Counseling Center Policies and Procedures

Confidentiality

Counseling and Disability Services ensures the confidentiality of every student session. In an effort to comply with Massachusetts law and HIPAA, information disclosed during a session may only be released to another individual with the written consent of the student. Parents are encouraged to speak directly with their son or daughter about any issues of concern. Parents, faculty, or staff members who are concerned about a student are encouraged to contact Counseling and Disability Services directly. Counselors reach out to students of concern. These referrals can be made in a confidential manner if preferred.

Counseling and Disability Services will not release information to anyone without the student's written permission. If the student wishes to share information, the student must sign a written statement, authorizing theCounseling and Disability Services to release information to specified parties.

However, there are some circumstances under which, according to Massachusetts State Laws, confidentiality cannot be maintained. Such circumstances include the following:

  • If a counselor reasonably believes a student poses imminent physical or psychological danger to themselves or others. The counselor may contact family, friends, and others to protect the student or others' safety. If necessary, the counselor may need to place the student in a hospital for psychiatric care.
  • The counselor is considered a “mandated reporter” under the law and must notify appropriate government agencies if he/she reasonably believes that a child, a disabled person or an elderly person is suffering injury as a result of abuse or neglect.
  • If ordered to release information by a court of law.

Eligibility

Counseling and Disability Services are available without charge to all students.

Institute Disability Grievance Procedure

Wentworth Institute of Technology is committed to the fair treatment of all students, including qualified students with a disability. Title II, Part 5 of the Americans with Disabilities Act states, ”no otherwise qualified disabled individual shall solely by reason of such disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in programs or activities sponsored by a public entity." The goal of the grievance procedure is prompt and equitable resolution of complaints alleging discrimination based on a disability.

Any Wentworth student with a documented disability who believes that he/she has been adversely affected by the discriminatory behavior of a student or student organization may file a complaint with the Dean of Students in the Office of Student Affairs. All complaints filed against students or student groups will be processed according to the procedures set forth in the Student Handbook covering student code of conduct violations.

Any Wentworth student with a documented disability who believes that he/she has been adversely affected by the discriminatory behavior of a faculty or staff member may file a complaint under the Institute Disability Grievance Procedure. A complaint should be filed as soon as the incident or event has occurred to ensure prompt investigation and resolution, but no later than 180 days after the incident.

The Disability Grievance Procedures process has 2 options for resolution of issues concerning disability discrimination: an informal complaint process and a formal complaint process:

Informal complaint

Any student with a documented disability may report a complaint against a faculty or staff member to the Center for Wellness and Disability Services. The Center for Wellness and Disability Services will document the allegations and advise the student of his/her options, including the right to file a formal complaint. With the student’s permission, the allegations will be addressed directly with the faculty or staff member in question in an attempt to achieve a timely resolution. If a student refuses to grant permission for the Center for Wellness and Disability Services to address the complaint, the student will be asked to sign a waiver indicating this refusal. In these situations, the student is acknowledging that he/she is refusing assistance and an opportunity to address and resolve his/her specific allegations. If the allegations are not resolved through the informal process, students have the opportunity to file a formal complaint as outlined below. A student may proceed directly to the formal complaint process at any time.

Formal Complaint

Any student with a documented disability may file a formal written complaint against a faculty or staff member with the Center for Wellness and Disability Services or to the ADA Compliance Officer (Director of Human Resources). In order to process the complaint a student must provide permission to the Center for Wellness and Disability Services and/or the ADA Compliance Officer to investigate the allegations and receive and review information related to the student’s disability and allegations.

Investigation

Upon receipt of a formal complaint, the ADA Compliance Officer or designee from the ADA Compliance Committee (“Investigator”) will investigate the allegations. The members of the ADA Compliance Committee (the “Committee”) will review the information gathered by the Investigator. The Committee may request additional information and investigation at any time. Once the investigation is complete, the Committee will determine whether or not the allegations have merit and if violation of WIT’s policies concerning disability discrimination has occurred. The Committee will usually meet within one week after the Investigator has completed her/his investigation. The meeting may be delayed for Institute breaks, holidays or the schedules of the Committee members.

