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Involuntary leaves of absence

Oct 7 2019

The following was emailed to students and student organizations expressing an interest in the topic.

Dear students and student organization leaders,

I am pleased to share that Stanford University has reached an agreement with the Mental Health & Wellness Coalition student group and individual student plaintiffs, represented by Disability Rights Advocates (DRA). The agreement concerns the university’s policies and practices regarding involuntary leaves of absence for students, which may be employed when we have serious concerns about a student’s health and safety. I am sharing this information with you because you have expressed interest in the matter in the past through an email, a petition signature, or meeting with me.

We believe the new policy provides students with agency to advocate for their interests, as well as a thoughtful and collaborative university process. As you may recall from my prior communications, the university and DRA engaged in a mutually agreed upon confidential mediation process. The news I am sharing today represents the outcome of that work. 

The new leave policy has been posted on the Dean of Students website, and will take effect on January 4, 2020. This winter quarter implementation date will allow sufficient time to develop clear processes, to engage and train all staff members who will interact with the new policy, and to provide an opportunity for information sessions during which interested community members can ask questions about the new policy and the processes it will prescribe.

Here are some noteworthy components:

  • We will replace the current dean’s leave and housing hold policies with a single policy that provides students clarity and transparency, and coordinates the work of relevant offices, such as the Dean of Students, the Office of Accessible Education (OAE), Residential Education and the Graduate Life Office.

  • While the new policy ensures consistency in approach, we will continue to conduct an individualized assessment for each student’s situation. This assessment will incorporate input from, among others, the student, the student’s health care providers, and OAE.

  • Specifically, OAE will be consulted as to whether modifications or reasonable accommodations exist that could help the student remain on campus and/or in class.

  • A professional staff member with knowledge of the policy but outside the decision-making process will be available to students as a resource.

I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude to all members of our community who have come forward over the past few years to share their insights, concerns and experiences with respect to our leave policies, and to support the well-being of individual students as well as student communities. My colleagues and I have learned from our conversations with you, and our campus community is stronger because of your advocacy. Together, we are making significant progress, and this new policy is a critical component. There is more we can do, and I hope all of you will stay involved and in touch with me and my Student Affairs colleagues. We invite you to review the new policy, and share any questions or concerns with us via vpstudentaffairs@stanford.edu. 

Sincerely, 

Susie Brubaker-Cole
Vice Provost for Student Affairs