Protocol for the Death of a Student

Photo of girl-on-laptop

Policy Name: Protocol of the Death of a Student
Policy ID Number: 05-04-007
Version Effective Date: December 15, 2016
Last Updated On: May 24, 2022
Policy Applies To: Students
Responsible Office: Dean of Students


INTRODUCTION AND STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
The death of a student denotes a loss for the University community as well as for the family and friends of the deceased. In the event of a student death, the University community must respond with concern, care, and respect for the student and his/her family and friends. This policy is intended to assist University personnel who are responsible for executing the tasks that are the result of such an unfortunate event. Further, this policy is designed to ease the administrative burden of University offices and address the needs of the student and his/her family in a timely manner.

POLICY

SCOPE
This policy sets forth procedural guidelines intended to assist designated officials responding to the death of a student. Those procedures will include communication and actions related to student records, accounts, personal property, academics, family member contacts, and related matters.

POLICY
The following procedure will be utilized in the death of a currently enrolled NJCU student. When any University office is informed of the death of a student, it shall immediately notify the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs (Hepburn Hall, 303; 201-200-3507) as soon as possible.
All follow-up activities will be coordinated by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs or their designee.

CONTENTS
Section A. Definitions
Section B. Procedures
Section C. Related Activities/Commemoration
Section D. Resources

Section A. Definitions
Currently enrolled student – a student currently enrolled at NJCU during the spring or fall semester, winter/summer sessions, or one who has completed the immediately preceding term and is eligible for re-enrollment. This also includes non-matriculated students.

Section B. Procedures
Please note: FERPA applies until the death is verified.
Depending upon the student death notification, this protocol will be implemented as appropriate. In the event of the death of a currently enrolled student, each of the indicated departments will be responsible for the following:

When the Student's death is on campus:

  1. The first responder will contact Public Safety immediately. The Department of Public Safety will respond and oversee the incident scene until all appropriate actions have been taken. The Vice President for Student Affairs or designee should be available, as appropriate. At the first opportunity, Public Safety officers will contact the Office of the Vice President of Administration and Finance and the Vice President of Student Affairs.
  2. The Vice President for Affairs will inform the President, the Provost, and/or other senior staff members as appropriate. The VPSA will notify the President, the Provost, and/or other senior staff members as appropriate. In addition, through the designated staff, the following will be notified:
    1. Office of Marketing and Communications
    2. Student's emergency contact
    3. As appropriate, members of the CARE team
  3. The Vice President for Student Affairs, upon request for a copy of the death certificate (or a copy of the incident report), will notify each of the following department(s) of the death of the student and coordinate procedures for follow-up as appropriate:
    1. Public Safety
      1. If necessary, assist in verifying death by contacting one or more of the following: hospital, state/local police, and appropriate county office.
    2. University Registrar (Official Records of the Deceased)
      1. Change student records to reflect "Deceased" status in the official documents.
      2. Delete the deceased Student's address from the University mailing database.
      3. If no academic credit is to be granted, cancel all tuition and fee assessments for the term.
    3. Financial Aid and Bursar (Indebtedness to the University)
      1. Review any loans/scholarship programs and follow appropriate protocols.
      2. Advise family of any loan programs to which the deceased was indebted.  When the loan is not forgiven, arrange for repayment.
      3. Amend the file and code the record as deceased.
      4. Notify State and Federal agencies of deceased status.
      5. Provide personal counseling and advice; make referrals as appropriate.
    4. Information Technology Services (deceased Student's email account)
    5. The VPSA will notify the following departments:
      1. Counseling Center (Support/Conduct grief counseling: group and individual)
      2.  Health and Wellness (Review of wellness records)
      3. Housing and Residence Life
  4. If the deceased Student was a resident student and as per the notification from the Vice President of Student Affairs; the Associate Dean of Residence Life and Social Services will:
    1. Restrict access to Student's room and personal effects;
    2. When approved and appropriate, coordinate access to the deceased Student's room and property, planning for the return of deceased Student's property to their family; and
    3. Work with the deceased Student's roommate(s) to ensure their well-being during this crisis.
  5. If the deceased Student was a student-athlete, and as per the notification from the Vice President for Student Affairs, the Director of Athletics will:
    1. Restrict access to Student's athletic property and personal effects;
    2. When approved and appropriate, coordinate access to the deceased Student's athletic property and personal effects, planning for the return of deceased Student's property to their family; and
    3. Work with deceased Student's teammate(s) to ensure their well-being during this crisis.
  6. If the deceased Student was an international student and as per the notification from the Provost or their designee, the Asst. Vice President for Global Initiatives will assist concerning consular outreach or family notification as appropriate.
    1. Notify the family of the death of the student.
    2. Contact the appropriate embassy involved (if necessary).
    3. Where appropriate, arrange for a person who speaks the language of the deceased to be available to assist with communication.
  7. If the deceased Student was enrolled in any special programs and as per the notification from specific Vice Presidents or designee(s), the directors of those programs should implement appropriate actions within their programs.
  8. As per the notification from the Office of the Provost or their designee, the following departments will complete tasks as indicated:
    1. Guarini Library will:
      1. Waive Library fines and
      2. With discretion, explore options for retrieving books still charged to the deceased.
    2. University Advisement will closeout advising records
    3. Faculty will, upon request, mail any assignments completed by the deceased Student, e.g., papers, examinations, reports, to the family.
  9. As appropriate, the Vice President for Student Affairs will inform the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Center for Leadership & Engagement, who will notify the deceased Student's student groups. In addition, these students will be given access to any support services and included in the planning and execution of any all-campus memorial or vigil.
  10. The office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Vice President for Advancement and Chief Strategy Officer or their designee will coordinate the following:
    1. Prepare a statement for an internal announcement to the University community, as well as the media;
    2. The Office of Marketing and Communications will be responsible for collecting and disseminating information to the media. Therefore, all requests for information should be directed to this office. In addition, the Department of Public Safety and Student Affairs must work closely with this office and the University Counsel to maintain the accuracy of the information disseminated.
    3. Where a student death occurs on University premises or at events under University control, it is important that no person involved in the University response speculate as to the cause of death or make statements assigning responsibility for the cause of death to any individual or group. Requests for such information by the media or others should note that the University (and/or other agencies) will promptly conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause and circumstances of the death.
    4. Prepare and send a sympathy letter/card/flowers and follow-up instructions to the family with a copy to relevant departments/school/colleges; and
    5. If appropriate and/or requested, coordinate with the family, donations, and memorial gifts (ex: scholarship, tree, bench, etc.)*.
  11. As necessary, University Counsel will:
    1. Respond to contacts concerning legal questions by the family and other attorneys;
    2. Review legal documents: and
    3. Advise and respond to legal issues.
  12. The Center for Leadership & Engagement, in consultation with the Associate Dean of Students, will assist with coordinating a memorial service and/or vigil.
  13. The Office of the Vice President for Advancement and Chief Strategy Officer or their designee will:
    1. Review the alumni information system to ascertain if the student has a record;
    2. If a record exists, code the record as "deceased" with the appropriate date and remove the deceased's name from the mailing list; and
    3. Review the alumni information system to ascertain if the deceased has an alumnus spouse. If so, amend the mailing list to include the surviving spouse only.

