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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Mandatory attendance is a useless, nanny state rule”

    “”I’m not here to be your babysitter,”” Professor Timmons told his Personal Morality students in spring 2007.

    Dr. Timmons was refering to his unenforced attendance policy. He said students would benefit from coming to class and excel on exams as a result. All he asked was that no one talk, visit Youtube.com, or read newspapers while he lectured.

    He is among the handful of professors I’ve had that has not enforced attendance. Interestingly enough, all the instructors who didn’t push for mandatory attendance were part of the Philosophy department, and I think the relaxed approach is effective and necessary in all higher educational institutions.

    The attendance policy is highly condescending and creates a childish atmosphere. It’s like stepping back in time to elementary school when being ten minutes late equated an absence or detention. In a higher educational institution, the detention becomes the loss of attendance points and a lower grade. We’re no longer the paying adults who take classes at our own accord. We’re closer to over-sized third graders who worry about losing points.

    Why are professors suddenly the police? This is an old, highly unpopular argument, but it maintains its validity: If we’re adults paying to attend this school, we should not feel forced to get our money’s worth. I want that educational value, hence, I go to class and participate in class discussions, but I don’t think the rule is helpful or fair to paying students.

    It’s disrespectful to talk in class and play Sudoku while the professor speaks, but I don’t think it’s disrespectful to miss a few classes a semester. Life happens. Things come up.

    I’ll go ahead and say it: You may oversleep – as most humans tend to do when run down -ÿand you’re not a bad person for doing this. Most importantly, there are a lot of students who work best independently outside of the classroom environment, and some of these students view class as counterproductive at times. It’s perfectly possible for a student to skip course sessions and earn high grades. This is difficult for certain subjects such as math and science, but there are exceptional students who learn the most on their own, and attendance policies don’t account for these self-driven individuals. Obviously, not everyone is like this, but these students should not be punished for the natural ways they learn.

    There are some cases where mandatory attendance is understandable, but nonetheless still unnecessary. Some classes meet once or twice a week, so missing a session of these types of courses is riskier than missing one session of a course that meets four times a week. Still, the student should be able to make the decision about his attendance, and if he receives a “”C”” or a “”D”” because he never came to class, it’s his own fault, and he will learn this lesson. By being punished for not coming to class, students may resent class and continue to see it as a chore.

    The language departments have strict attendance regulations because it’s very easy to lose language-speaking skills. Though these departments have students’ best interest in mind, they shouldn’t force anyone to constantly come to class. Who are they to decide whether or not the student works better at home, where he can read, write, and speak the language on his own without having to participate in busy work activities?

    A student should not feel obliged to attend class. In some cases, a class can be so good that it’s the student’s loss for skipping out on an otherwise valuable session. This kind of positive environment would make class attendance seem like a voluntary privilege rather than a chore.

    Some courses are very unforgiving with absences. One of my language courses does not allow more than two unexcused absences, and this class meets three times a week for 50 minutes. Is there really a whole lot to miss in less than an hour, and why can’t students get the benefit of the doubt for once? For a class that meets three times a week for five months straight, it’s kind of ridiculous not to allow more than two absences.

    With all due respect to instructors, professors and adjuncts, students should not under any circumstances be forced to attend class. For once, let us be adults and decide if we want to fail the course or not. This university needs fewer nanny state policies, and after scrapping the drinking safety cards distributed to clueless traveling students, the school can do everyone a favor by cutting all attendance rules.

    – Laura Donovan is a
    creative writing junior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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