Involuntary Leaves of Absence

The Dean of Harvard College may place a student on involuntary leave of absence for the following reasons:

  1. Medical circumstances: (a) The student poses a direct threat to the health or safety of the student or others or has seriously disrupted others in the student’s residential community or academic environment; and (b) the student’s behavior or threatening state is determined to be the result of a medical condition, or the student refuses to cooperate with efforts deemed necessary by Harvard University Health Services to evaluate the cause of the student’s behavior or threatening state. In some circumstances, the level of care and accommodation may exceed the resources or appropriate staffing capabilities of a residential college or may be beyond the standard of care that a college health service can be expected to provide or monitor, in which case continued enrollment may constitute a serious disruption of the residential community or the academic environment, justifying an involuntary leave of absence.

  2. Alleged criminal behavior: The student has been arrested on allegations of serious criminal behavior, or has been formally charged by law enforcement authorities with such behavior.

  3. Risk to the community: The student has allegedly violated a disciplinary rule of the College and the Dean concludes that the student poses a significant risk to the safety or educational environment of the community.

  4. Indebtedness: The student owes the University money for term bill or telephone charges.

  5. Failure to submit proof of immunizations: The student has not provided medical documentation as proof of required immunizations.

  6. Courses not completed: The student has been granted make-up examinations, or extensions of time beyond the end of the term, in two or more courses.

  7. Unfulfilled requirements: The student has failed to meet a specified academic requirement (expository writing or language) on schedule, and has not enrolled in courses needed to satisfy those requirements.

  8. Failure to register: The student has not registered as required at the beginning of each term.

Prior to placing a student on involuntary leave of absence, the Dean of Harvard College will consult with the student’s Resident Dean and, as appropriate, with other officers of the University (for example, with the office of the Director of Harvard University Health Services in the case of leave for medical reasons) or with the Administrative Board.

The student will be notified in writing of the decision to place him or her on involuntary leave of absence. The student may ask the Dean or the Dean’s delegate, in writing or in person, to reconsider the decision. If the decision remains unchanged, the student may petition the Administrative Board through the student’s Resident Dean.

Placement on involuntary leave of absence is not disciplinary, and a student who wishes to take a voluntary leave of absence rather than being placed on involuntary leave of absence will ordinarily be allowed to do so. Transcripts and other external reports will not distinguish between voluntary and involuntary leave of absence. However, an incident that gives rise to an involuntary leave of absence may subsequently result in disciplinary action. As is the case for voluntary leaves, official College letters of recommendation will note any unresolved disciplinary matter that is pending (see Administrative Board of Harvard College).

A student who has been placed on involuntary leave of absence is subject to the same rules regarding financial aid and financial obligations (room, board, tuition, etc.) that apply to an undergraduate granted a voluntary leave of absence. The student may not participate in student activities until officially allowed to register. Any student on a leave of absence must remain away from Harvard if so instructed by the Dean or the Administrative Board.

A student who has been placed on involuntary leave of absence and who subsequently petitions to return to the College will be required to demonstrate to the Administrative Board that the circumstances that led to the placement on leave of absence have been satisfactorily addressed. Any disciplinary matter must be resolved before a student on leave of absence will be allowed to return, and if a student is required to withdraw while on leave of absence, the conditions for return after a requirement to withdraw (see Administrative Board of Harvard College) will have to be satisfied in order for the student to be readmitted. If the leave was for medical reasons, evidence for the student’s readiness to return will include consultation with Harvard University Health Services so that the Health Services may advise the Board whether the medical condition that resulted in the behavior or threatening state is under control through treatment or no longer exists. Evidence may also include a substantial period of employment at a non-academic job and a suitable letter of recommendation from the employer or employment supervisor.

The decision whether to allow a student to return to the College rests with the Administrative Board.