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Involuntary Leave of Absence Policy

office of the dean of students

I.        Introduction

Boston College is committed to creating a learning environment where all students can reach their full potential and excel.   When a student is in distress or crisis and/or exhibiting concerning behaviors, the University remains dedicated to supporting that student while also preserving the safety and security of the University community, and ensuring proper functioning of the University.  Generally in these situations, the Dean of Students or designee will convene the University’s Behavioral Evaluation Team to review the situation and make recommendations for next steps.

In situations where a student demonstrates behavior that poses a threat to health or safety or is significantly disruptive to the University learning environment, the University, after making an individualized assessment,  may request or require the student to take a leave of absence, or may impose conditions or restrictions designed to address the health or safety threat or disruption.   This policy outlines the individualized process that will be utilized when a student exhibits behavior that may necessitate an involuntary leave of absence from the University or other conditions or restrictions.    

This policy is not intended to be disciplinary in nature, but to support the student and to maintain safety in the community.  Situations may arise in which this Policy, the Code of Conduct, or other Boston College policies are applicable, and in such cases the Dean of Students shall determine which policy or policies may be invoked.

II.      Procedures

The Dean of Students or designee is responsible for determining whether a student has engaged in behavior that triggers the application of this policy.  In making decisions under this policy, the Dean of Students or designee will make an individualized assessment, which will include reviewing available documentation and consulting with other University representatives as appropriate and feasible under the circumstances.

a.       Review and Decision Process

To determine whether a leave of absence or another measure is appropriate, the Dean of Students or designee will:

  • Review available incident reports and documentation of the student’s behavior.
  • Consult with other University staff/faculty, as may be appropriate and feasible, including representatives from the Office of the Dean of Students, University Health Services, University Counseling Center, Residential Life, the student’s academic Dean, professors, and other individuals or departments.   This consultation may be conducted at a Behavioral Evaluation Team meeting.
  • Review relevant medical documentation, as available.
  • Seek, if appropriate and feasible, the cooperation and involvement of parents or guardians of the student.
  • Utilize the information gathered to make an individualized assessment regarding the student’s behavior and whether an involuntary leave of absence and/or any other administrative restrictions are necessary to address the health and safety concerns or ensure the proper functioning of University programs and services.
  • Meet with the student, if feasible, to review the reasons why a leave of absence is being considered, and provide an opportunity for the student to respond and provide medical information and other relevant information.   

Upon a determination that a leave is necessary, the Dean or designee will offer the student the opportunity to voluntarily take a leave or, if deemed appropriate by the University, agree to other administrative restrictions or conditions in order to remain at the University.

In the event that the student is incapable of responding on his or her own behalf, or if the student elects not to respond to inquiries or directives of the University, the University reserves the right to either place the student on an involuntary leave or impose administrative restrictions as a condition of remaining at the University.

b.        Temporary Measures

If a threat to health or safety presents an immediate risk of harm, the Dean of Students or designee may implement immediate administrative measures such as a temporary involuntary leave of absence or restrictions on a student’s access to the campus (including housing, services, classes, activities and facilities) until the Dean is able to review the matter and make a determination as described above.

c.        Conditions of Leave and Return

If the student is placed on an involuntary leave of absence (or agrees to a voluntary leave of absence) under this policy :

  • Conditions for a leave of absence and any conditions to apply for re-enrollment will be provided to the student in writing.  Any conditions for the leave and return will be individualized to the student and designed to help ensure that the health and safety or other concerns are resolved and that the student is qualified to return.  These conditions may include compliance with treatment plans, examination by independent or University health professionals, release of relevant medical records, interviews, a personal statement, and a demonstrated ability to meet the University’s academic and conduct standards.
  • The student may be granted grades of “W” (Withdrawn) in enrolled classes, even if the normal deadline for a “W” has passed, or may be granted “I” (Incomplete)  should the student’s Academic Dean and faculty believe it appropriate.   
  • An involuntary leave of absence will be noted  on a student’s transcript  in the same manner as a voluntary medical leave of absence.
  • The student is subject to the same rules regarding financial aid and financial obligations (room, board, tuition, etc.) that apply in the case of a voluntary medical leave of absence.
  • The student may not participate in programs or activities organized by the University until officially approved to re-enroll.
d. Appeal Process:

A student who has been placed on an involuntarily leave of absence from the University or been subject to other restrictions or conditions may appeal this decision.  The student must submit the appeal and the reason(s) why the appeal should be granted within five (5) business days of notice of the involuntary leave of absence or other measure. The student must submit the appeal and the reasons supporting the appeal to the Dean of Students or designee who made the decision, who will forward the appeal to his/her supervisor for review.  The supervisor’s review may include a review of relevant documentation and consultation with University officials and the student to check compliance with the terms of this policy.  The decision on the appeal will be communicated to the student within five (5) business days from the day the appeal was submitted, unless the circumstances require more time, in which case the student will be notified.  During the appeal period and process, the student will remain on leave or subject to other imposed conditions.  If an appeal is denied, the decision is final and no further appeal is permitted. (If a student believes that he or she has been discriminated against in connection with any University program or activity because of a disability, he or she has the right to seek a review of such concerns under the Student Disability Grievance Policy.)