Flagler College attendance policy up for debate
By Lauren Belcher | CBelcher@flagler.edu
Flagler College’s 871-word attendance policy basically boils down to: “Don’t miss class, ever. If you do, we will fail you.”
The rule is simple. “A student who is absent, for any reason, excused or unexcused, more than 20 percent of the scheduled class meetings for the academic semester will not receive credit for the course,” according to the Flagler College Student Handbook.
This means, if your class meets three times a week, you can miss eight classes; twice a week, you can miss five; once a week and you can miss two. Sounds like high school to me.
We are college students. Most of us are paying for our education. So why are we being forced to attend at least 80 percent of our classes?
Junior Meg Weathersby is an athlete at Flagler College. Last fall, Weathersby and the rest of the volleyball team made it to the final four of the national tournament.
“I think I missed my limit for both Tuesday Thursday and Monday Wednesday Friday classes,” Weathersby said. “And it was all Volleyball.”
These absences are excused, but with the college’s policy, even excused absences count toward the 20 percent. According to the policy, if she would have gotten sick last semester and decided to miss class, she would have been dropped from the course. Her coach’s advice? “Take a trashcan to class.”
Basketball player DJ Ferguson feels the same way.
“You just force yourself to go,” he said. “The other day we got back at 6 a.m. from North Georgia, and I have a class at 9, and coach said: ‘You guys have to go to class.'”
The athletes take early classes and need to be done as early as possible within the day. Weathersby is taking all of her late classes this semester because Volleyball will start back up in the fall. Both athletes think the policy is too strict to manage.
“I’ve already missed three classes this semester for a Wednesday class,” Ferguson said. “And one of my Wednesday classes is Monday and Wednesday and you can only miss five so I don’t know what’s going to happen with that.”
Weathersby thinks the college should let the students choose.
“If you’re a college student, you should have the responsibility to go to class,” she said. “If you don’t and you can still pass the class, then awesome.”
Student Government Association is also noticing problems with the current policy. SGA’s Academic Committee First Chair Jim Stiller is bringing the student’s voice to the administration.
“My goal is to clear up some of the language in the policy,” Stiller said. “Make it that excused absences don’t count against you and make a universal policy so that teachers don’t have that much authority.”
Hopefully SGA’s attempt to reform the policy will prevail. It seems to be the only attempt at appeasing the stressed out college students of Flagler College. It’s a small step, which may be insignificant for us non-athletes, but a step nonetheless. What if you pass the limit?
“Our coaches’ reasoning is: if they’re all excused, they definitely have to do something,” Ferguson said. And the administration is doing something to help the athletes with their excused absences, but what about the rest of us?
We need a plan that works for everyone. We can’t have different departments making different rules for attendance and we need to make it that excused absences don’t count.
Those are obvious. But we are college students. And as college students, we should be able to choose if we want to go to class.
Some of our classes could be passed by arriving on test days and studying in between. And when you juggle classes and work or internship, the whole issue gets even fuzzier.
I am a student who works, goes to class and has other loyalties in the college. I go from class to class, meeting to meeting and then to work. Give me the right to choose.