LU Policy Number: SS.007
Effective Date: NR
Approval Date: NR
Revised Date: N/A
Purpose: Application and resolving all involuntary leave concerning students
Additional Authority: N/A
Scope: All Students (COC&CGUS) of Life University
Approval Authority: Provost/EVPAA
Responsible Authority: Student Services
Involuntary Leave Policy
Life University considers the safety and welfare of its students, faculty, and staff a top priority. When a student engages in behaviour that violates Life University’s policies and procedures, the behaviour will be addressed as a disciplinary matter under the applicable Honor Code and Standards of Conduct. The Honor Code and Standards of Conduct define prohibited conduct and outline a process for conducting disciplinary proceedings.
This Involuntary Leave Policy and Procedure is not a disciplinary code, policy or process. It is intended to apply when a student’s observed conduct, actions and/or statements indicate a direct threat to the student’s own health and/or safety or a direct threat to the health and/or safety of others. There may be situations in which both this Involuntary Leave Policy and the Honor Code and Standards of Conduct may apply. In all cases, the Vice President of Student Services or his/her designee shall have final authority regarding the decision, enactment, enforcement and management of the involuntary leave of a student.
The Student Behavior Assessment Team (“SBAT”) may also be involved in carrying out this policy. The purpose of SBAT is to proactively identify student behaviours of concern in order to provide a coordinated and planned approach to preventing, assessing, managing and resolving interpersonal and behavioural concerns and threats to the Life University community. SBAT makes recommendations for treatment, disciplinary action and/or other responses to the Vice President of Student Services and other campus officials as appropriate, with the ultimate goal of promoting student health, safety and success within a thriving educational environment.
A student may be placed on involuntary leave from Life University if the University determines that the student presents a direct threat to the health or safety to others by (1) engaging or threatening to engage in behavior which poses the probability of substantial harm to others; (2) engaging or threatening to engage in behavior which would cause significant property damage, would directly and substantially impede the lawful activities of others, or would directly and substantially interfere with or disrupt the education process or the orderly operation of the University.
When the Vice President of Student Services, or his/her designee, based on a student’s conduct, actions or statements, has reasonable cause to believe that the student meets one or more of the criteria for involuntary leave, he or she may initiate an assessment of the student’s ability to safely participate in the University’s program. If SBAT, based on a student’s conduct, actions or statements, has reasonable cause to believe that the student meets one or more of the criteria for involuntary leave, it will bring the matter to the attention of the Vice President of Student Services, or his/her designee, who will then carry out the procedure set forth below.
The Vice President of Student Services or his /her designee initiates this assessment by first meeting with the student to
- review available information concerning the behaviour and/or incidents which have caused concern;
- provide the student with a copy of this Involuntary Leave Policy and Procedure and discuss its contents with the student;
- provide the student with an opportunity to explain his/her behaviour; and
- discuss options available to the student, such as counselling, voluntary withdrawal, and evaluation for involuntary leave. If the student agrees to be placed on voluntary leave in lieu of involuntary leave and waives any right to any further procedures available under this policy, the student will be given a grade of W for all courses and will be advised in writing of any conditions necessary prior to return to the University, which may include appropriate mental health services or community resources or other conditions appropriate to the circumstances. If the student elects not to be placed on voluntary leave, and the Vice President of Student Services or his/her designee continues to have reasonable cause to believe the student meets one or more of the criteria for involuntary leave, the Vice President of Student Services or his/her designee may require the student to be evaluated by an appropriate mental health professional.
The Vice President of Student Services or his/her designee may refer the student for a mandatory evaluation by an appropriate mental health professional. The mental health professional may be selected by the University, so long as there is no cost to the student for the evaluation. A written copy of the involuntary referral shall be provided to the student. The evaluation must be completed within five school days after the date the referral letter is provided to the student.
Prior to the evaluation, the student will be required to sign a written authorization authorizing the exchange of relevant information among the mental health professional(s) and the University. Upon completion of the evaluation, copies of the evaluation report will be provided to the Vice President of Student Services or his/her designee and the student, if appropriate the professional may refuse release to the student.
The mental health professional making the evaluation shall make an individualized and objective assessment of the student’s ability to safely participate in any Life University program based on a reasonable professional judgment relying on the most current medical knowledge and/or the best available objective evidence. This assessment shall include a determination of the nature, duration, and severity of the risk posed by the student to the health or safety of himself/ herself or others, the probability that a potentially threatening behaviour will actually occur, and whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices or procedures will sufficiently mitigate the risk. The mental health professional will, with appropriate authorization, share his/her recommendation with the Vice President of Student Services, or his/her designee, who will take this recommendation into consideration in determining whether the student should be placed on involuntary leave. A copy of the mental health professional’s recommendation will be provided to the student, unless, in the opinion of the mental health professional, it would be damaging to the student to do so. The professional may refuse to release to the student.
