Community grieves over death of first-year Heather Groody

David Smith January 28, 2016 0
Community grieves over death of first-year Heather Groody

Students from Schlosser residence hall and from all across the campus are coming together in a show of support for the Elizabethtown College community and for their fellow classmates following the loss of Heather Groody during the final weeks of the previous semester.

Upon the return of Elizabethtown students for the spring semester, there was an understandable sense of unease for many in the campus community and in Schlosser residence hall in particular. “The faculty and staff of Elizabethtown are human, and our response was a human response,” said Dean of Students Marianne Calenda. Students were actively encouraged to seek counseling or other support if they wished to do so, and a wide variety of campus resources were activated to try and help students come to terms with what happened.

One of the most remarkable and noteworthy ways in which the community responded to what happened is the Schlosser Strong movement. “It’s basically a symbol of unity to indicate that as a community we’re getting through this together,” said Lacey Mac-Rhyann, class of 2018.  Originally started by a first-year student living in Schlosser who wrote “Schlosser Strong” on a whiteboard, the students and staff have rallied around the phrase to come together as a community and show their support for one another. Since the start of the Schlosser Strong movement, the phrase has appeared on numerous whiteboards, blackboards, bracelets, and was even trending on social media at one point. Faculty and residence life staff have shown their support by providing bracelets with the phrase to students living in Schlosser residence hall, which were given to the students upon their return for the current semester.

“It was I think a means for students initially to express that they were grieving, but that they recognized that grieving together is something that is helpful,” said Area Coordinator Cody Miller. Through the efforts of staff and students who are supporting the Schlosser Strong movement, it is hoped that the community can come together to help each other overcome any emotional distress.

Following the events of last semester, campus officials and faculty members initiated a series of procedural reviews to determine what, if anything, campus officials and staff could have done to prevent the incident. “We are in communication with RAs. We met in the fall to discuss communicating with other residents, trying to keep them informed so they could provide information to other people,” said Area Coordinator Cody Miller. Another subject of the procedural review was discussing the availability of campus counseling resources and programs available to students.

Students are also actively aided in recovering through the network of campus programs and counseling services that Elizabethtown College makes available to all students. A wide variety of campus resources are available to students who wish to receive counseling or aid for any reason. Some resources include an upcoming program run by the college regarding grief and loss, as well as regular availability of counseling staff. Additionally, any students who are seeking pastoral counseling are able to contact Reverend Tracy Sadd or any advisors for the religious life offices located in the BSC.

Perhaps the most important resource available to students, however, may be their friends and peers with whom they can discuss how they are feeling. “It was notable that a lot of people in the process of grieving… are supporting each other in ways that are helpful. I think that moving into the spring semester that sentiment still stands, and there is a sense that students in Schlosser will continue to support each other,” said Cody Miller, Area Coordinator for Schlosser residence hall. Even now, Schlosser Strong is still visible on whiteboards within the residence hall, and many students still wear the wristbands provided to them at the start of the semester.

“Schlosser Strong, to me, means that we’re all here as a building together and that we’re here to support each other even after what happened last semester, and even in general we’re just there for support and for any other events that may occur,” said Rose Ousei, class of 2018.

With the continued support of the college community, counseling services, and ultimately by offering emotional support to each other, the college will hopefully be able to come to terms with the tragic events of last semester.

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