Students making living wills with Student Legal Services

Ryan Loew

Terri Schiavo, a 41-year-old woman who had been in a persistent vegetative state since 1990, died amid a right-to-die controversy last March. Americans soon began to think about their own end-of-life wishes.

In response to the death of Schiavo, who had no living will, more people, including Kent State students, have begun creating the document that could have quelled the controversy — a living will.

A living will is a legal document that enables people to designate their health care decisions in the case that they become terminally ill or fall into a persistently vegetative state, said Carol Crimi Szabo, senior staff attorney for Kent State’s Student Legal Services. Under those circumstances, people can designate if they want to be on life support.

“I think consciousness has been heightened because of recent events,” Szabo said. “No one ever knows when they’re going to be subject to one of these medical conditions. This way the person can be assured that their wishes are carried out.”

About six to eight students came in for living wills this semester, Szabo said, and they usually wanted a whole will package that allows them to designate the distribution of their belongings.

“I do find that students who come in for this purpose … (they) want the ability to direct their health care providers on how to treat them under these circumstances,” Szabo said.

Student Legal Services is located in McDowell Hall and has provided about 140 students with legal advice and representation this semester, Szabo said.

Some students said they have been thinking of creating living wills, but have not gone to Student Legal Services or any attorney to create one.

“I think it’s always good to get a living will because you never know what’s going to happen,” said Angie Lay, sophomore paralegal studies major.

Students just want to be prepared, Szabo said.

“It’s not something I’ve thought about yet because I still have a year and a half until I go active,” said Tim Bergman, a junior marketing major and Army ROTC cadet.

Contact administration reporter Ryan Loew at [email protected].