When an extra edition of the Rowan Daily Mail went out to students announcing the death of one of the university’s students on the afternoon of Sept. 24, students across campus were left with many questions and uncertainties.
The announcement was vague. It only stated that a resident of Holly Pointe Commons had passed away the day before, then linked to a source that connects Rowan students to mental health counseling from the Wellness Center. Students were encouraged to seek help if they were upset by the news.
The email called for the university community to respect the privacy of the family in this understandably difficult time, which is likely why these questions remain unanswered. However, it does beg another question entirely.
Why send out a mass email to the entire student body about the death if no specific information can be given?
There are plenty of times throughout the year that messages are sent out where information regarding an event, such as this most recent student death, is kept to a minimum. Sexual assaults, drink spikings, and other sensitive crimes also fall into this category.
This is due to the Clery Act, which legally requires that the campus populace be clearly notified of crime on campus. Rowan’s response to this is Timely Warnings, the Daily Crime and Daily Fire Logs, and the annual Security and Fire Safety Report.
However, this most recent email was not a Timely Warning. It was an extra Rowan Announcer. While it is not the business of The Whit to speculate on this tragedy, the fact that this news was relayed only by email the day after the passing and not through the Timely Warning system conveys that the university did not see this news as an urgent threat to other students.
Given the lack of any clear threat to other students and the call for the family’s privacy to not be infringed upon, it would have been better not to widely announce the passing at all. The lack of detail is far more distressing to the general student body than not knowing would be.
Those who did not know the student were now left with unanswered questions that could have been avoided completely. On the other hand, those who already know the student would have most likely found out through other means or if they had not yet been notified by the time the announcement was made, the lack of any kind of identification would not have benefited them either.
The Whit Staff believes that by sending out this email, with very little information, Rowan is further adding to the stress and/or devastations of its general student body’s daily lives. As mentioned earlier, it is not The Whit’s business to speculate, but by making the information public, The Whit Staff is left more concerned than having closure.
Rowan should always aim to ensure peace of mind for its students rather than leaving students with uncertainty. Instead of sending a mass email with little information regarding a sensitive topic, there are two things Rowan can do. Either be transparent with your audience and compromise privacy for the sake of information or don’t send an email out so rumors and false information are able to spread.
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