Committee on Medical Leave and Hospitalization Policies and Procedures

In the 2015-16 Academic Year, Chancellor Barnhart charged the Committee on Academic Performance (CAP) with reviewing the withdrawal and readmission policies for undergraduates. Among other recommendations, which are available here, their work led them to recommend to MIT Medical and the Chancellor’s Office a further review of MIT’s medical leave and hospitalization policies and procedures.

While MIT has policies and procedures for involuntary medical leave for both undergraduate and graduate students, they are intended to be used only as a last resort. The CAP learned, however, that the specter of an involuntary medical leave creates anxiety in many students. As this is a clear and pressing issue for the community at large, MIT Medical Director Cecilia Stuopis and Chancellor Barnhart, have worked to identify a direct charge and establish a committee to review our practices. Specifically, they are asking the committee to address the below issues and present their recommendations and findings this academic year:

  1. Do the current involuntary medical leave (and the broader medical leave) policies adequately express the approach that MIT should follow for students who present a danger to themselves, to others, or who otherwise are not able to participate in campus life due to mental or physical health issues? If not, how should they be revised?
  2. Are the procedures set by MIT for the implementation of the policies, including procedures for returning from a leave, adequate? Are they clear? If not, how should the procedures be revised?

In addition, every year MIT students (undergraduate and graduate) are hospitalized for mental health-related concerns. Even in the best of circumstances, these hospitalizations disrupt the students’ lives and academic performances. Moreover, they affect the students’ friends and community. The ramifications of each hospitalization raise questions that should be addressed by the committee:

  1. While recognizing that the decisions to hospitalize and release a student from the hospital are medical decisions, what practices should the Institute implement to minimize uncertainty, fear, and distrust surrounding the process of such hospitalizations? Related questions the committee may wish to consider include:
    1. What are and should be the privacy and confidentiality policies, including sharing of information with parents, by MIT support and mental health services up to and including hospitalization?
    2. How do we communicate the process of evaluating a student’s readiness to return from a hospitalization?
    3. What procedures are in place to ensure that students who are hospitalized feel that they have agency in the hospitalization, discharge decision, and aftercare plan?
  2. What procedures are in place, or should be in place, to ensure that students who are hospitalized are supported by MIT?
    1. What measures are or should be taken to address needs of a student that arise due to the hospitalization? 
    2. How does MIT facilitate the transition out of the hospital and back to MIT (or home)?
    3. What procedures are in place to ensure that the concerns of the hospitalized students’ friends and community members are addressed?


The members of the Committee on Medical Leave and Hospitalization Policies and Procedures are meeting in the Fall of 2016, and expect to finalize a report on their findings in the Spring of 2017.

Prof. Rebecca Saxe, Co-Chair

            Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Prof. Laura Schulz, Co-Chair

            Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Prof. David Andrew Singer

            Political Science

Prof. Tamar Schapiro

            Linguistics and Philosophy

Dr. Mia Gore

            MIT Medical (Mental Health)

Jaren Wilcoxson, Esq.

            Office of the General Counsel

Dr. Kathleen Monagle

            Student Disabilities Services

Mr. Jason McKnight

            Office of the Dean for Graduate Education

Dr. David Randall

            Office of the Vice President and Dean for Student Life

Ms. Tamar Weseley, Student ‘17

Mr. Taylor Sutton, Student ‘17

Mr. Kyle Kotowick, Student G

Ms. Joy Louveau, Student G

Ms. Kimberly Benard, Staff to the Committee

            Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education (GECD)