By April Oddo | Reporter
Most of the COVID-19 protocols on campus are already confusing and difficult to follow through with, and Baylor’s attendance policy only adds to the confusion. Adjusting to a global pandemic was already difficult enough for students, especially having to transition into online classes. For some, online college is the new normal; it’s what most are used to after being quarantined and isolated from everyday life for so long. When I initially heard that I would be spending my junior year at Baylor in person, I was excited and ready to return to normalcy. However, many underestimated the difficulties that would arise with such a drastic transition, myself included.
Specific colleges within Baylor, such as the College of Arts and Sciences and the Hankamer School of Business, require students to attend 75% of their classes. Using attendance as a grade that can alter GPA when most are barely able to keep up with the transition to a normal semester is inconsiderate. Addressing the attendance policy is not an effort to give room for laziness or free time. It’s simply questioning its purpose and goal. Why are adults who pay to be here being graded for the classes they choose to attend?
It’s easy to make the assumption that missing a class is a sign of irresponsibility and inability to commit to a schedule, but there could be a plethora of reasons as to why a student is not in the classroom at the beginning of class.
From personal experiences, I have noticed several of my peers suffer from poor mental health, including myself. This can have a direct impact on motivation and even attention span. An increase in anxiety and depression rates among college students, especially with COVID-19, is not shocking. Baylor is quick to control students in how many COVID-19 tests they get a week and when they should be wearing a mask; however, there has been little effort in supporting students regarding the long-term damages that online semesters have brought us.
In addition, there is not enough flexibility with what is considered an excused absence and what is considered an unexcused absence. How is it that the only excuse to miss a class is a serious illness, accident, or death in the family according to the attendance policy? There are numerous other reasons as to why a student may not be able to get to class, and keeping excused absences in such a tight category is unfair.
Once again, addressing the attendance policy should not be misconstrued as a way for students to have less responsibilities. Professors should be more willing to hear the needs of their students and should have more understanding toward them, especially when trying to balance a return to normalcy.