University to implement year-end memorial service

Steven Harbaugh

After a chain of student deaths, the university has decided to implement a year-end memorial service. This nondenominational service will be a way to remember the students, faculty and members of the community who have passed away during the course of the academic year.

Individual academic departments or organizations will still be able to set up memorial services if they like, but the year-end service is a way for the university to put its time and effort into one memorial, said Greg Jarvie, dean of students.

This year’s memorial service will take place a few weeks before the end of the semester at a time and location to be announced. This will be an annual memorial service. Other universities, such as Ohio State University, use a combined end-of-the-year memorial service.

At Case Western Reserve University, most memorial services follow within a couple weeks of the death, said Jill Kent, a spokeswoman for the Case Western Reserve University Office of Student Affairs.

The last four student deaths at Kent State — Sarah Positano and the three students killed in the car accident in Alliance — have been more high-profile with major press coverage, Jarvie said.

“It is still beyond my belief that this occurred,” Jarvie said, noting that these tragic deaths have showed the need for this service.

Grief counselors have been working overtime to help those affected by the recent student deaths, Jarvie said.

“It is shocking how many people are affected by death,” Jarvie said, and faculty, advisers, friends and family of the students have been using the services.

There is no question as to why the university would want to do a year-end memorial service, Rick Bissler of Bissler & Sons Funeral Home said.

“Words are inadequate to explain what has happened on Kent State University’s campus this year,” he said. “This is a very appropriate thing to do to honor the students and to give the students that remain some outlet for their loss.”

Kent State’s services will consist of readings about life, death and moving on, Jarvie said.

Contact religion and culture reporter Steven Harbaugh at [email protected].