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Emotional Support Animals

Randolph College maintains a strict “no pets policy” in residence halls – with the exception of fish.  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.

Emotional Support Animal Accommodation

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.

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

Before Requesting an ESA Accommodation

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 Special Accommodations Committee (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.

Application and Process

Required Forms

These forms are also available in the Office of Access Services.

  1. The student should read the Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Policy thoroughly and ask any questions.
  2. 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.
  3. Upon receipt of all required documentation, the Special Accommodations Committee (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.
  4. The Coordinator of Access Services (CAS) will notify the student within five business days of the SAC’s decision.

If Request is Approved

If a request is approved, the student must complete the following prior to allowing the ESA in College housing:

  1. Schedule to meet with the CAS to review and sign the Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Policy.
  2. Submit a completed Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Documentation form
  3. Submit a picture of the ESA.
  4. Submit a certificate of health and a copy of vaccination records; if ESA is a dog, the rabies tag must be attached to its collar.

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 Request is Not Approved

  • The CAS will notify 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 Dean of Students.
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