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Skidmore College
Emergency Preparedness

Guidelines for Responding to a Death

The death of a community member is a difficult time for a college community and calls on us to convey sensitivity and understanding in our response. While each life and death is unique, and circumstances surrounding the death of a community member may vary, these guidelines are intended as tools to help the campus respond thoroughly and consistently to the needs of the family and the campus community members.

In all circumstances of a death occurring on campus: Contact Campus Safety at 518-580-5566 immediately and provide as much information as possible, including name(s), specific location and the nature of the situation.

Notification of Campus Personnel
A campus member may hear of a death through a variety of sources. Campus members should immediately contact the appropriate campus coordinator (Dean of Students, Director of Human Resources. In the case of an on-campus death or during non-business hours, a campus member should call the Campus Safety Office emergency number (518-580-5567). The initial role of the Campus Coordinator is to work with appropriate agencies to verify the information. 

Notification of Family
The notification of the death of a family member should normally be made in person by a college official. In some cases, notification will be made by the police.

Notification of the Community
The college will provide public information about the death of a community member in a timely fashion—focusing first on providing appropriate information to the campus community. Taking into account what can be reported, the timely posting or distribution of information will serve to provide the campus community with accurate and reliable information. Notification to the campus community will be coordinated with the Office of the President. 

Notification and Response to Media
All inquiries from media sources will be directed to the Director of Campus and Media Relations. The director will determine who will be the spokesperson for the college and what information may be appropriately released to the public. Media will not be included in any campus support meetings arranged in response to a campus community member's death.

Campus Coordinator
The role of the Campus Coordinator in responding to a death in the community is to be prepared to initiate the appropriate steps taken in the immediate aftermath of a death. The college has created a checklist of responsibilities to assist the Campus Coordinator in their responsibilities (for a copy of these documents, please email

Procedures for Responding to Accidental, Intentional or Violent Death on Campus
Anyone who becomes aware of an accidental, intentional (suicide) or violent death on campus should immediately call Campus Safety.

Campus Safety will initiate the following:

  • Secure the scene—primary and secondary.
  • Isolate any witnesses with any knowledge for the police.
  • Verify the identity of the deceased.
  • Protect evidence—weapons, notes, drugs.
  • Evacuate the area and make no comments regarding the incident
  • Activate the Emergency Response Group