Emotional Support Animal (Policy SW-38)

Aligned with the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Clarkson College recognizes the importance of Emotional Support Animals (ESA) in providing emotional support to individuals with disabilities. The College is committed to allowing ESAs when necessary to provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy Student Housing. Approval of an ESA in Student Housing requires: 1) the individual has a disability, 2) the animal is necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, and 3) there is an identifiable relationship between the disability and the support the animal provides.

No ESA may be kept in College housing at any time prior to the student receiving approval for an ESA. Any student who brings an animal into the Residence Hall without the requisite approval will be subject to penalties under the College Code of Conduct Policy. Generally, the presence of only one ESA will be approved for a student, in order to fulfill the intent of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) requirements in providing support to a student with a documented mental health disability.

To be able to have an ESA reside in campus housing, the student must first contact the Accommodations coordinator and complete the appropriate documentation requirements (e.g. ESA Student Request Form, Healthcare Provider Verification Form, Vaccination & Licensing, etc.)

Definition of Emotional Support Animal

An ESA pertains to a category of animals that provide necessary emotional support to an individual with a disability such that this support alleviates one or more identified symptoms of an individual's disability. Unlike a service animal, an ESA does not need to be trained to provide a service or a task and does not accompany a person with a disability at all times. Fair Housing regulations only apply to housing facilities; therefore, ESAs are not permitted in other areas of the College (e.g. Library, academic buildings, Student Center, classrooms, labs, lobbies, etc.).

Guidelines and Requirements for ESAs

An exception to the College Pet Policy is granted for approved animals provided that their behavior, noise, odor and waste do not exceed reasonable standards for a well-behaved animal and that these factors do not create an unreasonable living environment or frequent disruptions for other residents. If the noise (crying, barking, meowing, etc., especially when the student is not around) is excessive, as judged by residence life staff, it is grounds to rescind permission for the specific ESA to be in campus housing. The following factors (among others) are used as evidence in determining whether the presence of the animal is reasonable:

  • The size of the animal is too large for available assigned housing space (according to the Animal Welfare Act Regulations). Based on the limited space in the Residence Hall and to ensure the health and safety of the animal, the College limits the size of the ESA's to no larger than 30 pounds.
  • The animal’s presence would force another individual from his/her assigned housing (e.g. serious allergies)
  • The animal’s presence otherwise violates individuals’ rights to a quiet living environment
  • The animal is not housebroken or is unable to live with others in a reasonable manner
  • The animal’s vaccinations and licensing is not up to date
  • The animal poses or has posed a direct threat to the individual or others, such as aggressive behavior towards or injuring the individual or others, or the potential of transmission of zoonotic diseases
  • The animal causes or has caused excessive damage to the Residence Hall space beyond reasonable wear and tear

Care and Supervision of Emotional Support Animal

The individual with the disability who has requested an accommodation of an ESA and received approval of said accommodation is the “owner.” The care, supervision and custody of the ESA are the sole responsibility of the owner. The owner is required to ensure the animal is well cared for at all times. Any evidence of mistreatment or abuse may result in the immediate removal of the animal and/or discipline for the owner. The owner must be in full control of the ESA at all times. The ESA must be maintained (e.g., kept clean, free from fleas and/or ticks, etc.) by its owner and may not create safety hazards for other people.

The owner must abide by current city, county, and state ordinances, laws and regulations pertaining to licensing, vaccination, and other requirements for animals. It is the owner’s responsibility to know and understand these ordinances, laws, and regulations. The College has a right to require documentation of compliance with such ordinances, laws and regulations, which may include a vaccination certificate. The College reserves the right to request documentation showing the animal has been licensed.

The owner is required to clean up after and properly dispose of the animal’s waste in a safe and sanitary manner. The College retains the right to designate a particular area for the ESA to relieve itself and/or for the disposal of its waste. The student is financially responsible for any and all actions of the animal involving bodily injury or property damage. This includes, but is not limited to, any replacement of furniture, carpet, window or wall covering as well as cleaning costs considered above normal and reasonable for the living facility.

If a student chooses to replace an existing ESA with a different ESA, the student must file a new request and comply with all terms and conditions herein specified.

The owner may not leave an ESA overnight in student housing to be cared for by any individual other than the owner. The owner is responsible for ensuring that the ESA is contained, as appropriate, when the owner is not present during the day while attending classes or other activities. The owner is responsible for ensuring that the ESA is contained, as appropriate, when environmental services staff is present in the residence. The owner must provide the name and contact information of a person who is willing and able to take the ESA in the event of an emergency.

Request for Emotional Support Animal in Student Housing

Students must receive approval for an ESA by the Accommodations coordinator prior to bringing their animal to campus. Therefore, the College requests that the student provide as much advanced notice as possible prior to the desired move-in date so that the College can best accommodate the student and the animal.

