As a community, our first concern is always the health and well-being of each student. To help students achieve their fullest potential and participate robustly and successfully in University life, the University provides students with a host of services, including the Student Health Service (SHS), Student Counseling Service (SCS), and Student Disability Services (SDS). SHS and SCS provide a wide range of health care to University of Chicago students, including general medical care; mental health care; assessments; emergency services; crisis intervention; medication management; academic skills counseling; short term individual, couples, and/or group psychotherapies; and referral services. SHS and SCS also provide consultation to University officials who have concerns about a student’s health. SDS provides support for students with a disability to facilitate the student’s full participation in the life of the University.
In extraordinary circumstances, a student's conduct raises concerns about the safety and well-being of the student or others, or causes significant disruption to the functioning of the University. Anyone aware of such circumstances should immediately contact the student's area Dean of Students (or designee). In response, the Dean of Students (or designee) will make reasonable attempts to meet with the student to discuss their conduct and appropriate next steps. Based on a fact-specific inquiry, the Dean of Students may require that the student be assessed by SHS or SCS to determine if the student currently is able to function as a student and do so without posing substantial risk to the safety of the student or others, or serious disruption to the functioning of the University. Using reasoned judgement, the Dean of Students may determine that, in the best interest of the student and/or others, 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 of absence.
In making an informed decision to place a student on an involuntarily leave of absence, the Dean of Students will consider germane medical and other information available to him or her, including information provided in a timely manner by the student. The student may be asked to sign a medical records release, and to authorize direct communication between the SHS or SCS Director (or designee) and the student’s medical provider(s) regarding the circumstances and the student’s medical information, and to authorize the Director to share the substance of those communications with the Dean of Students or others, as appropriate. If a student declines to authorize communications between and among the student’s provider, the area Dean of Students, and SHS or SCS Director (or their designees) and/or declines to authorize the release of germane medical records, then the area Dean of Students will make the decision after considering all of the available information and will do so without the benefit of information that may be directly germane to the decision.
Often, the student is in a better position to engage in treatment and return to stable, good health at home or in a less stressful environment. With this in mind, if a leave of absence is indicated, the student normally first will be given the opportunity to take the leave of absence voluntarily, thereby eliminating the need to complete the involuntary leave process and preserving, to the extent possible, confidentiality and privacy. If the student declines to take a voluntary leave of absence, the Dean of Students has the authority to place the student on an involuntary leave of absence by restricting or canceling the student's existing and further registration irrespective of academic standing or involvement in extra-curricular activities (e.g., athletics).
Ultimately, the Dean of Students may require an involuntary leave of absence when the Dean determines: (1) that 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 living activities of members of the community or others, including by impeding the rightful activities of others; and/or (2) based on the consultation with the SHS or SCS Director (or designee) and the individualized assessment of the student's ability to safely participate in the University's programs, that the student is unable to function as a student and/or the student's continued presence on campus poses a substantial risk to the safety and well-being of the student and/or others. [*]
If a student refuses to cooperate with efforts deemed necessary by the Dean of Students to evaluate the cause of the student’s conduct, the student may be placed on involuntary leave.
In some circumstances, the level of care and modifications needed may exceed the resources or appropriate staffing capabilities of an university or may be beyond the standard of care that an university health service can be expected to provide or monitor, in which case continued enrollment may constitute a serious disruption of the residential community or the learning environment, justifying an involuntary leave of absence. In addition, a student may be placed on an involuntary leave of absence if arrested for serious criminal conduct and/or formally charged criminally with a serious crime (normally a felony).
When the area Dean of Students judges a student's continued presence is reasonably likely to pose a substantial risk to the safety and well-being of the student or to others, the student may be placed on an emergency interim leave before a final determination, as described above, is made. Every reasonable attempt will be made for the area Dean of Students (or designee) to meet with the student and to consider germane medical and other information timely provided by the student before deciding on an interim leave and the student will be informed of the interim leave in writing. The emergency leave will remain in effect until a final decision has been made or a determination has been made that the reasons for imposing the interim leave no longer exists.
*This individualized assessment is based on reasonable medical judgment relying on current medical knowledge and best objective information regarding the duration and severity of the risk, the probability that a potentially threatening injury will occur, and the likelihood that reasonable modification of existing policies, practices and procedures will sufficiently mitigate that risk. The individualized assessment will include consideration of germane medical information timely provided by the student, in which case the student normally will be asked to sign a release that will allow the SHS or SCS Director (or designee) and the student's provider to communicate directly regarding the circumstances and student medical information.
When the area Dean of Students decides that a leave of absence is appropriate, the decision and the conditions for resumption of studies will be communicated promptly in writing.
A student placed on an involuntary leave of absence may request, within fifteen days of the date 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 of absence will remain in effect during the period that the Dean of Students in the University (or designee) and area Dean of Students (or designee) considers the student's request.
The Dean of Students in the University (or designee) and area Dean of Students (or designee) will review appropriate records and documentation, confer with the Director of SHS or SCS (or designee) and, if feasible and appropriate, will meet with the student. The student may be asked to sign a medical records release and to authorize direct communication between the Dean of Students in the University (or designee) and area Dean of Students (or designee) and the SHS or SCS Director (or designee) regarding the circumstances, the student’s medical information, and information obtained from the student’s medical provider(s).
After review of all germane information, the Dean of Students in the University (or designee) will use reasoned judgment to decide whether the leave of absence determination should remain in place, with or without modifications. The Dean of Students in the University (or designee) and area Dean of Students (or designee) will communicate a final decision in writing as soon as practicable. The decision is final and unreviewable within the University.
A student on a leave of absence will not be permitted to resume their studies until the area Dean of Students makes a fact-specific assessment of the circumstances and concludes that the student no longer poses a significant disruption to the functioning of the University and/or no longer poses a significant risk to the health and safety of the student or others (that cannot be eliminated by a reasonable accommodation).** In making this determination, usually the area Dean of Students will request that the student authorize their treating professionals to contact the Director of SHS or SCS to discuss the student's clinical condition, whether the student continues to pose a direct threat to the safety and well-being of him/herself and/or others, as well as the student's preparedness for (1) a return to the academic rigor of the University, (2) the ability to navigate self-sufficiently as a functioning, non-disruptive member of the University community, and (3) the capability for continuing appropriate treatment via SHS, SCS or other resources, if necessary. If the student is to continue treatment while resuming studies, the area Dean of Students will ask the student to sign a release that authorizes the treating professional to notify the area Dean of Students (or designee) if the student does not adhere to the treatment plan.
**For information about requesting accommodation for a disability, see the University's protocol on Disability Accommodation.
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.