U must change bereavement rule

No one should have to choose between grieving the loss of a loved one and completing classwork that can reasonably be pushed to a later date.

But that’s exactly the choice University of Minnesota students may be given under the school’s current policy.

Individual instructors currently have discretion in deciding which types of relationships qualify as “legitimate” reasons for missing class if a family member or friend dies.

This policy is highly flawed even on the surface level, when possibly hundreds of instructors at the University are given the ability to make decisions that can have deep personal effects on their students.

In addition, most instructors aren’t experts on grief, a complicated issue that differs greatly among people and requires great care to be handled well.

Thankfully, student leaders have taken notice and are drafting documents urging University leaders to reform the school’s insensitive bereavement policy.

They’re calling for a standardized policy in which a University office handles all requests for excused absences. Most family members’ deaths would qualify for automatic absences. Others, including the death of a friend, would require petitioning to the office, not an instructor.

These reforms would remove the great subjectivity in the current policy.

Student leaders, who represent those who are affected most by University policy, have little power other than persuasion in making tangible change.

As such, the changes they are suggesting seem like common-sense reform and need support. The University should take action on students’ suggestions as soon as possible.