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. 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
Pursuant to section 488 of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 and adapted from Public Safety’s Missing Persons protocol, this policy and procedure will apply to all students residing in on-campus housing and in response to a missing student report.
A student may be considered a missing person by the University when their whereabouts are unknown and unexplained for a period of time that is regarded by knowledgeable parties as highly unusual or suspicious in consideration of the subject’s behavior patterns, plans, or routines.
Any time a student is believed to be missing, whether or not the student lives on campus, the appropriate police department(s) should be contacted. The Department of Public Safety, Dean of Students, and the Director of Residence Life (when applicable) will work together to locate missing students, notify appropriate local law enforcement (where appropriate), and check on the welfare of such students. As part of the residential check-in procedure and University enrollment process, all students are afforded the opportunity to provide, on a voluntary basis, contact information for individuals to be notified in case of emergency, and this emergency contact will serve as a contact if the student goes missing unless the student specifies otherwise.
Registered contact information will remain confidential, accessible to University Officials, and may not be disclosed except to law enforcement personnel in the furtherance of a missing person investigation.
Anyone who believes a student to be missing should report their concern to the Department of Public Safety at (478) 445-4054. Most missing person reports in the University environment result from a student changing their routine without informing their roommates and/or friends of the change. Every report made to Public Safety will be followed up with an immediate investigation once a student has been missing for 24 hours, though instances of bizarre disappearances, suspected kidnapping, or potential crimes will be acted upon immediately when reported.
If a residential student is presumed to be missing, the University will notify the emergency contact, parent or legal guardian within 24 hours after it has been determined that the student is missing. For students under the age of 18, a call will be made to the custodial parents, regardless of who is designated by the student as the emergency contact. In the event that emergency contact notification is necessary, Public Safety will place the call.
The University Official receiving the report will collect and document the following information at the time of the report:
- The name and relationship of the person making the report.
- The date, time, and location where the missing student was last seen.
- The general routine or habits of the suspected missing student (e.g. visiting friends who live off-campus, working a job away from campus) including any recent changes in behavior or demeanor)
- The missing student’s cell phone number (if known by the reporter).
- Whether the local police department has been notified.
Upon notification from any entity that a student may be missing, the University may use any or all of the following resources to assist in locating the student:
- Call and text the student’s cell phone and call any other numbers on record.
- Send the student an email and/or text message.
- Go to the student’s residence hall room.
- Talk to the student’s Community Assistant, roommate, suite-mates, and floor-mates to see if anyone can confirm the missing student’s whereabouts and/or confirm the date, time, and location the student was last seen.
- Secure a current student ID or another photo of the student from a friend.
- Check all possible locations mentioned by the parties above including, but not limited to library, residence hall lounges, classroom, recreational facilities, etc.
- Contact or call any other on-campus or off-campus friends or contacts that are made known. This could include checking a student’s social networking sites.
- Ascertain the student’s car make, model, and license plate number.
- The Division of Information Technology and Auxiliary Services may be asked to obtain electronic activity logs in order to determine the last time the student accessed the University’s network.