No excuses for new attendance policy

By Stephanie Youssef

Beginning my senior year at the University, I know the end to my undergraduate career is quickly approaching. I and many other soon to be graduates aspire to walk down the aisle of our commencement ceremony in May all starry-eyed with a degree in our hands and our plans for after graduation secured.

The dream of a successful undergraduate career leading to a job or post graduate program admission is a dream many strive for while attending a nationally and internationally ranked University. Campus resources are even improved each year to help make that dream a reality for students. However, a recent policy change with excused absences hinders the progress the University has made to help students graduate successfully.

Effective beginning summer 2015, the Student Assistance Center adjusted some of the procedures outlined for attaining excused absences. Most notably, job or graduate school interviews are no longer considered eligible excuses for missing classes or exams.

Upon first hearing this, I couldn’t imagine why this policy was changed. It makes no sense for an institution that provides so many resources meant to further a student’s career plans to decide to establish a policy that impedes student access to key parts of achieving future objectives.

Gabriel Manning, a senior in ACES expressed, “Personally, I think the University’s new policy towards absences is completely unfair.”

As students, our goals of graduating with admissions into graduate and professional programs should be the priority over making it to a certain class discussion. Though our wallets are well aware of the fact that we, as students, have made an academic commitment to this university, the main purpose in enrolling for many of us was to graduate with a degree and a job secured.

It is understandable that some students have a reputation of abusing university excused absence policies to miss class, but nobody is asking administrators to bend over backwards with accommodations. Anuj Chokshi, a junior in LAS believes that “there are far more students who fake illnesses than purposely have interviews to get out of exams.” It is unreasonable to decline an excuse to a student who provides legitimate documentation for a scheduled interview.

I can’t seem to wrap my head around the twisted logic that somehow job interviews “do not satisfy the standard of significant and compelling” according to the Student Assistance Center. This is a frustration echoed by many other undergraduate students.

Rafael Sierra, a senior in LAS, stated, “It is counterproductive for the University to actively prevent students from applying to jobs, internships, or grad school.” Imagine having to choose between going to an important job interview or getting a zero on an exam for not attending.

The mission statement for the office of the Dean of Students claims its purpose is “to address students’ needs and remove barriers to their success.” This new policy for absences explicitly goes against this exact mission. Despite the University guidelines, professors reserve the right more leniently outline their attendance policy as long as it meets the minimum criteria for “excused” set by the Student Assistance Center.

Some professors allow drops with exams and leave room for missing discussions to reasonably accommodate student needs.

Vivian Chu, a senior in the College of Engineering says, “Most of my professors have expressed their flexibility with attendance, assignment deadlines and even exams when it comes to graduate or medical school or job interviews. Their policies require notification of our conflicts before they occur, which is only fair. These professors have all personally gone through the same processes that the current class of seniors are experiencing and their understanding helps relieve part of this stress.”

A potential solution to the issue with this new attendance policy comes with other professors following suit and showing a greater dedication to the success of their students’ professional development.

Another solution lies in the Student Assistance Center understanding the meaning of student assistance.

Stephanie is a senior in LAS.

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