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Campus grieves over loss of two students

Tomorrow the flag in front of the LSC will fly at half-mast. This is a tradition marking the death of one of our own. The death of not one, but two students from CSU.

 Students needing assistance can call the Counseling Center at 970-491-6053 to set up an appointment.

Since last week, students and faculty have mourned the death of both students, both residents of the towers.

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“They’re very hard things to talk through for a lot of people. It may be one of the first times in their lives that they’ve dealt with the loss of someone they knew or were around and it’s very difficult, I think, for human beings to know how that’s going to affect them until they’re in that situation,” said President Tony Frank. “We want to make sure we have professionals around to help people talk through things.”

Support has so far been concentrated in Durward and Westfall halls.

According to Blanche Hughes, Vice President of the Division of student affairs, psychologists and case management teams were immediately sent to the towers after the first death. Emails were sent to parents and residents, letting everyone know that the deaths had occurred.

“They had meetings with students. First (those) who knew the student involved, then a larger meeting with the floor, then a larger meeting with the entire hall and then anyone else that needed to talk,” Hughes said.

All students were offered counseling services and each received an email with possible resources available. But what Dean of Students Jody Donovan noticed was that initially students preferred to talk to each other rather than to counseling staff.

In the wake of the most recent event, Donovan pushed to create group hours where residents could gather to discuss freely.

“Not paying any attention to it and not talking about it doesn’t allow any of us to make progress,” Frank said. “It winds up being a very complex conversation where the desire to do the right thing in some areas almost creates this sort of self-imposed silence that hinders progress.”

Deaths often remind students and faculty to think of friends, family and their support networks.

Donovan said the university takes many efforts to support students and particularly family members of the deceased.

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Donovan and her team work to prevent loved ones from experiencing painful reminders, from library books that were checked out under the student’s name to refunding parking passes to helping parents pack up their child’s belongings.

“They need to be with each other, they don’t need to think about us,” Donovan said.

ASCSU created a program that lowers the flag for three days when a student dies. After the days pass, the flag is sent to the family, along with cards, letters, coursework and a final, unofficial transcript.

“It’s just really trying to be thoughtful: How do we make this really, really hard process a little bit easier?” Donovan said.

The reverberations of a death can be felt from campus all the way to home states when a student is lost.

“I think that an event like this makes every parent want to hug their kids a little closer and I’m sure it makes kids want to think about their folks and their family,” Frank said.

Frank called all of his daughters within 24 hours of hearing about the most recent death and said he responds to these crises not only as the president but also as a father.

“If you said to every parent who drops off their son or daughter at any university in this country, ‘What’s the most important thing to you,’ it would be safety of their kids. I think we as a campus take that responsibility very seriously,” Frank said. “We want to make sure we do everything we can to make sure that people have the resources they need.”

CSU is continuing to support those affected by the recent deaths.

Frank’s favorite motto for students is more relevant than ever, “Take care of each other.”

Collegian Senior Reporter Mariah Wenzel can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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