On Feb. 3, the Committee on Undergraduate Policies, Core and Review met to discuss important policy issues, one of which involved making student attendance a formal factor in grading.
The committee's task is to discuss the issues brought to them by concerned faculty members and students. While the committee is currently conferring on the potential ramifications of changing the grading policy, they cannot make actual guidelines, as this is a duty restricted to the college administration.
Leigh O'Brien, a professor in the School of Education as well as the current chair of the committee, said, "The goal is not to mandate to faculty to use attendance but rather to make it an option for them in their grading."
If implemented, the policy change would strike the line in the Undergraduate Bulletin that currently states that course instructors are not to consider attendance in grading.
O'Brien said, "I think the three main disciplines that seemed very concerned about this were the arts, education and science labs," because these are generally considered to be "hands on" disciplines that usually require students' presence in class in order to participate.
"I think it is important for faculty to structure a class the way they feel is most appropriate and conducive for learning the material," said Eugene Dezarn, an assistant professor in the School of the Arts who attended the committee meeting.
In contrast, many students said they feel the potential policy shift is unnecessary.
"We're all mature young adults and we should be responsible in choosing whether or not to come to class," said freshman Molly Walsh. "If we choose to not attend we will simply suffer the consequences by being unprepared for the next exam."
"We are already being graded based on our class participation," freshman Monica Yoo agreed. "Since we can't participate if we are not there, being graded for attendance hurts you twice as much."
Some students, however, believe the change would benefit both students and professors.
"I believe professors should have the option to distinguish between class participation and attendance," said senior Cassie Brown, a student representative on the committee. "Physically showing up is different than actively contributing." Brown, a lab instructor, said that in her position, "It is difficult when people miss classes and you don't have a lot of action you can take against them."
Upon the first reading of the motion, significantly more committee members supported the proposal than opposed it. The committee will meet once more to discuss the motion and if it passes a second time it will go before the college administration for review.