The University of North Carolina at Charlotte intends to provide a safe and positive environment for all students. However, when tragedy does occur, it is the responsibility of the University to respond in a sensitive and sympathetic manner. The death of a student impacts the entire University community. These guidelines have been established to provide an orderly, effective, and caring response.
While this policy pertains particularly to currently enrolled, degree-seeking students, it is also desirable to include under it distance learning students, students who have dropped out of the University and English Language Training Institute (“ELTI”) students. In the event of the death of an ELTI or an international student, the Office of International Programs should be notified as soon as possible. While alumni are not technically students, it is desirable that the Office of Alumni Affairs
be notified in the case of a death of an alumnus.
I. Student Death Off Campus
A. Response to any death occurring off campus will be handled initially by the local police agency and/or the hospital involved. It is the responsibility of these agencies to notify the next of kin.
B. If the death occurs in Charlotte or Mecklenburg County, Campus Police may be notified by that agency. In the event another campus official is informed of the student's death, that official should contact Campus Police.
C. If a death occurs during a field trip, the University staff member accompanying the trip should immediately contact local emergency services and the local law enforcement agency. Once the situation is secured, the following should be contacted:
- Appropriate Academic Dean or Department Head, if it was an academic field trip
- Campus Police
- Director of Student Activities, if it was a Venture Program trip
D. Notification of Appropriate Campus Officials
- The Campus Police will notify the following campus officials:
- Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, who will contact the Chancellor when appropriate
- Director of Police and Public Safety
- Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs
- Director of Public Relations
- Director of Housing and Residence Life, if the student has an on-campus residence
- Office of Legal Affairs
- The Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs will be responsible for coordinating follow-up activities. These activities include:
- Contacting the family to express condolences. Information concerning the appropriate person to contact (parent, spouse, or guardian) can be obtained from the Registrar. Appropriate family members (parents, in most instances) will be provided with the name and telephone number of a campus official with whom they can discuss the situation.
- Contacting the Office of the Registrar to withdraw the student and prepare a degree check-out report for the Provost’s Office.
- Contacting the Student Accounts Office to stop any billing process to the student or student’s family.
- Consulting with Housing and Residence Life (if the student lived on campus) to outline a plan of action to (a) work with the family in removing the student's possessions from his/her own room/apartment, (b) contact roommates, Residence Advisors and other concerned parties, and (c) evaluate the need for supportive services for those affected by the death.
- Contacting the University Career Center.
- Informing the Counseling Center and Health Center to prepare them for any problems the death may cause for other students.
- Contacting Information and Technology Services to take steps regarding student’s email account.
- Contacting the Dean of Students to discontinue academic integrity and/or disciplinary proceedings.
- The Office of Public Relations will be responsible for collecting and disseminating information to the media. All requests for information should be directed to this office. It is important that the Campus Police and Student Affairs work closely with this office and the University Attorney to maintain the accuracy of the information disseminated.
- Where a student death occurs on University premises or at events under University control, it is important that no person involved in the University response speculate as to the cause of death or make statements assigning responsibility for the cause of death to any individual or group. Requests for such information by the media or others should note that the University (and/or other agencies) will promptly conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause and circumstances of the death.
After the death of a student, campus support services should be available to those individuals affected by the death.
- Family members may want to talk with faculty, staff, or students concerning the death. At the discretion of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, someone from Student Affairs who is familiar with the situation may be assigned as a contact person to assist them with their concerns. If the student lived in the residence halls, a member of the Residence Life staff may facilitate this process. It is important that the staff member assigned to assist the family be supportive of the family's needs while also protecting the needs of the students and staff.
- Friends, classmates, and faculty may need assistance in dealing with their reactions to the death. The Counseling Center will offer short-term services to any individual or group that can be identified as being affected by the death.
II. Student Death in the Residence Halls
- The residence hall staff member immediately involved will call Campus Police (2200) and describe the situation. If the staff member is a Residence Advisor, he/she should then contact the Residence Coordinator on duty who will come to the scene of the emergency. The Residence Coordinator will contact the Central Staff (director, associate director, or assistant director).
- Caution must be taken not to disturb the scene until the circumstances of the death have been determined. Access to the scene should be extremely limited.
- If the death is discovered by the Campus Police or if the Campus Police are the first persons contacted, the officer involved should notify the Residence Coordinator on duty.
- Campus Police will contact the appropriate emergency medical service to pronounce the death and transport the body and will seal the room and investigate the circumstances of the death.
- Notification of Appropriate University Officials will follow the steps outlined in Section I.D.1. with these additional steps:
- Housing and Residence Life Central Staff will consult with the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs to determine whether he/she should come to the campus site.
- Housing and Residence Life staff member closest to the situation (unless someone else has been designated) will consult with the police agency assuming jurisdiction on notification of next of kin. If it is decided that it is not practical for the staff member to actually visit next of kin, the police agency which does make notification will have the name and telephone number of a campus official with whom they can discuss the situation. In addition, the police agency making the notification will be requested to confirm notification with this campus official and to inform who was notified.
- The Counseling Center psychologist on call will be contacted by Housing and Residence Life, if the situation requires it, and will come to campus if there are distressed students who need immediate attention. Friends' roommates, or observers of the incident may experience extreme emotional reactions and need to talk with someone. If the psychologist on call is not contacted, Housing and Residence Life will contact the Director of the Counseling Center as soon as the Counseling Center opens on the next working day.
- The Health Center will be contacted by Housing and Residence Life in order to be prepared to deal with students exhibiting somatic complaints related to the death.
- If the roommate is not present at the time of the discovery, the Residence Coordinator and Residence Advisor should try to locate the roommate and inform him/her of the death. If the roommate cannot be immediately contacted, the Residence Coordinator should be present as soon as the roommate returns to the building and make arrangements for the roommate to move to another room if necessary.
- The Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Office will contact the Student Accounts and Registrar's Offices to withdraw the student from classes and to stop any billing process to the family.
Procedures in Section I.F. will be followed with special emphasis on Housing and Residence Life and the Counseling Center working together to identify persons who need assistance in dealing with the death. Special emphasis will also be placed on continually updating the Public Relations Office.
When the property of the deceased student is removed from his/her room or apartment, the Residence Coordinator and roommate(s) should be present during this process to assist the family and to help identify the student's property. This action should be coordinated with Campus Police prior to removing any property.
III. On-Campus Death of Student Outside the Residence Halls
- If a student death occurs on campus but outside the residence halls, Campus Police should be immediately notified. Campus Police will contact the appropriate emergency medical service to pronounce the death and transport the body.
- If the student lived on campus, appropriate notification and follow-up procedures should be followed according to Sections I.D.1., I.E., I.F., II.C., and II.D.
- If the student lived off campus, appropriate notification and follow-up procedures should be followed according to Sections I.D., I.E., and I.F.