College Student Whose Father Died From Virus Slams Professor's Heartless Response To Possible Assignment Extension
A junior at the University of Maryland was shocked by her professor's response to her father's death.
With the death toll reaching over 70,000 in the United States, many people have been touched by the effects of the viral pathogen at the root of the global pandemic.
Some instances hit close to home, including for UMD student Saige Kratenstein. Her father unfortunately died due to complications of the virus after a long hospitalization.
Saige Kratenstein hasn't seen her father since March.
Due to the highly contagious nature of the virus, many families have been unable to visit with sick relatives in hospitals. Many are unable to be with their loved ones in their final moments.
Kratenstein's dad Alan was 63 when he went into the hospital on March 29, and passed away on April 13.
Kratenstein talked to the NBC News about the emotional toll of the pandemic:
"It's been really difficult. All anybody is talking about is [the virus] and that is essentially what took my dad away from me. It's difficult hearing about it and the littlest things remind me of my dad and I'll just start bawling."
These are unprecedented times, especially for students who have had their education routine upended.
With her father gone, coupled with the constant reminder of the illness that took his life, Kratenstein reached out to her professors about getting extensions on schoolwork due dates. Many were happy to grant her time to grieve.
Except for her finance professor.
Kratenstein was so shocked by her professor's aloof response, that she shared it on Twitter.
@UofMaryland I simply asked my prof for a few days extension on a project because MY DAD died as a result of covid1… https://t.co/QH9jvSkYpO— Saige (@Saige)1588163743.0
Many experience loss or hardships at some point in our lives as students.
Professors and schools generally respond with sympathy. It's the most reasonable and professional response when someone you are mentoring is going through a tough time.
But the real kicker came when the professor emailed Kratenstein on the day of her father's funeral.
Would also like to mention that on the day of my dads FUNERAL she said i should try to make it to the ZOOM anyway. https://t.co/GeyjKGv35C— Saige (@Saige)1588231182.0
That's right—the professor actually urged Kratenstein to attend a live streamed class, right after her own father's funeral.
Twitter users felt bad for Kratenstein, and urged her to take action against the professor.
@saigedara UNBELIEVABLE!!!! My dad passed away due to COVID-19 as well... Pls contact someone else responsible for your department/course— Dr. Monica Malta, PhD 🦠 (@Dr. Monica Malta, PhD 🦠)1588293734.0
@saigedara Hi please report this to the dean! They have expressed that they are willing to help students whose prof… https://t.co/j59CzHGEam— Manpreet (@Manpreet)1588237172.0
@saigedara Wow. This professors behavior is bordering sociopathy. I’m so sorry for your loss Saige— @R (@@R)1588264240.0
@saigedara First, I am so sorry for your loss. Second, who is this garbage human and where might I zoom them to giv… https://t.co/C3iCRf2Td5— DJ KC Crisis, the OG of social distancing (@DJ KC Crisis, the OG of social distancing)1588310000.0
@saigedara Your professor is a robot, psychopath, or sociopath, or with some other kind of condition if they are in… https://t.co/g6bYd7Bt7m— Dr. Freaksworth 🇨🇦🇷🇸 (@Dr. Freaksworth 🇨🇦🇷🇸)1588265031.0
@saigedara i’m so sorry for your loss and am truly disgusted and horrified that this is the response you received.… https://t.co/IEE0qLdXtF— elise (pisces) (@elise (pisces))1588286592.0
The professor suggesting that the Zoom call would "take her mind off things" really stood out and was especially appalling.
@saigedara The zoom meetings will take your mind off of things? WTF?— doctor runner (@doctor runner)1588294377.0
@saigedara IT COULD TAKE YOUR MIND OFF THINGS 😶— Rachael Sullivan (@Rachael Sullivan)1588295876.0
Other professors, including one from the University of Maryland, chimed in to express their disappointment in a fellow educator.
@saigedara Hi. First, I’m so sorry about your father. I can’t even imagine what you must be going through. Second,… https://t.co/WueKEvlY5b— Ross Angelella🧔🏻 (@Ross Angelella🧔🏻)1588252968.0
@saigedara I am so deeply sorry for your loss, and as a professor myself, I am incandescently angry on your behalf… https://t.co/QZM79xaRJ4— Dr. Leila K. Norako (@Dr. Leila K. Norako)1588381774.0
@saigedara Another horrified professor here. I'm so sorry for your loss and sorry that this professor's response pi… https://t.co/LHpi9cAx6c— Tracy L. M. Norton (@Tracy L. M. Norton)1588315136.0
At least the school has been more accommodating for their student's needs.
UMD confirmed to NBC News that they have been offering mental and emotional support services and "academic accommodations" including extensions for course work such as Kratenstein requested.
Student affairs also reached out to Kratenstein on Twitter.
@saigedara @UofMaryland Sending our condolences on behalf of Student Affairs and the University. Could we set up a… https://t.co/GqSfZxyCba— UMD Student Affairs (@UMD Student Affairs)1588186459.0
Kratenstein acknowledged the school's helpfulness in light of the Tweets:
"They've checked in on me and they're getting it all handled. My advisors have been amazing and I'm grateful for their help."
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also recognizes the mental health impact that the pandemic can have on people.
The CDC has pages with advice and resources for civilians and essential workers that you can access here.