Policy for emotional support/therapy/comfort animals in University housing

Section I. Introduction and Background

Faulkner University recognizes the importance of providing reasonable accommodations in its housing policies and practices where necessary for individuals with a disability to use and enjoy University Housing. This Policy explains the specific requirements and guidelines which govern requests for reasonable accommodation in University Housing regarding emotional support/therapy/comfort animals. For the purpose of this policy, such animals provide emotional support or comfort to persons with disabilities who have a disability-related need for such support or comfort.

Faulkner University reserves the right to amend this policy at any time as circumstances require.

Section II. Procedure for Requesting Reasonable Accommodation for emotional support/therapy/comfort animals

The Center for Disability Services: Project Key is responsible for evaluating whether to grant or deny requests for reasonable accommodation in University Housing.  In evaluating the request, Disability Services will consult with University Housing, as necessary, to determine whether the requested accommodation is necessary and reasonable. Individuals with a disability who reside or intend to reside in University Housing who believe they need a reasonable accommodation must contact Disability Services.

Requests for reasonable accommodation in University Housing policies and practices are governed by the following requirements:

  1. Requesting a housing accommodation
    1. An individual with a disability must request a reasonable accommodation. Copies of the request form are available via the Project Key website and in the Disability Services office.  If the individual requires assistance in completing the request form because of his/her disability, Disability Services will provide assistance in completing the form.
    2. Faulkner will accept and consider requests for reasonable accommodation in University housing at any time; however, the request must be made prior to moving into University housing.  If the request for accommodation is made fewer than 60 days before the individual intends to move into University housing, Faulkner cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the individual’s accommodation needs during the first semester or term of occupancy.
    3. If the need for the accommodation arises when an individual already resides in University housing, he/she should contact Disability Services and complete the request form as soon as practicably possible during the semester in which the request is received.
    4. Faulkner will attempt to provide a written response to a reasonable accommodation request within fourteen (14) business days of receiving the information described in paragraph 2 below.
  2. Disability Services shall limit its requests for information to only the information necessary to verify whether the individual making the request has a disability and/or to evaluate if the requested accommodation is necessary to use and enjoy University housing.
    1. Obvious Disability and Obvious Necessity: If the individual’s disability and the necessity for the accommodation are obvious (e.g. an individual with a physical disability using a wheelchair needs an accessible room), the individual need only explain what type of accommodation he/she is requesting. No verification of disability and/or necessity is required under these circumstances.
    2. Non-Obvious Disability and/or Non-obvious Necessity
      1. If the disability is obvious but the need for the accommodation is not obvious, Disability Services will require the individual to complete the Reasonable Accommodation Verification Form for University Housing (“Verification Form”) to submit reliable documentation of the individual’s disability related need for the emotional support/therapy/comfort animal but may not seek information about the individual’s disability.
      2. If the disability and necessity for the accommodation are not obvious, Disability Services will require the individual to complete the Verification Form to submit reliable documentation of a disability and the individual’s disability related need for the emotional support/therapy/comfort animal. “Reliable documentation” of a disability and/or of an individual’s disability-related need for an emotional support/therapy/comfort animal is appropriate documentation provided from a physician, psychiatrist, clinical psychologist or other appropriate licensed professional.
      3. Barring unforeseen circumstances, within seven (7) business days of receiving the completed Verification Form, the Director of Disability Services, will determine if the accommodation is necessary because of a disability to provide the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University Housing.
      4. If the third party returns the Verification Form without sufficient information for Disability Services to determine whether an accommodation is necessary within seven (7) business days of receiving the verification, the Director of Disability Services will inform the individual in writing of the verification’s insufficiency and may request additional information, including speaking directly with the individual supplying the verification.
      5. The individual requesting the accommodation must cooperate with Disability Services in a timely manner in providing all information needed to determine whether the requested accommodation is necessary.
  1. Determination of reasonableness
    1. Disability Services, after consulting with Housing, may deny the requested accommodation if implementing the accommodation is not reasonable.
    2. An accommodation is unreasonable if it: (1) imposes an undue financial and/or administrative burden; (2) fundamentally alters University Housing policies; (3) poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others or would cause substantial property damage to the property of others, including University property; and/or (4) is unduly disruptive to the operation of the affected University housing facility.
  2. Approval of accommodation
    1. If Disability Services determines a requested accommodation is necessary and is not unreasonable, it will contact the individual, in writing which includes e-mail, within seven (7) business days of its determination, to arrange a meeting to discuss the implementation of the accommodation.
  3. Denial of accommodation / appeal
    1. If Disability Services determines an accommodation of some sort is needed but that the requested accommodation is unreasonable, Disability Services will contact the individual, in writing which includes e-mail, within seven (7) business days of its determination and engage in an interactive process with the individual to determine if there are alternative accommodations that might effectively meet the individual’s disability-related needs.
    2. If the individual is unwilling to accept any alternative accommodation offered by Disability Services or there are no alternative accommodations available, Disability Services will provide a verbal explanation and written notification to the individual of the denial, the reasons for the denial, the right to appeal the decision, and the procedures for that appeals process. The notification shall be in writing and made within seven (7) business days of the notification from the individual of his/her unwillingness to accept any of the alternative accommodations offered or the determination that there are no alternative accommodations available.
    3. The appeal process is explained at https://www.faulkner.edu/undergrad/student-life/living-on-campus/student-services/student-complaint-process/.
    4. One may also file a complaint through the Office of Civil Rights
      1. Southeast Region – Atlanta (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee)
        Timothy Noonan, Regional Manager
        Office for Civil Rights
        U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
        Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center, Suite 16T70
        61 Forsyth Street, S.W.
        Atlanta, GA 30303-8909
        Customer Response Center: (800) 368-1019
        Fax: (202) 619-3818
        TDD: (800) 537-7697
        Email: ocrmail@hhs.gov
      2. HUD/FHA http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/complaint-process
  1. Confidentiality and Recordkeeping
    In processing requests for reasonable accommodations, Faulkner will take all steps required by federal, state, and/or local law to protect the confidentiality of any information or documentation disclosed in connection with the requests. Such measures may include limiting access to such information to individuals specifically designated to determine and implement requests for reasonable accommodations, who will disclose the information only to the extent necessary to determine whether to grant the request, determine if the request is unreasonable, and implement any request granted, keeping all written requests and accompanying documentation in a secure area to which only those designated individuals have access, except as otherwise required by law.