Kent State to Allow Emotional Support Animals in Student Housing
Kent State University recently agreed to settle a fair housing case filed by the Justice Department alleging that the university had maintained a policy of not allowing students with psychological disabilities to keep emotional support animals in university-operated student housing. Under the settlement agreement, the university agreed to:
- Pay $100,000 to two former students who were allegedly denied a reasonable accommodation to keep an emotional support dog in their university-operated apartment;
- Pay $30,000 to the fair housing organization that advocated on behalf of the students;
- Pay $15,000 to the United States; and
- Adopt a housing policy that will allow persons with psychological disabilities to keep animals with them in university housing when such animals provide necessary therapeutic benefits to such students and it would not fundamentally alter the nature of the housing.
“This settlement shows the department’s continued and strong commitment to ensuring that students in university housing are afforded the protections of the Fair Housing Act,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “Those protections include accommodations for students with disabilities who need assistance animals in order to have an equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits of university housing.”
The lawsuit alleged that the university violated fair housing law when, in 2010, it denied a request to allow a student with a psychological disability and her husband to keep an emotional support dog in their university-operated student apartment. Under the proposed settlement, KSU has agreed to change its policy to accommodate similar requests going forward.
“Providers of on-campus housing have the same obligation to comply with the Fair Housing Act as other housing providers,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Today’s settlement reinforces the ongoing commitment of HUD and the Justice Department to ensuring that individuals with disabilities are granted the accommodations they need to perform daily life functions.”