Involuntary Leave of Absence Policy

The University may place a student on an involuntary leave when the area Dean of Students determines, after conducting an individualized assessment, that: (1) there is a reasonable basis to believe the student has engaged, or threatened to engage, in conduct that has caused or is likely to cause serious disruption to the learning, extra-curricular and/or living activities of members of the community or others, including by impeding the rightful activities of others; and/or (2) the student is unable to function as a student; and/or (3) the student's continued presence on campus poses a serious threat to the physical safety of any person or property.

Each academic unit – the College, graduate divisions, professional schools, and the Graham School – may have its own written procedures regarding leaves of absence. Those procedures may be obtained from the academic unit. The unit-specific procedures follow the outline of the procedures described below, with variations that reflect the values and educational goals of the specific academic unit. Units that do not have their own written procedures will follow the process described below.

When the University receives information indicating that a student may meet one or more of the above criteria, the area Dean of Students (or designee) will, in most cases, first make reasonable attempts to meet with the student to discuss their concerns. The area Dean of Students may also seek other information, which can include but is not limited to requesting that the student be assessed by the Student Health Service (SHS), the Student Counseling Service (SCS), or another health provider, and/or consulting with the Behavioral Intervention Team. Using reasoned judgment and taking into account the individual circumstances, the Dean of Students may determine that the student (1) may remain enrolled without conditions, (2) may remain enrolled with conditions that are to be described in writing, or (3) should or, in some circumstances, must take a leave.

In making an informed and individualized decision to place a student on an involuntary leave, the area Dean of Students will consider germane information, including information provided in a timely manner by the student. When appropriate, the student may be asked to sign a health records release to authorize direct communication between and among the area Dean of Students (or designee), the SHS or SCS, and/or the student’s health provider(s). If a student declines to provide requested information and/or authorizations, the area Dean of Students will make their determination after considering the available information.

If a leave is indicated, the student normally first will be given the opportunity to take the leave voluntarily, thereby eliminating the need to complete the involuntary leave process. If the student declines to take a voluntary leave, the area Dean of Students has the authority to place the student on an involuntary leave. A student’s transcript makes no distinction between a voluntary and an involuntary leave.

When a student takes a voluntary or involuntary leave under this policy, the area Dean of Students will determine any conditions for resumption of studies on an individualized basis and communicate this information to the student promptly in writing.

When the area Dean of Students determines that a student's continued presence is reasonably likely to meet the standard set forth above for an involuntary leave, the student may be placed on an emergency interim leave before a final determination, as described above, is made. The area Dean of Students (or designee) will, when feasible, attempt to meet with the student and to consider other information timely provided by the student before deciding on an emergency interim leave and the student will be informed of the interim leave in writing. The emergency interim leave will remain in effect until a final decision has been made or a determination has been made that the reasons for imposing the emergency interim leave no longer exist.

If a student begins a leave after an academic quarter has begun, the student’s registration will be canceled. The student’s tuition will be refunded as provided in the Tuition Refund Schedule or as otherwise determined by the area Dean of Students. A student on a leave may not register for classes until the student’s return is approved by the area Dean of Students.

A student placed on an involuntary leave may request, within fifteen days of the date of being notified of the decision, a review of the decision from the Dean of Students in the University (or designee). The student must submit the request for a review of the decision and any supporting materials in writing. The leave will remain in effect during the period that the Dean of Students in the University (or designee) considers the student's request.

The Dean of Students in the University (or designee) will review the request and other appropriate records and information, confer with the area Dean of Students and others, and, if feasible and appropriate, will meet with the student. The student may be asked to sign a health records release and to authorize direct communication between and among the Dean of Students in the University (or designee), the area Dean of Students (or designee), the SHS or SCS, and/or the student’s health provider(s). 

After reviewing the available information, the Dean of Students in the University (or designee) will use reasoned judgment and conduct an individualized assessment to decide whether the leave determination should remain in place, with or without modifications. The Dean of Students in the University (or designee) will communicate a final decision to the student in writing as soon as practicable. The decision of the Dean of Students in the University is final and unreviewable within the University. 

A student who wishes to return from a leave must submit a request to return to their area Dean of Students. As in the initial determination, in evaluating a request to return, the area Dean of Students will make an individualized, fact-specific assessment to determine whether the student no longer meets the standard set forth above for imposition of an involuntary leave. Ordinarily, a request to return should be submitted at least 6 weeks before the beginning of the quarter in which the student wishes to return. Failure to timely submit a request to return may result in delay in assessing the request and thus the student may be unable to resume studies at the beginning of an academic quarter if the request ultimately is approved, and may need to wait until the following quarter to return. Likewise, students seeking to return should not assume that their resumption of studies will be approved and thus should not make housing or other arrangements until the request is approved. In addition, students on leave who have pending disciplinary cases generally are not permitted to resume their studies until their disciplinary cases have been resolved. 

The area Dean of Students (or designee) may notify a student's parents, emergency contact, or others when in the Dean of Student's judgment the student is unable to make the notification or the student's behavior poses an imminent danger to students or others, or requires an immediate disclosure of information to avert or diffuse serious threats to the safety or health of the student or others. 

There will be no distinction on a student’s transcript between a voluntary and an involuntary leave of absence.

A leave of absence does not preclude the application of the University disciplinary systems and a student will not be permitted to return from a leave of absence until any pending disciplinary case is resolved. In addition, this policy does not preclude or take the place of disciplinary or administrative actions that are a result of violations of, or non-compliance with, other University policies, e.g., registration status blocked for failure to submit proof of immunizations or registration status withdrawn for failure to timely pay tuition.

Unless otherwise authorized in writing by the area Dean of Students, a student who has been placed on a leave of absence must promptly vacate University housing, leave campus, cannot participate in student activities or use any University facilities, and may not return until the student has been authorized to return from the leave and reenroll. The only exception is that the student may access the University of Chicago Medical Center for the student’s own health care treatment. 

A student on a leave of absence will be entitled to refunds of tuition, fees, and room and board charges as appropriate given the timing of the start of the leave of absence. When a Dean of Students mandates a leave of absence, generally such leave will be retroactive to the beginning of the quarter. For details on charges and issues relating to housing or insurance, the student should consult with their area Dean of Students.