Taking Some Time Away from Union
There are times in a college student’s journey where they might need some time to step away from their education for many reasons, including to address personal health and well-being, work around family issues, access professional and academic opportunities, and/or take an intentional pause to regroup academically. We at Union College want to support students through such circumstances by providing an opportunity for students to take a leave. A leave can be voluntary, resulting in a temporary withdrawal or a permanent withdrawal (such as a transfer) from the College. A student may also be required to take an involuntary leave, should a student be unable to meet expectations set forth by the College.
A voluntary leave can be initiated by the student for a variety of reasons including personal reasons, family emergencies, professional/academic opportunities, health reasons (both physical and mental health), and academic reasons. Students must meet with their Class Deans and all approvals will go through the Class Deans office. Current term requests can be made by the posted deadline and will be effective the date a student submits their request to their Class Dean. If a student withdraws by the withdrawal deadline (the last day of classes), a grade of W will be assigned for each course the student is enrolled in except if the student withdrew before the end of the drop period. The W grade does not factor into a student's GPA and credit is not earned.
Students may also opt to take a planned leave after the completion of a term and indicate that they do not intend to return for the following term(s). Future term requests will be effective on the day after the end of the last term attended.
Involuntary Leave & Other Separations from the College
A student may be placed on an involuntary leave when the student demonstrates behavior that:
- harms, or threatens to harm, the health or safety of anyone within the Union College community, including the student; and/or
- causes, or threatens to cause, significant property damage; and/or
- is significantly or consistently disruptive to the educational, residential, and other activities of the Union College community.
There may also be times when a student will be administratively withdrawn for administrative reasons, due to lack of registration for the current term or failure to clear the balance on a student account before the posted deadline. Administrative withdrawals are temporary and may be initiated by the Bursar or the Registrar’s Office and communication will be sent by these offices.
Other processes of separation from the College due to academic or conduct issues are initiated by the Dean of Studies, the Dean of Students, and the Office of Community Standards and communication in each instance will be sent by the appropriate office.
For further information regarding involuntary leaves and other separation processes, see the following:
- Involuntary Health Leave
- Academic Dismissal
- Conduct Dismissal
While we want every student to enjoy their Union experience, we understand that there may be circumstances in which a student makes the decision not to return to Union College. This includes those who decide to transfer to other institutions. As a result, the student will be permanently withdrawn from the College. The intent to permanently withdraw must be received by posted deadlines, even if the student intends to finish the remainder of the currently enrolled term. Failure to submit a leave request will result in a transcript hold until the process is complete.
A student may also be permanently withdrawn if there has been no communication with the College for a period of two years while on leave.
A student in good standing who has voluntarily permanently withdrawn may contact the Class Deans office to request to return. Students requesting to return after permanently withdrawing may be required to reapply to the College.
Deadlines for requesting a leave or withdrawal:
Last day of classes, each term.
*A student requesting a leave during the winter term will not be permitted to return in the spring term due to the short turnaround between winter and spring terms, depending upon the circumstances for taking a leave. Thus, it is imperative to talk to your Class Dean to ensure you make the decision that is best for you.
**If a student who is requesting a leave is involved in any conduct/academic integrity issues, the request will not be processed until the matter is resolved. If a student takes a leave without resolving any pending conduct/academic integrity issues, this will impact any information requested for students seeking to transfer
Refunds (if any) of the comprehensive fee (specifically tuition, room and board fees) for a student who takes a leave or withdraws from the College are subject to the refund policy and schedule that can be found here on the Bursar’s website.
Returning from a Temporary Leave or Withdrawal
Once a student is ready to return from a temporary leave or withdrawal, students should notify their respective Class Dean by the appropriate deadlines that they intend to return. We want to ensure that each student’s return is successful and sets them up for a smooth transition back to Union so as a result, requests to return must be received by posted deadlines.
All students requesting to return from a leave (voluntary or involuntary) must submit the following and meet with their Class Dean in order to request approval to return:
- Request to return form
- Statement attesting to what they have done during time away and how they have prepared to return to Union
- Academic plan for the remainder of their time at Union as well as goals/plans for a successful transition back to Union
- Any documentation required by the appropriate offices that can assess their readiness to return, such as doctor’s recommendation to Wicker Wellness
All return requests for students on voluntary leaves/withdrawals are subject to approval by the Class Deans. Prior to clearing the student to return, the Class Deans will ensure that any relevant supporting documents have been submitted to the appropriate offices relevant to students’ leave reasons.
All return requests for students on involuntary leaves, administrative withdrawals, and other separations from the College are subject to approval by the office/department that originated the leave. (Dean of Studies for Academic Dismissals; Bursar for Financial Administrative Withdrawals; Director of Community Standards for Conduct Dismissals; and check with Class Deans for all other involuntary leaves.)
Students interested in returning to Union after being administratively withdrawn should contact the Class Deans office.
Deadlines for requesting a return:
By the end of Week 6 of the term prior*
*For certain voluntary leaves and all involuntary leaves/separations from the College, this will solely be for the purposes of registration and housing as applicable. Final documentation must be submitted 45 days prior to the start of the term and the student must have obtained official confirmation from their Class Dean and/or the appropriate College office(s) that the student is cleared to return.
Involuntary Health Leave of Absence
The Union College community depends upon each member’s acceptance of individual responsibility and respect for the rights of others as they live and thrive in a diverse academic, living, and learning community.
