University of Indianapolis should move toward a more forgiving attendance policy

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With a new semester, syllabi have been passed out, and a broad section of them have bothered The Reflector staff. We have determined that the University of Indianapolis does not have a strict rule for attendance and it should be reevaluated. On page 57 of the faculty handbook it states, “Students are expected to attend classes regularly and to manage their schedules in order to meet the demands of their courses and other activities,” where instructor establishes and enforces an attendance policy for each of his or her courses. On page 58, excessive absences is “equivalent to two consecutive weeks of absences from a course in a 15-week semester without notifying the professor,” and extra steps may be taken such as administrative withdrawal.  

Since the faculty are allowed to determine their own attendance policy, there are plenty of advantages and disadvantages. A huge disadvantage The Reflector saw was when the absences, even if not excessive, affect the students’ grades.

Professors and the university should be more understanding that the real punishment for missing class is just that: missing class. Life happens. People call in sick when things go awry at work, so there should be a better system in UIndy’s classrooms, such as a university-wide policy that limits the professor’s ability to count attendance as part of a student’s grade. 

One item that the staff specifically does not like is the attendance slips, or the papers that the professors pass around for attendance. If a student gets skipped and doesn’t notice, he or she is counted absent, even though that student may have interacted with classmates, or even the professor, and he or she forgot when inputting the attendance in the gradebook. Also, students often write down someone’s name who is not there. Attendance should not be as big a factor for professors when they determine grades. Students are going to come if they want to. If not, it’s their loss. 

Students are adults. They know how to handle their lives. They should be trusted if they have an excuse such as a family funeral, an illness that they wish not to spread or mental health needs. The students are not always asking for help when they tell professors about their reasons for missing classes. 

Unless students explicitly ask for the help they may just be explaining their personal situation in hopes of coming to a common understanding. Professors should know about the resources available on campus for sickness and counseling and be accommodating to students’ needs the same as they would be for the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. 

Some things are physical and some are not, but if students tell faculty members they are struggling, faculty should be able to accommodate their needs by directing them to the proper places on campus. 

The education that should be received in classrooms is from professors who have studied the subjects and have lesson plans intended to help the students, or else universities do nothing. It is up to the students if they want to miss classes for no reason. 

The university’s policy for the faculty should make sure it is one that can accommodate the various needs of students. In the grand scheme, if students fake excuses to get out of class, professors lose nothing. They already know their information and have secure jobs. It’s the absent students who miss out. 

To make classroom dynamics more educational, positive and healthy and to keep professors happy, both students and professors should take initiative to try and open channels for communication about circumstances that can affect attendance. 

To prevent any mishaps or abuse of power, UIndy should reevaluate its attendance policy or make the process easier for students to have appeals heard about an attendance policy that does not fit for their needs, or both. The attendance policy for all courses should favor trusting the students to take their education into their own hands and attendance policies that are not forgiving about extreme circumstances of absences should be changed immediately. A student’s personal life should not directly impact his or her grade, it is not fair and does not account for extreme circumstances. 

The Reflector staff

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