Three weeks ago, one of my staff members came knocking on my office door.
“I recently found out about something, and I’m not sure what to do.”
The following 40 minutes were then spent discussing the difficult issue of covering the death of a student in the paper.
When someone the same age as you passes away due to sudden or violent reasons, it is never an easy discussion. It is something that needs to be done while still respecting the privacy of the deceased’s family, while still maintaining integrity and honesty in coverage. As a student news outlet that covers campus-related issues, the passing of a student can be a challenging but important story to cover.
As some of you may have heard, on the night of Saturday, Nov. 21, a fellow Marauder passed away from a tragic accident. Mariel Garcia, a first-year Humanities student, was struck and killed in a hit-and-run. The accused was recently released on bail, and the family is currently raising funds to pay for the funeral.
Garcia is not the first student to pass away during this school year. This is not meant to at all take away from her unfortunate and untimely death, but it is a reality that many students are sheltered from.
Our campus functions just as the rest of the world does — issues arise, conflicts are resolved, and sometimes, unfortunately, people will die.
There is a certain grief that comes across the student body that needs to be respected at a time when the loss of a life is affecting many. When you hear about the passing of a stranger in the paper, does it add or take away from your experience of grief? Is it our place to cover the death of a student?
As a newspaper governed by the ongoings of student-aged people, the notion of death can feel surreal in our community. We are taught that young people are not meant to die, and when it does happen, it is something to study and publicize. And while there can be merit in that, when you see someone’s face on a front page, it can be tough to associate them with a real person who once sat in the same lecture halls you may be in right now.
We have chosen not to write a piece specifically about the loss of one of our students as a way of allowing our campus community enough time to grieve together.
If someone close to you at McMaster has passed, and you would like to see a memorial, article or investigation related to their life or death, we ask that you contact us.