Student Life Office

Emergency Absence Frequently Asked Questions

When is an emergency absence appropriate?

An emergency absence is appropriate when unexpected circumstances arise that necessitate a brief absence from classes. An emergency absence cannot extend beyond two weeks of classes.

Examples of situations for which an emergency absence is appropriate:
  • Hospitalization or intensive medical care
  • Death or critical illness in the family
  • Life-threatening issues
  • Title IX or DHSM-related issues, such as interpersonal violence or stalking
  • Home fire or natural disaster
  • Crime victimization
The following examples are not considered emergencies, and related absences should be addressed by the student directly with their instructors:
  • Doctor's appointments
  • Academic stress or overwhelming workload
  • Minor short-term illness (e.g. cold, flu, sore throat)
  • Allergies
  • Mononucleosis
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Injuries that do not require hospitalization
  • Wedding or family events 
  • Job or graduate school interviews

Students who are experiencing one of the non-emergency situations above are encouraged to reach out to their faculty directly about missing class, in addition to seeking relevant support resources. 

How long may I take an emergency absence?

At the time of the student’s request, the student and the dean in Student Life will discuss and determine an appropriate length of time away. The length of time will be determined by considering the circumstances of the emergency and the ability for the student to return successfully to the classroom following an extended absence. Missing class for one or two weeks may have serious academic implications, even when the instructor supports the student’s emergency absence.

Who can approve an emergency absence? 

Students can seek approval for an emergency absence from a dean in Student Life or from the SHARE program director. Students may also have a treating clinician (e.g. off-campus therapist) endorse their request for an emergency absence by sending a letter of support to the Student Life Office. When the student has a clinician's endorsement, they must still meet with a dean in Student Life to discuss the logistics and terms of an emergency absence.

Can I extend my emergency absence status?

An emergency absence may be extended with approval from a dean for an absence no longer than 2 weeks total. Should a student need more time away, they may take a leave of absence, request a medical leave of absence, or pursue other academic options.

If I am not approved for an emergency absence, what should I do?

There are a number of alternative options for managing a hardship that does not qualify for an emergency absence. Any student experiencing a hardship is encouraged to communicate directly with their faculty when possible, or contact the Student Life Office to request a meeting with a dean to discuss relevant resources and possible resolutions. 

Students with a documented disability, medical or mental health condition, or temporary debilitating injury or condition may be eligible for additional support and accommodations through Disability & Accessibility Resources

Academic Impact

Are my professors notified that I am on emergency absence?

Yes. The Student Life Office sends an email to each instructor listed on the student’s current schedule, as well as to Financial Aid, the Business Office, the Registrar's Office, and Residence Life (if the student lives on-campus). This email notifies instructors and these relevant offices that the student is currently taking an emergency absence and when they will return to classes. No personal details about the student's situation are shared.

What are my responsibilities regarding my classes?

Students should be aware that the role of the Student Life Office in connecting with faculty is informational only. It will be at the professor's discretion to excuse absences or class work, even with an absence notification from the Student Life Office.

Communicating with professors as much as possible is essential for creating realistic expectations regarding the student’s ability to make up missed classes, exams, or assignments. Students should consult with each of their professors and their academic adviser for more information regarding what is required upon returning from an absence, and what the implications of such an absence are with regard to their courses. The instructor of each course will determine whether it is possible for the student to complete the course after returning to classes.

Can I still attend some classes while I am on an emergency absence?

No. Because emergency absences are only approved for serious circumstances, a student on an emergency absence is expected to be absent from all classes during the length of their absence.

If I’m an international student, what do I need to know about visas, immigration documents, or other matters?

Students on a visa who plan to depart the United States during their emergency absence should first consult with the program director for International Student Services.

What can I do if I cannot pass all of my classes after returning from my absence?

Students who can complete some but not all of their semester classes may petition the Administration Committee for a withdrawal from those classes they cannot complete. If the emergency occurs at the end of the semester and the student is in good standing in the course at the time of their absence, the student may consider requesting an Incomplete in addition to or instead of an emergency absence. Students should discuss these options with their instructors and/or faculty advisor.

Access to Campus Services

May I stay in on-campus housing during my emergency absence?

Yes. Students on an emergency absence may stay in their on-campus room. Students on an emergency absence are still subject to the expectations of their housing contract.

What if I need different accommodations on campus during or after my emergency absence?

Students who need different housing accommodations for a temporary period of time on campus may request use of an on-campus emergency room or request a room change through Residence Life. To inquire about the possible use of an emergency room or permanent space on-campus, please contact Residence Life at

May I still access campus services while on an emergency absence?

Yes. Students on an emergency absence are still considered enrolled with the college and as such retain access to campus facilities and services including the Sports Center, Health and Counseling Center, and the Library.

Am I permitted to work on-campus during my emergency absence?

A student is still eligible to continue on-campus work during an emergency absence. However, students are discouraged from increasing work hours during an emergency absence. If a student cannot continue to work during an emergency absence, the student should notify their campus work supervisor. The Student Life Office can send to a student's supervisor official notification that the student was approved for an emergency absence if requested. 


Please contact the Student Life Office or any of the offices below if you have questions.

Contact information

Student Life Office: 503-517-7396 • • Eliot Hall 218
Health & Counseling: 503-777-7281 •  • Health and Counseling Center
Business Office:  503-777-7505 • • Eliot Hall 307 & 308
Registrar’s Office: 503-777-7793 • • Eliot Hall 311
Financial Aid: 503-777-7223 • • Eliot Hall 202

Additional Resources: 

Emergency Absence Home
Alternatives to Taking a Leave