Nix attendance policy

Phil Nobile

After sitting through the first week of class, most commonly known as “syllabus week,” there is only one part of each professor’s carefully worded packet of what-to-expect for the course that students immediately seek: attendance policy.

From my seat in the back of the room, I could see almost every student immediately flip to whatever policy the teacher had, in order to calculate how many absences they could get away with.

When you have a policy that allows students to miss a certain amount of class penalty free and gives professors the ability to grade based upon students’ presence rather than skill, why not get rid of a policy all together?

The beauty of having no policy is that a new one is automatically enacted: accountability. It becomes a student’s prerogative to get to class and a professor’s desire to teach material that requires class time. If professors are projecting their material through Powerpoint slides that become available to the students for personal use, is there any incentive to attend class except to play Scramble With Friends for an hour?

If more professors made their courses impossible to pass without attending class, an attendance policy based upon punishment wouldn’t be needed. Even further, if professors created material desirable to students, a successful learning environment would be created. Putting slides on a projector that they barely know how to operate doesn’t teach. It diminishes our desire as students.

Creating valuable discussion, allowing unique interpretation and learning would kill any student’s qualms about attending class. Would this process completely weed out those students who skip class compulsively? Probably not.

But in the end, screw ‘em; they’re paying a hefty amount to be here, so the university isn’t losing any sweat over the skippers. And if they don’t have the mental consideration to get an education rather than play Call of Duty all day in their $13,000-per-year dorm, then why should professors even care? This isn’t high school. No more hand-holding. The real world is around the corner.

Getting rid of an attendance policy will make both the teacher and the student culpable on all aspects of the education spectrum. The professor will have to produce learning material worth learning, and the student will have to actually show up, and want to.