Medical Leave Policy

Bates College has a responsibility to assess, intervene, and support any student with known health concerns that have compromised the student’s health, safety, or academic success, become disruptive to the college community, or pose a direct threat to the safety of one or more members of the college community. Students are encouraged to consult with the Associate Director of Student Health Support or the Director of Counseling and Psychological Services as appropriate depending on the student’s medical or mental health condition, Health Services providers, or external providers to determine what supports and interventions would be beneficial to the student. In certain situations, where the impact on the student or members of the campus community is significant, the Associate Director of Student Health Support, the Director of Counseling and Psychological Services and/or Associate Dean of Students or designee may impose conditions and/or requirements under which the student is allowed to remain at the college. Such conditions may include, but are not limited to: complying with a medical treatment plan, regular consultations with health care professionals, meetings with administrators, disclosure of relevant medical records and information, and restrictions on participation in certain activities on campus. Such requirements will be based on an individualized medical assessment and the student’s particular situation. Failure to adhere to these conditions or requirements may be grounds to review whether a voluntary or involuntary medical leave may be appropriate.

Voluntary Medical Leave

A student may consider or be encouraged to take a voluntary medical leave in the event that physical and/or mental health concerns are significantly interfering with their ability to succeed at Bates and/or the demands of college life are interfering with the student’s recovery or safety. Students are encouraged to consult with the Associate Director of Student Health Support or the Director of Counseling and Psychological Services, Health Services providers, or external providers to determine whether a leave would be beneficial to the student.

If a student determines that a leave would be beneficial, the student should contact the Associate Dean of Students responsible for conduct matters (herein referred to as the “Associate Dean of Students”) to complete a leave of absence form. Voluntary medical leaves are based on the recommendation of the Associate Director of Student Health Support or the Director of Counseling and Psychological Services and are approved by the Associate Dean of Students. When a student’s health issues have compromised the health, safety, or academic success of either the individual student or members of the campus community, a voluntary medical leave may be recommended. The length of a leave will be determined in conjunction with the Associate Director of Student Health Support or the Director of Counseling and Psychological Services, the Associate Dean of Students, and the student. Indefinite leaves are not permitted.

Students must also meet with representatives from the offices of the Registrar and Student Financial Services. Students are advised that some educational loan repayments may begin if a student takes a leave. Students who wish to take courses elsewhere during their leave should consult the transfer credit policies outlined in the Bates College Catalog (http://www.bates.edu/registrar/academic-record/non-bates-credit/transfer-credit-policy/). Students may contact the Registrar with any questions related to the transfer of course credit. Students may apply for a leave for one or two semesters. After two semesters, students are officially withdrawn unless they have been granted a leave extension by the Office of the Dean of Students. Students will also be notified as to the steps that must be taken in order to re-enroll (See Re-enrollment section below).

Involuntary Medical Leave

Involuntary medical leaves are meant to be utilized only under extraordinary circumstances, when a student is unable or unwilling to request a voluntary medical leave. Such a leave may be necessary when a student’s behavior is disruptive to the college’s learning environment, the student’s health concerns have compromised the student’s health, safety, or academic success, or the behavior poses a direct threat to the safety of one or more members of the college community. Before an involuntary leave is considered, efforts will be made to encourage the student to take a voluntary leave.

The Associate Dean of Students or designee may be alerted to a student’s behavior or health concerns from a variety of sources on campus. If the Associate Dean deems it appropriate, these procedures will be initiated:

