Rutgers student deaths leave questions


Administration copy-paste condolences not cutting it


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Rutgers administration recently began reporting what appears to be every student death. When a University student passes away, a mass email is sent to student, professors, faculty and staff. Each of these deaths is announced with great sorrow and deep regret. At this point, it feels as if University members receive an email reporting the death of a student every couple weeks. Each message begins with an opening paragraph that includes the student's name and a couple spare details about them. The second paragraph typically contains information about a memorial or funeral service. The closing paragraph is always a copy and pasted blanket statement that refers grieving students to CAPS (Counseling, ADAP, and Psychological Services,) and asks them to speak to Resident Assistants or their Dean of Students. In some instances, it is blatantly obvious that the paragraph has been copied and pasted because the formatting does not match the rest of the email. If the time is being taken to send an email to tens of thousands of people, then extra care should be used to make sure each message sounds personalized, not reused.

While it is not the University administration’s responsibility to hold memorial services for each individual that passes away, offering up a little more information when possible would be helpful. Releasing not only their class year and school, but what they were studying and what clubs and activities they were involved in will help the rest of the population get to know who they were. At such a large school, its impossible to know everyone –– sometimes it's impossible to know all of the students in your classes. But if we are taking the time to remember each student posthumously, then knowing more details about them would help to humanize each individual death. Similarly, releasing the cause of death would also aid in distinguishing each death and allowing each student to leave their own mark on the minds and hearts of all Rutgers community members. In the same breath, it is very possible that family members of each student are asking for certain information to be withheld, as they have the right to do. Yet if the time and effort is already being devoted to releasing the information, then taking more time to offer students more details would help everyone paint a better picture of the role each student played as a part of the University.

It’s obvious that Rutgers has to run like a business. There are thousands of students and staff members that have issues arising each day that need to be attended to. Unfortunately, sending an email about a student passing away may only be a small part of Chancellor Richard L. Edwards’ day, but it is important nonetheless. It has been made clear that deaths are not connected. The spacing varies between each death and some causes have been released. Rutgers is a big school. Statistically speaking it makes sense for students to die each year. With an undergraduate population of 35,000 students, death is a reality.

There is a common thread that runs through each of us on campus. We’re all Rutgers students and members of the University community. Going to school here is a unique and different experience that is not mimicked on any other campus in the nation. Students at other universities don’t know what it feels like trying to get on a bus at the Scott Hall bus stop after 5 p.m. Other college students don’t know the joy of screaming the fight song and hearing the cannon go off at a football game. In remembering each of these students, it’s important to think about the University as a whole and how special the experience of each student is.


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