Mars Hill University will consider reasonable housing accommodations for students with disabilities. When a student has a medical or psychological condition that creates a need to be assigned a particular type of residence or amenity, the student should submit a housing accommodation request to the Accessibility Services Coordinator. Students requesting housing accommodations must follow the procedure outlined below and provide sufficient professional documentation to verify the need for the requested accommodation.
Please note that the diagnosis of a medical/psychological condition and a physician’s or therapist’s recommendation do not automatically qualify a student for disability-related housing accommodations. While healthcare providers’ recommendations are considered, Mars Hill University evaluates housing accommodations to determine what is necessary for the student to access and live in college housing. Not all medical conditions rise to the level of being a disability that requires accommodation for the student to access the housing program.
(Note to incoming or prospective students: students requesting housing accommodations need to complete the necessary registration and deposit procedures through Admissions before being eligible to request and be evaluated for a disability-related housing accommodation).
Single Rooms for Disability Access vs Single Rooms as a Preference
The university has a limited number of single rooms available. Any student may request a single room as a preference during the scheduled housing selection process that occurs before the fall and spring semesters. Single-room assignments are made depending on seniority and availability. When not assigned as a disability accommodation, single rooms are charged an additional rate.
One of the most requested accommodations is a single room. A single room is a disability accommodation only when clinical history and professional documentation clearly demonstrate a history of substantial limitations and provide a rationale that supports the student’s need for a separate living/sleeping space to be able to access and utilize housing. For example, a student who needs extra space to utilize specialized medical equipment may need extra space or a certain size bathroom that is only available in a single room. This is an access need because, without extra space to utilize medical equipment, the student would not be able to participate equitably in the housing program. Legal precedence shows when a single room is assigned as a disability accommodation to create access, colleges should bill the student at the standard room double rate and not at the private rate.
ADD, Generalized Anxiety, and Depression are diagnoses commonly presented as reasons a student believes they need a single room. However, these diagnoses rarely present as true barriers to access.
What if my diagnosis means I need a quiet space to study?
Residence halls and student housing are designed as living areas. Thus, they do not fall into the category of needing to be quiet study spaces for disabilities that affect focus, concentration, or distractibility. Because of the number of people who live in close proximity, it is not logical to assume that having a private room would provide a quiet, distraction-free space to any appreciable degree beyond living in a standard double room. The campus residential experience extends beyond the sleeping space so there are multiple settings on campus (study rooms in residence halls, art and music studios, computer labs, private library study rooms, outdoor hammock spots, etc.) that provide quiet and private places where students can study, relax, or be alone. Tools like noise-canceling headphones, white noise devices, or phone apps also can help block distracting sounds.
What if I need to be alone or have a single room to decompress?
Having a diagnosis of anxiety or depression and wanting a private space to be alone or to decompress generally does not rise to the level of being a disability that requires a single room to remove barriers related to access. Students have access to many places on campus and in the community to decompress, unwind, or process their emotions other than the room where they sleep. Including:
What if I need to have control over my space?
On a college campus, students share spaces with peers in multiple settings including classrooms, campus dining, athletic and performance facilities, etc. Rarely does a student’s disability rise to the level of being unable to do so in a shared living space. In the standard shared residence, students are assigned their own bed, dresser, closet, and study space. When it comes to issues like quiet hours, noise levels, visitors, cleaning responsibilities, etc., living with a roommate can help students learn essential skills like communication, compromise, and respect for others’ boundaries. However, these may be new skills for many students who have never had to share a room with another family member. Community standards for behavior are listed in the current Student Handbook and housing staff (RAs and Area Coordinators) are available to assist students who need assistance with negotiating concerns.
What if I don’t want to deal with a bad roommate?
Although many college alumni remain lifelong friends with former roommates, most who have attended college can recall a less-than-perfect roommate situation. However, The Office of Residence Life and the Student Handbook have tools and procedures for dealing with roommate concerns.
What if I have medications I fear might be stolen?
All students should consider locking valuables, including medications.
What can I do if my request for a single room as a disability accommodation is denied but I still want a single room and none are available?
Students may request to be placed on a waiting list for a single room if private spaces are filled at the time of the request. Often, single rooms become available after the start of the semester. Again, an extra fee applies to private rooms in residence halls.
The ASC will inform the student within 10 business days following the receipt of the completed request of any decision or further recommended action regarding housing accommodations. Financial consideration may be granted to students whose documentation clearly establishes that a medical condition necessitates specific housing requirements in order for the student to access university programs and services. However, requests for accessibility housing accommodations must be approved in advance of the semester for financial consideration to be applied.
New Students: Requests for housing accommodations along with supporting healthcare provider documentation should be submitted as early as possible and preferably by June 1 for Fall Semester and November 1 for Spring Semester. While all completed requests will be evaluated in a timely manner to determine eligibility and feasibility, and reasonable effort will be made to accommodate all verified needs, students need to be aware that requests submitted within 60 days of the need for occupancy may not be guaranteed.
Returning Students: Students who have been granted previous accessibility housing accommodations and who wish to renew their housing accommodations will be given notice of instructions to complete a Housing Accommodation Renewal Form prior to the Office of Residence Life Housing Selection/Room Preference Process that occurs during Spring Semester. Previously approved students will receive this form and instructions via campus email address. Returning students must complete all communicated instructions in a timely manner in advance of the start of the new semester in order for their choice of housing to be renewed as an accessibility accommodation and for any appropriate financial consideration to be applied.
Housing Accommodations for Temporary Impairments
Students who experience injuries, surgeries, extended illness, or any other sudden medical condition may need temporary academic, housing, or facility-related accommodations. Whenever possible, the Accessibility Services Office and Residence Life arrange for any necessary changes to student housing in order to accommodate unexpected accessibility needs.
Request for Modification of Residence Requirements & Meal Plan Guidelines
Students who wish to request a modification of the MHU Residence & Meal Plan Requirement Policy due to a disability must submit their request in writing to the Accessibility Services Coordinator via the MHU Accessibility Services Request for Housing Accommodations Form as well as provide supporting documentation from a health care provider. Requests will be reviewed in consultation with the Director of Residence Life and/or Accessibility Services Staff Committee. If a student with a food allergy or other health condition needs to modify the university’s food services as an accommodation, the student must provide professional healthcare provider documentation to verify the condition and identify specific dietary needs. Once the Accessibility Services Coordinator establishes that the provided professional verification is sufficient for consideration, the student will be asked to meet with the Director of Food Services and the Accessibility Services Coordinator to determine how or if the student’s dietary needs can be met.
When the Accessibility Services Coordinator and the Accessibility Services Committee agree that Food Services and/or Residence Life cannot meet the student’s accessibility related needs, a waiver of the MHU Residence and/or the Meal Plan Requirement be granted.