Instructors to continue to set own attendance guidelines, provost says

Students with attendance policy concerns can contact their department chair, dean, Provost’s Office



WSU has about 32,000 students across the whole system, so administrators want instructors to tailor their attendance policies to each class.

CALLIE GERBER, Evergreen reporter

WSU administration is continuing with the current class attendance guidelines outlined in academic regulation 72, which states that instructors decide their own absence policy.  

As an accredited institution, there are academic regulations WSU has to follow, said Elizabeth Chilton, Pullman chancellor, provost and executive vice president.

There are a variety of different classes across the six campuses with different attendance needs, she said.

“Given that we have 32,000 students or so across the whole system and thousands of instructors, really the attendance policies should reflect the course itself,” she said.

Throughout the pandemic, administrators have emailed instructors about class attendance. In the most recent email, instructors were asked to be lenient with attendance policies if students become sick, Chilton said.

The email also reminded faculty to tell their students to contact Environmental Health and Safety if COVID-19 symptoms arise, she said. They can then schedule testing and immediate isolation if needed. If a student needs to isolate because of exposure, EH&S will send an email out to instructors on behalf of the student.

Department chairs and directors were asked to emphasize to faculty the importance of being lenient with attendance policies, Chilton said.

Spanish professor Spencer Martin teaches Spanish 101, and attendance is mandatory.

“Learning a foreign language requires, you know, at least in great part, listening, interacting. It’s a lot of social interaction because language is very social,” Martin said.

Four absences are allowed in the course without someone’s grade being negatively impacted, Martin said. After a student has missed four days of the course, each additional absence will drop their grade down one letter.

On the one hand, Martin sees the importance of not having specific attendance guidelines with all of the different types of classes. But, on the other hand, it has made it difficult to maintain an attendance policy.

“It would be nice for the university to have a tool to provide us with, some sort of tool that would allow us to at least try to or attempt to maintain an attendance policy,” Martin said.

Madison Rohr, sophomore business management major, has mandatory attendance policies in all her classes.

“They usually do some sort of participation in class, or they don’t post the Zoom, so we can’t really get the information,” Rohr said.

Roar said she feels supported by the WSU administration when it comes to attendance.

If a student does have difficulty with an attendance policy, they can reach out to a department chair, dean or the Provost’s Office, Chilton said.

“There should be no reason why a student’s grades should suffer because of this,” she said. “We’re trying to be as absolutely accommodating as we can.”

If a student does feel sick, administrators want students to stay home.

“We don’t want students to feel that, ‘oh my gosh, I’m sick, but my professor [is] not going to be lenient, and so, therefore, I’m going to drag myself into class and make everyone else sick,’” she said. “We want them to be able to feel comfortable staying home.”