Trinity College is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to qualified students with disabilities. Students with disabilities who seek to bring an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) to campus must first contact the Student Accessibility Resource Center (Raether Library, Level A, Room A79, (860) 297-4206, or [email protected]). For continuing and returning students, applications for ESAs will be considered twice annually, with application due dates in March and November. For first semester first year students, ESA requests for the fall semester must be received by May 31st. Students with extenuating circumstances that arise after May 31st may appeal the application deadlines by contacting SARC. Please note that any approved appeals and requests received after August 1st will not allow enough time for review and processing of all necessary paperwork and potential roommate approvals for Fall move in and return to campus. Students may apply for the spring semester anytime before November 15th.
Emotional Support Animals (ESA) can alleviate identified symptoms or lessen the impact of an individual’s condition. The support provided by the animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Emotional support animals differ from service animals in that emotional support animals do not assist a person with a disability with daily living activities and do not accompany a person with a disability everywhere and at all times. An emotional support animal is not required to have special training, certification or be licensed.
In accordance with the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Student Accessibility Council at the College engages in an interactive and collaborative process with students in order to determine eligibility for reasonable accommodations, including the use of an emotional support animal. The Council will give priority consideration to the specific accommodations requested by a student, but cannot guarantee that a particular accommodation will be granted if the Council determines it is not reasonable or that other suitable methods are available.
To be considered for an Emotional Support Animal, the following criteria must be met:
- The individual has a diagnosed, significant impairment or disability;
- The animal is necessary to afford the individual with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy campus housing; and
- There is an identifiable relationship between the impairment or disability and the support the animal provides.
Emotional support animals are allowed only in the residence hall, apartment or townhouse to which the individual with a disability is assigned by the Bantam Network/Residential Learning Community Office. ESAs are allowed in the student’s residence hall bedroom or in the common area of the student’s room, if and only if the student is present and handling the animal. Emotional support animals are not allowed in other areas of the college such as the library, academic buildings, classrooms, dining areas, etc.
Procedure to Apply
- Students must complete an online request form.
- Students must complete the Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Request Form and submit it to SARC.
- Students must ask their treating medical provider to complete the Disability Provider Form (for ESA).
- The form must be signed by a qualified and credentialed practitioner who is an active treating physician or mental health provider. The provider must have an established and ongoing professional relationship with the student and cannot be the student’s family member.
- Once appropriate documentation is received, a professional staff member from the Accessibility Council will contact the student to acknowledge receipt.
- Students will also receive an e-mail notification from the Accessibility Council regarding the outcome of the request or if more information is necessary.
Procedure for an approved ESA
First, the student will be notified of approval and informed of any outstanding information required. The following steps must be completed before the ESA will be allowed on campus:
- Student must submit current information to SARC from the ESA’s veterinarian, including rabies vaccination and a statement that the animal is flea free and in excellent health.
- Student must submit a current photo of themselves with the ESA to SARC.
- Student must sign the Bantam Network/Residential Learning Community Office Emotional Support Animal agreement and submit it to SARC.
- Students must provide the Bantam Network/Residential Learning Community Office with an emergency contact name and phone number available to come to campus within 24 hours to remove the ESA in case of illness or an emergency.
- If applicable, all roommates will be contacted by the Bantam Network/Residential Learning Community Office to inquire if they approve of the ESA residing with them. All roommates or suitemates of the emotional support animal owner must acknowledge their approval of the Emotional Support Animal’s presence in writing to Bantam Network/Residential Learning Community Office. If the residents have safety or other concerns or medical condition(s) that could result in an adverse effect from the animal, (such as allergies, asthma, respiratory illnesses), they should contact [email protected].
- The Bantam Network/Residential Learning Community Office will make a reasonable effort to notify neighboring residents and any employees of the college who need to be aware of the Emotional Support Animal’s location. The notice will only include that the Emotional Support Animal is an accommodation to a student with a disability. No information will be shared about the disability.
- The Bantam Network/Residential Learning Community Office and Accessibility Resources will work together to resolve conflicts surrounding the presence of an Emotional Support Animal.
- Students using or seeking to use an emotional support animal in a College residence hall or apartment are encouraged to contact the Accessibility Coordinator prior to housing selection through the Bantam Network/Residential Learning Community Office to discuss housing needs.
- Students may apply to have an ESA on campus two times annually: March 13 (for the following fall semester) and November 15 (for the following spring semester). These deadlines are required to allow time for a plan to be put in place concerning roommate approval and possible alternative housing arrangements for the student with the ESA. Late ESA requests do not allow for these arrangements and agreements to be established.
- Students must complete and comply with the Emotional Support Animal agreement with the Bantam Network/Residential Learning Community Office.
Any questions regarding this policy and procedure should be directed to the Coordinator of Accessibility Resources at (860) 297-4025 or [email protected].
Timeline and Application Deadlines
Students seeking to have an ESA in undergraduate housing must submit a request for review each academic year. Completed requests must be received by the following deadlines in order to ensure that approved requests can be arranged for the start of the semester:
- March 13th Deadline (pre-lottery)
Continuing students should submit requests by the deadline for housing accommodations for the upcoming academic year.
- May 31st Deadline
First Year and transfer students should submit requests by May 31 for the upcoming academic year.
