Union College cares deeply about the physical and mental health of its students and provides health and counseling services on campus to support students. However, a student who displays behavior that is disruptive to the educational process or prevents him/herself from fulfilling the purpose implied by their registration at the College may necessitate the College to take action. This policy describes:
- the types of behaviors and emergencies that the College may need to address;
- procedures which may be used, including medical interim suspension, involuntary and voluntary medical withdrawal and the related clearance procedures; and
- additional considerations, including academic credit, tuition, housing, and financial hardships.
Addressing Behaviors and Emergencies
Examples of behaviors that the College may take action upon include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Acute decline in physical health;
- Habitual delinquency in class or habitual idleness;
- Destructive, threatening, or other disruptive behavior;
- Drug and alcohol abuse; including overdose or misuse of over-the-counter or prescription medications;
- Eating disorders which are not responding to treatment and/or posing safety concerns;
- Any physical or mental health problem that points to possible imminent or foreseeable danger to another member of the College community.
The Dean of Students, in consultation with the other members of senior staff, will determine what role the College needs to take to assure the health and safety of a student or the College community. Depending on the emergency, the Dean of Students may appoint other advisors to the committee (e.g., Director of the College Counseling Center). In responding to these situations, the Dean of Students and/or their designee reserves the right to require all appropriate actions including, but not limited to, any or all of the following:
- Require a specific mental health or physical health evaluation, within a certain period of time (typically 10 days). The student may be referred to the Union College Counseling Center and/or off-campus options (e.g., licensed mental health or physical health care providers, eating disorder or substance abuse programs/hospitals).
- Based on the evaluation, the Dean of Students may require the student to commit to a treatment plan as a condition for continued enrollment. The student will be responsible for any cost incurred by the evaluation and/or treatment.
- Based on the interest of gaining an understanding of the student’s ability to function in the College community, require the student to sign appropriate release forms allowing designated staff at Union to consult with the evaluating clinician(s) serving the student.
- Invoke a medical interim suspension (see below).
- Notify the student’s parent(s) and appropriate College officials (e.g., the student’s professors, Registrar’s Office) about a mental or physical health or safety emergency. Note: College notifications will respect confidentiality, and share limited information on a need-to-know basis.
- All requirements and conditions determined will be outlined in writing in a letter from the Dean of Students, delivered or mailed to the student.
Medical Interim Suspension
The Dean of Students may invoke a medical interim suspension upon a student’s medical or psychological hospitalization, emergency, or during a medical evaluation period. Students who are medically suspended for any health reason are temporarily not allowed to participate in any College activities, attend classes, reside in or visit on-campus student housing, and may not be on campus except to attend a meeting or hearing related to their case. This interim period allows time for a student to receive the needed medical and/or psychological care, and for all parties to consider an evaluation of readiness to return to the College. The student must follow the clearance procedures listed below before returning. Students who are medically suspended will be notified in writing and will have the opportunity to address the basis for the decision by contacting the Dean of Students.
Voluntary Medical Withdrawals
Students are encouraged to request a voluntary medical withdrawal at any time that they believe that physical or mental health concerns are significantly interfering with the ability to be a successful student and/or that the demands of College life are interfering with recovery or safety. Students interested in pursuing a voluntary medical withdrawal may wish to discuss this option with providers at the Counseling Center. Once the voluntary withdrawal is approved, the person is no longer considered a student and must immediately leave campus and, if applicable, officially checkout of on-campus student housing.
Students who make this choice independently or after a medical interim suspension must follow the clearance procedures listed below.
Involuntary Medical Withdrawals
In rare circumstances, the Dean of Students may determine that a student must be involuntarily medically withdrawn. Those who are medically withdrawn for any health reason are not allowed to participate in any College activities, attend classes, reside in or visit on-campus student housing, and may not be on campus except to attend a meeting or hearing related to their case. Examples of situations in which this would be the result include the following:
- Professional evaluations following a medical interim suspension do not support a student’s readiness to return;
- A student fails to complete the required assessment during a medical interim suspension;
- A known condition has deteriorated (e.g., a student with an eating disorder), rendering the student to be in possible imminent danger and/or incapable of functioning as a student.
