Sickness impacts class attendance: Isaac Weaver

Last week it seemed like everyone on campus participated in the viral relay race, and the baton of sniffles, fatigue, coughing and nausea was passed all over campus.

If you got the pleasure of being the proud carrier of this germy, icky baton, chances are you woke up for class with your cell phone alarm blaring through the mountain of tissue paper next to your bed. You weighed the options: stay in bed and let the bug end with you with a little rest, relaxation and Netflix, or try to look remotely human by draping clothes on your body and heading to class.

With your head pounding and nose running, you chose not to spend one of the three precious unexcused-absences and slinked to class at the speed of a turtle. And you’re not alone in that. In fact, a zombie horde of students sniffling and coughing their way through classes can still be seen on campus right now. The allergens and common cold germs seemed to have joined forces and launched a full-scale attack on JBU.

While siting in Western Civilization and coughing along in merry chorus with the rest of my tired-eyed companions, I asked myself why we weren’t all back in our beds sleeping this off. The answer for my question may be found in our syllabi.

Three unexcused absences are allowed in most classes at John Brown University. A fourth absence and the student could possibly drop a letter grade in the missed class.

An argument can be made for “toughing it out.” But when sick and—even more importantly—contagious, sleep is usually the better idea. So an unexcused skip is used. And starting the semester with one strike against you in a class is rarely a good strategy.

We’ve made it to college. We’re on the cusp of “real life” with real adult responsibilities. Part of those responsibilities is learning that when we aren’t attentive to information, we get left behind. It’s safe to assume that everyone knows skipped classes amount to failing grades.

The three-strike rule should be abolished and we should be fully trusted with the duty of handling our academic careers. Circumstances are different with each student, and several missed classes that could spell failure for one student could simply mean extra homework and busier catch-up weekends for another. No one solid rule should be in place for so many different circumstances.

We get sick, and unplanned emergencies and missed alarms happen. We miss class and we work harder to catch back up for the next session. Professors plan and teach lessons. The responsibility of keeping students in class should rest solely on the shoulders of the students themselves.

In a class full of attentive note-takers, an absent student would be hard-pressed not to find any leads on missed information.
Instead of installing an across the board punishment, students should be reminded of the fact that misses are sometimes unavoidable and they should plan accordingly.