The Student Government Association (SGA) presented a motion to amend section 308 of the attendance policy at the faculty senate agenda meeting Wednesday, March 23.
The amendment to the absence policy permits excusing students from class to attend GSU sponsored events or any event in which the student is representing the university.
“In my opinion, if a student is representing the school at a GSU sponsored event, the student should always be allowed to make up their missed work,” Karissa Wiebe, junior exercise science major, said. “Without this policy, students would be less willing to participate in events because they would be fearful of not being allowed to make up missed work.”
There was strong opposition towards the amendment from James Harris, Ph.D., computer sciences associate professor.
“If you go along with this [amended attendance policy] you are saying that the instructor is not the best qualified person, so you’re taking that right away from the instructor if you agree with this,” Harris said. “I trust the instructor to make the best decision and I know what my students are doing in my class and I don’t think any [administrator] or anyone on the outside knows that.”
Harris says that this change would take the right away from the instructor and give it to the policy maker to make a one size fits all decision.
Students understand the faculty’s concerns, but feel it’s an important amendment that needs to be made.
“Where I understand that faculty may be concerned about this new attendance policy, I believe the main reason we are here is for the students,” Natalie Morris, junior public relations and Spanish major and business minor, said. “If a student is presented a once in a lifetime opportunity and it is only offered during a class time is it fair for the professor to give them an absence? No, I do not think it is.”
Errol Spence, SGA Vice President of Academic Affairs, says that SGA is not trying to take away faculty power and that the revisions regarding the attendance policy are general to give students the opportunity to excel out of the classroom and not be penalized for missing class.
“We (SGA) respect faculty discretion within the classroom, and we also believe that there should be reasonable compromise on matters where there is value-added benefit to both the student and the university, such as representation of Georgia Southern in university related or sponsored activities,” Spence said.
Students are still held accountable for all missed material and class notes Spence said. Students must prepare ahead of time and take on the extra workload if they choose to miss class for such events.
“We have to acknowledge the fact that our students experience the world outside of the classroom and that as [Spence] has been saying, the students who are asking for these absences from classes are not the students who are being represented by this policy for the most part,” Lisa Abbot, CLASS faculty senator, said.
According to the new policy, in the event of a disagreement regarding the policy, an appeal may be made by either the student or instructor of record to the corresponding college Dean.