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Student Leave of Absence

1. Purpose

Brigham Young University–Hawaii (“BYU–Hawaii” or “university”) is committed to maintaining an environment where all feel safe to carry out the university’s mission and vision. In certain circumstances, a student may need to transition to an environment that is more conducive to his/her needs when it becomes clear that remaining at the university is not in the best interest of the student or the campus community. 

2. Policy

BYU–Hawaii allows for a student to take a leave of absence voluntarily when medical conditions, psychological distress, make the leave in the student’s best interest. In such situations, the university will work with the student to define the length of separation and the path for the student’s return. Under certain circumstances, a student who has not opted to take a leave voluntarily, but who poses a credible substantial risk of harm to individuals within the campus community or who substantially impedes the lawful activities of other members of the campus community or the educational processes or functions of the university, may be subject to an involuntary withdrawal as set forth herein. 

3. Implementation

3.1 Voluntary Leaves of Absence 

3.1.1 Single-Semester Leave 

Students who have completed at least one year (three consecutive semesters) of study at BYU–Hawaii may apply for a one-semester leave of absence if they can demonstrate that returning out of the normal sequence would not impact their regular progress toward graduation within the four-year limit. Students are expected to attend classes during all three semesters each year. The request for a one-semester leave and the plan for returning must be approved by the dean of students. Rules and regulations applicable to international visa holders may prohibit voluntary leaves under this section. Students who take a leave under this section may lose priority in housing and will not be eligible for a partial or complete refund of tuition and/or fees. 

3.1.2 Voluntary Leave for Medical/Psychological Reasons 

Students or the university may initiate a voluntary leave or withdrawal from the university for up to two consecutive semesters for medical or psychological reasons. The request for a leave under this section must be approved by the dean of students, who may require supporting documentation of the student’s condition from an independent and objective health professional. In considering a request for a leave under this section, the dean of students may also consult with members of the university’s Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) or other members of university administration. 

If a voluntary leave is approved, prior to the leave the dean of students will prepare leave documentation that specifies: (a) the anticipated duration of the leave; (b) conditions or restrictions for return which are designed to assist the student to succeed in the university environment; and (c) options for extension, if any. In general, voluntary leaves under this section must fit within four years. However, the dean of students may extend that time if warranted subject to the policies of the institution, in addition to the voluntary leave, arrangements may be made for: partial or complete refund of tuition and/or fees; deferral of scholarships or loans (e.g., IWORK); incomplete grades or other academic accommodations; and/or modifications to dining and/or housing contracts. Rules and regulations applicable to international visa holders may prohibit or limit voluntary leaves under this section. 

Moreover, students who require an extended leave (i.e., more than two consecutive semesters), may be required to fully withdraw from the university. 

3.1.3 Involuntary Withdrawal 

The BIT has authority to involuntarily withdraw a student from the university according to the procedures set forth below. The involuntary withdrawal process is administrative in nature and does not follow formal rules of evidence typically applicable in judicial proceedings. A student may be subject to an involuntary leave or withdrawal if the student: 

a. poses a credible substantial risk of harm to individuals within the university community; or 

b. substantially impedes the lawful activities of other members of the campus community or the educational processes or functions of the university. 

Any member of the university community who has reason to believe that a student meets the above criteria may contact the Dean of Students or the BIT. All reports made pursuant to this policy will be handled in a confidential manner, to the extent possible, with information released to others on a need-to-know basis according to applicable federal and state laws and regulations. 

3.2 Individualized Assessment 

In determining whether a student presents a credible substantial risk of harm to individuals within the university community, the BIT in a timely manner will make an individualized assessment of the individual based on a reasonable judgment that relies upon current medical or other specialized knowledge and available objective evidence to ascertain: 

  • - the nature, duration, and severity of the risk of harm; 
  • - the probability that potential injury and/or harm will occur; 
  • - the imminence of the potential harm; 
  • - whether the student has substantially impeded the educational process or functions of other members of the University community; and 
  • - whether reasonable modifications to policies, practices, or procedures could significantly mitigate the risk of harm. 

As part of the individualized assessment by the BIT, the student may be required to undergo an evaluation, including a medical or psychological evaluation, by an objective health professional, including from the university’s Counseling Services (or a licensed professional counselor, social worker, licensed clinical social worker, etc.) or a member of the BIT, designated by the university. The student may also be required to execute necessary releases so the evaluation report may be provided to members of the BIT and other administrators, if appropriate, for the purpose of determining whether the student should be subject to an involuntary withdrawal. 

Students referred or mandated for evaluation will be informed so in writing. The evaluation must be completed per the direction of the referral letter unless the BIT grants an exception. A student who fails to complete the evaluation in accordance with these procedures may be referred for conduct action under the Honor Code. 

