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Type: University Policy
Division: Student Affairs
Office: ACADEMIC & STUDENT AFFAIRS

Contact Phone Number: 503-838-8221
Contact Email Address: studentaffairs@wou.edu

TITLE
Death of Student, Faculty or Staff Person
POLICY NUMBER
ASA-04-005
RESPONSIBLE OFFICER UNIVERSITY CONTACT
Vice President for Student Affairs The Office of Student Affairs
SUMMARY

Western Oregon University intends to provide a safe and positive environment for all students, faculty, and staff.  However, when tragedy does occur, it is the responsibility of the university to respond in a sensitive and sympathetic manner.  The death of a student, faculty member, or staff person affects the entire university community.  These guidelines have been established to provide an orderly, effective, and caring response. 

APPLICABLE TO
Faculty, staff, currently enrolled students, and residential students.
DEFINITIONS
AUTHORITY

Vice President for Student Affairs

https://www.wou.edu/student/

FULL STATEMENT OF AUTHORITY

POLICY STATEMENT

This policy pertains to faculty, staff, currently enrolled students, and residential students.  However, the university may need to respond to the death of people who are associated with it, but not students or employees.  The Office of Alumni Relations should be notified in the case of a death of an alumnus.  In the case of a prospective student, the Office of Admissions should be contacted.  That office will de-activate the prospective student's record on the student information system and notify the Offices of University Housing, Financial Aid, and Business to discontinue mailings to the student's residence.  If a person associated with the Oregon Military Academy, or English Language Studies Center dies, Campus Public Safety will contact the appropriate person in these agencies. 

 

PROCEDURES

I. Death Off Campus 

A. 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. 

B. If the death occurs locally or in neighboring counties, Campus Public Safety may be notified by these agencies.  In the event another university official is informed of the death, he or she should contact Campus Public Safety. 

C. If a death occurs during a field trip, the university staff member accompanying the trip should follow prudent emergency procedures and as soon as possible contact Campus Public Safety at 503-838-8007.

D. Notification of appropriate university official 

1.  Campus Public Safety will notify the following university officials or their designee: 

 a. President 

 b. Vice President for Finance and Administration 

 c. Vice President for Student Affairs (in the case of a student death) 

 d. Provost 

 e. Director of Campus Public Safety  

 f. Director of Public Relations 

E. In the case of the death of a student the Vice President for Student Affairs will be responsible for coordinating follow-up activities.  These activities include: 

1.  Contacting the family to express condolences.  Information concerning the appropriate person to contact (parent, spouse, or guardian) can be obtained from the Registrar.  Appropriate family members (parents, in most instances) will be provided with the name and telephone number of a university official with whom they can discuss the situation. 

2.  Contacting the Business Office and Registrar’s Office to withdraw the student from classes and to stop any billing process to the family. 

3.  Consulting with University Housing (if the student lived on campus) to outline a plan of action to (a) work with the family in removing the student's possessions from his/her own room/apartment, (b) contact roommates, Resident Assistants, and other concerned parties, and (c) evaluate the need for supportive services for those affected by the death. 

4.  Informing the Student Health and Counseling Center to prepare them for any problems the death may cause for other students. 

5.  Informing the student's faculty. 

F.  In the case of the death of a faculty or staff person the Provost or Office of Human Resources, respectively, will be responsible for coordinating the follow-up activities.  These include the following: 

1.  Contacting the family to express condolences.  Information concerning the appropriate person to contact (spouse, parent) can be obtained from the appropriate University office.  Appropriate family members will be provided with the name and telephone number of a University official with whom they can discuss the situation. 

2.  Contacting the family for dispersal of benefits and responding to any questions and/or providing assistance with death benefits. 

 

II. Student Death in the Residence Halls 

 A. The residence hall staff member directly involved will call Campus Public Safety and, if the staff member is a Resident Assistant, immediately contact the senior staff person on duty.  The senior staff person on duty will immediately call the Director of University Housing and the Vice President for Student Affairs. 

1.  The staff must ensure that the scene is not disturbed until the circumstances of the death have been determined.  

2.  If the death is discovered by Campus Public Safety or if a safety officer is the first person contacted, the officer will notify the Senior Staff person on duty who will then follow above procedures. 

B. Campus Public Safety will contact the local police department and appropriate   emergency medical service to pronounce the death and transport the body.   They will also secure the scene and assist the local police department as requested in investigating the circumstances of the death. 

