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Access Center should set attendance, not professors

Students receiving accommodations required to adhere to restrictive attendance policies, this can harm grades

Many+WSU+students+receive+aid+from+the+Access+Center%2C+though+some+are+not+given+the+amount+of+leniency+in+scheduling+they+need.+This+is+because+professors+have+a+set+number+of+absences%2C+regardless+of+physical+inability+to+make+it+to+class.
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Access Center should set attendance, not professors

Many WSU students receive aid from the Access Center, though some are not given the amount of leniency in scheduling they need. This is because professors have a set number of absences, regardless of physical inability to make it to class.

Many WSU students receive aid from the Access Center, though some are not given the amount of leniency in scheduling they need. This is because professors have a set number of absences, regardless of physical inability to make it to class.

BENJAMIN MICHAELIS | EVERGREEN PHOTO ILLUSTRATION

Many WSU students receive aid from the Access Center, though some are not given the amount of leniency in scheduling they need. This is because professors have a set number of absences, regardless of physical inability to make it to class.

BENJAMIN MICHAELIS | EVERGREEN PHOTO ILLUSTRATION

BENJAMIN MICHAELIS | EVERGREEN PHOTO ILLUSTRATION

Many WSU students receive aid from the Access Center, though some are not given the amount of leniency in scheduling they need. This is because professors have a set number of absences, regardless of physical inability to make it to class.

DEYANIRA TOVAR, Evergreen columnist

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Professors should not be able to restrict the amount of absences a student’s allowed when they have a disability.

The Access Center at Washington State University is a great resource that provides a variety of accommodations for students who have impairing psychological or physical conditions.

These could include temporary injuries that create physical restrictions for students. For students who believe that they have a condition that impedes them from meeting a professor’s attendance policy, they can request accommodations through the Access Center.

Accommodations for class attendance are often sought by students who either have a permanent or temporary disability.

Flexible attendance is useful to any student but is only available to students who have certain disabilities or chronic medical conditions that impede their ability to get to class.

When a student gets accommodations for attendance from the Access Center, the student’s professor will be notified of approved accommodations and procedures given by the Access Center. Upon receiving documentation of approved accommodations, it is up to the professor to determine how much they want to part from the attendance policies stated on their syllabus to accommodate a student.

Professors at WSU often have different attendance policies, some requiring little time in class while others have mandatory attendance every day. However, professors often have unreasonably strict rules regulating the number of absences a student can have before it affects their grade.

Ian Reilly, a junior history major, receives accommodations from the Access Center but still loses points for attendance because of his professor’s policies.

“Appropriate accommodations are agreed to between the Access Center and the student,” Reilly said. “After that, it is sent through the Access Center to the professor who decides how many absences they want to allow a student.”

The Access Center handles documentation of a student’s condition and oversees the process for determining appropriate accommodations. It is only logical for them to assess the adequate number of absences a student is allowed as well.

To provide a sense of equity for students who have an impeding health problem, the condition itself must be the considered above all else. The determining factor of student’s permitted number of absences should be limited by the student’s condition, not a professor’s policy.

Different conditions and disabilities affect students in different ways, so students should not be expected to conform to cookie-cutter policies determined at a professor’s discretion.

“It would be helpful for me to be able to decide only with my Access Center advisor how many absences I should be allowed,” Reilly said. “Some professors will limit the amount absences I can have, which is not always easy to comply with.”

A student’s education should not be contingent on their ability to arrive to class on time, or regularly, when they are physically restricted. Instead, a student should be able to attend class according to their own capabilities.

“It would be easier on me and my grade to not have to worry about not being able to attend class, but still being able to make up the work at a later time,” Reilly said. “[That’s] not always allowed by my professors.”

The accommodation process should be determined solely between a student and an Access Center advisor. After that, the student and professor should work together to decide how to best work around the individual’s circumstance. This way, a student’s education is not compromised by uncontrollable conditions.

1 Comment

One Response to “Access Center should set attendance, not professors”

  1. Simon on February 14th, 2019 8:26 am

    While I do understand students with disabilities should have access to proper attendance accommodations, I feel that this column is one-sided. I think it would have been a more well-rounded piece if the columnist had interviewed instructors/professors for their point of view. Graduate students, professors, and instructors who teach also have other obligations and cannot keep tabs on each student in a class of 40-100+ students. It’s just not practical or realistic. Thus, a strict attendance policy is instated so no one is left behind in terms of lecture(s) and/or lecture material(s).

    Also, some courses are purely based on class participation and discussions and the student themselves won’t benefit if they do not show up. If the student needs attendance accommodations, it would wise for the student to re-think if the course is right for them. Otherwise, it is not fair to the other students that show up and participate in class discussions.

    If the access center is going to handle and set flexible attendance, then I think it is only fair that the student in question, take the initiative to get notes, class materials, and all else that he/she/they missed from either classmates and/or the professor.

    As an instructor myself, I’ve had many access center-students come at the last minute for everything, demanding that I hand over class notes, study guides, hand-outs…etc. It is infuriating and when we are also busy, an unnecessary nuisance.

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