anxiety and stress that they need a special closet for relief or an animal on-site to sooth emotions, its time to put down your smart phone, stop texting, bring your head back up, and engage in some actual, in-person relationships.  When personal issues seem to overwhelm you, not a screen, but actual human friends to unwind with can be of great help.  That, and counseling, if needed.  When, and if, you ultimately enter the workplace, don’t bother asking your employer for the location of the company’s “safe space.”  Because there won’t be any!  But there may well be a fair amount of intermittent stress  and anxiety.  Deal with it.  Welcome to the Real World!

(Reference:  The, Daily, Fox News On-Line, 4-25-18)