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Point of View: Students debate merits of Baylor's attendance policy, find faults

Nov. 5, 2010

By Stori Long
Contributor

Baylor has some unique claims that set it apart in the Big 12. It is the only Baptist school and the only private school and it also has a mandatory attendance policy.

This policy impacts students' lives on a daily basis, anytime they get sick or consider skipping class.

Baylor student policies and procedures clearly stipulate students must attend 75 percent of all class meetings and students who miss more than 75 percent of class meetings will fail the course. In addition, faculty members can make the requirements harsher and university-related absences will count toward the 75 percent rule.

For some, a mandatory attendance policy is a good way to foster classroom relationships, but for others it is an attempt to treat adults as children. There are supporters for both sides of the issue, professors and students alike, and ultimately the issue can be stripped down to differing priorities. Proponents, like Dallas senior Jesse Beck, claim that a mandatory attendance policy will protect the students and their performance.

"I just think if we didn't have a policy it wouldn't only hurt the students but also hurt the impression they make on their professors," Beck said. "I understand we are grown adults and we have the choice to make whether to go, but if we didn't have a mandatory policy, I guarantee there will be higher fail rate."

Opponents of a mandatory attendance policy counter these arguments, claiming that student attendance is irrelevant if their performance level is unaffected.

"I pay for the knowledge and if I think I can get the knowledge without going to class then I think I should have that option," Lawrence senior Sam Harwood said.

Some students also feel as though the natural consequences of missing class should be enough to get most students into class.

"They should expel the mandatory attendance policy," Louisville senior Steven Hollon said. "Then the teachers can hike up how much attendance is worth in their class. I guarantee you if attendance were worth more than five percent students would come to class."

In the case of Baylor's policy, many students, myself included, are not opposed to a mandatory attendance policy on principle but rather take issue with the inflexibility of Baylor's policy.

"I am in support of a mandatory attendance policy," Seattle senior Alyssa DeMoss said. "Good student interaction is necessary for classroom success. But I don't like that it is a 'zero-tolerance' policy. There should be reasonable exceptions."

Cary senior Sydney Beauchamp experienced firsthand what DeMoss and others like her would consider an extenuating circumstance.

"Although it is a good idea on paper," Beauchamp said in regard to the Baylor attendance policy, "it's not always in the best interest of the student. I had mono for two years and the policy isn't exactly sympathetic to those situations. ... Students should be given the freedom and responsibility of showing up to class. They will soon learn that if they do not go to class ... they will fail and pay the consequences."

No matter what my opinion is on the attendance policy, I give tacit consent to it by the fact that I daily choose to attend Baylor.

So despite any complaint myself or anyone else may have concerning policy, I recognize Baylor as a private university has the right to exact any sort of policy it desires and I have the right at any time to discontinue my education at Baylor. The attendance policy is hardly worth that.

Stori Long is a senior professional writing major from Crowley and a contributor to the Lariat.