BY: KYLE WOOSLEY
The Student Senate unanimously passed a resolution for a standardized bereavement policy at Eastern.
The resolution, which was led by Claire Good, interim vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students, would allow students to have time off following the death of an immediate family member.
“It’s going to be a standardized university policy to give students an allotted number of days to miss class,” said Daniel Stewart, sponsoring senator for the resolution and clerk of Student Senate. “Something like this could benefit anybody in that [grieving] situation.”
The overall goal of the policy, Stewart said, is to give students time to make up tests and assignments, but to have time to grieve for their loss with funeral and visitation services.
Stewart said any time allowed off following a death for a student is fluidic from professor to professor.
“Some professors have a grievance policy within their syllabus but it’s not standardized through the university,” Stewart said.
Good said having a standardized policy would keep all faculty members in unison when dealing with deaths in students’ immediate family.
“Students would know that all faculty members would be working from the same instructions,” Good said. “Right now, it’s up to each individual faculty member as to how to handle it.”
Good said some professors just do not allot students the time needed to attend funeral services and visitations.
“It seems like for a loss in your family there should be a standardized policy so students don’t have to worry about missing classes for a funeral,” Good said.
Good said this would eliminate any confusion for faculty and students alike.
“I think having a formal bereavement policy will help them know what their options are as far as dealing with these absences,” Good said.
Nichole Arbino, executive vice president of senate, said it shows a more sensitive side to the university.
“It would show the university as a whole is a lot more generous to the needs of students,” Arbino said. “It shows we don’t just go to class, we have lives.”
Madelyn Street, student body president, said she thinks it will be beneficial to students in a situation where someone has passed away.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Street said. “I’ve heard from students who have had a loss in the past and they wish there was a policy like this in place.”
She said the policy will prevent students from dealing with the hassle of contacting all of their professors about missing classes.
“There’s like a specific time you’re allowed to miss classes and you miss a test, professors have to let you make it up,” Street said.
Arbino said the bereavement policy would be incorporated into the syllabus. She said senate wanted to show student support for the initiative before Good moved forward with it.
“I appreciate the support of student government in getting this going,” Good said.
If the policy were to be put into effect, Arbino said it would have a positive effect on both students and faculty.
“We just wanted a way for students to have that time they obviously need,” Arbino said. “It’s hard enough to lose someone close to you without having to have to worry about this class and that class.”
Good said the next step is to write a statement to send to the Policy and Compliance Office, which will draft an official policy.
If everything goes smoothly, Good said the policy should be effect in the fall 2013 semester.