Guidelines for students who go on Voluntary Leave of Absence and their involvement in student leadership

Purpose

To provide guidance for students who serve in leadership roles and who take a leave of absence (LOA) for personal, health, or research-related reasons (voluntary LOA).

Office or person responsible for implementing

The Office of Student Success

Applies to

All UABSOM students who go on voluntary LOA

Background

    • Involvement in extracurricular activities is important for students' sense of well-being; provides important opportunities for leadership development; and can add value to students' residency applications.
    • Leadership roles vary in level of commitment and involvement.
    • Students take voluntary LOA for varying lengths of time.
    • Students who take voluntary LOA should be allowed to maintain their leadership role except when there is concern that continued participation in leadership could interfere with the student’s needs/ or compromise the organization.
    • Variation in leadership roles and the types (and amount of time taken) of voluntary LOA require case-by-case determination of the advantages and disadvantages of continued leadership involvement for the student taking leave.
    • It is the responsibility of the Office of Student Success, Medical Student Services (MSS), and the Associate Dean for Students, to make determinations about extracurricular leadership involvement. These decisions will consider what it in the best interest of the student and the organization that the student leads.

Guidance

Guidance for Class Leadership, Learning Community Representatives, Learning Community Executive Board Members and Organization for Student Representatives

    • Students taking voluntary LOA will not participate in School of Medicine leadership activities while on leave.
    • Student leaders (i.e. student Senate Executive Officers [class president, class vice president, class treasurer, and class chief of staff], Learning Community Representatives, Learning Community Executive Board Members and Organization for Student Representatives who take voluntary LOA for less than 3 months may continue in their position as long as (1) other members of the leadership team are able to manage leadership responsibilities while the team member is on voluntary leave and (2) continued involvement in leadership upon their return for LOA will not compromise the student’s academic or professional success.
    • Student leaders (i.e. student Senate Executive Officers [class president, class vice president, class treasurer, and class chief of staff], Learning Community Representatives, Learning Community Executive Board Members and Organization for Student Representatives who take voluntary LOA for more than 3 consecutive months are advised to step down from their office(s).
    • Students who are planning or on a voluntary LOA are may not apply for office if the voluntary LOA will interrupt the term of service or if the application occurs while the student in on voluntary LOA.

Guidance for students in other leadership positions

    • Students taking voluntary LOA will not participate in School of Medicine leadership activities while on leave.
    • More lenience is allowed for student in other leadership positions who take leave because the time commitment is often less and for a shorter period of time. Therefore, students who go on voluntary leave of absence for any period of time are not automatically excluded from being involved with or holding offices in the following organizations: Best Medicine Show; Magic City Medcast; American Physician Scientists Association; Senate Cabinet positions; Senate sub-committee involvement; student organizations; advisory groups/committees.
    • Decisions about extent of leadership and involvement in the above listed groups upon their return will be made by the Office of Student Success, in consultation with the Associate Dean for Students, and the current leadership of each of these organizations. As applicable, the Medical Scientist Training Program and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion will be consulted. Decisions about involvement will be based on (1) other members of the leadership team are able to manage leadership responsibilities while the team member is on voluntary leave and (2) continued involvement in leadership upon their return for LOA will not compromise the student’s academic or professional success. This includes leadership positions that bridge the LOA and also acceptance of new positions after their return.
    • The following considerations and steps will be taken for students in leadership positions (other) and who wish to remain in or seek leadership position when they return for LOA.
      •  At the time of leave, the Office of Student Success will have a conversation with the student and will discuss the pros and cons of remaining in the office or position. The Office may recommend that the student step away from the office or position temporarily or permanently. The Office of Student Success will summarize the conversation via email to the student and Associate Dean for Students, within 24 hours of the meeting.
      •  When deemed appropriate the student will be allowed to stay in office with close monitoring by MSS. When the student is asked to step aside temporarily from duties.
        • Example #1: A student may go on leave of absence for a health concern and be asked to temporarily step aside from their duties until such time as the health concern has stabilized.
        • Example #2: A student might go on leave due to academic difficulties and be asked to temporarily step aside from their duties until such time as they are on solid academic footing.
      • The student may be asked to resign from the office completely. When this occurs, the Office of Student Success will notify the student and request to meet with them to discuss rationale and a plan for succession. The Office of Student Success will summarize the conversation via email to the student and Associate Dean for Students, within 24 hours of the meeting.

Appeal: A student may appeal the decision of the Office of Student Success, by notifying the Associate Dean for Students within 24 hours of receiving the written summary from the Office of Student Success. The Associate Dean for Students will then meet with the Office of Student Success and the student separately. After these meetings, the Associate Dean for Students will make a determination to grant the student’s appeal or uphold the decision by the Office of Student Success.

Created: November 2018
Implemented: January 2019
Review date: November 2020