Overview and Philosophy
Ohio Wesleyan University is committed to providing and maintaining a safe, healthy learning environment for all members of the learning community. This is accomplished by promoting awareness, respect and responsibility. Community members are taught:
- to be watchful for patterns of behavior that collectively raise genuine concern about a student’s health or safety;
- to respect themselves and others;
- to take responsibility for choosing the opportunities available to them; and
- to be accountable for their behavior.
This policy outlines Ohio Wesleyan’s protocol for working with students who exhibit behavior that could threaten the health and safety of themselves, others, or property. The goals of this policy are to:
- identify and monitor behaviors of concern;
- escalate communication with appropriate professionals and, if necessary, the student’s family to assess risk; and
- implement appropriate intervention and supports to maintain the health and safety of the student and other community members.
Many behaviors cause concern for the well-being of the individual student and/or others within the campus community. Behaviors or actions that pose a direct threat to the safety and well-being of others may violate the Student Code of Conduct.
Some behaviors may pose a threat to a student’s own safety and well-being. While they may not constitute a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, they nonetheless could raise concern about the student. Some of these behaviors include:
- talking about hopelessness, sadness;
- attempting or threatening suicide;
- significant changes in interpersonal relationships, such as abruptly ending a friendship without explanation or discussion;
- unexpected withdrawal from campus life;
- self-injurious behaviors such as cutting or burning oneself;
- failure to attend classes;
- significant changes in self-care, such as no longer bathing or washing one’s clothes;
- excessive sleep or no sleep;
- inappropriate responses, such as angry outbursts or unusually intense reactions;
- excessive eating or starvation;
- any other behavior that creates a direct threat of harm to the student or to others.
The Student Care Team is responsible for soliciting and evaluating reports of any student whose behavior is of concern. In addition, the Team will communicate with and monitor students whose behavior has been reported.
The Team is chaired by the Associate Dean of Student Success and is under the oversight of the Dean of Students. Members of the Team may include staff from the departments of Public Safety, Academic Advising, Counseling Services, Residential Life, and First Year Experience. Depending upon the situation, other community members may be asked to assist the Team.
Any information shared with the Team and any records created or collected by the Team will only be shared with the Team and others identified as necessary to: 1) evaluate the student’s behavior; 2) monitor the student’s compliance with the plan of action, if applicable; 3) determine whether the student can be reinstated to the University, if applicable; or 4) conduct other essential business for the University. Absent written authority from the student, staff from Health or Counseling Services will not share information about a student’s interactions with Health or Counseling Services unless permitted by law.
When behavior is reported, the Team must 1) determine the nature, duration, and severity of the risk posed by the student’s behavior; 2) assess the probability that a threatening injury will actually occur; 3) determine whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures, with the input and participation of the student, will sufficiently mitigate the risk; and 4) recommend whether the student should take an interim emergency and/or involuntary leave of absence, if applicable.
Students who are facing a challenge will be encouraged to seek help through resources available on or off campus. All community members will be encouraged to report behaviors of concern to the Team by contacting a member of the Care Team, a staff member in Residential Life, Public Safety or the Dean of Students Office. The Team will make reasonable efforts to protect the identity of the reporter.
Once behavior has been reported, at least two members of the Team will assess the nature and degree of threat and then attempt to communicate with the student to gather information about the nature, duration, and severity of the risk posed by the student’s behavior. The Team will determine what parties are necessary to assist in the Team’s evaluation of the risk presented by the behavior.
As part of this evaluation, the Team may ask the student to consent to the release of information maintained by the Health or Counseling Services Centers or other entities, on or off campus, that do or have provided services for the student. If appropriate, the Team may also ask the student to undergo a physical, chemical dependency, or mental health assessment by a qualified and licensed professional whose credentials have been approved by the Dean of Students, or designee, to assist in evaluating the risk. The student may refuse to authorize the release of information and/or refuse to undergo an assessment. This may impede the Team’s ability to assess the risk posed by the student’s behavior and to propose appropriate supports and interventions to minimize the risk.
Once the Team has determined the level of risk, it may choose to involve parents or guardians to the extent permitted by law.
Ohio Wesleyan may take immediate action to address an imminent risk of danger posed by a student whose behavior presents a direct threat to the health and safety of others or property. The Vice President for Student Engagement and Success/Dean of Students, or designee, may immediately remove a student from the University community. After the removal, the student may submit a written appeal to show why their continued presence on campus does not pose an imminent threat to others or property.
