Guinea pigs of the world, rejoice!
Grand Valley State University has reached a $40,000 settlement with a student who sued to keep a guinea pig in a campus apartment for emotional support.
Sounds like there should be more to the story, right?
Well there is. Sort of.
Kendra Velzen, a 28-year-old sophomore at GVSU, who suffers from depression and uses a pacemaker, was originally permitted to keep her pet guinea pig — who goes by the name, Blanca — in her pet-free dorm because, as her lawyer put it, the guinea pig "provide[d] her with emotional support and attachment, thus reducing symptoms of depression."
The school, however, drew the line at allowing the animal into dining halls and class. In response, Velzen sued the school, claiming the GVSU violated their original agreement with her.
Since the college allows physically impaired students to keep service dogs and nonpredatory fish, Ms. Velzen simply extended that line of logic to apply to her psychological impairments as well.
Specifically, the complaint states that, "The presence of an emotional support animal provides Ms. Velzen with continued emotional support and attachment (thereby reducing symptoms of depression), physiological benefits (such as decreased heart rate), and psychological benefits (such as increased Oxytocin levels, which directly impact the sense of life satisfaction)."
And while GVSU has denied all allegations that the university or staff, “acted wrongly or failed to act in any way with regard to Kendra Velzen,” the university has since granted Blanca a temporary stay and has gone on the record stating that if Velzen should ever reapply for on-campus housing and make an accommodation request to live with a guinea pig or animal of similar size and nature, Grand Valley will grant said request.”
Despite this favorable outcome for Velzen, she refuses to keep the guinea pig away from common areas, classes and cafeterias — which remains prohibited by school rules.
We are not entirely sure what that means — though we are optimistically envisioning a guinea pig sit-in of sorts.
In any case, whether you're outraged that Grand Valley State has been forced to give Ms. Velzen a $40,000 settlement for her troubles, or if you're more upset that the university threatened to kick little Blanca to the curb in the first place, I think we can all agree on one thing: this entire situation is overwhlemingly underwhelming.
And for that reason, we are outraged.
And, on a slightly unrelated note, here is a video fo guinea pigs eating watermelon:
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