North Texas Daily

UNT revises attendance policy

UNT revises attendance policy

October 29
02:43 2015

Lisa Dreher | Staff Writer

@lisa_dreher97

The university revised its attendance policy last week, for the first time since 2003, to specify that active military service members and pregnant women may be excused if a professor is given notice of an event, sparking renewed debate over mandatory attendance policies. The old policy did not define which students could be excused, it only required a satisfactory explanation for an absence.

Professors control their respective attendance policies, which students must be notified of in writing at the beginning of the semester, but the discussion over university-wide mandatory attendance policies is not going away.

A common argument is that students should attend classes to get their money’s worth. Another is that students who pay for the classes should be able to decide when and why they skip class.

“Students should honestly not care if the school mandates class attendance because they should be going already,” Student Government Association vice president Chris Lee said. “I’m paying a lot of money to earn my degree and by not going to class I am wasting my money.”

Last year, the average cost of attendance for an undergraduate living on campus was $22,030 for residents of Texas. It was $32,890 for out-of-state students. For graduates living off-campus, it was $20,282 for state residents and $26,798 for out-of-state.

Christy Crustinger, a merchandising and digital retailing professor, feels that attendance is necessary to fully engage students in their college and career.

“Attendance is key to being successful not only in the classroom but life in general,” Crustinger said. “I used to track attendance, and there was a direct correlation between class attendance and grade.”

The old policy states first and foremost that attendance is only the responsibility of the student.

“As long as they’re doing well in the class, I don’t think it should matter whether they actually come to class or not,” interdisciplinary studies freshman Abigail Clark said. “They already paid money for it, so why drop them out.”

UNT’s policy allows students to use an authorized absence card from the dean of students to use in the case of university-related activities, or to simply talk with his or her professor.

Other universities, like the University of Texas at Arlington, prohibit professors from accommodating students who did not alert their professor ahead of time. An overwhelming majority of other institutions, like Texas Woman’s University, Texas A&M University and University of Texas at Austin allow professors to decide whether to excuse a student or not.

Political science lecturer Rafael Major finds ways to encourage attendance, like factoring attendance into a small percentage of a student’s overall grade. He feels that professors who require attendance and do not teach the class to its full potential, such as letting class out early or not cover the weekly readings, would cause resentment.

“If a professor absolutely requires attendance and then class doesn’t seem worthwhile to the students, it could create a bad class environment,” Major said. “But I think tension is inevitable.”

Featured Image: Empty seats fill an international studies class taught by Dr. Brent Richards on Tuesday. Haley Yates | Staff Photographer

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