  1. The Associate Dean of Students or designee will notify the student that an involuntary medical leave is under consideration and the reason(s) why it is under consideration.
  1. The Associate Dean of Students or designee will discuss with the student the implications of, and procedures relating to, an involuntary medical leave. Whenever possible and appropriate, the Associate Dean of Students will encourage the student to take a voluntary medical leave, thereby eliminating the need to complete the process for an involuntary leave.
  1. The student will be provided an opportunity to respond to the above information either in person, over the phone, or in writing.
  1. The Associate Dean of Students or designee will confer, when appropriate in a particular matter, with other Bates College staff and faculty.
  1. The Associate Dean of Students or designee may require a medical or mental health evaluation if the Associate Dean of Students or designee believes it will facilitate a more informed decision.
  1. While working through these steps, the Associate Dean of Students or designee will pay particular attention to the criteria for invoking an involuntary medical leave, specifically whether the student’s behavior is disruptive to the college’s learning environment, whether the student’s health concerns have compromised the student’s health, safety, or academic success, and whether the behavior poses a direct threat to the safety of one or more members of the college community. In this context, “direct threat” means that the student poses a significant risk to the health and safety of one or more members of the college community. The significant risk must represent a high probability of substantial harm and not simply a slightly increased, speculative, or remote risk. The Associate Dean of Students will make an individualized assessment on all the above factors, based on a reasonable judgment that relies on an individualized medical assessment and/or on the best available objective evidence, to ascertain: the nature, duration and severity of the risk to the individual student and the greater campus community and the probability that potential injury will actually occur. The Associate Dean of Students will also determine whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices or procedures will sufficiently mitigate the risk of harm to others or the potential for further disruptive behavior.
  1. Following these steps, the Associate Dean of Students or designee will make a determination regarding the involuntary medical withdrawal, and will provide written notice of this decision to the student.
  1. Within five calendar days of receiving the decision from the Associate Dean of Students or designee, the student may submit an appeal of the decision in writing to the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students or designee. After reviewing the matter fully, the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students or designee will issue a written decision which shall be final.

If an involuntary medical leave is imposed, the Associate Dean of Students or designee will inform the student, along with the notice of the decision, as to the steps that must be taken when the student wishes to re-enroll (See Re-enrollment section below). The student will also be informed of the duration of the leave, when the student must leave campus and under what conditions the student may visit campus during their leave. The Associate Dean of Students will also determine whether notifying the student’s parents or guardians would be appropriate or necessary. The parents or guardians may be asked to make arrangements for the safe removal of the student from the college campus.

If, after consideration, an involuntary medical leave is not imposed, the Associate Dean of Students or designee may impose other conditions and/or requirements under which the student is allowed to remain at the college. Such conditions may include, but are not limited to: complying with a medical treatment plan, regular consultations with health care professionals, meetings with administrators, disclosure of relevant medical records and information, and restrictions on participation in certain activities on campus. Such requirements will be based on an individualized medical assessment and the student’s particular situation. Failure to adhere to these conditions or requirements may be grounds to review whether an involuntary leave is appropriate. 

Please note that the policy and procedures listed above do not take the place of disciplinary actions that are in response to violations of the Code of Student Conduct, nor do they preclude removal or dismissal of students from the college or college housing as a result of violations of other academic or non-academic policies. 

Request for Re-enrollment 

All students who wish to re-enroll at Bates College after either a voluntary or involuntary medical leave must submit a formal request to the Associate Dean of Students. The request should be accompanied by a letter of support from physician, counselor, psychiatrist or other medical professional addressing the reason that the student took a leave, the treatment received, the student’s current clinical status, and must attest that they are medically ready to return to the academically rigorous college environment and to be a successful member of the campus community, either with or without accommodations.

Under extraordinary circumstances, the college may require an additional assessment from a provider, chosen by the college, to ensure the student’s readiness to return. Upon a satisfactory review of the request to return to Bates, the college may also require the student to adhere to certain conditions in order to remain enrolled at the college. Such conditions may include, but are not limited to: complying with a medical treatment plan, regular consultations with health care professionals, meetings with administrators, disclosure of relevant medical records and information, and restrictions on participation in certain activities on campus. Such requirements will be based on an individualized medical assessment and the student’s particular situation. Failure to adhere to these conditions or requirements may be grounds to review whether an additional voluntary or involuntary leave is appropriate.

Bates Intervention Team

The Bates Intervention Team is a group of individuals from various campus departments tasked with assessing threats to self or others and developing case management plans for these individuals. When appropriate, the Team may recommend that a student be referred to this policy and process for consideration of a voluntary or involuntary medical leave of absence.