In the unfortunate event of a student death, it is important for campus administrators to respond successfully to strike the right balance of empathy and professionalism. UE calls this balance the “Cool Head, Warm Heart” approach. Using it, an institution can promote healing and trust by students, staff, and next of kin. However, failing to respond appropriately to a student’s death can lead to reputational damage, litigation, and campus division.
Designed to provide campus administrators guidance on how to consistently react with compassion, this checklist offers strategies to:
- Ensure relevant campus departments receive timely information about a student’s death
- Make sure the deceased’s family is notified and treated with compassion through difficult times
- Prepare or provide related helpful documents
- Gather and communicate information about the deceased student
- Support the campus community by seeking out those on campus who were close to the deceased, such as friends, teammates, siblings, or resident advisors
- Planning for memorial services
The unique circumstances of each death—whether self-inflicted, criminal, accident, or natural causes—may prompt differences in the institution’s response. Consult this checklist for help on responding appropriately every time.