Students in Academic Difficulty

For students experiencing academic difficulty, early identification can be crucial to their seeking the resources and support they need to succeed in your course and overall.

• You will receive a request at mid-semester from the CAS Advising Office to complete a brief online report a) for those of your current undergraduate students whose progress the office is following, and b) for any other student you have identified as struggling in your course.
• You need not wait to be contacted by the Advising Office to alert them to your concerns. Contact the office (100 Bay State Road, 4th floor) by phone (617-353-2400) or by email to
• Peer tutoring is available free of charge to students in most 100-level and 200-level CAS courses at the Educational Resource Center (ERC). Located on the 6th floor of the Yawkey Center for Student Services at 100 Bay State Road, the ERC also offers a range of workshops on study skills and time management. Students who might benefit from these supports should be encouraged to visit the ERC website.

Student Medical Issues

Medical Excuses
Boston University Student Health Services (SHS) does not generally provide medical excuses for missed classes for exams. This policy decision was made after considering a number of issues, including the following:

• Medical excuses may jeopardize a patient’s right to confidentiality, and many of the problems SHS manages are highly sensitive.
• In the past, SHS found that some students came solely for the purpose of obtaining an excuse for classes (with or without a true illness). SHS seeks to educate students on the appropriate use of health care.
• SHS supports the developmental transition into young adulthood, which includes negotiating work and school demands in the face of illness.
• On many occasions, students appropriately manage minor illnesses with self-care, without seeking medical advice, and this may include the personal decision to rest or miss class without the direct advice from SHS staff to do so.

Major Illness, Injury or Life Event
When a student is hospitalized or has suffered a major illness, injury or life event (for example, a family death affecting the mental state of the student), SHS will, when possible and with the student’s consent, assist in coordinating communication through CAS Advising with the student’s current instructors; and SHS will provide documentation when its treatment plan specifically recommends absence from class, which is rare.

About Student Health Services
Student Health Services provides medical, mental, and health education and prevention services to the Boston University student community at their main location, 881 Commonwealth Avenue. SHS also manages the Center for Sexual Assault Response and Prevention, located at 930 Commonwealth Avenue.

Students in Distress

For students in distress, faculty members cannot do the job of trained experts in behavioral medicine. You can however be of essential assistance in ensuring that a student in crisis does not come to harm or that students get needed professional help.

See the Student Health Services Department of Behavioral Medicine website for guidance on:

• Listening and responding appropriately when a student confides distress
• Making referrals for counseling
• Recognizing signs of a serious mental health crisis
• Taking immediate and effective action when you suspect a crisis

Never hesitate to call the following emergency numbers:

Boston University Police (617-353-2121) if you believe there may be imminent danger of harm to a student or someone else
Office of Dean of Students (617-353-4126) for help in assessing the situation (8 am-6 pm)
Behavioral Medicine (617-353-3569) for psychiatric emergencies (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Center (617-353-7277) for crises related to crime and interpersonal or sexual violence (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

Students with Disabilities

Instructors are required to provide accommodations for students with documented (learning, physical, or psychological) disabilities. Such students will have letters from Disability Services. If you find that implementing the accommodations authorized by a student’s letter poses logistical difficulties, consult with your department chair.