College Policies & Procedures

Voluntary Leave Of Absence

We recognize that from time to time, students may take a voluntary leave of absence from their studies as a result of medical, mental health, or other personal matters that compromise their ability to continue in an academic program. A student may apply for a Leave of Absence (LOA) at any time after enrolling at the College. To request a Leave of Absence, students' should follow the process listed on the Registrar's web page.

If the student chooses to take a voluntary leave of absence in order to receive intensive clinical health care treatment, the Associate Dean of Student Life or designee will assist with processing this request. In some instances the student maybe asked to complete the Process for Returning from an Involuntary Leave of Absence as a requirement of returning to the College.

Involuntary Leave of Absence

Simmons College is committed to the safety and well-being of its community members and to the integrity of the living and learning environment. Our goals therefore are to maintain the health and safety of each individual in our community and to enable all enrolled students to participate fully in the life of the College.

We recognize that from time to time, students may take a voluntary leave of absence from their studies as a result of medical, mental health, or other personal matters that compromise their ability to continue in an academic program. However, in instances in which a student's mental,emotional, or medical health pose a threat to themselves and/or others, becomes a barrier to appropriate or prescribed levels of self care, or causes significant disruption to the activities of the College community, such a students may be required to take an involuntary leave of absence from the College.

In instances when a student's mental, physical or emotional health may pose a direct, imminent, threat to the safety and well-being of the Simmons community, or the student has been admitted to a health care setting to undergo intensive medical or psychological treatment (hospitalization, intensive outpatient or inpatient program), the Associate Dean of Students or designee, as an interim measure, can place the student on an involuntary leave of absence from the College. When applicable the student will be informed in writing of the actions that lead to her/him being placed on leave and direct the student to the process for return. The student's parent/guardian/emergency contact person may be notified that the student is in a potentially dangerous situation.

Any student placed on an involuntary leave of absence will not be allowed to remain on campus. This includes living in residence, attending classes, and participating in Simmons sponsored events.

In circumstances when the student has not met direct threat/inpatient criteria, the Associate Dean for Student Life or designee may, based off of observable/recorded behavior, still require a student to undergo an individualized psychological and/or medical assessment in order to make an informed decision regarding the student's ability to meet the academic, social and emotional requirements of being a Simmons student. This evaluation can be conducted by a member of the College's clinical staff, or by a student's external health care provider who is treating the student. The student will be required to sign a release that gives permission to the College's designated clinical personnel to speak with her/his external evaluating health care provider and to allow for the release of any relevant medical reports as part of the assessment. If the student chooses not to engage in the process listed above, then she/he will be required to take an involuntary leave of absence and if applicable, an immediate removal from the residence halls.

If, following the evaluation a leave is deemed unnecessary, the Associate Dean for Student Life or designee may impose other conditions and/or requirements which the student would be required to comply with as a condition of continued enrollment at the College.

In any instance in which a leave is required, the Associate Dean for Student Life or designee will provide written notice to the student, including the specific requirements that must be met as a condition of eligibility for re-enrollment, the time line for initiating and completing the return process, as well as the procedure for appealing the decision. In most instances, the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the student will be included in this notice. Students are strongly encouraged to discuss the need for a voluntary or involuntary leave with their parent(s) or guardian(s) prior to and during the leave process.

The duration of the leave is typically no fewer than six full months, although the specific length of the leave will be based on the student's individualized assessment and determined by the Associate Dean or designee on a case-by-case basis. When a student takes a leave before the end of a semester, whether voluntary or involuntary, Simmons' usual tuition and residence hall refund schedule applies.

Process for Returning to Simmons After an Involuntary Leave

Simmons College students who have been placed on an Involuntary Leave of Absence will be required to undergo an individualized assessment to be cleared to return to Simmons, prior to their return to the College. They are also required to sign an authorization form that enables the hospital, treatment facility, and/or all pertinent external health care providers to release information necessary for the review process. The review process will involve an interview with the appropriately licensed Simmons clinical staff member as well as the Associate Dean of Student Life or disagnee. Following the interview with an individual of the clinical staff, a recommendation that is based off the student's report, his/ her treatment history, information gathered from the external treatment facility, and/or a student's personal health care provider, will be shared with the Associate Dean for Student Life or designee regarding the student's readiness to return. Then, on a case by case basis the Associate Dean of Student Life or designee will make a determination if the students is permitted to return to the Simmons community. If it is determined that the student can return, the student will meet with the Associate Dean for Student Life or designee to establish a plan to return to the College and identify community resources. As a condition of continued enrollment and, if applicable, as a condition of re-admittance to the residence halls, the following criteria must be met:

  1. The consulting health care provider must find that the student has maintained a significant level of physical, mental, or emotional stability along with the skill set necessary to successfully engage in the student's academic program as well as the the activities associated in being a Simmons student.
  2. The student and the consulting Simmons clinical staff member in conjunction with all relevant external health care providers must establish and agree upon a plan for continued managed care after returning to the College.
  3. The student must commit to follow the recommended and established treatment plan.

If, after reviewing all pertinent information, the Associate Dean of Student Life or designee denies a student's request to return from and involuntary leave of absence, or the student disagrees with the conditions established as part of the return process, the student can appeal the decision in writing to the Vice President of Student Affairs.

Missing Person's Policy

Please review the the missing student policy and procedures report to understand the College's role and responsibility in response to a report of a missing student, as well as the important role of students in reporting and communicating with their peers.

Procedure to Respond to Bias-Related Incidents

Bias-related harassment may be defined as conduct that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's or group's performance or environment or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working, learning, or living environment. Bias-related harassment is based on an individual's or group's religion, ethnicity, race, color, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age or other social group membership.

