Saint Louis University recognizes the importance of providing reasonable accommodations in its housing policies and practices where necessary for individuals with disabilities to fully participate in the University housing program. SLU also considers requests for exceptions to the "no pets" policy to allow qualified students to keep an Emotional Support Animal with them in residence.
This policy explains the specific requirements and guidelines that govern requests for reasonable accommodation in University housing. Saint Louis University reserves the right to amend this policy at any time as circumstances require.
Responsibility for Decision Making
The Disability Services office within the Division of Student Development is responsible for the evaluation and provision of reasonable and necessary disability-related accommodations. When evaluating accommodation requests, Disability Services will work with the Department of Housing and Residence Life in order to determine the reasonable and necessary nature of accommodations. At times, consultations with the Office of General Counsel, the Title IX Office, and the Dean of Students Office will also occur. Individuals with a disability (a condition that substantially limits one or more daily life functions) who plan on living in University housing and believe they need a reasonable accommodation must contact the Disability Services office.
Process for Requesting and Consideration of Requests for Accommodations
An individual with a disability requesting housing accommodations should first fill out the Application for Residential Accommodations Form. This Accommodation Application can also be provided in alternative formats upon request. If individuals need assistance completing this Accommodation Application as a result of an existing disability, they should contact the Disability Services office for support and assistance will be provided.
Saint Louis University will accept and consider requests for reasonable accommodation(s) in University housing at any time; however, when an Accommodation Application is submitted directly impacts the timing of when, if at all, any accommodation can be provided. The individual making the request for accommodation(s) should complete and submit the Accommodation Application to Disability Services as soon as practically possible before moving into University housing. For current rising sophomore, junior, and senior students, accommodation requests should be indicated on the housing contract, and students should submit information by the dates listed. For students new to University housing, the Accommodation Application should be submitted no fewer than 80 days before the University’s published move-in date. Saint Louis University cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the individual’s accommodation needs during the first semester or term of occupancy if an Application is made with less than 80 days prior to moving into housing.
If the need for the accommodation arises when an individual already resides in University housing, they should contact the Disability Services office and complete the Accommodation Application as soon as practically possible. Saint Louis University cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the accommodation needs during the semester or term in which the request is received. In the event a student submits accommodation request information after defined dates (listed with the housing contract for current housing students) or with fewer than 80 days notice (for students new to University housing) and there is no available space on campus to fit their needs, they will be placed on a priority wait-list and will be notified once space becomes available. Once the student has completed the accommodation request process, the University will attempt to provide a written letter of reasonable accommodations within fifteen (15) business days.
Diagnostic Documentation Requirements
Disability Services will only request information necessary to 1) verify that the individual requesting accommodation has a disability, 2) establish a clear nexus between the individual’s disability and requested accommodation, 3) evaluate that the requested accommodation is reasonable and for the purpose of creating equal opportunity to use and enjoy the University residential environment.
In the case that an individual’s disability and the need for accommodation are obvious (e.g., an individual with a physical disability using a wheelchair needing a physically accessible bedroom and restroom), the individual will generally need to explain the type of accommodation they are requesting. Verification of disability through documentation may not be necessary in these instances. In the case that a disability is obvious, but the need for accommodation is not, the University may require the individual to submit documentation from a reliable third party. When submitting diagnostic information, it is requested that documents comply with the following: 1) information needs to be typed on physician/diagnostician letterhead and signed by a qualified licensed professional, 2) list of functional impact or symptoms, 3) information regarding severity and/or expected progression, and 4) other important components the professional feels should be considered.
If the Disability and necessity for accommodation is not obvious, the Disability Services office will require the individual to submit documentation from a reliable third party that includes, but is not limited to, and complies with the following: 1) information must be typed on physician/diagnostician letterhead and signed by a qualified licensed professional, 2) statement of diagnosis, 3) list of functional impact or symptoms, 3) severity and/or expected progression, and 4) other important components the professional feels should be taken into consideration.
A Reliable Third Party is someone who is familiar with the individual’s disability and the necessity for the requested accommodation. If the third party returns the documentation without sufficient information for the Disability Services office to determine whether an accommodation is necessary, the Director of Disability Services will inform the individual requesting accommodations of the insufficiency of the documentation in writing. At that time, Disability Services may request additional information, which may include speaking directly with the individual supplying the third-party verification.
The Individual making the request for accommodation must cooperate with the Disability Services office in a timely manner in providing all information needed to determine whether the requested accommodation is necessary.
