In the wake of a tragedy on campus, the GW community should look to the University for direct information, condolences and help for grieving students. For these reasons, GW’s insufficient response to the loss of one of its own is sad and disconcerting.
A week after the accidental death of biomedical engineering student Taylor Hubbard, the University has yet to acknowledge this tragedy to the entire GW community. While University President Steven Knapp shared the news during the Commencement Ceremony last Sunday, and laudably took a moment of silence in Hubbard’s honor, this proved to be the first, and one of the only, steps towards directly reaching out to students.
A statement found on the media center of the University’s website is not enough when so many students, specifically sophomores, are no longer on campus. And to go this long without so much as an Infomail is unacceptable. The University, especially the Office of the President, should have notified students directly via an email, and should have suggested resources students could turn to in grieving. This would have been both informative and helpful in this time of sadness.
As for the news release on the GW website, it is too detached and impersonal for this tragedy. There is almost no information about Hubbard’s life, what he was involved in on campus and who he was as a student of this school. It did not adequately address who Hubbard was to the GW community.
We understand there may not be steps in place to release the news and honor the life of a lost student. Every case must be dealt with sensitively, and many times, differently. But GW experienced a similar loss last year, with the death of Laura Treanor. The University could have followed the steps it took in the wake of Treanor’s death. While a formal memorial for Hubbard may not have been possible considering that many students are away for the summer, the University should have notified students the way they notified students of Treanor’s death, through a University-wide Infomail. This would minimize confusion and provide students with the help they need in mourning. This is a very sad occurrence for GW, and the entire community, especially Hubbard’s classmates and friends, should have been informed and helped better.
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