Decision

If a violation is found to have occurred, the Committee will make a recommendation concerning the resolution of the complaint. In cases involving faculty members, the Committee makes a recommendation to the Provost. In cases involving staff members, the Committee makes a recommendation to the divisional Vice President and the Vice President of Human Resources. If no appeal is filed within the time period noted below, the Provost or Divisional Vice President makes the final determination concerning the violation and the resolution based upon the information provided in the Committee’s decision.

Membership

The ADA Compliance Committee is composed of not more than seven employees of the Institute, and may include representatives from the Office of Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, faculty, Human Resources, the Center for Wellness and Disability Services and Facilities. If the allegations involve a faculty member, the Department Chair or Dean of the College may also be included on the Committee. The ADA Compliance Officer serves as the Chair.

Quorum

A minimum of five voting members, excluding the Chair, constitutes a quorum of the Committee. A quorum must be present for the decision on the allegations, any determination that a violation of WIT disability discrimination policies has occurred and for the recommendation for resolution.

Appeal

An appeal by the student and staff member of the Committee’s decision on a finding of a violation may be made to the Vice President of Human Resources for cases involving a staff member. An appeal by the student and faculty of the Committee’s decision on a finding of a violation may be made to the Provost for cases involving a faculty member. An appeal must be made in writing, within one week of receiving the Committee’s decision letter. The Vice President of Human Resources and Provost may request additional information from the Committee or parties involved and will respond as promptly as possible to the appeal after completing his/her review. The Provost and Vice President of Human Resources make the final determination concerning the violation and the resolution.

Retaliation

Any retaliation against a student for filing a good faith complaint, or against witnesses for providing information during an investigation, is prohibited and may result in severe sanctions, up to and including termination.

Additional Assistance

Although Wentworth Institute of Technology strives to resolve all complaints within the campus grievance process, students always have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. For more information, see The Office of Civil Rights.

Wentworth also prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, gender, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, national origin, veteran status or any other protected status. Sexual harassment, which includes sexual assault, is one type of sex discrimination. Unlawful employment discrimination by faculty, administrators, supervisors, employees, contractors, guests, vendors, parents and students will not be tolerated. If you believe you have been subjected to any of these forms of discrimination, please contact the Title IX Coordinator, the Vice President of Human Resources.

Temporary Impairment Policy

Wentworth subscribes to the policies set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) and in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which mandate equal opportunity in educational  programs and activities for students with disabilities. A temporary impairment is not considered a disability. Although the Institute is not required by law to assist students with temporary impairments, on a case by case basis, the Center for Wellness will attempt to facilitate the student’s inclusion into the Wentworth community. Timely, honest communication regarding the circumstances around the temporary impairment will help to construct a reasonable solution.

The primary responsibility for seeking assistance and support lies with the student. It is recommended that the student requesting accommodations for a temporary impairment contact The Center for Wellness and Disability Services to discuss the impact in a post-secondary environment. In addition, the student is required to submit information from a medical treatment provider delineating the following information:

  • A clear statement of the impairment, including the DSM-IV-TR or DSM 5 diagnosis and a summary of present symptoms (based on the DSM-IV-TR or DSM 5 or ICD-10).
  • Current functional limitations in the Institutional environment
  • Relevant information regarding current treatment, and a specific request for accommodations with accompanying rationale

The Center for Wellness and Disability Services is not responsible for informing faculty of the student’s temporary impairment or for excusing a student from class for a medical appointment.

Service and Assistance Animals

Service Animal Policy and Procedure

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines service animals as “dogs or miniature horses (when reasonable) that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.”  The institute may ask the following two questions:

  1.  Is the animal required because of a disability
  2. What work or task has the animal been trained to perform

Institute staff cannot ask for the specific nature of the disability or for a demonstration of the work or task the animal is trained to perform. 

