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Under certain circumstances, a student may be placed on an involuntary leave of absence.  An involuntary leave of absence is not a disciplinary sanction.  However, an incident that gives rise to a leave of absence, whether voluntary or involuntary, may subsequently be the basis for disciplinary action.  A student who prefers to take a voluntary leave of absence for medical reasons rather than to be placed on an involuntary leave of absence for medical reasons is ordinarily allowed to do so.  Transcripts do not distinguish between voluntary and involuntary leaves of absence.

An involuntary leave of absence may be required for the following reasons:

  1. Medical circumstances:

(a) The student’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of any person, or has seriously disrupted others in the student’s residential community or academic environment; and/or

(b) The student’s threatening, self-destructive, or disruptive behavior is determined to be the result of a medical condition or the student has refused to cooperate with efforts by Harvard University Health Services to determine the cause of the behavior.

The decision to place a student on an involuntary leave of absence for health-related reasons is made in consultation with Harvard University Health Services (which may consider information from the student’s current and/or former health care providers, if made available by the student), after an individualized assessment of all of the pertinent factors, such as: the nature of the student’s conduct; the nature, duration and severity of the risk; the likelihood of potential injury; and whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices or procedures will mitigate the risk.  However, reasonable modifications do not include changes that would fundamentally alter the academic program or unduly burden the School’s resources or staffing capabilities or, with respect to the required level of care or monitoring, that would exceed the standard of care that a university health service can be expected to provide.

  1. Alleged criminal behavior: The student has been arrested on allegations of serious criminal behavior or has been charged with such behavior by law enforcement authorities.
  2. Risk to the community. The student has been charged with a violation of a disciplinary rule of the School, and his or her presence on campus poses a significant risk to the safety of others or to the educational environment of the community.
  3. Indebtedness. The student’s term bill is unpaid and the student has not made arrangements acceptable to the School to address the issue.
  4. Failure to provide medical documentation of required immunizations.
  5. Unfulfilled academic requirements. The student has not met an academic requirement and has not taken steps acceptable to the School to meet the requirement.
  6. Failure to register. The student has not registered as required at the beginning of each term.

The decision to place a student on involuntary leave is made by the Dean of Students in consultation with the chairperson of the Administrative Board or such other person as the Dean designates and other officers of the University, as appropriate.  As noted above, in the case of an involuntary leave of absence for medical reasons, the School will consult with an appropriate person at Harvard University Health Services.

A student is notified in writing that he or she has been placed on involuntary leave.  The student may petition the Dean of Students for reconsideration and may appeal a final decision to the Administrative Board (see Section XI).