The Office of the Dean of Students provides care services to students who are experiencing significant emotional issues or emergent conditions or situations. Our goal is to support students who are having these concerns and to assist with their overall success at Georgia College & State University. The primary means of providing assistance is through the CARE Team. The CARE Team is a multi-disciplinary group that addresses student concerns from emotional, medical, and academic perspectives. CARE stands for Campus Assessment, Response, and Evaluation; it serves as the campus' behavioral intervention team. The current CARE Team consists of representatives from the Office of the Dean of Students, Counseling Services, University Police, Academic Advising Center, Student Health Services, Residence Life, and Student Disability Resource Center.
The Dean of Students and The CARE Team actions do not always have set responses. However, where possible, the Dean of Students will have policies and protocols in place to address certain issues, such as the involuntary and voluntary withdrawal of a student, the death of a student, medical and psychological withdrawal of a student, missing students, and any associated disciplinary and appeal processes. These policies and protocols can be found below:
MEDICAL OR PSYCHOLOGICAL WITHDRAWAL POLICY
The following policies and procedures are to be used to help transition a student to a safer and/or more conducive environment when remaining at the University is not in the best interest of the student or the University community. This policy encourages a student to withdraw voluntarily when medical conditions or psychological distress make a withdrawal necessary; it seeks to ease that transition and potential return to the University. When a student is encouraged to voluntarily withdraw from the University and that encouragement has been unsuccessful, an involuntary withdrawal under this policy may be implemented.
Student-Initiated Medical or Psychological Withdrawal
Students who elect to withdraw from the university for medical or psychological reasons are required to complete a re-entry process that assists students in their transition back into the academic environment. If there are pending administrative charges/concerns at the time of withdrawal, then the student’s return may be treated similarly to a university-initiated withdrawal.
University-Initiated Medical or Psychological Withdrawal
If a student is behaving in a way that is threatening or disruptive to others, the Dean of Students (or designee) may initiate these procedures. The Dean of Students (or designee) is empowered with the discretion to define within their professional judgment what is sufficiently threatening and/or disruptive to warrant invoking a University-Initiated Medical or Psychological Withdrawal.
Standard for Involuntary Withdrawal on the Basis of Threat of Harm to Others
This section applies to all involuntary withdrawals from housing or from the university for any student who is at significant risk of harm to others as a result of a condition covered by disabilities law. When the potential for harm to others is present, involuntary withdrawal actions must consider whether the endangering behavior results from a condition of disability. If so, the student will be protected by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Under this federal statute, an individual with a disability may only be separated on the basis of this disability when they are not otherwise qualified to participate in the education program of the institution.
Disability here will unlikely be the qualified disability on record with the Student Disability Resource Center. Instead, protection of disability laws here comes from institutional perception and treatment of a student as an individual with a disability. The objective of this section is to determine whether it is more likely than not that a student is a direct threat.
A direct threat exists when a student poses a significant risk to the health or safety of others. A significant risk constitutes a high probability of substantial harm. Significance will be determined by:
- The duration of the risk;
- The nature and severity of the potential harm;
- The likelihood that the potential harm will occur; and
- The imminence of the potential harm.
The university must determine whether reasonable accommodations to policies, practices, or procedures will sufficiently mitigate the risk unless those reasonable accommodations would cause undue hardship for the university.
Determining that a student is a direct threat requires an objective and individualized assessment and hearing.
The assessment must be based on a reasonable medical judgment that relies on the most current medical knowledge and/or on the best available objective evidence. This standard also applies to the reinstatement of a student who has been withdrawn. They are entitled to return upon showing they no longer pose a direct threat of harm to others.
Status of Conduct Proceedings
If the student has been accused of a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, but it appears that the student is not capable of understanding the nature or wrongfulness of the action, this policy may be activated prior to issuance of a determination in the Conduct Process. Interim suspension for the threat of harm to others may also be imposed. If the student medically withdraws from the university, or another action is taken under these provisions following a finding that the student’s behavior was the result of a lack of capacity, such action would suspend and expunge the pending conduct action. If the student is found not to be subject to withdrawal, conduct proceedings may be reinstated.
Referral for Assessment or Evaluation
The appropriate official (or Campus Assessment, Response, and Evaluation (CARE) Team) may refer or mandate a student for evaluation by a campus or independent licensed psychiatrist or psychologist chosen by the institution. Such evaluation may be ordered if it is believed that the student may meet the criteria set forth in this policy or if a student subject to conduct proceedings provides notification that information concerning a mental/behavioral disorder will be introduced.
Students referred or mandated for evaluation will be so informed in writing with personal and/or certified delivery and will be given a copy of these standards and procedures. The evaluation, conducted at the student’s expense, must be completed within five business days from the date of the referral letter unless an extension is granted by the office of the appropriate official. A student who fails to complete the evaluation in accordance with these standards and procedures, and/or who fails to give permission for the results to be shared with appropriate administrators, will be referred for conduct action.