Reasonable Nature of Accommodation
The Disability Services office may deny the requested accommodation if it is unreasonable. Disability Services will consult with the Department of Housing and Residence Life to determine if implementation of the requested accommodation is reasonable. 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/or safety of others or would cause substantial property damage to the property of others, including University property; and/or 4) is otherwise unreasonable to the operation of the University.
Approval of Accommodation
If Disability Services determines a requested accommodation is necessary and is not unreasonable, the individual requesting will receive notice, in writing, within fifteen (15) business days of its determination. Once notified, individuals will be contacted as needed by Housing and Residence Life to discuss the implementation of the accommodation.
Denial of Accommodations and Interactive Process
If Disability Services determines a requested accommodation is necessary but unreasonable, the individual will be contacted, in writing, within fifteen (15) business days of the determination to engage in an interactive process. The interactive process is intended to determine if there are alternative accommodations that might effectively meet the individual’s disability-related needs and would also be reasonable for the University to grant.
If Disability Services determines a requested accommodation is not necessary and/or is unreasonable, the individual will be contacted, in writing, within fifteen (15) business days of the determination. At this point, individuals may appeal the decision by submitting a written appeal to the Disability Support Office within ten (10) business days. The appeal must state a specific reason for reconsideration of the decision and may only be based on:
- New information that was not available at the time of the initial decision;
- A procedural error that occurred that unfairly impacted the decision;
- A specific condition that provides just cause to reconsider the decision, such as a demonstrated bias against the student.
Once appeal information has been received, the Disability Services Office will review and provide final decisions to the individual within 10 business days.
All documentation and information provided to Disability Services will be used solely for the purpose of determining both service eligibility and reasonable accommodations to be provided. All documents will remain secured and protected within the Disability Services electronic filing system. If necessary, Disability Services may disclose specific information necessary to determine whether or not the accommodations requested are reasonable, necessary, and should be granted. Information disclosed will be done on a strictly need-to-know basis. No information regarding disability or accommodations will be provided on academic records, such as transcripts.
This Policy does not, in any manner, impact the continued enforceability of the Housing and Meal Contract executed by any Student. The University will endeavor to provide housing that accommodates a student’s disability. Such accommodation decisions may result in a student being assigned to a building they didn’t request or reassigned from a building they did request. Such assignments or reassignments that satisfy an accommodation are not grounds for breaking the Housing and Meal Contract. Any student that wishes to request a residency exemption or to be released from their housing contract must follow and adhere to the process set forth in the Housing and Meal Contract.
Emotional Support Animal Exceptions
Saint Louis University recognizes that living on campus and being in school can be stressful for students. The university maintains a “no pets” policy in the residence halls. However, in accordance with Federal law (Fair Housing Amendments Act), the university will consider requests for accommodations to the housing policy to allow students experiencing significant mental health problems to keep an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) with them in-residence. The presence of an ESA may help you to manage your symptomology.
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, Saint Louis University offers some important guidance for those who are considering making a request for an ESA. (NOTE: ESAs are not permitted on campus until the accommodation request has been made and acted upon; students found with unauthorized animals in the residence hall will be subject to sanctions under the Student Code of Conduct.)
- Documentation of your significant mental health problem and the associated need for an ESA should come from a mental health provider who knows and understands your difficulties and can explain how the presence of the animal may help to alleviate your symptomology. Saint Louis University is concerned about the growing number of questionable website services that offer to create “ESA letters” for a set price, based on nothing more than (for example) answers to an online survey. There is no formal, recognized certification of ESAs, and such letters will rarely provide the information necessary to support your request for accommodations, and are not viewed by the institution as a reliable source of information.
- It is important to note that the university 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 that pose a threat to the general welfare of residents in the communal living environment.
- ESAs are restricted to the student’s immediate living space. They are not allowed in common areas throughout the residence hall. Moreover, the ESA must be contained (caged or crated) any time the student is not in the room.
- The ESA may not be left in the care of other residents. If the student leaves campus overnight, the ESA must be taken along.
- Students bringing ESAs to campus are fully responsible for the animal’s behavior and for any damage done. If the ESA is disruptive to the living environment for others (for example, barking or other loud noises, or significant odor from litter boxes or cages), or if there is damage done to college facilities, the ESA will need to be removed from the premises within 48 hours of notice being given. The student will be responsible for paying for property damage.
If you would like to request permission to bring an ESA to campus, please have your mental health professional fill out the ESA request form. Before meeting with the Department of Housing, please complete the full ESA Agreement, which is included in the final pages of the full ESA Policy.