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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis-ISU Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Sociology and Anthropology: Sociology

First Advisor

Marion Willetts


Colleges and universities are receiving increased requests for emotional support animals (ESA), and little research has been done addressing how these administrators navigate and negotiate these requests. In this study, I conducted in-depth face-to-face and phone interviews with six administrators who are responsible for handling ESA requests from students on their respective campuses. This study investigates their legal knowledge, their sense of their obligations, and their understanding of the benefits, consequences, and potential concerns of using ESAs on university campuses. Emotional support animal requests challenge administrators for a variety of reasons. First, administrators are being tasked with creating and enforcing policies without any formal training on ESAs. Second, administrators are concerned that students might abuse the system and request ESAs without a serious need, or that students will submit fraudulent documentation. Third, administrators desire to be responsive to any student request that enhances students’ academic success and are sympathetic of the burdensome process students face when collecting and submitting documentation for ESAs, but are concerned about the ramifications and legal liabilities the university faces as a result of these requests. The findings of this research will be beneficial to administrators who are dealing with ESA requests, residential life staff members who house students with ESAs, administrators in enrollment management who recruit students on their campuses, student support administrators who manage retention on campus, and the students who are making the requests for ESAs.


Imported from ProQuest Wimberly_ilstu_0092N_11363.pdf


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