The death of a student in the campus community is a tragic event and the university is committed to responding with care and support. Grieving family members, friends, faculty, and others who knew the student may all have different needs for support to help cope with the loss and begin the healing process. Frequently used resources include Center for Counseling and Psychological Health, the Grief and Loss Support Group, University Health Services, and Office of Religious and Spiritual Life. Sometimes a student organization, an academic department, or an office will plan individual gatherings and memorials. Staff members from the Dean of Students Office and Office of Religious and Spiritual Life are available to assist as needed.
If you are in need of a support resource and are unsure where to find it, please contact the Dean of Students Office.
What Happens When a Student Dies
When a UMass student passes away, the university:
- Stops and notes the loss of the student and grieves the loss.
- Respects the family’s wishes for privacy – an important aspect of choosing when to inform and include university community members.
- Fulfills requirements of state and local laws regarding notification of next of kin, reporting the cause of a death, and allowing law enforcement to conduct its investigation.
- Reassures community members when a death occurs within the boundaries of the campus.
- Provides information and support resources for impacted students, faculty, and staff.
Soon after receiving confirmation of a student’s death, a Dean of Students staff member will contact the family to determine their wishes for sharing information, need for any services, or memorial planning. The Dean of Students Office will also coordinate with other campus offices and academic affairs to notify faculty, roommates, and students close to the deceased.
When a death occurs on or nearby campus, the university will often send a notice to the campus community to reassure them and to direct them to available resources. The decision to send a notice is based on several factors including:
- permission from law enforcement and District Attorney’s office;
- notice to the family of the student;
- availability of staff to assist impacted community members; and
- time of year (if the university is open or in winter/summer session).
After a campus notification, the university often receives news media inquiries and will share appropriate public information about the death. If a campus notification is not made, news inquiries may also occur and public information may be released to the news media.
Our deepest condolences are shared with the family, friends, and faculty of these students who we have lost.
Memorial and/or funeral information is maintained on this site during the academic year following the service, so that community members may express condolences to family and friends.