Specialized Housing Policy for Housing Requests based on Medical, Psychological, and/or Disability-Related Needs

Sarah Lawrence College is a four year residential college and residence halls are an integral part of the learning environment. Living within the community and learning to share space and be respectful of others is part of that learning experience. Specialized housing will be provided according to the following guidelines, with the understanding that students with medical, psychological, or disability related needs may require unique housing configurations. These needs are assessed on a case-by-case basis. The Sarah Lawrence Residence Life Office is committed to achieving access and does not discriminate against persons with disabilities, and provides disability housing accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Fair Housing Act (FHA). This Specialized Housing Policy is derived from the College’s commitment to non-discrimination for all persons in employment, access to facilities, student programs, activities, and services and addresses reasonable accommodations.

To accommodate students with mobility disabilities, Sarah Lawrence has designated at least four (4) dorm rooms with accessible bathrooms that comply with the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards. Students with mobility disabilities will receive first priority for these rooms at the beginning of each semester. If any of these rooms are occupied by a student without a mobility disability at the beginning of any semester and a student with a mobility disability needs the room due to his or her mobility disability, Sarah Lawrence will transfer the student without the mobility disability to another available dorm room so that the accessible room can be occupied by the student with the mobility disability. Sarah Lawrence will not transfer a student without a mobility disability out of one of these designated rooms if there are no alternative on-campus dormitory rooms available.

The Specialized Housing Committee, comprised of the Dean of Student Affairs, the Director of Medical Services, and the Associate Dean of Studies and Disability Services, evaluates all requests carefully and thoroughly and makes the appropriate recommendation to the Director for Residence Life. If reasonable specialized housing requests cannot be immediately satisfied due to capacity and availability, etc., the Residential Life Office will prioritize these requests by urgency and need. Specialized housing assignments are granted based on documented need and not on the basis of location preference. Requests for single rooms based on a desire to have a “quiet, undisturbed place to study” are rarely granted and only in unusual circumstances where the submitted documentation specifically and compellingly supports such an accommodation. Sarah Lawrence College has established the following procedures to ensure that students with medical, psychological, or disability-related needs have equal access to SLC housing.

Special Note for Returning Students:
Returning students who are requesting specialized housing for the first time or who are renewing a previous specialized housing request must participate in the Housing Lottery. If you have questions about the process, please contact the Director of Residence Life.

Procedures for Requesting Specialized Housing

  1. Students must follow the general housing procedures, and should consult with the Office of Residence Life (residencelife@sarahlawrence.edu or (914) 395-2575) if they have questions about the general housing process.
  2. Students must submit:  
    • A Specialized Housing Request Form, completed by the student, which will include a description of their condition and/or disability and their need for the housing they are requesting.
    • A Documentation for Specialized  Housing Form, completed by a healthcare professional. There are guidelines (see below) for the professional who will be providing the supporting documentation. A Documentation for Specialized Housing Form  will not be required if the disability is readily observable (e.g., the student uses a wheelchair or scooter for mobility or is deaf ).
  3. Disability Housing Accommodations
    If the specialized housing request is based on a disability as set forth by the ADA, students must be registered with Disability Services. Registration with Disability Services must be completed before the specialized housing accommodation can be reviewed. Please contact Polly Waldman, Associate Dean of Studies and Disability Services, pwaldman@sarahlawrence.edu or (914) 395-2235 to discuss this process.
  4. Advance Viewing of Accessible Housing for Students with Mobility Disabilities
    Students with mobility disabilities may contact Polly Waldman, Associate Dean of Studies and Disability Services, pwaldman@sarahlawrence.edu or (914) 395-2235 if they wish to view the available accessible room options. Dean Waldman and the Director of Residence Life will work closely with students needing wheelchair accessible housing to see that they are assigned to a bed in an accessible room that meets needs.
  5. The completed Specialized Housing Request Form and the Documentation Form for Specialized Housing Form (if necessary) should be sent to:

    Dean of Student Affairs
    Sarah Lawrence College
    One Mead Way
    Bronxville, NY 10708
    Fax:  (914) 395-2661 or e-mail: pcrandall@sarahlawrence.edu

    The forms necessary to request specialized housing are available to all new and returning students on MySLC at https://my.slc.edu/ics/Campus_Life/Departments/StudentAffairs/residencelife/Specialized_Housing.jnz. Specialized Housing cannot be requested until a student has accepted admission, deposited, and has been given access to MySLC.

Appeal Process

If a student with a documented medical, psychological, or disability related need believes that he/she has not been provided with a reasonable housing accommodation, the student may appeal the Housing Committee’s decision to the Dean of Studies & Student Life or designee. The student must provide in writing, within five business days of receipt of the Committee’s decision, the basis for the appeal. The Dean of Studies & Student Life or designee will review all pertinent information before rendering a decision. The decision of the Dean of Studies & Student Life or designee is final.

Questions regarding the Specialized Housing Policy may be directed to:

Polly B. Waldman
Associate Dean of Studies and Disability Services
(914) 395-2235

Guidelines for Documentation Form for Specialized Housing Request

In order to accurately and equitably evaluate specialized housing requests based on medical, psychological or disability-related conditions, documentation is required to establish the existence of the condition that necessitates the specialized housing. No documentation is required if a student’s disability is readily observable. Documentation consists of a written evaluation by an appropriate professional (not a relative of the student) that explains the nature of the condition and why the condition results in a need for the specialized housing.    

As relevant to the condition, documentation must include:

  • A diagnostic statement of the condition, including the date and a summary of the most recent evaluation
  • The current impact of (or limitation imposed by) the condition on the student as it relates to the need for specialized housing (e.g., the student has limited mobility and requires grab bars for support in the restroom)
  • An explanation of how the condition relates to the request for specialized housing
  • The housing features/elements that are required by the student as a result of the condition
  • An indication of the level of need for the recommended configuration of specialized housing (and the consequences of not receiving it)
  • Possible alternatives if the recommended configuration is not available
  • The expected duration of the condition
  • The credentials of the diagnosing professional

Factors Considered When Evaluating Requests

Housing assignments and the residential learning environment are integral parts of Sarah Lawrence programs, particularly for first year students. The submitted request and supporting documentation are reviewed carefully on a case-by-case basis using the following criteria. Part of the committee’s consideration is the written documentation by the treating professional, when required. A follow-up conversation with the treating professional by a member of the Health Services staff may be necessary in some instances.

  1. Severity of the Condition
    Will the student be able to reside in Sarah Lawrence housing if the request is not met?
    Is impact of the condition life threatening if the request is not met?
    Is there a negative health impact that may be permanent if the request is not met?
    Is the request an integral component of a treatment plan for the condition in question?
    What is the likely impact on academic performance if the request is not met?
    What is the likely impact on social development if the request is not met?
    What is the likely impact on the student’s level of comfort if the request is not met?
  2. Timing of the Request
    Was the request made with initial housing request?
    Was the request made before the deadline for housing requests for the semester in question?
    Was the request made as soon as possible after identifying the need? (Based on date of diagnosis, receipt of housing assignment, change in status, etc.)

Here to Help

For more information on the Specialized Housing Policy, please contact:

Polly B. Waldman
Associate Dean of Studies and Disability Services
(914) 395-2235