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Housing Accommodations

Living on campus can be a new and exciting experience for college students. Residential environments are important parts of Virginia Commonwealth University’s programs, especially for first-year and new students. VCU is committed to providing meaningful and accessible residential experiences for all students. In an effort to effectively respond to student requests for housing modifications or accommodations, we have created the Housing Accommodation Request Committee. This committee is made up of a group of VCU professionals representing Student Accessibility and Educational Opportunity, Residential Life and Housing, University Counseling Services, and the University Student Health Services. This committee generally meets once per month, with increasing frequency at key times throughout the year.

Students interested in housing accommodations based on a medical, psychological, physical, or other disability-related impairment may submit their request to the Office of Student Accessibility and Educational Opportunity (SAEO). To formally submit a request, a student must:

  1. Complete the standard housing application process through Residential Life and Housing.
  2. Submit a completed version of SAEO's Intake Form and be sure to complete the section for "Housing Accommodations" under "Additional Accommodation Requests". (Please Note: This form does not take the place of the VCU Residential Life & Housing Applications.)
  3. Submit documentation of the impairment/disability that supports the request. Appropriate documentation should meet the criteria set forth in the guidelines below.

The Housing Accommodation Request Committee will review requests throughout the year. It is important to note that the housing assignments for accommodations are based on availability. If a student is approved for a housing accommodation but an appropriate placement is not available at that time, the student will be notified of the approved accommodation and relevant information about availability. In order to increase your chances of receiving an appropriate assignment, please submit the Housing Accommodation Request Form and documentation by the following dates:

Documentation Guidelines

In order for documentation to be considered, it must come from an appropriately licensed professional with whom the student has an established treatment relationship related to the accommodation being requested. The treatment provider must submit the necessary information on their professional letterhead, typed or written and clearly legible, and must date and sign the document. 

In order to determine if a particular housing accommodation is necessary, the documentation provided should include the following:

  1. Description of disability or impairment.
  2. Information about the current functional impact of the condition or disability as it relates to the housing modification or accommodation requested.
  3. Recommendation from the professional explaining the need for the accommodation as it relates to a disability/impairment.
  4. If requesting an Emotional Support Animal (EAS), information about how the ESA is part of a student’s ongoing treatment and necessary to reduce the impact of a specific set of symptoms or functional impairment should be included. 

Special note about documentation for Emotional Support Animals

VCU recognizes the tremendous benefit of Emotional Support Animals (ESA) can provide. In accordance with federal and state law, when approved as a housing accommodation, ESAs may be permitted to reside in the residence halls. Students must follow the same request process as they would for any other housing accommodation.

Please be aware, there is a great deal of misinformation available about what constitutes legitimate medical or otherwise supportive documentation for an ESA. Many licensed therapists across the country are willing to write letters supporting an ESA based on a single conversation either in person, over the phone, or a tele-meeting platform (i.e., Zoom). These brief conversations often do not establish an appropriate treatment relationship between a student and the provider, so the documentation may not be considered applicable. Additionally, to date, the university is not aware of any official national or state accreditation or certification for EASs, despite there being many online organizations claiming as such. Please contact Student Accessibility and Educational Opportunity to discuss whether or not a certain source of documentation would be deemed legitimate and valid.

 

We also provide a comprehensive overview of Emotional Support Animals and answer frequently asked questions in our “Resources” section which you can find here.

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