Accommodations for Students with Disabilities in Residence Life

The Office of Disability Services is responsible for providing students with disabilities equal access to their education. To receive academic adjustments under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), students at Houston Christian University must provide documentation demonstrating a disability as defined by federal legislation from an appropriately certified or licensed professional.

Federal law requires that students’ requests for academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and other accommodations be determined on a case-by-case basis. These accommodations include meal plan waivers, room assignments, and Service or Assistance/Emotional Support Animals.

Students requiring accommodations for disabilities related to University Residence Life should follow the same procedures outlined on the Procedure page, however for Service or Assistance/Emotional Support Animals additional documentation is required. See below for further information concerning animals on campus.

Service, Assistance (Emotional Support Animal)

Animals, including pets, are not permitted in Houston Christian University Housing with the exception of approved Service or Assistance Animals/Emotional Support Animals for individuals with disabilities.

Service Animal : A Service Animal is any dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. In some cases, a miniature horse may be permitted as a Service Animal. Other animals do not qualify as Service Animals. Examples of work or tasks provided by a Service Animal include, among others, guiding a person with impaired vision, alerting a person with a hearing impairment, pulling a wheelchair, and alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure. Service Animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a Service Animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the functional limitations of the person’s disability. Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as Service Animals.

Assistance Animal/Emotional Support Animals: Assistance Animals are (1) animals that provide assistance, or perform tasks for the benefit of the person with a disability, or (2) animals that provide emotional support which alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of an individual’s disability. Some, but not all, animals that assist persons with disabilities are professionally trained. Other assistance animals are trained by their owners. Unlike a Service Animal, an Assistance Animal does not assist a person with a disability with activities of daily living, not does it accompany a person with a disability at all times. Assistance Animals (ESA) may be considered for access to university housing, however, they are not permitted in other areas of the university (e.g. libraries, academic buildings, classrooms, labs, student center, athletic event areas, etc.).

The animal must not be in residence prior to approval by the Disability Services. Students or their roommates who have an unapproved animal in their residence are subject to fines as defined in the Student Code Handbook. Regular follow up visits will be made to ensure that the animal has been removed. The approval of a request is animal-specific and is not transferable to another animal and is limited to one animal per student/resident.

Students with disabilities who require the use of Service or Assistance Animals as a reasonable accommodation may be permitted to bring such animals on campus provided that they comply with the University’s policies regarding such animals.

Students who seek to bring a ESA/Assistance Animal to campus must first contact Accommodation Services to request further documentation that must be completed prior to meeting with the Director of Disability Services for approval.

Disability Services will determine, on a case-by-case basis, and in collaboration with other offices on campus, whether to approve the student’s request for a Service or Assistance Animal/Emotional Support Animal. In making this determination, Disability Services will consider the needs of the student, as well as the impact of the animal on the campus community. Students seeking to have a Service or Assistance (ESA) Animal in University Housing must submit a request for review each academic year.

Houston Christian University is committed to addressing the needs of students with disabilities, as well as the legislation that supports them. Therefore, it is important to be comprehensive and thorough when considering requests for reasonable accommodations.

Disability Services will consider the needs of the student on an individual basis, and whether their request is in harmony with appropriate documentation presented. This documentation should provide evidence of a history of a documented disability. It is required that documentation be provided by a professional in an area relevant to the student’s diagnosis and request. In considering the impact of the animal on the campus community, a student must demonstrate they can care for an animal. A reasonable accommodation does not entitle a student to circumvent or waive an essential institutional requirement. Evidence that an animal or their handler are in violation of HCU policies and guidelines may result in non-approval or termination of the accommodation.

A request for a Service or Assistance (ESA) Animal should be submitted at the same time housing selection begins for University housing.

No animal will be permitted in University housing that:

  • Does not adhere to the animals on campus policy set by Houston Christian University
  • Is not approved by the Office of Disability Services
  • Poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others as determined by the Associate Provost of Student Life, Associate Vice President for Facilities, or his/her appointee
  • Would cause substantial physical damage to the property of the University and other residents
  • Would pose an undue financial and administrative burden to the University
  • Would fundamentally alter the nature of the University’s housing operations
  • Would violate the laws of the State of Texas or the City of Houston