Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

There’s no excuse for Miami’s abysmal attendance policy.

The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.

As Fall Break looms at the end of the week, students are forced to decide whether the single extra day tacked onto the weekend is enough time to warrant the travel home. 

Currently, Miami only considers excused absences for religious obligations. In order to be excused for those holidays, a student must inform their professor within the first two weeks of class of all of the obligations they anticipate participating in for the entire semester. 

But what if a student decides last minute they want to spend a holiday (religious or not) with their family? Or experiences the death of a loved one? Or is sick? Or is subject to major personal trauma?  

Despite being regular occurrences that are likely to impact our students, the university does not explicitly define any of them as excused absences.

To compensate for the holes that exist in Miami’s policy, professors are required to set and enforce their own policies in their classes. Many allow for two or three unexcused absences, regardless of what their reason may be. Any additional absences result in a deduction of points from an individual’s final grade. 

But, there are professors with less lenient policies who won’t accept doctor’s notes as excuses, or require students to show *proof* of attending a funeral to avoid losing points. Not only is that insensitive, but it’s disrespectful and infantilizes students.

We at The Miami Student believe the lack of thoughtful attendance policy at Miami is problematic, and creates a culture where students have to sacrifice their own mental health and personal needs for a grade.   

Every syllabus should include the email for the Office of the Dean of Students, Assistant Dean of Students Tim Parsons and where to find information on taking a medical leave from school. 

These are the resources students are encouraged to contact when they have to miss class for a death, major illness or personal trauma, yet few students ever know that. A few members of our own editorial board had never heard of Parsons or his role on campus before. 

Students should have this information and should be aware of what kind of support they can expect to receive so that when a crisis does arise they have one less thing to worry about. 

Students pay to be here, and our staff believes students should have the capacity to decide whether they attend those classes they shell out thousands of dollars for. Miami should treat students like adults, and recognize that there are plenty of circumstances that warrant an absence that otherwise go punished under the current policy. 

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Attending college full-time is a privilege not guaranteed to everyone. Work schedules, inclement weather and long commutes, less-than-great healthcare coverage which means you can’t get the requisite doctor’s note because you can’t afford to go to the doctor — these are all real reasons that students miss class, and those students shouldn’t have to jump through extra hoops when conflicts arise. 

It’s important that students attend class. Anyone can tell you there’s a direct correlation between student success and their attendance in that class. But Miami should leave it up to students to dictate how they’re going to use their education. 

Miami needs to stop picking and choosing when to treat us like adults.