BENJAMIN MICHAELIS | EVERGREEN PHOTO ILLUSTRATION
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.