In addition, in making the individualized assessment, the BIT may consider any medical or other relevant information, including information submitted by the student, such as but not limited to a medical or psychological evaluation by a health professional of the student’s choice. 

3.2.1 Disabilities 

As part of the individualized assessment, the BIT may also consider an individual’s past and ongoing condition, which may have contributed to the risk of harm that is in question. The BIT may coordinate with Disability Services or other resources, as needed, to determine if the student is a qualified individual with a disability and if an appropriate, reasonable accommodation would allow that student to meet his/her essential academic and university responsibilities, while abating the risk of harm and maintaining a safe campus environment. 

3.2.2 Decision regarding Involuntary Withdrawal 

A decision regarding involuntary withdrawal made by the BIT must be set forth in a written decision stating the rationale for its determination. The decision will be delivered to the student directly, electronically, and/or by mail. If the determination is made that a withdrawal is warranted, the notification will include information regarding the length of the withdrawal and, to the extent appropriate and practicable, any conditions of reinstatement. 

3.2.3 Appeal Process 

The determination of involuntary withdrawal by the BIT is subject to appeal to the Vice President of Student Development & Services. A student seeking an appeal must deliver a written petition for review to the Vice President within three (3) business days of issuance of the BIT’s written decision. 

Appeals of involuntary withdrawals will only be considered for one or more of the following allegations: 

  • The outcome of the individualized assessment is clearly contrary to the preponderance of the evidence. 
  • A procedural error significantly impacted the fairness or outcome of the assessment (e.g., a substantiated bias or material deviation from the procedures outlined in this policy). 
  • New evidence, unavailable during the original assessment, has been discovered that could substantially impact the original outcome. This new evidence and an explanation of its potential impact must be included in the request for review. 
  • The involuntary withdrawal imposed is substantially disproportionate to the severity of the threat (i.e., too severe) evidenced to the BIT. 

Except as required to explain the basis of new information unavailable at the time of the BIT’s review, review of a determination will be limited to the record of the initial assessment and/or all supporting documents. The review and appeal decision of the Vice President of Student Development & Services is final with no further recourse and shall consist of: (a) upholding the withdrawal; (b) vacating the withdrawal/reinstating the student; or (c) modifying the conditions for the student’s reinstatement. On appeal, the BIT’s decision of involuntary withdrawal shall be presumed to be reasonable and appropriate, and the student shall have the burden of establishing that the BIT’s decision was, instead, reached in clear error. 

3.2.4 Readmission Following an Involuntary Withdrawal 

A student who is seeking reinstatement to the university after an involuntary withdrawal must receive clearance from the dean of students by providing the dean of students with written evidence from a licensed medical or mental health professional that the student is no longer a direct threat to others and is otherwise qualified to participate in the university’s educational programs. Any other conditions outlined in accordance with this policy and/or any conduct sanctions must also be completed. For example, as one of the conditions of reinstatement, the student may be required to provide the university with a written report from a medical provider(s) that addresses whether the student: (a) has complied with his/her specified treatment plan(s); (b) is ready to return to the unstructured, and sometimes stressful, environment of the university; and/or (c) has specifically addressed the issues and challenges that led him/her to be withdrawn from school. The dean of students may consult with the BIT on the determination of reinstatement. 

3.2.5 Other Conditions


Nothing in this policy shall be interpreted to prohibit the BIT from requiring a student who meets the above criteria set forth in Section 3.2(a) or (b) to meet other behavioral conditions or actions, short of an involuntary leave of absence, in order to remain at the university. Such conditions could include, but are not limited to: meeting with the Dean of Students and/or another member of the BIT; attending counseling; probation; or fulfilling a behavioral contract. Failure to fulfill such condition(s) could lead to the BIT requiring an involuntary leave of absence under this policy. 

3.3 Full Withdrawal 

Students who elect to fully withdraw (i.e., discontinue enrollment), rather than take a leave of absence, are required to reapply for admission after the time specified by the Office of Admissions and will be treated as any other applicant for admission at that time, including the requirement to have a current ecclesiastical endorsement and to be in good honor code standing. 

3.4 Reporting 

All members of the BYU-Hawaii community are encouraged to be alert to the possibility of violent or disruptive acts on the part of students, staff, faculty, or others, and to report such behaviors. Anyone who observes or experiences threatening or potentially threatening conduct should report the conduct to Report a Concern on the university homepage, the university’s EthicsPoint Hotline (888) 238-1062), or by contacting the BYU–Hawaii Campus Safety & Security (808) 675-3911, or the Dean of Students (808) 675-8645. Serious disruptive or threatening behavior, property damage, or other illegal activity should be reported immediately to Honolulu Police (911). 

4. Related Policies and Procedures 

  • Honor Code Policy 
  • Sexual Misconduct Policy 
  • Suicide Intervention 
  • Allotment of time in Residence Policy