Students discuss death notifications


“Our world is really chaotic, painful and divided right now, and we have people that are struggling,” Gina Firth, associate dean of wellness, said. “That’s just the reality of the world we live in right now.”

Several tragic deaths have occurred at UT in the past year, including Jamal Nganga and Alexa Nowak. In addition, young alumni and students have passed away, such as Hannah Cimon and Ricardo Vega. Students only received an email about Hannah Cimon, however, because she was found dead at UT next to West Parking Garage.

“This is so sad but we’ve had a lot of young alumni pass away,” Firth said. “It has to have a direct impact on the campus before [UT administration] is going to put any large announcement out.”

“Crafting emails when we lose a student is never easy,” Stephanie Russell Krebs, dean of students and vice president of student affairs said. “Typically if a death of a current student occurs on-campus, we send out a brief email that lets the community know the student has passed and that no foul play was involved so everyone knows that they are safe.”

However, some students believe the wording of the emails, especially the heading, “Sad News,” is inappropriate.

“Three students have passed away this year and got the same bleak, vague email sent out about the ‘sad news’ of their death, [in the last year]” Nathanson said. “We wanted a little more than just alerting us by email that we were receiving ‘sad news.’ I just wish the school was a little more empathetic about Jamal’s passing, as the Wellness Center has been amazing to us. But administration-wise, I don’t the same feeling.”

“You can say one thing and this group doesn’t like it, if you say another thing, this group doesn’t like it,” Firth said. “There is no good way to do this.”

UT’s Wellness Center will be offering Mental Health First Aid training sessions that will be open to students after spring break and is currently scheduling them. For more information, students can contact the Wellness Center at

Indira Moosai can be reached at

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