If a student is behaving in a way that is threatening to the student or others, or which significantly interferes with the student's education or the rights of others, the Dean of Students may initiate these procedures. This policy is meant to be invoked in those circumstances when a student is unable or unwilling to request a voluntary withdrawal or to participate in normal college proceedings (e.g., academic activities, student conduct processes), and such a withdrawal may be necessary to protect the safety of that student and/or others, or the integrity of the college's learning environment. The Dean of Students is empowered to define in his/her sole discretion and within his/her professional judgment what is sufficiently threatening and/or disruptive to warrant invoking this procedure.

Basis for Interim or Permanent Involuntary Health Withdrawal

Cornell College may initiate proceedings to withdraw a student if it is determined, by a preponderance of available evidence (that it is more likely than not) that the student is engaging in or likely to engage in behavior that poses a substantial danger of causing imminent harm to the student, to others or to substantial property rights, or which renders the student unable to engage in basic required activities necessary to obtain an education, or that substantially impedes the lawful activities of others. The college will consider whether reasonable accommodations to policies, practices or procedures will sufficiently mitigate the risk, unless those reasonable accommodations would cause undue hardship for the college. The Dean of Students will seek, if appropriate and feasible, the cooperation and involvement of parents, guardians or spouse of the student. The decision to notify a student's family members will be weighed carefully against the student's privacy rights. The student's parents, guardians or spouse may be contacted without the expressed consent of the student if it is perceived necessary to protect the welfare of the student or others.

Referral for Evaluation

The Dean of Students may refer a student for evaluation if it is believed that the student meets the criteria set forth in this policy. This evaluation is to be conducted by an independent, licensed health professional (e.g., physician, psychologist, psychiatrist) who is not a family member of the student and who has been approved by the Dean of Students (or Dean's designee).

Students referred for evaluation will be so informed in writing with confirmed personal delivery. The evaluation must be completed within five business days from the date of the referral letter, unless an extension is granted by the Dean of Students. Students undergoing mandatory evaluation shall sign an authorization to release personal health information allowing  the health professional conducting the evaluation to communicate the following information with the Dean of Students (or Dean's designee): date(s) of evaluation, assessment of current functioning and risk of harm to self/others, recommendations, including possible accommodations to ameliorate risk. Decisions based on the evaluation data may include a student's continuation at the college without restrictions, continuation at the college pending the student meeting certain conditions (e.g., ceasing of disruptive behavior, use of accommodation arrangements, periodic re-evaluation), or withdrawal from the college. A student who fails to complete the evaluation in accordance with these policies and procedures, including providing the required authorization to release personal health information, may be suspended on an interim basis, referred for conduct action, or both.

Interim Action

The Dean of Students may place a student on interim suspension where it is reasonable to believe that a substantial threat of harm to self or others exists. Students suspended under this provision will be notified in writing by confirmed personal delivery, and will also be given a copy of these policies and procedures. The student will be given the option of meeting with the Dean of Students (or designee) and another college representative designated by the Dean within 48 hours of the order for interim suspension. If the student is unable to meet or speak with the Dean within 48 hours the meeting will be scheduled at the earliest possible opportunity. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss only the following:

  1. The reliability of the information concerning the student's behavior;
  2. Whether the student's behavior poses a danger of causing substantial, serious harm to the student or others, causing significant property damage, or directly impeding the lawful activities of others;
  3. Whether the student has completed an evaluation, in accordance with the policies and procedures.

Involuntary Health Withdrawal

If the evaluation of an approved, licensed health professional supports an involuntary health withdrawal, a hearing will be scheduled before the Dean of Students (or designee) and the Director of Health Services. The student will be informed, in writing by confirmed personal delivery, of the time, date and place, and will be apprised of the conclusions reached by the health professional prior to the hearing. In addition, the student will be notified of who is expected to present information at the hearing, and is expected to notify the Dean of Students (or designee) in advance of any witnesses the student expects to bring. If the evaluation does not support an involuntary health withdrawal the student will be so informed.

The student may present information for or against involuntary health withdrawal and will be given the opportunity to ask questions of others presenting information. The hearing will be conversational and non-adversarial; however the Dean of Students (or other designated person in charge of the hearing) will exercise active control over the proceeding. Formal rules of evidence will not apply. Anyone who disrupts the hearing may be excluded. A taped record of the proceedings will be made and kept pending final case resolution. 

A written decision will be rendered by the hearing panel within two business days, stating the reasons for its determination. The decision will be sent to the student by confirmed personal delivery. If the student is withdrawn the notification will include information concerning when reapplication may be made, as well as specifying any conditions of reinstatement. The decision of the hearing panel is subject to appeal to the Vice President for Student Affairs. Appeals must be made, in writing, within two weeks  from the date of the decision, and the Vice President will render a decision within five business days of receiving an appeal. The Vice President's decision shall be based upon the preponderance of the evidence.

A student seeking readmission who has been involuntarily withdrawn must reapply, and may not re-enter the college without providing competent professional evidence that any health condition that poses a direct threat no longer exists, or is sufficiently under treatment so as to remove any substantial likelihood of reoccurrence of the situation that caused the health withdrawal. In addition to the information that the reapplying student submits, the college may require the student to undergo an evaluation by a licensed health professional who is not a family member of the student and who has been approved by Cornell College. The results of such evaluation must be disclosed to appropriate college personnel.

An involuntary health withdrawal is not considered a conduct action, though a prior involuntary withdrawal may be considered in subsequent conduct hearings involving the student, dependent upon the circumstances of subsequent conduct charges.

Support at Hearings

The student subject to either an interim suspension or involuntary health withdrawal hearing may be assisted in the hearing by an individual who serves as an advocate and support. This individual is limited to a family member, licensed health professional, or member of the Cornell College faculty or staff, at the discretion of the Dean of Students (or designee). The student will be expected to speak for him or herself whenever possible.

Approved: Student Life Committee, Nov. 10, 2010.