A fresh(man) perspective on mandatory attendance
Administrators, faculty and students can all concede that by going to class, you are going to learn. What they disagree on, however, is whether or not this process should be mandatory.
The newest additions to the university community, coming from schools where attendance was not just a syllabus requirement but a legal one, have mixed thoughts about the university’s attendance policies.
Rather than having a campus-wide policy, the university lets professors decide how to hold students accountable for their presence in class. Many institutes a system of attendance, with some excused absences and exceptions offered.
According to the university’s Attendance Policy, “the responsibility for defining attendance expectations is left to the individual faculty member … Thus, it is of great importance that early in each course the instructor make clear to each student what the attendance expectations are.”
However, the open-ended attendance requirements can occasionally lead to conflicts, particularly when some professors opt for a more high-tech solution like iClickers, while some stick with older methods such as a sign-in sheet.
“One time, I was in class and never got to sign the attendance sheet that was passed around, and had points deducted from my grade,” Alaka Deshpande, a freshman, said. “It’s difficult to resolve because it’s hard to verify that I was there, especially when other students try to cheat the system.”
Another issue is obtaining an excused absence when one has a seemingly legitimate reason for missing class.
“I was sick this week, but I dragged myself to class through the pouring rain because I didn’t know if I would be given an excused absence,” Catherine Awad, a freshman neuroscience major, said. “It also felt pointless, because quite a few of my classes I’ve already taken in high school or have a strong background in.”
Maggie Buckridge, a freshman public policy major, believes that mandated attendance policies have merit.
“It definitely keeps me going to class,” Buckridge admitted. “But I don’t feel like it’s necessary to be there every class, and getting points docked for missing a single day is a little extreme.”
Deshpande offered a similar perspective.
“There are some classes where attendance may or may not be necessary for a student to master the material, especially if the course is based on textbook readings or the lectures are uploaded online,” Deshpande said.
“Obviously, attendance is important,” Awad added. “Mandated attendance? I think we’re all still deciding how to feel about that one.”