By Sydney Jones
Students at Liberty University were left shocked when an important policy regarding attendance was changed for the Spring 2017 semester.
The registrar’s office released a statement on Dec. 19, 2016, outlining the new policy. This new system is applicable to 100 and 200 level classes, and students are permitted a limited number of elective absences. These absences now include nonattendance for sickness even if the student has a doctor’s note.
Many students are angry and confused with the changes, mainly due to its vague nature and because there was no official widespread announcement.
“A major problem with the new policy is that it’s not clear. Even my professors didn’t understand it, some of them didn’t even bother to go over it with us,” said Laurel Woodruff.
Confusion seems to be a common theme throughout classes. For example, the current Theology 202 syllabus still claims that doctor’s notes are accepted as an excused absence, while other classes like Arts 222 and Government 200 state that doctor’s notes are accepted but are also counted as an absence.
“I understand that we’re paying for this education so we need to show up for class, but if I have a doctor appointment, that shouldn’t have to be one of only four elective absences if you were legitimately sick,” said Daelynn Christman. “I think they have good intentions, but I’m not sure this is the best method.”
According to the registrar’s statement, the attendance policy is to make sure that students understand the university’s expectancies. However, I do not believe the university should hold students liable for being sick, which is something out of their control.
Before the new policy was implemented, many students used their allowed skips to do things like leave early to travel home, to study for an important test in another class or when they felt too sick to attend class but not sick enough to pay for a doctor’s visit.
“Sometimes managing your time well means skipping your 8:15 a.m. class to get sleep or study for a bigger test in a different class,” said Natalie Pace. “Sickness should always be an excused absence that does not count towards your allowed skips.”
While there is no proof that the new policy is what caused the flu epidemic earlier in the semester, students are worried about using skips even when they don’t feel well because they want to save them for a more serious situation. This could be a possible cause of the widespread illness because students were not able to get the rest they needed.
“The only thing the new attendance policy does is hurt the people who needed the old policy,” said Ryan Pelletier. “The new policy prevents professors from being reasonable and working with the students.”
I understand that there is a need for an attendance policy. I am now a sophomore and attending upper level classes, but during my freshman year the policy helped teach me responsibility of managing my schedule. However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.
I believe whoever was involved with making this decision had good objectives and reasoning for the change. Sometimes things may look great on paper, but once implemented, end up being detrimental.
In this case, the registrar’s office should listen to the opinion of the student body, which seems to be that the old system was efficient enough and should have never been changed.