Policy on Memorials for Deceased Campus Community Members
Policy Category: Student Affairs
Effective Date: 9/13/2023
Responsible Officer: Vice President of Student Affairs
History: New Policy
Responsible Office: Dean of Students/Center for Wellness
This policy is intended to provide guidance to Wentworth Institute of Technology (the university) related to the memorialization of deceased students, faculty, or staff members.
This policy applies to all members of the Wentworth community, students, faculty, staff, and affiliates.
The loss of a member of the Wentworth community is deeply emotional and we recognize that students, employees, and families who experience a loss may want to pay tribute to their loved one. Wentworth strives to provide support and resources to the friends and families who have lost a loved one, but also recognizes that a campus should not serve as a primary venue for the memorialization of deceased individuals.
Wentworth utilizes best practices from leading mental health organizations to guide its policy regarding vigils or permanent memorials on campus. The Higher Education Mental Health Alliance (HEMHA), in Postvention: A Guide for Response to Suicide on College Campuses, recommends that “it is best to limit or not hold memorial services, under ideal circumstances.” The report further recommends that “holding one memorial each year for all members of the community who die (regardless of cause of death.)”
In an intentional effort to respect the different ways individuals process loss, the possibility of contagion in memorializing individuals lost to suicide and understanding that the campus population and physical footprint is ever changing, permanent memorials for deceased individuals shall be limited to the establishment of endowed funds (such as scholarships) or other philanthropic gifts as outlined in the Wentworth Gift Policy. Memorials shall be limited to one per loss.
- Temporary memorials: These are spontaneous memorials organized by individuals impacted by the loss of a Wentworth community member. These may include flowers, stuffed animals, cards, or photos.
- Permanent memorials: These are university supported or funded objects that carry the name of the deceased that reside on campus grounds.
- Vigil: This is a ceremony of remembrance for the deceased, often involving speakers, candles, and/or prayer.
Requests for a memorial will be directed to the Dean of Students for students and Human Resources for faculty or staff.
Temporary university-wide memorials for deceased individuals that may organically appear after a loss may be displayed for up to four weeks. After that time, the items will be gathered and provided to the family or designated individual by the Dean of Students.
At times, the university may work with family members to further memorialize a deceased individual by granting an honorary degree during a commencement ceremony (see the Policy on Posthumous Degrees below).
Family and friends wishing to establish a permanent memorial at the university may do so by making a philanthropic gift to establish an endowed scholarship named after/in memory of the deceased.
If appropriate, friends and family may also make a philanthropic gift to an existing Wentworth fund in memory/honor of the deceased.
All philanthropic gifts will be accepted in accordance with Wentworth Gift Policy. For a copy of Wentworth’s Gift Policy, please reach out to the Vice President, Institutional Advancement and External Affairs.
The university understands that spontaneous gatherings may occur led by individuals personally connected to the deceased; however, except in limited cases, the university does not organize or sponsor vigils. The university will work with the family of the deceased to share information and support individuals in attending official memorial services.
Additional Information & Related Documents
- Policy on Posthumous Degrees
- Policy on Gifts (Wentworth Gift Policy)
- Postvention: A Guide for Response to Suicide on Campus
Interpretation & Revision
Any questions of interpretation regarding this policy shall be referred to the Vice President of Student Affairs/Director of Human Resources. They will be the final authority regarding the interpretation of this policy.
This policy shall be reviewed every three years; however, minor changes and updates can be made at any time.
Wentworth will typically apply the policy in place at the time it receives a report concerning the respected policy.
Additionally, in instances where two or more policies are implicated, a case-by-case determination will be made to determine what policy will be used.
Review & Revision History
This policy was drafted by representatives from the Division of Student Affairs and the Office of Human Resources. This policy was reviewed by Cabinet and approved by the President on 9/13/2023.
This is a new policy.