Students find University sick leave letter policy confusing
March 28, 2017
University students are responsible for their absences, but some students have said that getting the proper approval can be tricky.
The University has a policy that enables the emergency dean to give out absence letters to students as a proof of sickness. However, not all students are aware of the details of the policy and find it confusing.
“I’m sort of familiar with (the policy). All I know is you just have to have a letter from a doctor so that your teacher knows that you can be absent,” said Alison Hopper, freshman in ACES.
The Student Code 1-501 states that regular class attendance is expected of all students at the University. The emergency dean offers absence letters for students who will be absent for emergency circumstances, or for when students will be absent for three days due to sickness or injury.
“If you have documentation as a student to be absent for three days, and you have medical documentation (that) you provide to our office, then we are going to do the letter for you,” said Rhonda Kirts, the associate dean of students.
Students have expressed their doubt and concerns about the policy requiring them to be absent for three days.
“It is kind of ridiculous because not everyone is necessarily sick for three days of class,” said Prianka Monwar, freshman in DGS. “I have been sick for two days, and I have to perpetually skip the third day so I would be able to be excused for the first two days.”
The reason that three days has been set as the requirement for absence letters is that if a student is ill for three or more days, more make-up work may be required, Kirts said.
“Typically in many of the class syllabus, they permit you to miss one or two days due to illness,” Kirts said. “So in looking at other University policies, we have determined that three days would be what we required.”
But these absence letters may not always excuse students from classes they missed or permit make-up work. The acceptance of the letter is dependent on each professor’s own course attendance policies.
Monwar said courses with professors who teach large lecture classes typically allow students to miss several days of lecture and still be able to get the full points for the class. However, not all classes are like that.
“My smaller classes just expect every time you are absent that you miss class, through sick reasons or emergencies, you give them a note (when you return),” Monwar said.
Since the attendance policies are set by each instructor, another thing students can do instead of seeking an absence letter is to communicate with each instructor beforehand to reduce the negative impacts of missing class.
“I think it’s more up to the students to reach out to their teachers,” Hopper said. “If you start feeling sick early in the morning, just like a small headache, you should be emailing your teacher.”
If students who had requested an absence letter do not meet the requirement of being out of class for three days, the emergency dean has a backup plan for them.
If the three day absence requirement is not met, the emergency dean will contact students with an email for them to forward to their professors as proof of sickness in place of an absence letter. But this is still dependent on the instructor’s own policy.
Monwar said she has encountered some professors who only accept the absence letter and do not accept the emergency dean’s email. She said that this causes some students’ grades to be affected since they were not able to get a letter.
“I think it would be nice if it’s not so extensive, that they didn’t require you to be sick for three days, just to get an excuse note,” Monwar said. “Because it’s a really unfair qualification. Either you completely miss two days of work and tests and quizzes, or you have to be sick for three days.”