Service Animal Registration Process:

 

Assistance Animal Policy and Procedure

Wentworth Institute of Technology is committed to providing access to residential programs for students with disabilities.  In consideration of the health and safety of the campus community, Wentworth restricts the presence of animals in the residence halls.  However, in accordance with the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, the Institute will accommodate students with disabilities who require use of assistance animals.  An assistance animal is one that is necessary for the person with a disability to access and enjoy the on campus dwelling and there is an identifiable relationship or nexus between the disability and the assistance the animal provides.  The process to request a housing accommodation for an assistance animal is as follows:

  1. Complete the Housing Accommodation Request Form
  2. Current health and vaccination records per Massachusetts law
  3. Provide documentation that includes:
  • Credentials and contact information for the evaluator
  • Diagnosis of a psychiatric disability and methodology used to obtain diagnosis
  • Current functional limitations 
  • Accommodation, treatment, and medication history
  • Statement describing symptom(s) mitigated by the presence of the animal
  • Statement that the animal is necessary in order to provide access to the institute’s residential program

Conflicting Needs/Health Concerns

The Center for Wellness and Disability Services and the Office of Housing and Residential Life will take steps to notify the relevant members of the community of the presence of animals on campus. Individuals with health or safety related concerns or medical conditions impacted by the presence of animals should contact the Center for Wellness and Disability Services. 

Appeals Process

Students who are not granted accommodations through these processes can appeal the decision via e-mail at counseling@wit.edu within 5 business days of receiving the decision.  Appeal requests must state a specific reason for reconsideration. The appeal will be reviewed by the Center for Wellness and Disability Services in coordination with other relevant personnel. 

Housing and Meal Plan Accommodation Process

Housing Accommodation Process

Living within a community of shared spaces can be challenging.  However, requests for specific housing based on preferences rather than documented medical conditions will not be approved.  Please be aware that residence halls are not designed to be quiet and distraction free environments and there are not substantial differences between single and standard double rooms.  The Institute provides access to alternative spaces outside of the residence hall rooms to be used for studying. 

Students in good financial and disciplinary standing with the Institute who have paid the housing deposit and report medical needs that may necessitate a reasonable housing accommodation must submit an official request  to the Office of Housing & Residential Life.  In addition to the form, applicants must submit current medical documentation to the Center for Wellness and Disability Services where it will be kept in a confidential. Medical documentation form should include the following:

  • Medical Diagnosis 
  • Fundamental impact diagnosis has on the residential program
  • Specific housing accommodation that alleviates barrier(s) caused by medical condition

The information provided (request form and medical documentation) will be evaluated by the Housing Accommodation Committee.  Accommodation decisions are e-mailed to students.  Decisions may include specific room assignments or suggestions for housing options. 

Students must reapply for accommodations every year.

Deadlines for Housing Accommodation Requests:

New Students-June 1st

Returning Students and Summer Housing-March 1st

Applications submitted after the above dates will be considered.  However, placement based on late requests, including any needs that develop during the semester, cannot be guaranteed. 

Meal Plan Accommodation Process

1. If you have a documented medical condition that impacts your dietary needs, please contact Chartwells Director of Dining Services for the Colleges of the Fenway directly at 617-989-4253 to schedule an appointment to discuss dining needs and establish a campus dining plan. You MUST bring the Medical Diet Accommodation Procedure Checklist to be filled out with the Director of Dining Services.

  • Students with individual campus dining plans must work with a Chartwells Manager on Duty for all special ordering, i.e. Diary Free, Gluten Free, etc. All managers are posted at the main entrance of the cafeteria. There are at least 3 managers on duty at all times. A complete staff list can be found on the Dine on Campus website. 

2. IF it is determined that additional support is needed, students must submit the completed Medical Diet Accommodation Procedure Checklist to The Center for Wellness and Disability Services and complete the Meal Plan Accommodation Request Form.

