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Student Bereavement Policy gives official guidelines to students, faculty


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Students who have lost a loved one will no longer have to worry about how it will impact their grades.

Central Michigan University’s Student Bereavement Policy became official on Oct. 16 when President George Ross signed the proposal, cementing a procedure for when students cannot attend class and miss assignments because of the death of a loved one.

“(The policy) provides a framework of expectations for students and faculty members to help guide them in these unfortunate situations,” said Tony Voisin, associate vice president for student affairs.

Students should notify the Office of Student Affairs by phone (989) 774-3346 or email studentaffairs@cmich.edu after the death of their loved ones as soon as possible, according to the new guideline. They are then supposed to send important “documentation of the passing,” such as an obituary or funeral service card, as soon as possible, the policy states.

The policy will help prevent students from missing credit for an assignment, test or quiz while they are at the funeral of a loved one or at home grieving with their families.

Although most faculty have academically accommodated students who would miss class for funerals of loved ones, Voisin said this policy makes it easier for both parties.

“Now, we have (the procedure) in writing and it has become official. There are parameters, there are guidelines, there are recommended options for how the instructor and the student can work together — so it develops a procedure,” Voisin said.

The policy states that the students will receive up to three consecutive days off to attend memorial services and provide support to family members. If students need more days off, the policy states the notification of an extended leave must be provided in the initial report created by the Office of Student Affairs. Ultimately, however, Voisin, will be the one to approve or deny the extended leave, according to the policy.

Once the Office of Student Affairs approves the student’s leave, an employee of the office will notify the student’s professors or instructors of the absence, according to the policy. Then professors and instructors should work with the student to create an appropriate plan to make up the missed classwork.

The idea of the policy came from Makenzie Wireman, an integrated public relations major who graduated from CMU in 2015, Voisin said. Wireman came up with the idea for the bereavement policy for a class project and brought it to Voisin’s attention in fall 2014.

During winter break that year, Voisin said he hired Wireman as an employee at the Office of Student Affairs to work on research and conducting surveys regarding the possible bereavement policy.

On Oct. 19, 2015, the Student Government Association’s house and senate amended and supported the policy.

The policy eventually moved up to Steven Johnson, the vice president of Enrollment and Student Services. A member of the president’s cabinet, Johnson brought it before Ross, who signed the policy Oct. 16 of this year.

SGA president Ian Elliot said he is glad the work of former SGA president, Charles Mahone, has come to fruition.

“It was definitely a need on the student and faculty side,” Elliot said.

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