When the student's death is off-campus:
Response to any death occurring off-campus will be handled initially by the local police agency and/or the hospital involved. It is the responsibility of these agencies to notify the next of kin.

If a death occurs during a field trip, the University staff member accompanying the trip should immediately contact local emergency services and the local law enforcement agency. Once the situation is secured, the staff member should contact Public Safety to notify the Vice President for Student Affairs.  From there, the VPSA will contact the appropriate offices listed above.

At this point, Items 2 through 13 will be implemented as appropriate.


Section C. Related Activities/Commemoration:

  1. Long Term Contact/Action
    1. The Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs or designee will maintain contact with parents/family as appropriate.  Ideally, this will be the staff member who has been working with the family since the death.
    2. Approximately one month after the death, the President or their designee sends a card or letter to the family along with a certificate of attendance at the University.
    3. The University Registrar will review the academic records of the deceased Student to determine if an Associate's/Bachelor's Degree has been earned. If so, the Registrar will notify the Office of the Provost.

Section D. Resources:

  1. The City University of New York:
    http://www2.cuny.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/page-assets/about/admini...
  2. Ramapo College
    http://www.ramapo.edu/policies/policy/memorial/

    *Recommendation as per Ramapo College's Memorial Policy

    In order to coordinate memorialization efforts that reflect the values of the College, be life-affirming and serve the mission, memorials will be limited to new tree plantings and/or monetary contributions for endowments or for student scholarships.

    Annually each spring, in recognition of those to be memorialized, the College will plant a memorial tree honoring those who have died during the previous calendar year. Under the direction of the Office of the President, a ceremony will be conducted at the planting site.

    No individual or group of individuals is permitted to place or erect any other form of memorial or structure in a college building or upon college grounds without the approval of the Board of Trustees.

    By January 10 of each year, the Office of Human Resources forwards the names and designated status of employees /retirees i.e. Student Affairs – students; Institutional Advancement – donors, Board of Governors; President's Office – Trustees who died during the previous calendar year to the President's Cabinet. The approved list is returned to the Office of Human Resources for record keeping purposes.

    The Department of Facilities Management shall procure a tree of a type and caliper selected by a qualified landscape architect or arborist and arrange for its planting in a designated campus setting in accordance with a landscaping plan approved by the Board of Trustees. The Department of Facilities Management shall also arrange for the fabrication and installation of a bronze (or bronze-type) plaque with the names of those being memorialized arranged by classification, i.e., board members, faculty, staff, students, friends/supporters.

    During the month of April a ceremony shall be conducted at the planting site, weather permitting (or indoors in the event of inclement weather). The Office of the President shall publicize the event and provide notices of the ceremony to family members of the deceased.

     3.   University of North Carolina at Charlotte
           http://legal.uncc.edu/policies/up-404

DATE TO INITIATE REVIEW AND UPDATE
As deemed necessary or appropriate by the Policy Coordinator but at a minimum, at least every 5 years from the effective date.