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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. This 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.

Process for Requesting Specialized Housing

In order for a request for specialized housing to be considered, a complete Specialized Housing Request Packet must be submitted.  The Specialized Housing Request Packet is made up of the Request Form, to be completed by the student, and the Documentation Form, to be completed by the appropriate professional.  The Specialized Housing Request Packet is submitted to the Dean of Student Affairs.  There are guidelines for the professional who will be providing the supporting documentation(see below).  This will help to ensure that the request can be given full consideration by the Specialized Housing Committee, comprised of the Director of Health Services, the Associate Dean of Studies & Disability Services, and the Dean of Student Affairs. Requests for specialized housing can be denied due to insufficient documentation.

The Specialized Housing Committee 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/facility design/ 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.  

The forms necessary to request specialized housing are available to all new and returning students on MySLC. 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.

Documentation Guidelines

In order to accurately and equitably evaluate specialized housing requests based on medical, psychological or disability-related conditions documentation is required. To apply for specialized housing a “Documentation for Specialized Housing” form must be completed and submitted along with the “Specialized Housing Request” form. It is important to provide these guidelines to the professional who will be completing your documentation form. Documentation consists of a written evaluation by an appropriate professional (not a relative of the student) that relates the current impact of the condition to the request.

As relevant to the condition, documentation must include:

  1. A diagnostic statement including the date and a summary of the most recent evaluation;
  2. The current impact of (or limitation imposed by) the condition (academic, social, medical);
  3. An explanation of how the request relates to the impact of the condition;
  4. An indication of the level of need for the recommended configuration (and the consequences of not receiving);
  5. Possible alternatives if the recommended configuration is not available;
  6. Treatments, medications, etc. currently prescribed or used to minimize the impact of the condition;
  7. Date of original diagnosis; 
  8. The expected duration, stability or progression of the condition;
  9. What is the student doing to address the issue/condition that is warranting the request for specialized housing (e.g. on-going treatment, therapeutic activities, medications, etc.); and
  10. 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.  A follow-up conversation with the treating professional by a member of the Health Services staff may be necessary.

  1. Severity of the Condition
    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.)
  3. Feasibility & Availability
    Is space available that meets the student’s needs?
    Is the student in special interest housing?  If so, can the requested configuration be met within that area?
    Can space be adapted to provide the requested configuration without creating a safety hazard (electrical load, emergency egress, etc.)?
    Are there other effective methods or housing configurations that would achieve similar benefits as the requested configuration?
    How does meeting this request impact housing commitments to other students?
    Is the cost of meeting the request prohibitive?

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