As part of the University’s commitment to comply with state and federal law and best practices that specifically apply to University housing and residential services for individuals with disabilities, Housing and Residence Life permits the use of service/assistance animals in University residence halls or apartments on a case-by-case basis, on the conditions described under this section.
- A resident student who wishes to use a service/assistance animal in campus housing must notify Disability Resources no later than sixty (60) days prior to the date prospective housing will be needed. Exceptions to this deadline can be made on a case-by-case basis for those students who are experiencing an unexpected change in their disability status and/or treatment needs.
- A student with a disability who requests to live with a service/assistance animal in University housing will first be evaluated by Disability Resources as to whether their animal meets the definition for a “service animal” under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) as described in Section 2.12 of the Code. If the animal does meet that definition, no further documentation will be required for the animal to be approved to accompany the student in University housing. If the animal does not meet the ADA definition of a service animal, students will then be asked to provide Disability Resources with documentation from the student’s healthcare or mental health provider that clearly documents the following through criteria as established by the Fair Housing Act (FHA): must first provide Disability Resources with documentation from the students healthcare or mental health provider that clearly documents the following three (3) criteria:
- That the student has a disability.
- That the animal is necessary to afford the student an equal opportunity to use and enjoy his/her University residence hall or apartment; and
- That there is an identifiable relationship or nexus between the disability and the assistance the animal provides. *The documentation should be on the health care or mental health provider’s letterhead and signed by the provider in her or his own hand.
- Upon reviewing the student’s documentation, Disability Resources will advise Housing and Residence Life of the student’s request and a conclusion as to whether the documentation warrants approval of a service/assistance animal in campus housing and whether the animal is approved under ADA or FHA regulations.
If the animal has a history of dangerous behavior it will not be permitted to reside in campus housing. Once approved by the University, a service/assistance animal may continue to reside in a University residence hall or apartment provided that its behavior, noise, odor, and waste do not create unreasonable disruptions for residents. The University reserves the right to temporarily or permanently exclude a service/assistance animal from University residence halls or apartments if effective action is not taken to control the animal at all times, if the animal’s presence would result in substantial physical damage to the property of others (unless it can be eliminated or reduced by a reasonable accommodation), if the animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or if the animal’s behavior otherwise creates a significant disruption to the environment or operations of the University. Should the animal be permanently removed from the premises, the owner may request permission from Housing and Residence Life to move out of University housing by following the contract release process. Damage to University property caused by a service/assistance animal will be charged to the student’s account. No deposit is required to house an approved service/assistance animal in University housing.
The University is committed to respecting and protecting the confidentiality of all students with disabilities. However, given the number of staff persons who are responsible for operating and maintain campus housing, Housing and Residence Life does share limited information about the presence of a service/assistance animal with University staff on a need-to-know basis. Students with an approved service/ assistance animal in University housing will be asked to sign an “Authorization to Release Information” form, and will in turn be provided with a description of the staff/departments that received notification about the presence of an approved service/assistance animal. Notifications may be sent to staff by email or by written memorandum, and will follow the general format of the sample notification below:
“This message serves as notification that in compliance with state and federal law and best practices concerning individuals with disabilities (student’s name) who lives in (address) is permitted to possess a service/assistance animal in campus housing for (semester and year). As such, the student has a (animal type) in the unit. This information is confidential and is being shared with you because you have a need-to-know based on your potential interaction with this student and your responsibility for their living unit in the normal course of your duties or because you supervise an area that includes this student’s living unit. This information must not be shared with others without first consulting with the sender of this message.” It will be the responsibility of students with approved service/assistance animals in campus housing to notify actual or potential roommates that an animal will be residing in that living unit. Such notifications should occur as soon as possible to insure that the other students will have a reasonable opportunity to make other arrangements and/or to express their concerns to Housing and Residence Life as described below in B.25.4.