Students may utilize a University Advisor during this process. Students may select their own advisor or can request someone be provided through the Dean of Students office.
Once the evaluation is complete, the Team will develop a plan of action to alleviate the health and safety threat and to monitor the student’s behavior. A designee of the Team will meet with the student to describe the plan, identify supportive measures to help the student succeed, and share the University’s expectations of the student to implement the plan. The plan may prohibit the student from living in a University residence, attending classes or participating in University activities. The student will be given a written copy of the action plan.
Students will be asked to sign a release of information in cases that the action plan requires an exchange of confidential information about the student. The student has the right to refuse to consent to the ongoing exchange of information and implement the plan. This will impede the Team’s ability to assess whether the student’s behavior has changed and the risk has been reduced. Any behavior that is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct will be treated as such and is subject to disciplinary action.
At any time during this process, the student may request to voluntarily withdraw in accordance with the University catalog. A student who withdraws will be required to resolve any pending conduct matters with the University before being permitted to return for a subsequent term.
In rare circumstances when a student cannot safely remain at Ohio Wesleyan after a plan of action has been proposed and/or implemented, the University may require the student to involuntarily withdraw in accordance with the University catalog. Prior to the imposition of an involuntary withdrawal, the student will have the opportunity to attend a hearing. The student will be permitted to have a University Advisor accompany them to the hearing who can support the student in the hearing process.
When the Team recommends an involuntary withdrawal, it will document its recommendation and request a hearing before the Vice President for Student Engagement and Success (VPSES)/Dean of Students, or designee. The hearing will be held within fifteen (15) business days from the day the hearing is requested by the Team, not counting the day on which the request is filed. For purposes of this section a business day is a weekday during which the University is open. The time and location of the hearing will be determined at the discretion of the VPSES/Dean of Students, or designee.
At least three (3) business days before the hearing, the student will be given a Notice of Hearing and a copy of the Team’s recommendation. At the hearing, a designee of the Team will present information to support its recommendation for an involuntary withdrawal. The student will be given the opportunity to appear personally to present information in response to the Team’s recommendation. The hearing may be held without the student if they fail to appear. A University Advisor is permitted at this hearing.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the VPSES/Dean of Students, or designee, will determine whether sufficient evidence has been presented to support the belief that the student has engaged in or is likely to engage in behavior that poses a significant risk of: 1) harm to self that will create a significant impact on the community; 2) harm to others; 3) significant property damage; or 4) rendering the student unable to engage in the basic activities necessary to obtain an education. In addition, the VPSES/Dean of Students, or designee, will determine whether sufficient information has been presented that supports the belief that the risk cannot be eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level through the implementation of a plan of action. In reaching a decision, the VPSES/Dean of Students, or designee, may consider the impact of the student’s behavior on the educational community as a whole, including other students residing with or near the student, classmates, and professors.
In addition to involuntary withdrawal, the student may be restricted from interacting with the campus community during the period of the leave as needed to ensure safety and reducing ongoing negative impacts. Such restrictions may include limits on the student’s communications with faculty, staff or other students and limits on the student’s access to the campus, for example, to visit friends or attend campus events.
Students may utilize a University Advisor during this process. University Advisors must be a member of the University community. Trustees of OWU and/or a parent/guardian of the student may not serve as an Advisor. Persons who serve as University Advisors may not be licensed attorneys or have received training to be attorneys. University Advisors provide support, guidance, and advice. They do not represent or advocate on behalf of those they advise.
Regular refund policies will apply to students who withdraw, whether voluntary or involuntary
A student who has worked with the Team and withdrew, whether voluntary or involuntary, may request at any time to return to Ohio Wesleyan. The process for reinstatement to the University is facilitated by the Academic Status Committee who utilizes the expertise and knowledge of the Care Team to review any requests from students who worked with the Care Team in the past. In support of the request, the student may be required to produce an opinion from a qualified, licensed professional, whose credentials have been approved by the Dean of Students, or designee, that the student is fit to return. In addition, the student may be required to sign a release authorizing the qualified, licensed professional to exchange information regarding their determination that the student is fit to return with the Counseling Services Center. Ohio Wesleyan may request a second opinion from a qualified, licensed professional regarding the student’s ability to safely return to school.