Simmons College is committed to maintaining a respectful and welcoming living and learning environment for all students, faculty, and staff. Any individual found engaging in acts of harassment or bias will be held accountable to the fullest extent possible.

Students are encouraged to report a bias-related incident immediately. Students may report such incidents to any representative of the College but are encouraged to report such incidents to the Office of the Dean for Student Life, the Office of Residence Life, or the Office of Public Safety. Any student life staff member who receives a report of an incident of bias must inform her/his supervisor who will inform public safety, the Dean for Student Life, and the Associate Dean for Student Life. Such matters will be investigated thoroughly. This investigation will include, when appropriate, the photographing and removal of any graffiti or physical evidence related to the act. Any student who is found to have committed a bias-related act will be brought before either the Residence Campus Judicial Board or the Honor Board depending on the location and nature of the incident. Please refer to the Conduct System page for the description of the Residence Campus Judicial Board procedures and Honor Board procedures.

If such act is determined to be a bias/hate crime, the matter will be investigated and appropriate action taken should the perpetrator be identified. See Massachusetts bias/hate laws:

In any bias-related situation, College staff members and public safety officers will take appropriate steps to maintain confidentiality of the student(s) involved; however the law requires any staff member responding to an incident of this nature to file a report describing the basic details of the incident without including the names of students involved.

Any bias-related incident affects both the students who are directly involved and the entire Simmons community. Such matters will be addressed on a community level through various means, including educational programming, to help create and maintain an inclusive and welcoming living and learning environment for all members of the Simmons College community.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974

The College's practice in regard to student record-keeping is based on the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 (the Buckley Amendment), and is intended to be a safeguard against the unauthorized release of information. This act applies to all enrolled students, former students, and alumni. It does not apply to applicants seeking admission into an institution.

Under the provisions of the act, it is the right of the student to view her/his official educational records. Educational records are defined as records regarding a student that are maintained by an educational institution. Such records are kept in the Office of the Dean for Student Life, the Office of the Registrar, faculty advisors' offices, and the Center for Academic Achievement. Not included in this category of records are the following:

  • records containing confidential information written before January 1, 1975
  • financial records submitted to the College by the parents of a student
  • medical and counseling records
  • records containing information on more than one student
  • private records intended for use of an individual
  • law enforcement records
  • student employment records
  • records to which a student has waived her right of access as required by a judicial order or a lawful subpoena

In order to view her/his record, a student must make a request in writing to the appropriate office. The office has 45 days in which to fulfill the request. If requested, copies of a student's record are available to the student for a slight charge to cover the cost of duplicating. Any information in a student's record found to be "inaccurate, misleading, or [that] violates the privacy or other rights of the student" may be challenged by the student. Only the accuracy of the information may be challenged.
For example, a grade received may not be questioned, only the accuracy of its recording. In order to contest the information in her/his record, the student must submit a written statement to the person responsible for the content of the record and request that she/he receive a written response. If no written response is forthcoming or if an unsatisfactory response is received by a student, she/he may appeal to the chairperson or appropriate supervisory person. In the event that no resolution is made, it is the student's right to request a hearing, to be presided over by the Dean for Student Life or a designee.

The College has the right to publish a directory listing all enrolled students and containing the following information:

  • student's name
  • address
  • telephone number
  • place and date of birth
  • concentration
  • digital photo
  • year of graduation and dates of attendance
  • awards and degrees received
  • membership in organizations
  • educational institution most recently attended

A student who wishes to be omitted from the directory must so indicate by writing to the Office of the Registrar.

A student's record is not accessible to anyone outside the College without the written authorization from the student.

Exceptions to this regulation are as follows:

  • officials at an institution where the student is applying for admission
  • officials disbursing financial aid
  • parents of a dependent student (for tax purposes)
  • accrediting and educational testing organizations
  • federal officials
  • officials complying with a judicial order
  • appropriate officials in the event of an emergency (only if necessary to safeguard the health or well-being of the student or other individuals)
  • the alleged victim of a crime of violence may receive results of any disciplinary proceedings conducted by the College against the alleged perpetrator of that crime in reference to that crime. Student records are available to the above with the stipulation that this information is only for the use of the above unless written consent is secured from the student.

Student records may not be distributed to other parties. It is the responsibility of each office maintaining records to keep a log that verifies the name and date of each person who has viewed the record and for what reason. Students have the right to see this log.

A student may sign a waiver of access to confidential recommendations for graduate school or for employment purposes. However, the student must be kept informed of those people providing recommendations.

The College does not ordinarily notify a student's parents or guardians of academic and social problems she/he encounters as a Simmons student without her/his consent. However, if a student's behavior places her/his continuance at Simmons or in residence in jeopardy, or if the student's behavior indicates she/he may be harmful to herself/himself or others, the College may deem it to be in her/his best interest to notify, without consent, her/his parents, guardians, or other appropriate persons.

Depending upon the nature and seriousness of the student's behavior she/he may be asked to leave the Residence Campus and/or the College immediately.

Prior to asking a student to leave residence and/or school, the College may deem it necessary to enter into a contractual agreement with a student around the student's behavior in residence and/or the College community, particularly in situations where the student's behavior has become an issue for the larger community. Should a contractual agreement be entered into between a student and the College, the College maintains the right to handle any violations of the contractual agreement administratively rather than through the student judicial process. A student may appeal administrative decisions about violations of her contractual agreement to the Dean for Student Life within seven business days of the decision that has been communicated to her. The appeal must be made in writing.

Further questions about the Buckley Amendment should be directed to the Office of the Dean for Student Life.