  • Please note request forms will not be reviewed until the student has met withChartwells Director of Dining Services for the Colleges of the Fenway and completeed the Medical Diet Accommodation Procedure Checklist

In addition to the form and checklist, applicants must provide current medical documentation including the following:

  • Medical Diagnosis 
  • Specific symptoms mitigated by dietary restriction
  • Detailed diet

The request and accompanying documentation should be submitted to the Center for Wellness and Disability Services. Student Health Services staff is contacted for consultation as needed. The Center for Wellness and Disability Services shares recommendations with the Director of Business Services.  All medical documentation is kept confidential.          

Students are expected to exercise responsibility for selecting appropriate foods required by medical diets. Waivers are not granted for financial reasons or for reasons of dietary preferences.  All requests are considered on an individual basis. Meal plan waivers are granted on a semester-by-semester basis unless otherwise noted.

Information for students with approved Meal Plan Accommodations

  • To submit a question or concern about Meal Plan Accommodations, please go to:
  1. Email Chartwells Feedback
  2. Text 617-863-2200 for Text 2 Solve

 

Non-medical Housing and Meal Plan Accommodations

Students requesting a meal plan waiver for cultural or religious beliefs should submit their request for a waiver in writing accompanied by confirming documentation from parents or family members and from a religious or a cultural leader familiar with the student's beliefs and practices who can confirm the authenticity of the request.  These requests should be submitted to the Director of Business Services.

Attendance and Assignment Deadlines

Guidance for Making Decisions about Attendance and Assignment Deadline Policies

Students diagnosed with chronic medical conditions that may impact attendance must register with Disability Services in order to receive assistance.  Students may be required to submit documentation detailing changes in medical or disability status.  Students with attendance concerns should review all policies in advance and discuss anticipated issues with an academic advisor/course instructor.  Students are responsible for contacting faculty at the start of each semester to determine the amount of time that can be missed without compromising the integrity of the course or program. 

Instructors have the option to contact Disability Services for assistance with decision making about altering course policies or deadlines.  With the students’ permission, Disability Services can verify disability status and assist faculty in determining whether or not attendance and deadlines are essential components of a course or program.  Disability Services cannot mandate faculty to waive attendance or assignment deadline policies.

Course syllabi should include detailed attendance, assignment due dates, and participation guidelines. All students are expected to meet the attendance requirements and assignment deadlines established by individual instructors.  Attendance policies are set by faculty in compliance with department, institutional, and/or accrediting agency mandates.  Attendance requirements are determined by the expected level of participation in the class.   

The following questions may be useful in determining whether or not attendance is an essential function of a course:

  1. What information does the course description or syllabus include about attendance and assignment deadlines?
  2. Is attendance reflected in the final course grade?
  3. Are policies consistently applied?
  4. What, if any, allowances are made for non-disability related circumstances?
  5. How does contact between faculty and students relate to the goals and objectives of the course?
  6. How are student contributions essential to the classroom experience?
  7. How does student participation contribute to the learning process?
  8. How does individual student attendance impact the rest of the class? 

Alternate Course Material Request Procedure

Step 1: 

Students schedule an intake with disability services in order to determine eligibility for alternate format course materials and use of WIT text-to-speech software. 

Step 2:

Eligible students register for classes as early as possible and request course material information from faculty.

Step 3:

Students search for and purchase commercially available accessible course materials (audio books, e-books with text to speech enabled, etc.)

Search Resources:

  • Check the Wentworth bookstore to see if textbooks and other course materials are available electronic format.  If electronic versions of textbooks are commercially available for purchase at the bookstore, notify disability services  so publishers can be contacted regarding enabling text to speech options for students with disabilities. 
  • Contact the Publishers directly to purchase accessible text files or e-books with text to speech enabled in lieu of hard copy textbooks.
  • www.amazon.com  –Many Kindle books are available with text-to-speech enabled.  If you do not have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle software for both mac and PC machines and use it alongside text-to-speech software to access the text auditorally. https://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000632481

Step 4: 

Students fill out alternate format request form for any text/course material not commercially available. 

Step 5: 

Disability Services submits alternate format requests to publishers or manually scans course material into accessible electronic formats.  This process can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks depending on the availability and complexity of course material.  It is essential that students requiring alternate format text register and submit requests as early as possible.