Opinion | Attendance policies needs updates

Whether a student attends class should be at the discretion of the student.


Jeff Sigmund

Classroom 105 in the English-Philosophy Building sits empty on Aug. 28, 2020.

Elise Cagnard, Opinions Columnist

With all the uncertainties in the world, sometimes unexpected things come up. Whether it be a family emergency or a mental health crisis, not everything always goes according to plan.

Due to this, students may unexpectedly miss a class to deal with a situation. The University of Iowa currently gives the professors discretion on how many absences to allow in each class.

Because of this, professors can penalize a student for absences. This is completely inexcusable. 

The UI needs to change its attendance policy and take away faculty’s ability to penalize students for being absent, as all students are in unique circumstances.

As a college student, many of us are getting ourselves into debt that we will spend the rest of our life paying off. 

For in-state students, the expected cost of attendance at UI is $21,829 a year. For an out of state student, the expected cost of attendance increases to $43,792 a year. Most students attend higher education for at least four years to complete their degree, which means someone could pay up to $175,168 by attending UI.

When a person is paying that much to attend school, the decision should be their own whether to attend class or not. With this much money on the line, a student most likely understands the importance of staying present in their education. 

Some professors argue they put a lot of time and effort into their lectures, and they deserve to have students present in class. 

While I do agree there is nothing better than a professor who cares about their class, this is their job. They are getting paid to put in this work, regardless of whether students attend lectures or not.

Professors do not have to accommodate students who choose not to come to class. If a student makes the choice to not attend class, they are therefore responsible for the consequences of this action. If they are unprepared for the quizzes and exams or graded assignments are being completed within the class period, this burden falls on them.  

In this case, a student’s grade will reflect the amount of effort the person put into the class, which is why it makes it redundant to be further penalized by an attendance policy.

The UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences website states, “It is the responsibility of each student to know a course’s attendance and absence policy.” This gives a professor the power to enforce their own limit on absences. 

Throughout my time at the UI, I have had various attendance policies, ranging from unlimited absences to no more than one. To have this under the professor’s discretion can lead to students with the exact same attendance history being penalized at different rates. 

The UI attendance policy currently dictates that additional absence may be taken for any of the following reasons: illness, religious holy day obligations, military service obligations, including service-related medical appointments, or unavoidable circumstances.

If a student does not want to come to class for any given reason, that decision should be up to them. As college students, we should be responsible enough to make our own decisions and deal with the repercussions of our actions.  

Attending class should be a choice each student makes. Professors should not be able to penalize students who do not attend.  

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved. 


Facebook Comments