University-Initiated Withdrawal Hearing Procedures for Direct Threat of Harm to Others
Administrative Hearing Option
The Dean of Students (or designee) may invoke informal resolution procedures to determine the need for involuntary withdrawal without a formal hearing. This process is also known as an administrative hearing. In administrative hearings, medical and administrative evidence (e.g. CARE Team assessment) will be heard, and final determinations will be made, by the Dean of Students (or designee), Critical Incident Team, and the University System of Georgia.
If the medical evaluation and/or administrative assessment (e.g. CARE Team assessment) support the need for a withdrawal, the Dean of Students will render a written decision within two business days, barring exigent circumstances, stating the rationale for their determination. The decision will be delivered to the student directly or by electronic means. If the determination is made that a withdrawal is warranted, the notification will include information regarding how long the withdrawal may endure, as well as specifying any conditions of reinstatement. If other actions are pending, the appropriate individuals will be notified and may proceed with their actions.
Formal Hearing Option
The student subject to an involuntary withdrawal may request a formal hearing in lieu of the administrative hearing described above. If the medical evaluation and/or administrative assessment (e.g. CARE Team assessment) supports the need for a withdrawal, a hearing will be scheduled before the Dean of Students (or designee), the Director of Counseling Services, the Director of Health Services, and/or other administrators as deemed appropriate. The student will be informed, in writing, with personal and/or electronic means, of the time, date, and place of the hearing. The student will be given at least two business days to independently review the psychological or psychiatric evaluation prior to the hearing. 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) of any witnesses the student intends to bring. The student may, at the discretion of the Dean of Students (or designee), be assisted by an advisor in the hearing. An advisor is defined in this process as a current member of the faculty, staff or administration of the university. The law permits a student to have an attorney present to attend/advise, but not represent the student, during a formal involuntary withdrawal hearing.
The student and the student’s advisor may present information about the necessity of involuntary withdrawal and the student 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 designee) will exercise active control over the proceeding, including deciding who may present information. Formal rules of evidence will not apply. Anyone who disrupts the hearing may be excluded. There will be a single verbatim record, such as a tape recording, for all involuntary withdrawal hearings. The record will be the property of the university and maintained according to the university’s record retention policy.
A written decision will be rendered by the committee within two business days, barring exigent circumstances, stating the rationale for its determination. The decision will be delivered to the student directly or by electronic means. If the determination is made that a withdrawal is warranted, the notification will include information regarding when reapplication may be made, as well as specifying any conditions of reinstatement. If other actions are pending, the appropriate individuals will be notified and will proceed with their actions.
The determination of the involuntary withdrawal hearing, administrative or formal, is subject to appeal to the Vice President for Student Life in accordance with the following process:
Students subject to involuntary withdrawal may petition for a review of the determination within three (3) business days of issuance of the hearing committee’s written decision. All petitions must be in writing and delivered to the Vice President for Student Life. Reviews will only be considered for one or more of the following purposes:
- To consider new information which was unavailable at the time of the original hearing and could be outcome determinative;
- To assess whether a material deviation from written procedures impacted the fairness or outcome of the hearing;
- To decide if an involuntary withdrawal is disproportionate to the severity of the threat evidenced in the hearing;
- To determine if the decision does not align with the information provided in the hearing or whether reasonable accommodations might mitigate the risk without a withdrawal; or
- To assess whether bias on the part of a hearing committee member deprived the process of impartiality.
Except as required to explain the basis of new information unavailable at the time of a hearing, review of a hearing will be limited to the verbatim record of the initial hearing and/or all supporting documents. The review and appeal decision of the Vice President for Student Life is final.
Readmission Following an Involuntary Withdrawal
A student who is seeking reinstatement to the University after an involuntary withdrawal must receive clearance by providing the Dean of Students (or designee) 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 Georgia College community.
MISSING STUDENT NOTIFICATION POLICY
Any person (faculty, staff, or student) who is believed to be missing from GCSU should be reported immediately to the Department of Public Safety at (478) 445-4400. Housing and Residence Life employees receiving a report of a missing student must immediately notify the Department of Public Safety at 478-445-4400. Each residential student has the option to identify a Confidential Contact to be notified by Public Safety in the event a student is deemed to be missing. Students under the age of 18 who are not emancipated will be informed each academic year that the institution is required to notify the custodial parent not later than 24 hours after the time the student is deemed to be missing.
The Department of Public Safety will investigate the missing person report and determine if the student is missing. Circumstances may include:
- A student is out of contact after reasonable efforts have been made to reach the student via phone, email, text and visits to on-campus room;
- Conditions that may indicate an act of criminality is involved;
- Conditions that may indicate physical safety is in danger;
- Conditions become known that indicate medicine dependence may threaten health; and/or
- Existence of physical/mental disability indicating the student’s physical safety could be in danger.