C. The local police will handle the notification of the next of kin and will inform Campus Public Safety when such notification has taken place.  Campus Public Safety will contact the Vice President for Student Affairs who will contact the family to offer condolences and assist with any arrangements that are needed relative to the University. 

D. Notification of appropriate university officials will follow the steps outlined in section I.D. with these additional steps. 

1.  The University Housing staff will consult with the Vice President for Student Affairs to determine whether the Vice President should come to the campus site. 

2.  If the situation requires it, the Director of the Student Health and Counseling Center will be contacted by University Housing in order to have Counseling Center staff come to campus to assist distressed students who need immediate attention.  If the Director is not available, the Director of University Housing will contact the on-call Counselor for assistance.  The Health Center will be available to work with students exhibiting somatic complaints to the death.   

3.  If the roommate is not present at the time of discovery, the Senior Staff member on duty and the Resident Assistant of that living area should try to locate the roommate and inform him/her of the death.  If the roommate cannot be immediately contacted, a senior staff member should be present as soon as the roommate returns and, if necessary, make arrangements for the person to move to another room. 

E. Follow-Up 

University Housing and the Counseling Center will work together to identify persons who need assistance in dealing with the death.  

Emphasis will be placed on continually updating the Office of Public Relations.  

When the property of the deceased is removed from his/her room, the Area Coordinator should be present to assist the family and to help identify the student's property. This action should be coordinated with Campus Public Safety prior to the removal of property. 

  

III. Release of Information 

A. The director of Public Relations will either serve as the official spokesperson for     the university, or determine which university official will speak to the media depending on the circumstances.  

B. The Public Relations officer will investigate factual information to prepare a release and/or statement for media notification.     

 Items typically used in obituary information include: 

1.  Birthdate, 

2.  Death date, 

3.  Place of birth, 

4.  Place of death, 

5.  Cause of death, 

6.  Immediate survivors, 

7.  Service and/or memorial information, 

8.  Contribution information, and 

9.  Background and/or directory information. 

Public Disclosure Laws will be the guideline for determining information to be distributed.  

It is important that Campus Public Safety, as well as other offices, work closely with the Office of Public Relations to maintain the accuracy of the information disseminated.  

C. Information may be obtained from records in the Offices of the Registrar, Public Relations, Campus Public Safety, and Vice President for Student Affairs; as well as police and mortuary reports. 

D. The Public Relations officer will distribute information to appropriate media sources which may include daily and weekly news media in the university's circulation area, student media, campus newsletter, wire services, student's hometown newspaper, and Alumni newspaper.  The breadth of distribution depends on the individual incident. 

 The Public Relations officer will prepare a general letter to the campus community via the President's office in cooperation with the Vice President for Student Affairs' office in the case of a student; the Provost or Vice President for Administration and Finance’s 

office in the case of a  faculty member, staff person, or emeritus faculty member; and/or the Office of Alumni Relations in the case of a prominent alumnus. 

E. News deadlines are daily and news of a death of a student and/or employee is usually considered breaking news.  In this instance, the Public Relations officer is on call 24-hours a day. 

 

IV. General Campus Follow-Up 

After a death, campus support services should be available to those individuals affected by the death. 

A. In the case of the death of a student, family members may want to talk with faculty, staff, or students concerning the death.  At the discretion of the Vice President for Student Affairs, someone from Student Affairs, who is familiar with the situation, may be assigned as a contact person to assist them with their concerns.  If the student lived in the residence halls, a member of the University Housing staff may facilitate this process.  It is important that the staff member assigned to assist the family be supportive of the family's needs while also protecting the needs of the students and staff. 

B. In the case of the death of a faculty member or staff person, family members may want to talk with members of the campus community or departments.  At the discretion of the President, a campus representative may be assigned as a contact person to assist them.  

C. Friends, colleagues, faculty, and students may need assistance in dealing with their reactions to the death.  The Counseling Center will offer short-term services to any individual or group that can be identified as being affected by the death. 

D. The Office of the Registrar will de-activate the records of deceased students.  The Office of Admissions will de-activate the records of a prospective student. 

E. The Office of Human Resources will deal appropriately with faculty or staff records and benefits procedures. 

REFERENCED OR RELATED POLICIES
RELEVANT DOCUMENTS AND LINKS
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HISTORY
APPROVAL DATE:
EFFECTIVE DATE:
LAST UPDATED: 01/01/2013

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SOURCE:    Previously Referred to as: PRE-VPSA-002
FOR POLICY WEBSITE INPUT (public audience keyword search)
fatality, death, dying