Students who witnessed or knew people in the fatal car crash Friday night could be allowed extra time for academic projects, school officials said Monday.
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Young e-mailed academic department chairs Monday, asking for professors to grant extensions to students too disturbed to finish papers or take a midterm.
“Psychologists from Counseling and Career Services have been working all weekend with large numbers of effected students, and they report that the trauma and grief are being deeply and widely felt,” he wrote in the e-mail. “These students will need your understanding.”
Most professors have been cooperative, Young said, and some have encouraged class discussion or asked counselors from Counseling and Career Services (C&CS) to visit classes. History Professor John Majewski granted extensions on papers for students needing a few extra days to concentrate in his History 17B class.
“Students who knew the deceased or had witnessed the accident or in some way felt so traumatized by the accident that they couldn’t focus in on their papers. Those students could receive an extension on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “The teaching assistants in this course have received a number of these requests and received some of these even before I made this announcement. For the most part, these were students who had witnessed what was going on or who had known the two students who were killed.”
By granting an extension, Majewski hopes to show sympathy toward students.
“[Faculty members] know that life can sometimes be difficult and we will always listen to a student, and in some cases we’ll grant extensions and some cases we won’t. It just seemed to be a particularly horrifying and traumatic event that it just made sense to do this,” he said. “I also wanted to convey to the students that I know a lot of the faculty are very sorry about what happened and understand what these things can do to folks.”
Professors also spurred class discussion with students and expressed their own shock or grief, C&CS Director Dennis Nord said. He said student reactions to the fatal accident have varied, and in some cases it may take awhile for students to express their grief.
“I think the reaction is probably almost all the emotions you’ve seen humans have. Some people are angry; some are showing the usual sadness and concerns. I think it’s pretty clear there’s a lot of individual differences and that’s as it should be. It’s appropriate for people to have their own experience and expect that it might go through an array,” he said. “When people have their reaction it might be surprising to them and I think that’s also individually different. They might not be aware that they’re having this reaction.”
Nord encouraged affected students to seek counseling at C&CS or get support from peers and families.
“There’s so much being done for students by students,” he said. “They’re friends to each other and supporting each other and gathering in groups.”
For information on dealing with trauma or grief visit the CCS website at counseling.ucsb.edu.