If the evaluation results in a determination by the mental health professional that the student’s continued attendance presents no significant risk to the health or safety of the student or others, and no significant threat to health, safety or property, to the lawful activities of others, or to the educational processes or orderly operations of the University, no further action shall be taken to place the student on involuntary leave. However, even if involuntary leave is not imposed, the University may impose conditions and/or requirements under which the student is allowed to remain enrolled in LIFE’s programs, such as a required plan of action.
If the evaluation results in a determination that the continued attendance of the student presents a significant risk to the health or safety of the student or others, such that there is a high probability of substantial harm to the student or others, or a significant threat to health, safety or property, to the lawful activities of others, or to the educational processes or orderly operations of the University, the student may be placed on involuntary leave. In such an event, the Executive
Director of Student Services or his/her designee shall inform the student in writing of the decision to place him/her on involuntary leave, of the student’s right to an informal hearing, of the student’s right to appeal the decision of the hearing officer and of any conditions necessary for return to the University. A student who is placed on involuntary leave will be given a grade of W in all courses in which the student is currently enrolled.
A student who, under this policy, elects to voluntarily leave, or is placed on involuntary leave, may request a refund of tuition, fees, housing payments and any other amounts. Refunds will be made in accordance with applicable University policies and procedures.
The University may take emergency action to interim suspend a student pending a final decision on whether the student will be placed on involuntary leave in situations in which
- there is imminent danger of serious physical harm to the student or others,
- there is imminent danger of significant property damage,
- the student is unable or unwilling to meet with the Vice President of Student Services or his/her designee,
- the student refuses to complete the mandatory evaluation, or
- the Vice President of Student Services or his/her designee determines such other exceptional circumstances exist that emergency interim suspension is warranted.
In the event emergency action is taken to suspend the student on an interim basis, the student shall be given notice of the interim suspension and an opportunity to address the circumstances on which the interim suspension is based.
A student who has been placed on involuntary leave may request an informal hearing before a hearing officer appointed by the Vice President of Student Services or his/her designee by submitting a written request to be heard within two business days from receipt of the notice of involuntary leave. A hearing will be set as soon as possible. The student shall remain on interim suspension pending completion of the hearing.
The hearing shall be informal and non-adversarial. During the hearing, the student may present relevant information and may be advised by a Life University faculty or staff member or a licensed health professional of his/her choice. The role of the advisor is limited to providing advice to the student.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer shall decide whether to uphold or reconsider the involuntary leave, and the student shall be provided written notice of the hearing officer’s decision as soon as possible
Appeal of Informal Hearing Outcome
The student may appeal the hearing officer’s decision to uphold the involuntary leave to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, who shall review all information presented at the informal hearing and make a final decision as to whether or not to uphold the involuntary leave.
Effect of Involuntary Leave
Students who have been placed on involuntary leave from the University or who have had the procedure in this policy initiated are generally not permitted to be on University premises or participate in University events. However, a student who has been placed on involuntary leave or suspended on an interim basis pending an appeal may be on campus, with the permission of the Vice President of Student Services or his/her designee, for the purposes of participating in the processes detailed in this Policy or as otherwise required and appropriate in the discretion of the Vice President of Student Services or his/her designee. The Vice President of Student Services or his/her designee reserves the right to request that the student is accompanied by Campus Safety while on University premises.
Conditions for Return
A student who has been placed on involuntary leave of absence and who subsequently petitions to return to the University will be required to demonstrate to the Vice President of Student Services or his/her designee that the circumstances that led to the placement on involuntary leave have been satisfactorily addressed. Evidence (documentation) of the student’s readiness to return will be required from an appropriate licensed professional who is able to provide a recommendation based on their scope of practice.
Specific conditions for return may include:
- Appropriate, current documentation indicating that the student no longer demonstrates the behaviour which led to the voluntary or involuntary leave; and/or
- Verification from the provider that the student is under treatment or has been placed on a treatment plan which should prevent the behaviour that led to the leave.
Deviations from Established Procedures
The Vice President of Student Services or his/her designee may make such reasonable deviations to this Policy and these procedures as circumstances may require for the welfare of the involved student(s) and the University. Reasonable deviations from these procedures will not invalidate a decision or proceeding unless significant prejudice to a student may result.
The University will apply this Involuntary Leave Policy in a nondiscriminatory manner, and determinations made under the policy are to be based on observation of a student’s conduct, actions, and statements, and not on knowledge or belief that a student is an individual with a disability.
The University will maintain the confidentiality of all information regarding Involuntary Leaves of Absence in accordance with federal, state and local law, and to the greatest extent consistent with the goal of processing such Leaves. All records concerning Involuntary Leaves are confidential.