As such, Union is committed to ensuring each student's health, safety, well-being, and the academic community. In circumstances where a student’s actions are such that they could pose a threat to the health, safety, or well-being of others and/or consistently disrupt the community, Union reserves the right to impose a leave of absence upon that student.
In most cases, Union College seeks to resolve these concerns with the student’s cooperation and to have the issue(s) addressed while the student remains enrolled or by assisting the student in voluntarily withdrawing for a period of time. If a student declines a voluntary leave of absence or refuses to cooperate with necessary efforts to evaluate the nature of the student’s behavior, the student may be separated from the college without their consent.
Union may place a student on an involuntary leave when the student exhibits behavior(s) that:
- harms, or threatens to harm, the health or safety of anyone within the Union College community, including the student; and/or
- causes, or threatens to cause significant property damage; and/or
- is significantly or consistently disruptive to the Union College community's educational, residential, and/or other activities.
The decision to impose an involuntary leave of absence is made case-by-case. Each student's situation will be provided an individualized assessment, and each student’s circumstances will be considered.
When notified about a student of concern, relevant Union College CARE Team members will assess the student’s situation. The assessment will be based on the student’s demonstrated behavior and may involve consultation with appropriate professionals (e.g., faculty, residential education staff) regarding the student’s circumstances.
Except in emergency circumstances (e.g., the student is hospitalized, unable to give consent, etc.), the student will be given the opportunity to be heard by members of the CARE team or other appropriate Union personnel and to provide additional information for consideration before an involuntary leave is imposed. In an emergency, the student will be given this opportunity shortly after any imposition of the leave (usually within a few days).
If Union College decides to require an involuntary leave of absence, the student will receive written notification of the decision, the effective date of the leave, the minimum length of the separation from Union College, and the conditions under which the student may seek to be re-enrolled. The letter will also ordinarily request additional information from the student before a readmission decision will be made, including written documentation from a licensed mental health or medical professional attesting to the students’ readiness to return to full-time study (3 courses unless a reduced course load is indicated) and readiness to return to campus housing in a residential college setting. If new or additional information comes to the College’s attention, these requirements may be changed, including new requirements added.
An involuntary leave of absence mandates that a student be withdrawn from Union for a defined period to address the behavior(s) that necessitated the leave of absence so that they can be successful upon returning to campus.
If the Union College CARE Team or case management team determines that the student may remain enrolled but subject to conditions, the student will be informed of the conditions and the consequences of violating the conditions.
A student placed on involuntary leave, denied re-enrollment after an involuntary leave, or whose continued enrollment or re-enrollment is made subject to conditions may appeal the decision to the Vice President of Student Affairs/Dean of Students within five business days of receipt of the written communication notifying the student of the decision. The appeal must be in writing, delineating the reason(s) why the student believes the decision is inappropriate, and must be accompanied by any information the student would like considered. The Vice President of Student Affairs/Dean of Students will review the student’s appeal and may uphold, reverse, or alter the CARE Teams’ decision. The decision will be communicated to the student in writing and considered final.
If placed on an involuntary leave of absence, the student will leave the campus (or abroad program) immediately and be granted grades of “W” in all enrolled courses (even if the regular deadline for withdrawal without academic penalty has passed). Further, students must adhere to the re-enrollment requirements outlined below if they want to return to Union College. The policy on refunds contained on the Bursar's Webpage will apply. While on involuntary leave, the student must remain away from campus (or study abroad program) unless otherwise noted in their written notification.
The student must have their licensed mental health provider complete and return the Community Provider Form to the Counseling Center. The student must also submit the Request to Return form by posted deadlines indicating they would like to return to campus. Students returning from an involuntary leave will also be required to meet (in-person, zoom, or phone call) with their class dean to discuss housing and class schedule). Furthermore, students will have to meet any additional conditions placed on them prior to the readmission. Members of the Union College CARE Team, along with the class dean, will determine if there is reasonable assurance that the student can make a successful return to Union College, with or without reasonable accommodation. The complete readmission materials should be received by the end of week six in the term before the desired enrollment date. If a student has not met all criteria for readmission until after these deadlines but does so before the start of the upcoming trimester, the application will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will depend upon many factors, including course and housing availability. Ordinarily, students will only be admitted if they meet these published deadlines; however, if they are approved for return, housing and course selection could be limited due to the timing of the decision allowing the return. The student should direct any questions about the involuntary leave process and the readmission application to their class dean.
A student may appeal a decision denying re-enrollment or a re-enrollment with conditions in accordance with the procedure outlined above under the section entitled “Appeal Option.”
When a student is re-enrolled after an involuntary leave, they are expected to maintain regular contact with their class dean and take responsibility for ensuring compliance with all of the re-enrollment decisions. Similarly, it is often advisable for the student to continue with or establish professional relationships with appropriate support and professional resources on or off campus to address the issue(s) that necessitated the involuntary leave of absence.
Pending Student Conduct Action
A leave of absence does not absolve students of disciplinary responsibility for their actions (such as engaging in threats of violence, property damage, retaliatory behaviors, etc.). If a student’s conduct subjects them to the disciplinary process, Union College may do any of the following:
- require the disciplinary process to conclude before approving the leave;
- hold the disciplinary process (or decisions about pursuing disciplinary action) in abeyance until a later point in time; or
- allow the leave of absence to serve as an alternative to a disciplinary consequence by allowing the student to address their behavior as a matter of self-help and self-improvement.
The Office of Community Standards & Accountability, in consultation with the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Campus and Community, Living and Learning will determine how pending disciplinary matters will be handled on a case-by-case basis.