I thought it was time that I talked about an issue at Millersville that most students can relate to: going to class. Most professors and/or departments have their own specific attendance policies under the University wide policy that can be found on the website. Most professors in the Art and Design department allow students two free sick days or “freebies” where students can miss class for whatever reason they may need. Students in Art and Design who miss three classes will either drop a full letter grade, or see at the very least points being taken off somewhere. Missing four classes can result in a failure for the course, or an incomplete at the very least. This makes sense for studio classes where you literally cannot do the work anywhere but in the classroom if you are taking classes like ceramics, sculpture, darkroom photography and painting. You cannot exactly magically have the work done or have it done well with at least some feedback from students and your professor. There is no way to make up that time.
What I do not understand is why some courses that require, either basic reading or just doing assignments on the computer are held to this particular standard in other disciplines. I have a math course that all the homework and even the book is online. My professor does not take attendance, so nobody is required to come to class except on days we have exams that are clearly marked on the syllabus. As long as you do your online homework and understand it, you could go the whole semester only showing up for exams.
Those like me who are a little mathematically challenged obviously go to most classes to get the material from the professor and ask questions as needed, but if you know it and do your work there is no point in going at all. Yes, you are paying for the course so it may be a good idea to go to class to get your money’s worth, but if you know the material and do well on exams and projects, why such severe consequences for missing classes? In some cases, I have had professors that have put on their syllabi that they need a doctor’s note or a death certificate of a deceased family member.
Not everyone goes to the doctor when they are sick depending on what it is, so it seems a little unreasonable to require this of a student, especially if they are missing class for something like the common cold or having trouble with mental illness. It is ridiculous to have to ask for a death certificate of a loved one that has passed to prove why someone had to miss class. I am not sure how one would even go about asking for something like that. At the beginning of every semester I get into the mindset of “I am only allowed to be sick two days this semester”, which is awful because I happen to have the worst immune system in the world and am usually sick for a large majority of the school year. Instead of being able to do my work at home or hand things in later, I have to come to class and get everyone else sick. It becomes a gross cycle of people coming to class sick, getting everyone else sick and then catching it again after they have finally gotten over whatever it was.
I believe that the University has to re-evaluate their attendance policy to better fit the needs of each individual student and be more open to working with students in special circumstances to get their education without sacrificing their health or well-being. We are not super human. Sometimes life gets in the way and we should not be punished for that. Hopefully the University will come up with a new plan that has students getting involved in the planning process.