Mandatory attendance is unrealistic and unfair to students

UNO professors have the option to enforce mandatory attendance, and many of them do. Graphic by Maria Nevada

Ryan Jaeckel

College is where most of us take our first steps into adulthood. We go to class to learn and prepare ourselves by taking notes during lectures, completing assignments and working on group projects; not on our attendance. In almost every class we will take as a University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) student, a large majority of them will have attendance as a part of your grade.

In the first week of classes, known as syllabus week, where we are given the summary of what we will be learning throughout the semester, all our assignments, what projects we need to prepare for, books that are needed and the breakdown of attendance.

Every student has heard it: “I understand that you are all adults, have busy lives and that life happens; but you need to be here. Everything that I will cover in my lectures is important.”

I am sure I am not the only one who thinks, “if you understand so much and know what we are going through, then why do you accept ‘excuses’ that you feel are real or genuine?”

Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs B.J. Reed wrote via email, “This has to do with academic freedom—faculty really control the curriculum and how they evaluate students.”

If our professors are saying they are preparing us for our future careers, then why don’t they act like actual employers. Most employers understand that life happens. There are accidents, death in a family or other family emergencies and school work.

We all understand that every lecture is important for the class we are taking, but who or what gives them the power to play god and decide what is and isn’t a good reason to miss their class.

On October 2017, DePaul University adjunct professor Kelli Marshall wrote an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education titled Why I Don’t Take Attendance. In her article she says that taking attendance started to become tedious and started to find that the belief that “instructors are supposed to take roll; it’s how we get students to come to class, to participate, and to submit their assignments on time” started to become redundant.

Even though some may think that is how we learn better, that is not necessarily the case. Marshall cites a study done at the University of Albany that revealed very little positive trends in mandatory attendance.

Some professors on UNO’s campus say and understand that there are different teaching methods and that some respond better certain ones. Attendance is one of those methods. There are students who learn better when they are self-taught or who don’t understand the material through a lecture.

If anything, attendance should be a bonus or have no impact whatsoever. Professors are there to teach us the material we need. If we as students are paying to be here, shouldn’t we have a say on if we can or can’t go to class? When we are told we need to act like adults by communicating why we will be missing, why are our grades still affected by it?

If UNO and its colleges want to really prepare their graduates, the attendance policy must be removed.