Editorial: Attendance policies require consensus from both sides

Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist

If students visit Baylor’s website and take a look at the attendance policy page, they’ll know something is missing.

The universitywide attendance policy, emphasized in past years to incoming freshman by professors, advisers and peers, is gone.

The policy previously read, “Any student who is not present for at least 75 percent of the scheduled class sessions for any course will automatically receive a grade of ‘F’ in the course.”

Now it states, “Specific policies for attendance are established by the academic units within the university.”

This won’t equate to significant changes to most students, though. As the Lariat’s Daniel Houston reported, most individual departments are retaining a 75 percent attendance rule.

In addition, most students have had professors whose policies require higher attendance percentages to pass.

But while it seems the actual change in attendance policy is little more than a few words scratched out and a few more added, it raises points for both students and professors to consider.

First, for students initially excited about no longer automatically failing per a school-wide policy, there’s really no reason to be delighted.

More importantly, there never was a reason to be excited.

Missing an entire quarter of a class semester and still passing is not an accomplishment, nor should it be acceptable.

If more students took their classes more seriously, individual departments and individual professors within those departments might not have to resort to failing people for cutting class.

Baylor has done its best to select motivated, success-driven students for admission, and the cost of such an education, even with Baylor’s best financial aid efforts, can prove difficult.

So ideally, hard-working students who want the most out of their education should get their money’s worth at this institution of higher learning and have no problem getting to class.

Unfortunately, even documented as early as biblical times, bad things can happen to good people, or in this case, good students. People have surgeries. Loved ones unexpectedly pass away.

But good things can also happen to good students. Three semesters ago hundreds of students made the trip to New Orleans to watch the men’s basketball team compete in the NCAA tournament, and thousands more watched on television.

In all of the aforementioned examples, those students, regardless of their track records in class, weren’t in class. Both the painfully tragic and once-in-a-lifetime situations all fall under the category of unexcused absences.

When you toss in the typical stress and illness that college students as a whole inherit on a regular basis, the unexpected, uncontrollable circumstances of life can and will cause absences.

Professors should consider a student’s performance and attitude, not just a raw number, in determining whether that student deserves to pass.

This is not an excuse for students to whine about having to go to class. “I’m tired,” or “I’m not feeling my best today,” should not and probably will not draw sympathy from professors. They also feel tired occasionally and are not always feeling their best.

But the fact still remains that Baylor will no longer require professors to fail students based on missed class.

A level of understanding from students and instructors should be exercised so that when life changes schedules, both parties can feel they’ve done everything to make a class as productive and useful as possible.