  • Students who wish to begin the ESA Request rprocess, should contact the Accommodations Coordinator.
  • The student will need to complete the "ESA for Student" form and submit it to the Accomodations Office. Failure to provide complete/accurate information may delay processing your request.
  • A "ESA-Verification for Medical Providers" form must be completed and signed by a licensed health care provider attesting to the diagnosis and need for the ESA animal.
    • "ESA-Verification for Medical Providers" form must be submitted by the health care provider directly to the Accomodations Office.
    • "ESA-Verification for Medical Providers" forms will not be accepted from students. 
  • Additional documentation may be requested including, but not limited to: educational records; letters from educators; diagnostic reports; letters from health care providers; records of past accomodations; letters or records from local, state, or federal agencies; and/or VA records.

Once required documentation is received, the Accomodations Coordinator, on a case-by-case basis, will appoint a committee to review documentation, make a decision, and communicate with the appropriate members of the College community. The Ad Hoc ESA Request Commitee will be comprised of at least five members; including Director of Lilbrary & Academic Support Services, the Residence Hall Coordinator and the Director of Facilities. The remaining members will be comprised of represenatives from faculty, student support services, and administrative staff. The Accomodations Coordinator, the Vice President of Academic Affairs, and the Vice President of Operations & Student Affairs are prohibited from being a voting member of any Ad Hoc ESA Request Committee.

Additional documentation may be requested by the Ad Hoc ESA Request Committee during their deliberations (including, but not limited to: diagnostic reports; additional information from health care prociders; records from the animal's veterinarian, records of past accomodations; letters or records from local, state , federal agencies, and/or VA records).

If approved, the Accomodations Coordinator will notify the standing members, Director of Library & Academic Support Services, the Residence Hall Coordinator and Director of Facilities. The Residence Hall Coordinator will contact the student for additional details and. along with the student's other housing preferences and/or needs, make a Student Housing assignment.

If request is approved, the requesting student must complete the "Clarkson College Emotional Support Animal Student Housing Agreement" portion of the Emotional Support Animal Policy (SW-38) and all applicable ESA Process Paperwork (e.g. proof of vaccination and licensing, Roommate-Housing Agreement Form).

Prior to the approved ESA living on campus, the student must provide a copy of current pet vaccinations, and licensure to the Accomodations Coordinator.

A request for an ESA may be denied if: 1) there is not a determination of necessity for the presence of an ESA to create equal opportunity to use an denjoy a dwelling, 2) there is no relationship identified between the disability of the individual and the support the animal provides, 3) the presence of the animal imposes an undue financial and/or administrative burden of the College, 4) the presence of the animal fundamentally alters student housing policies, and/or 5) the presence would pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others or would cause property damage.

If the Ad Hoc ESA Request Committee denies the ESA request, the Accommodations Coordinator will communicate the rejection in writing to the student, outlining the Committee's reasons for denial.

The student may appeal this decision with the Accommodations Coordiator.

  • The student must submit a Petition to Appeal ESA Request Decision form to the Accommodations Coordinator within 5 business days of receipt of the denail of ESA Request.
  • Within 2 business days of receiving a Petition to Appeal, the Accommodations Coordinator will then forward the petition to the Accommodations Appeals Committee for review.
  • The Accommodations Appeal Committee is an ad hoc committee consisting of the Program Director of the academic program the student is enrolled/intending to enroll in, the Vice President of Operations & Student Affairs, the Vice President of Academic Affairs, a faculty member representative, and a Student Support representative.
  • Within 5 business days of receipt, the Accommodation Appeal Committee will convene to review the Petition to Appeal an ESA Request Decision.
  • When a decision has been reached, the Accommodations Committee will complete the Petition to Appeal an ESA Request Decision Form and submit it to the Accommodations Coordinator. The Accommodation Coordinator will subsequently notify the student of the decision of the Accommodations Committee.
  • The decision of the Accommodations Appeal Committee is final.

The Collge will not ask for or require the owner to pay a fee or surcharge for an ESA. However, the owner may be charged for any damage caused by the ESA beyond reasonable wear and tear to the same extend that other individuals are charged for damages beyond reasonable wear and tear. The owner's living accommodations also may be inspected for fleas, ticks, or other pests if necessary, as part of the College's standard or routine inspections. If fleas, ticks or other pests are detected through inspection, the residence will be treated using approved fumigation methods by a College-aproved pest control service. The owner will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment above and beyond standard pest management in Student Housing.

Violation of Policy

The owner must fully cooperate with College personnel with regards to meeting the terms of this policy and developing procedures for care of the ESA. The College may require the owner to remove the animal from student housing if: 1) the animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of persons at the College, 2) the animal causes physical damage to property, 3) the presence of the animal fundamentally alters the nature of College operations, 4) the animal creates an unmanageable disturbance or interference with the College community, and 5) the owner does not comply with the owner responsibilities set forth in this policy. Any removal of an ESA will be done in consultation with the Accommodations coordinator and may be appealed through the College grievance procedures.

Emotional Support Animal Student Housing Agreement: