Official student bereavement leave policy is implemented

Laurel Kraus, Managing Editor

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According to Purdue University, 40 percent of college students have grieved a death within the past two years.

Oakland University implemented the first Bereavement Leave Policy for Undergraduate Students at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year thanks to the efforts of Actively Moving Forward at Oakland University (AMF), a club that was created as a student support group after a string of passings of OU students and faculty.

“The policy is like a streamlined process that allows students, in the event of losing a loved one, since it’s such an emotionally sensitive time, it predetermines a set amount of days that they can already have off,” said Maya Sammane, president of AMF. “They don’t have to dispute with their professors or with any other departments on campus, they get three days off, and of course they can request more if needed for travel or specific circumstances.”

While the policy applies to all part-time and full-time undergraduate students at OU, there is not yet an official policy for graduate students because that becomes far more complex to create according to Laura Dinsmoor, previous chair of Student Academic Support Committee on the University Senate. Graduate students are still welcome to talk to faculty and the Dean of Students if a situation arises.

All a student must do to utilize the policy is fill out a form on Oakland’s website. The form will ask general circumstances of the situation such as who a student has lost and how much time he or she will need off. The Dean of Students will then communicate with the professors and take over the process.

According to Dinsmoor, the new policy is not only beneficial to students but also clarifies how professors should handle the situation so everyone knows their roles.

The process of the policy began in spring of 2017 when Alex Currington, previous president AMF, pushed for it to be implemented.

“[Currington] realized that Oakland University, among many other universities in the U.S., [didn’t] have a policy that helps students get time off in the event of losing a loved one,” Sammane said. “We realized that that was a really big thing for us to have on campus, it would be a great benefit to everyone.”

After a draft of the policy was proposed, Dinsmoor’s committee was tasked with researching what other Michigan universities were already doing and then with drafting their own recommended version of it while identifying the responsibilities for different organizations, faculty and students.

The research revealed that very few schools in Michigan have such a policy in place for students.

“I think just in light of how many universities, especially in Michigan, don’t already have a policy that recognizes that students do often experience losses like this… the fact that students get to know that they have this right to take time off already given to them, that’s a big deal,” Sammane said.

She hopes faculty will add the policy to their syllabi so that students know they have this support and can utilize it if they need to.

“I think it just really is a demonstration of how much Oakland cares for their students and wants to see them succeed, and that they recognize that life happens and that students can have the support they need,” Sammane said.

More information on the new Bereavement Leave Policy for Undergraduate Students can be found on Oakland University’s website.