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Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Accommodation

Randolph College maintains a strict “no pets policy”, with the exception of fish, in residence halls.  However, under the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), the College will consider requests to allow students experiencing significant mental health problems to keep an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) with them in residence. An ESA is prescribed by a physician or mental health professional, with whom the student has an established relationship, to play an integral part in a person’s treatment process. Unlike a Service Animal, an ESA does not assist with activities of daily living, nor does it accompany a person with a disability at all times. ESAs are permitted only in the individual’s assigned residence hall room and designated outdoor spaces.

Our residence halls are generally not an animal-friendly environment.  The communal living nature of the residence hall requires the institution to consider the comfort and concerns of all students in residence.  Therefore, the College offers some important guidance for those who are considering making a request for an ESA:

    • Students applying for an ESA accommodation should begin the process no less than 45 days prior to moving in to College housing. The SAC will consider requests for reasonable accommodations in College housing at any time; however, if the application is not completed 45 days prior to the student’s move-in date, the College cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the request.
    • If a student who has already moved in to college housing requests an ESA accommodation, Randolph College cannot guarantee that the accommodation will be given during the semester or term in which the application was received.
    • The student should download copies of the Service Provider Support Form and the Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Policy; copies are also available at the office of the CAS.
    • The student sends the Service Provider Support Form to a licensed service provider (psychiatrist, mental healthcare provider, therapist, or physician) located in Virginia or in the student’s state of permanent residence. Other forms of documentation will be accepted, but all information requested in the Service Provider Support Form must be included.
    • Upon receipt of all required documentation, the SAC meets to review the application and determine if the student qualifies for an ESA accommodation. The SAC meets once a month during the regular academic year and as needed during the summer.
    • The CAS will notify the student within five business days of the SAC’s decision.
    • If a request is approved, the student must complete the following prior to allowing the ESA in College housing:

    It is important to note that the College may approve your request to have an ESA, but not approve the specific animal you were hoping to bring. For example, most reptiles and rodents may be rejected because of safety and health concerns, as they can carry zoonotic diseases which pose a threat to the general welfare of residents in the communal living environment.

    • If a request is not approved:
      • CAS notifies the student within five business days of the SAC’s decision.
      • All decisions of the SAC are final; however, questions about the decision may be directed to the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.

    ESAs may not reside in College housing without written permission from the Special Accommodations Committee (SAC).

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