Actively Moving Forward pushes for bereavement policy

Laurel Kraus, Staff Reporter

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More than one-third of college students will experience the loss of a loved one during their four years, according to ResearchGate.

Actively Moving Forward, an Oakland University student organization that serves as a support group for students who are grieving the death or illness of a loved one, is attempting to implement a bereavement leave policy.

AMF at OU is part of over 70 chapters nationwide and was founded at OU in winter of 2014, after the death of Cody Petzold, a well-known OU student.

“Our biggest concern was to make sure that people are safe here, they feel included here, they feel loved and welcome,” said Elijah Sanders, AMF member and congressional archivist and legislator for OU Student Congress. “That’s why we’re doing this. We want to grow campus and grow it as a family unit.”

According to AMF President Alex Currington, once a chapter of AMF is brought to a university that doesn’t already have a bereavement policy, it becomes the goal to implement one using AMF’s nationwide template.

“The bereavement leave policy that Actively Moving Forward at OU is proposing would give undergraduate and graduate, part-time and full-time students of Oakland University up to three days of excused absence from classwork, whether it be exams, papers or tests, when they have suffered a significant loss in their immediate family,” Currington said.

Students would be able to utilize the policy from the time of their loved one’s death up to a week after the funeral, proceedings or service.

The broad statement of immediate family includes mother, father, sister, brother, grandparents, spouse, anyone living in the same household and in-laws.

The AMF is also pushing for this to include stepsiblings, fiances, fiancees and miscarriages.

“At this point, unfortunately, we haven’t found a way we can include close friends, since another consideration is students abusing and manipulating this policy for their own personal gain,” Currington said.

The organization’s first step toward implementing the policy was to send out a survey in Google Docs that asks four yes-or-no questions and was created to determine how students at OU have been affected by loss during their time at the university.

The survey has collected over 250 responses so far, and AMF plans to bring this data to a meeting with President George Hynd on Feb. 17.

Other universities, such as Purdue University and Boston University, already have bereavement leave policies. AMF’s proposed policy for Oakland is being modeled after Boston University’s.

Currington’s goal is for the bereavement leave policy to be implemented by fall 2018.

Currington said a possible barrier for the policy is that it’s set up to be maintained through the Dean of Students Office, but the office is currently low on staffing with a significant workload.

For more information on AMF or the bereavement leave proposal, email Alex Currington at [email protected].

The next AMF meeting will take place 3-5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 13 in Lake Superior Room A of the Oakland Center.