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Student Government Association working on bereavement policy

20 February 2013 By Allison Brickell, Staff Writer No Comments

The Student Government Association is developing a plan to help students after the death of a family member.
A bereavement policy is something the SGA is pushing to prevent undergraduates’ grades from suffering while they face emotional stress, according to Kennard Wallace, SGA chief of staff.
“In times for sudden emotional hardship, they will legally have some time to grieve and mentally and emotionally recover,” Wallace said in an email. “Other major or emerging colleges and universities have an undergraduate student Bereavement Policy, so it is only right that the undergraduate students, the largest faction at Towson University, be entitled to this policy.”
Senior Rachel Spears said she would be supportive of the plan.
“I definitely think it’s a good thing that they are considering this,” she said. “Dealing with any sort of death is very difficult.”
Wallace said the policy is meant to relieve students from class pressures until they are able to cope with a loss.
“The Bereavement Policy entails that a student, who may have just learned of the passing of their parent, sibling, or close family relative, as they were walking to class to present a project or while they were studying for a mid-term exam the next day, could have some time to recollect themselves and heal so that they are better prepared to exceed academically,” he said.
Spears said the student should communicate with their professors should an emergency arise, and not rely solely on a potential policy.
Wallace said the SGA has been working on the policy since spring 2012 semester and has just started to gain momentum.
They plan to have an official document before spring break to present to administration.
Wallace said he and SGA Senator Kevin Kutner were inspired to research the bereavement policies of other schools after a student came to them with a problem.
“[A student] had gone back home to the funeral of his grandmother,” he said. “When he returned back to campus, after taking some time off to grieve and travel, he was met with the hardship of missing and late assignments. According to him, one professor even suggested he just withdraw from the course completely. To me, this is unacceptable. No undergraduate student, while I am on the executive board, should be met with such language.”
The goal, Wallace said, is to implement a policy similar to other universities.
“With this proposal, there will be a blanket bereavement policy that states that a student who suffers a lose in their immediate family will have appropriate time to grieve, recollect themselves, and not face academic punishment due to unforeseen circumstances,” he said.

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