Some people may have conditions such as animal-related allergic reactions or phobias that are substantial enough to qualify as disabilities that qualify for accommodations, or there may be other concerns related to the presence of an animal in campus housing. In these circumstances, Housing and Residence Life will consider the needs of both persons and will make a good faith effort to reasonably accommodate all disabilities and student concerns to the extent that circumstances permit. Such accommodations may include, but not be limited to, relocation to another unit (depending on availability), exchanging living units with another student (depending on the availability of other students willing to make such an exchange) or being released from a campus housing contract with no financial penalty. Students who become aware of the presence of a service/assistance animal in University housing and who believe that they will require such accommodations are encouraged to contact Housing and Residence Life as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances, the student may be referred to Disability Resources for a determination of the existence of a disability that requires an accommodation.
- The service/assistance animal must be under the control and supervision of the student at all times within the student’s residence hall or apartment. Service/assistance animals may be “exercised” on the exterior grounds as long as they are under the control of the student at all times. Service/assistance animals may not remain in the residence hall or apartment without the student unless the animal is appropriately secured in the bedroom (caged or crated) during the student’s absence. Students who are leaving campus for a period exceeding twelve (12) consecutive hours must make prior arrangements to take the animal with them or to board it off-campus for the duration of their absence.
- While not required, students with service/assistance animals in campus housing are strongly encouraged to identify a back-up handler who will care for the animal in case of an emergency, and to provide that person’s name and contact information to Housing and Residence Life. If an emergency situation will result in the animal being under the care of the back-up handler for longer than twelve (12) consecutive hours, Housing and Residence Life must be contacted as soon as possible. Emergency situations involving students who have service/assistance animals in campus housing will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
- Animals may be “exercised” on exterior areas of campus as long as they are under the control and supervision of the student at all times. However, only animals that also meet the complete and proper federal and state definitions of “service animal” as descried below may be taken to the University residence hall or apartment of other students, or to other areas of campus where programs or services are provided (e.g., food service areas, convenience store, classrooms, outside programs/ activities, etc.) outside of the student’s own residence.
- The animal is a “service animal” as defined by current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and State of Indiana regulations if that animal is specifically trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a physical, sensory, psychiatric/ mental or intellectual disability; and the work or tasks performed by the animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Animals that only provide crime deterrent effects, emotional support, wellbeing, comfort or companionship do not fall under the legal definition of “service animal.” Per ADA regulations, the University reserves the right at any time to ask if the animal is required because of a disability and what specific work or task the animal has been trained to perform. The University also reserves the right to request that the animal be removed from the property if it does not meet the legal definition of “service animal,” if the handler fails to keep it under appropriate control, or if it is not housebroken.
- The student is responsible for making sure that reasonable sanitary standards are maintained everywhere the animal is present.
- The student is responsible for promptly picking up and properly disposing of all animal waste by immediately disposing of the waste in outdoor dumpsters. Animal waste is not to be disposed of in indoor trash receptacles.
- The student is responsible for feeding and watering the animal within all living areas. If the service/ assistance animal vomits or becomes incontinent, it is the responsibility of the student to clean waste immediately. Service/assistance animals should be kept clean and free from odor at all times.
- The student is responsible for providing the service/ assistance animal with appropriate veterinary medical care on both an ongoing and an emergency basis.
- The student is responsible for being knowledgeable of state and local immunization and licensing requirements for their service/assistance animal and for fully complying with those requirements.
The student is responsible for assuring that the service/ assistance animal does not interfere with the routine activities of University residence halls or apartments. Sensitivity to residents and staff with allergies or to those who fear animals is an important consideration for the student in order to ensure a community environment that supports the individual needs of all who reside and work at the University of Southern Indiana. It also is important for students with approved service/assistance animals in campus housing to notify actual or potential roommates as soon as possible that an animal will be residing in that living unit so that affected students will have a reasonable opportunity to make other arrangements and/or to express their concerns to Housing and Residence Life as described above in B.25.4.