Death in the Family: Lack of Campus Policy

Published by The Critograph on March 30, 2016
Katherine Graves, Staff Writer-

Lynchburg College does not have a formal attendance policy for students who experience a death in their family and encourages students who experience loss to contact the Chaplain’s Office, who will notify students’ professors and advisors.

“When a death in the family occurs, students are encouraged to contact the Chaplain’s Office and to make arrangements directly with their individual faculty members regarding their absence from class and any missed work,” Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Dr. Sally Selden said in an email.

Chaplain and Director of Church Relations Rev. Stephanie McLemore said the Chaplain’s Office will notify “faculty, advisor[s], academic services, athletics, student employment, counseling, Dean of Students and a few others” when students contact them about a loss in their family.

Senior Nicole Trimble, who recently lost her aunt, said in an e-mail that the Chaplain’s Office staff were “very kind with reaching out to [her],” which helped her not to feel alone.

Trimble said after learning of her loss, she contacted “Spiritual Life in order to be put on the Chaplain’s Corner” and central staff because she is a Resident Assistant. She also found support by talking with her supervisor.

If students experiencing loss need to miss class, they should discuss absences directly with their professors. According to The Hornet, professors decide the specific attendance policies for their classes. These policies are explained in the course syllabus for each class.

“We tell the student that faculty make decisions about excused absences, but we ask faculty to work with the student. We ask students to make arrangements directly with faculty for missed classes,” McLemore said in an email to Selden.

Students should email professors to discuss absences and make-up work.

“Working with the student, a faculty member would decide how to address missed classes and late work based the student’s specific circumstances, the course syllabus and other relevant information,” Selden said.

It is important for grieving students to keep the lines of communication open with professors and advisors so that they can help students to the best of their abilities.

“Although the College does not have a formal policy, in my personal interactions on campus, I have always found our faculty and staff to demonstrate a high level of care for students who have experienced a death of a family member and a willingness to work with them,” Selden said.

LC will consider creating a formal attendance policy for students who experience a death in their family.

Dean of General Studies and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Allison Jablonski said in an e-mail that she will bring the possibility of drafting a formal policy to the Faculty Educational Policies Committee in fall 2016.

In times of loss, students should use LC’s resources to help themselves grieve and heal. Professors, advisors and fellow students can provide comfort and support.

Students struggling with loss or depression can also contact the Counseling Center for free counseling sessions. The Counseling Center is located at the terrace level of Hundley Hall. It is open from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Appointments can be made by calling (434) 544-8616.

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