- November 15th Deadline
Students returning from study away and students returning from a break from the college should submit requests by November 15th for the spring semester.
If an unforeseen need for an ESA arises during the year, but after the established deadline, students may request an exception by submitting an exception request to SARC. Appropriate exceptions must be of an urgent nature and for an unpredicted reason. The College will make every reasonable effort to address all necessary requests. However, the College cannot guarantee that it will be reasonable or feasible to move forward with an ESA request for the current and/or upcoming semester if the request was received after the stated deadline.
Information on Approved Requests:
If the request for an ESA is approved, the Residential Life staff will make a reasonable effort to notify the other residents in the housing unit where the ESA will be located. This notice will be limited to information about the animal’s presence as an accommodation to a student with a disability; there will be no disclosure of the student’s disability.
If a student who had previously agreed to live with the ESA develops a medical condition that would negatively affect them, Residence Life will work with that student to find suitable other housing. Other resident students with medical condition(s) who are directly and negatively affected by animals (e.g., respiratory disorders, asthma, severe allergies) are asked to notify Accessibility Resources about health or safety related concerns regarding exposure to an ESA. These particular students may be eligible for a disability accommodation when living in proximity to an ESA. If a student with the ESA does not comply with the contract requirements, they will be relocated. If an ESA is approved after the established deadlines and a roommate has a concern, medical or otherwise with living with the animal, the student with the ESA will work with Residence Life to relocate with the ESA. Alternatively, the student approved for the ESA can opt to stay in the originally assigned housing without the ESA.
Accessibility Resources and The Bantam Network/Residential Learning Community Office will collaborate to resolve conflicts related to an ESA. Staff members will consider the needs and/or accommodations of all resident students involved. All roommates or suitemates of the student must acknowledge in writing that the ESA will be in residence with them. This acknowledgement must occur immediately following lottery placement. Without this approval, the ESA will not be allowed in the suite or townhouse.
Please note that the approval of a request is animal-specific and is not transferable to another animal. The student approved for the ESA can only handle the ESA.
The College is not responsible for the care or supervision of an emotional support animal. The animal shall be solely under the control of its owner. As outlined in the Emotional Support Animal Contract, an emotional support animal shall have a harness, leash, tether, crate or cage unless either the individual is unable because of a disability to use these types of restraints, or the use of such restraints would interfere with the animal’s safe, effective performance of support, in which case the animal must be otherwise under the individual’s control (e.g., voice control, signals or other effective means). A student with a disability may be asked to remove an emotional support animal from College housing if the animal is out of control and the individual does not take effective action to control it, poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others, causes substantial physical damage to the property of others, or poses an undue financial and administrative burden to the College. If the emotional support animal is properly relocated when requested, the student with a disability has the opportunity to use and enjoy campus housing without having the emotional support animal on the premises.
The College shall not charge a surcharge for the emotional support animal. However, since individuals would be charged for damages caused by a pet or otherwise, a student with a disability may also be charged for damage caused by the emotional support animal.
Students who are in the application process may not bring their animal to campus. This is a violation of the College’s pet policy.
The Right to Appeal Accommodation Decisions
The goal of the Student Accessibility Council is to provide reasonable accommodations to students in accordance with the American Disabilities Act. The Student Accessibility Council requires updated and sufficient documentation to support accommodations requests. Please note that documentation supplied by a licensed clinician must include recommendations for accommodations. The recommendations are heavily considered in determination of accommodations, but are not necessarily binding. The Student Accessibility Council reserves the right to override recommendations made by a clinician. The Council reserves this right since, among other reasons; recommendations may not be reasonable or applicable to the college environment due to differences in K-12 services and college expectations. If a Trinity student believes that he or she has had a request for accommodation wrongfully denied, the student has the right to seek an appeal. Appeals can be resolved informally or formally.
Instructions to Submit an Appeal
The first step in the informal appeals process is for the student to contact the Coordinator of Accessibility Resources to talk about concerns regarding the denied accommodation. The responsibility of the Coordinator is to carefully consider the student’s concerns and if applicable, suggest alternative accommodations or resources to assist the student. If an agreement is not reached, the student then has the right to submit a formal appeal. Formal appeals must be submitted in writing to the Dean of Campus Life and Vice President for Student Affairs, Joe DiChristina. As part of the appeal process, the Dean may engage external accommodation specialists to review and make recommendations regarding the appeal. The student will be informed and provide written permission to share the appeal with an external specialist. Based on information gathered, a final decision will be made. This decision cannot be appealed. If an agreed upon accommodation plan is reached, the plan must be implemented by the Office of Student Accessibility in a timely manner, usually no longer than seven business days.
Undergraduate students are not permitted to possess or maintain animals within the residential halls unless there is a documented physical disability that requires the student to keep a service animal. Depending on the situation, students are held responsible for the removal of the unapproved pet and will be charged a fee of $50 per day that the pet was found to be living in the residential halls in addition to any costs associated with the physical care or removal of the pet. Failure to observe this policy may result in the eviction from campus housing. Repeat violations of this policy will lead to sanctions that may include loss of housing. The only exception to this rule is that students are allowed to have fish, provided they are kept in properly maintained aquariums of 20 gallons of water or less. This policy also applies to Emotional Support Animals that have received initial approval, but the signed contract, photo, roommate approvals or vaccine information has not been submitted.