The Chronicle of Higher Education recently explored the growing presence of Emotional-Support Animals (ESAs) on college campuses around the country (March 17th online).  These animals provide individuals with comfort or aid through companionship, unconditional positive regard, and affection.  

Now, at Sweet Briar College, a women’s school in Virginia, an ESA scandal has erupted.  On March 23rd, 18 students were suspended for disguising their live-in boyfriends (in 3 cases, girlfriends) as emotional-support dogs in their dorm rooms. 

The ruse was discovered by a member of the housecleaning staff who noticed that the support dogs appeared to be “a lot bigger than any damned dogs I had ever laid eyes on.”  The staff member alerted her supervisor, who informed campus police.  The ensuing investigation uncovered the fraud.  

The support-dog impostors, who were all arrested, included Griffin Hurf, a 340-lb. defensive lineman on the Amherst County High School football team.  He was taken into custody wearing a Scooby Doo costume.

The suspended Sweet Briar students were defiant.  “I’m a healthy young woman, and I have the desires of a healthy young woman,” proclaimed Poinsettia Van Tillotsen, a junior from Lexington, Kentucky.  “I’m majoring in Mechanical Engineering, which is an extremely demanding field.  When I return to my room at the end of a long, stressful day I need a lot more than a cup of chamomile tea and a macaroon to relax.  I need my hunka, hunka burnin’ love.  Is that so hard to understand?”

Sweet Briar officials say the matter is now closed; they do not plan to comment further.