In most cases, these situations can be handled through voluntary medical withdrawals; however, if the student is unwilling to pursue a voluntary withdrawal, the Dean of Students may invoke their right to involuntarily withdraw a student. The Dean of Students will recommend assessment and/or treatment conditions needed to return to Union College. The student must follow the clearance procedures listed below.
If a student believes that a decision for an involuntary medical withdrawal made by the Dean of Students is unreasonable or that the procedures used were unfair, the student may appeal. The appeal must be made in writing to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Appeals should clarify what facts the student believes were unreasonable or unfair. Once notified of the involuntary medical withdrawal, the student has five business days to submit their appeal. The Vice President for Academic Affairs (or their designee) will respond, in writing, to the student’s written appeal within three days. The response will clarify whether all relevant facts were considered and led to fair and reasonable conclusions.
Any student who has been placed on a medical interim suspension, an involuntary or voluntary medical withdrawal will need to complete the following clearance procedures before being allowed to return to the College. The following steps are designed to ensure that a health emergency no longer exists and a treatment plan for continuing good health and safety is in place. Note: Depending on the situation, students may complete these procedures on different timelines. Some students may complete these steps within days of the medical interim suspension notice while others may wait several months before pursuing return to the College.
The student must be assessed by an appropriate outside professional, whose opinions will be advisory to the College. The professional, who is selected by the student, must be a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist if evaluating mental health concern, and must be a licensed physician if the evaluation is regarding other medical concerns. Further, all providers must be unrelated to the student and must have specialty/credentials appropriate for the condition of concern (e.g., an eating disorder or substance abuse specialist). In order to be able to make an accurate assessment, the provider must be given information related to the precipitating events that led to the leave. This typically would involve the student signing a release allowing the College (e.g., the Health Center, Counseling Center, or Dean of Students) to share information regarding relevant incidents or concerns, and if applicable, recent hospital records. The student will be responsible for any cost incurred by the evaluation.
The outside mental health or medical professional, with the student’s written permission, must provide written recommendations regarding: a) the student’s readiness to return to the academic and co-curricular demands of College life; b) the student’s readiness to live in the on-campus residential community; c) ongoing treatment or testing needs; d) any conditions or restrictions that the College should impose; and e) the student’s readiness to return to competitive sports, if the student is a collegiate athlete. Note: the College designated team physician, in consultation with the Director of the Health Center and/or Counseling Center, will ultimately make the decision regarding athletic involvement but will consider this outside evaluation in making such a determination.
Once the evaluation results have been provided, the student must meet with the Dean of Students and the Director of the Counseling Center or the Health Center to discuss the evaluation and the student’s own perception regarding readiness to return and needs and plans for treatment and to consider how the outside evaluator’s recommendations fit with the realities of student life at Union College and services that are available on campus or in the community.
The Dean of Students and Director of the Counseling Center or Health Center will meet and consider the outside evaluator’s recommendation prior to making their re-entry decision. There may be occasions in which the Dean of Students requires, and may pay for, an additional evaluation.
The Dean of Students and Director of the Counseling Center or Health Center reserves the right to require the student to comply with a treatment plan recommended by the outside and/or Union College healthcare/mental health professional as a condition of returning to the campus community. Review and monitoring of the student’s required treatment plan is to be done by a professional outside of the College.
If a student was living in on-campus housing prior to the emergency, approval for return to the College usually includes approval to return to housing. A student’s on-campus housing status may be restricted, however, if the student’s behavior poses a health or safety threat to himself, herself, or others.
Academic Credit, Tuition and Housing
A student who starts the term and then withdraws for documented medical reasons from all courses for the term (marked on the academic record as course withdrawals), may choose a refund of the comprehensive fee based on the regular refund schedule. Alternately, a student may request:
- a pro-rated credit for room and board based on the percentage of the term elapsed and
- a tuition waiver equal to full tuition paid for the term to make up the missed courses later. A tuition waiver may be applied to the student’s final term prior to graduation if that is an extra term (beyond the date on which the student’s graduation would normally be expected.) A student may request instead that the tuition waiver apply to a fourth course charge in up to three terms in which the student is academically eligible to enroll in a fourth course. Questions about fulfillment of the 12-term residency requirement should be directed to the Dean of Studies.
Every effort will be made to consider a student’s financial situation and insurance coverage in making referrals for treatment or evaluation. Students who may need additional financial assistance or other consideration in meeting the requirements should contact the Dean of Students.