There’s no denying that living in a sorority house can be hard. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t all live like Elle Woods in fabulous pink mansions. Formal dresses (and dates) get stolen, dishes aren’t washed, and Becky won’t stop having loud, uncomfortable sex at all hours of the day.
However, these issues pale in comparison to what’s going on at the Chi Omega house at The Ohio State University. Two sorority sisters, who both live in the house, are in conflict… and it’s over something a lot more serious than who isn’t pulling their weight on garbage duty. One sister, Madeleine Entine, a sophomore, uses her service dog, Cory, to control her panic attacks. The dog is trained to apply pressure to her stomach, by climbing onto it, when Entine is suffering from one of her attacks.
Court documents noted the importance of the dog for Entine, stating “The panic attacks restrict her breathing ability and cause her to hyperventilate. They also cause her muscles to lock up and prevent her from walking on her own.” Unfortunately, the dog isn’t aiding everyone in the house. Another sister, who has not been named, suffers from “allergies and asthma, which, in turn, causes a flare-up of [name redacted] Crohn’s disease,” which are brought on by Cory’s presence. A few weeks after Entine and Cory moved into the house, the sister started to complain about the effects that the dog had on her condition. The university’s Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator, Scott Lissner, has become involved in the situation, and stated that “…over time, continued exposure to dog dander would ultimately be untenable and unsafe for [name redacted].”
It is apparent that both girls cannot healthily and happily survive in the same house together, however neither wants to move out. At their university, students in first and second year must either live in the dorm rooms or in a sorority house. The university has decided to step in and take action, and has ultimately decided that Entine and Cory must move out of the house. They determined this due to the fact that Entine signed the lease later than the other sorority sister; as this had been the precedent used in other similar cases. Entine was given the option to either leave the house, or stay in it without Cory; an option that isn’t ideal considering the service that the dog brings to her. The university even offered assistance to find Entine other housing arrangements, which she declined. She says that this is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and proposes that she should remain in the house with “physical parameters” that would allow for appropriate separation between her and the other sister.
However, this idea was not accepted, under the premise that “Due to room configuration and house mechanical systems, it was determined that restricting the dog to a certain area or assigning the students to different living locations or rooms within the house would not accommodate the disabilities of both students.” The university has decided to back this decision, and has given Entine two weeks to decide what to do.
Entine has decided to continue with her federal lawsuit, citing that this is a violation of federal regulations and the ADA, saying that “Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals.” Her suit claims that Lissner violated the ADA, the Fair Housing Act and other Ohio codes.
“The case is not about whether plaintiff can have her assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation. She can. Instead, this is about how OSU, specifically Lissner, must accommodate two students with disabilities whose accommodations are in conflict.”
The case is still pending, but for now, the university and the sorority are declining to comment on the issue.
Let’s hope that Entine, the other sister involved and more importantly, Cory, are all happy with the judge’s decision..
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