Emotional Support Animal Policy

The following guidelines apply to all approved disability-related accommodation animals and their residents who live in all College-owned on-campus housing facilities, including those overseen by the Whitman College Residence Life and Housing Office, unless the nature of the disability of the resident precluded adherence to these guidelines, and permission for a variance from the guidelines has been granted.

Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), a person with a disability may keep an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) in the individual's dwelling when there is an established need for the therapeutic nature of the animal that is connected to the individual's disability. An ESA is prescribed by a person's licensed therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrists (any licensed mental health professional) as a part of a treatment program for that person and is designed to bring comfort and minimize the negative symptoms of the person's emotional/psychological disability. Service animals, on the other hand, are allowed on campus (i.e. in campus buildings). They are individually trained to perform specific tasks related to a person's specific disability, e.g. guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, and alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure.

Unlike a service animal, an ESA does not need to be trained to provide a service or task and does not accompany a person with a disability at all times. An ESA may be a reasonable accommodation for a student with disabilities but only within the student's dwelling. ESAs are not allowed in classrooms or campus buildings other than the specified residence halls, campus-owned apartments or houses.  Students may qualify for this accommodation if: (1) the student has a documented disability; (2) the animal is necessary to afford the student with the disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their dwelling; and (3) there is an identifiable and documented nexus between the disability and the assistance that the animal provides. The College will allow only those ESAs that are allowed by local and state laws and conform to standards within this policy.

If you are interested in bringing an Emotional Support Animal to campus, please contact Antonia Keithahn, Assistant Director of Academic Resources: Disability Support. All ESAs must be registered with the ARC. All registration information will be shared with the Residence Life and Housing Office, Campus Security, and Physical Plant Services.