Rowan broke news of the death of a student in the afternoon of Sept. 24 through an Extra Rowan Announcer signed by President Ali Houshmand.
“I am deeply saddened to announce that a resident of Holly Pointe Commons passed away yesterday. Please keep the student and family in your thoughts and respect their privacy,” said Houshmand via Rowan Announcer.
The cause of death was not made publicly known by the university in the announcer or anytime in the week since it was initially sent out.
Kevin Koett is the dean of students and vice president of student life. Koett said that the cause of death remains confidential for the family and friends of the student as the university did not want to share specific information about the case. Especially since some who knew the deceased may have not yet been notified. Despite all of this, the decision to notify the community of the fact that a death had occurred was ultimately still made.
“We feel like the university community certainly needed to know what happened because they may have seen EMS respond, they may have seen police respond, they may have seen, they may have heard from their friends. So we felt like there was an importance to acknowledge that a student had passed away,” said Koett.
When a student dies at Rowan, a number of departments are contacted to make decisions on what happens next, how or if the community is notified, and leadership weighs all possible outcomes. Rowan’s leadership comes together with representatives from the offices of the dean of students and the provost, the president, the Wellness Center, and the police.
“There is a process and that we make sure the investigation process plays out, we make sure that the families have all been notified,… and then we make a decision on the impacts that has to the campus… it’s a balancing act, we still today struggle with, in all honesty, how to add and navigate that. So we’re always trying to think about the community, make sure we’re respectful of the community but also respectful of the family,” said Scott Woodside, director of the Wellness Center.
The Wellness Center offers support to students and faculty who were directly impacted by a student death in the form of a stress management and response team — as well as the standard counseling services offered to all students if the news of the death was upsetting to them. Associate Director of the Wellness Center Amy Hoch said students are encouraged to reach out to professional staff if the news has had a negative impact on them.
“I think, depending on the student and how they might have been connected to a student who dies, it might be talking more to some personal resources or are using us, but if it’s after hours, we have that after-hours on-call service that students can use and talk to a counselor and we get reports about any of those calls,” said Hoch.