Need identified for short-term leave policy for student veterans
On rare occasions, student-veterans are called to duty unexpectedly on a short term basis, which could cause them to miss class.
Former Student Government Association president Chuck Mahone said SGA is looking to add a policy that suspects if a student who is on military leave is gone for a 2-week period or less, the professor is obligated to work with the student to make sure they are not suffering academic consequences.
The Veterans Resource Center is working on creating a policy that would protect students who are summoned for short-term duties pertaining to their respective military branch.
VRC Director Duane Kleinhardt said it is not often that students are summoned for short-term military duty, but when it does happen it is important to have them protected from missing class time.
Earlier this month, students in the National Guard were summoned for a 2-3 week period to help with the relief effort of the Flint Water Crisis.
There is an active policy protecting students summoned for long-term duties, allowing them to withdraw from their classes and receive a refund of their money without penalty. There is no university policy in place when it comes to missing short-term periods of classwork.
“It’s a two week order and there’s no real way around that,” said New Baltimore sophomore Nich Mellon. “It’s an order from the president. There’s nothing the individual can do.”
Recently, a resolution to establish a short-term military absence policy passed in Student Government Association legislation.
The policy would affect students in the National Guard and the Army Reserve. There are 268 students on CMU's campus who utilize Veterans Affairs benefits and 1,500 global and online students who use the benefits.
Mahone said the bill passed referenced other universities and states that have similar policies in place. He estimated it would be approved by the Academic Senate either this academic year or next.
“That does mean the power is still in the hands of faculty in regards to working with the student, but the responsibility is on the student to communicate with their professor and to utilize the Veterans Resource Center,” Mahone said. “As long as they are communicating with those two parties it should be fine, but if not, the student will be able to appeal a high department chair.”
Mahone said some students have had to be summoned for short-term duty at the end of the semester during finals, and the students who were summoned for the Flint Water Crisis had been deployed during midterms.