Administration explains how it handles student death

By on April 16, 2013

Less than two weeks ago, Quinnipiac law student Paul Marando passed away suddenly at his home in North Haven. It was an event that students and faculty were not prepared for.

It was the kind of unfortunate event, however, that administrators at Student Affairs were prepared for. The university has a specific plan to handle situations when members of the student body pass away.

“Our first response is to the student’s family and to the students we identify as a kind of circle of support and friendship: roommates, close friends, relationships, significant others,” Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Monique Drucker said.

The university first notifies the family about what happened to their child, and then do whatever they can to help the family.

Sometimes the university will offer to gather the student’s possessions together if the student lived on campus instead of leaving it to the family, Drucker said. The choice, however, is really the family’s, and then the staff at Quinnipiac does everything in their ability to support the family’s decisions.

“We’ve worked with all different requests from families,” Drucker said. “What I’ve learned from that is let them [have the choice]. Give them the options so we can be sensitive to their needs.”

In addition to working with family members, the staff at Student Affairs also prides themselves with working with those who identified with the student who passed away.

After the news that a student has died, the staff locates roommates and friends who were close with the student and begin working with them.

“We really work swiftly to be on the ground to have a physical presence with the students,” Drucker said.

Drucker, alongside Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Carol Boucher and counselors from the student health center, make themselves available to work with grieving students for as long as the students need it. Sometimes positive relationships between counselors and students form.

“I still have students who I have worked with in the past that have gone through a tragic event who come in and just say ‘hello,’” Drucker said.

The Student Affairs Office also supports students who have lost friends by backing them when they contact faculty asking for a way of changing scheduled assignments.

“We cannot dictate to a faculty member what to do, but we can send a note that says, ‘please give them every consideration you can.’ Our faculty are fabulous. They’re usually very understanding and supportive,” Drucker said.

The school already has systems in place that keep track of attendance and trends in students’ grades to ensure that grieving does not cause a drop in school work throughout the semester.

Quinnipiac also offers a way for students to attend the wake and funeral service by offering transportation to the funeral home. In the past, the university has also allowed a small memorial service to be held on campus, Drucker said.

“What we’ve found is that students typically want to go to the service,” Drucker said.

Although Drucker does not enjoy handling the death of any Quinnipiac student, she acknowledges that the school has a very good system in place in helping all who are affected by the loss of a student.

“Unfortunately there will be loss along the way,” Drucker said. “I just feel very fortunate to be at an institution that knows how to embrace that and do the right thing for the families, the students and people who are here and work through that.”

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