Book by Rosa Cintron, Erin Taylor Weathers & Katherine Garlough
Review by Ross Hawkins
Transfer Advisor, Academic Advisement Center
Missouri State University
Death is difficult to accept at any age. However, when death visits a college campus, it can be unbearable. College Student Death is a book comprised of several authors who attempt to offer guidance on this difficult topic. Although this book can be challenging to read due to its emotional content, it offers detailed examples on how other colleges have dealt with student death.
College Student Death leads its readers through a journey before, during, and after death has visited a college campus. The authors begin by introducing the topic of preparedness. Although death is an event many individuals do not like to prepare for, it will happen and being prepared is instrumental. Gary Mark Gilmore states “Death is the only inescapable, unavoidable, sure thing. We are sentenced to die the day we’re born.” It is important for a college to have a campus response team and close working relationships with law enforcement and local hospitals. The book highlights the importance of compassion among the campus community and beyond. College officials must be able to assist the grieving family, while simultaneously assisting students and dealing with the local or national media outlets. The book also discussed the topic of funeral arrangements, especially when dealing with the death of an international student. We all deal with death differently, especially if different cultures or customs exist. College Student Death addressed the topic of remembrance. Depending on circumstances and family involvement, many colleges will plan memorials, dedications, or endowed scholarships to honor the deceased. Finally, the book addressed administrative concerns, including legal and image repair issues.
I appreciated the real-life examples used throughout the book. For example, an exclusive chapter was dedicated to the 1999 bonfire collapse at Texas A&M University. I personally remember this tragic event and the media frenzy around it. However, I was able to relate more to this event after reading the chapter. I was reminded of the raw emotions of students, family members, and the campus community. And, as a result of this chapter, I had a better understanding of what was going on behind the scenes with campus administrators. The examples used in this book added a personal touch to inform the audience that tragedies can and unfortunately do occur on college campuses.
Although this book was very interesting and informative, I would not necessarily recommend it to other academic advisors. I believe it is more suited for high-level administrators and campus counseling centers. It is important for advisors to have an understanding on how to deal with the death of an advisee. However, this book discussed in detail many additional issues that a traditional academic advisor would not encounter. As a result, an advisor may feel overwhelmed by the content of this book. College Student Death would be a great resource for college campus administration as well as institutions in the beginning stages of preparing or re-organizing a campus response team.
College Student Death: Guidance for a Caring Campus. (2007). Book by Rosa Cintron, Erin Taylor Weathers & Katherine Garlough. Review by Ross Hawkins. Lanham, MD: University Press of America (Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group). 240 pp., $29.95, ISBN # 978-0-7618-3700-8