Teacher absence policies unfair to students; should be on an individual basis

November 28, 2016

Kyle Guthrie

[email protected]

     Last month, my pregnant wife was admitted to the hospital with a life-threatening blood clot in her leg that was making its way to her lungs.

     I had to miss two weeks of class to take care of her and our two year-old son.

     But I still did all of the homework that was expected of me. I contacted my professors, turned in my assignments, continued working with groups I had to collaborate with for projects and kept up with my readings.

     And after doing all I could, I wasn’t rewarded for my diligent work ethic.

     Upon my return, I was reminded that since I had missed more than two days of class, my grade was going to be dropped by one letter for each additional day I missed.

     Without counting attendance, if I nail my coursework I could get a 97 percent in the class.

     But the best I can possibly hope to achieve is a C because of the professor’s attendance policy.

     According to university policy, “instructors hold the right and responsibility to establish attendance policies for their courses.”

     If college is about getting young adults ready for the real world, professors should treat students as people who need a little compassion.

     Most jobs will let you take time off for an emergency or let you take a leave of absence to get your affairs in order.

     If an employee had to take time off to tend to a terminally ill spouse and they were fired, they would file the lawsuit to end all lawsuits.

     I didn’t miss class to nurse a series of hangovers, go on vacation or wait in line to see a movie.

     I missed class because there was a high chance that those two weeks may well have been the last time I would ever get to see my wife.

     Several of my current professors did a great job voicing concern over my absences. They wanted to help me through this period by offering different meeting times to constitute something other than an absence.

     But other professors shrugged their shoulders and counted me absent regardless.

     Part of the issue I have with this policy is the laziness that seems to have spawned it. It feels like a knee-jerk reaction to absences that is driven by a lazy desire to not have to go through student cases on an individual basis.

     Instead, professors issue this end-all, be-all policy that covers absences in a way that is incredibly apathetic, and does not take student individuality into account.

     So the next time someone close to you needs your help during an emergency or you need life-saving surgery at a moment’s notice, be sure to stop and ask yourself the important question: how will taking time off for my open-heart surgery inconvenience my professor?