Students who expect to miss
a class or to be away from campus for an extended period of time for any
reason (e.g., illness or injury, funeral attendance, or family circumstance)
should contact their faculty members immediately.
Note that only faculty members can
"excuse" an absence. As faculty members may have different policies regarding absences, students should review each class syllabus carefully,
Faculty members may request that a student
provide documentation that supports the reason for absence (such as the order
of service from a funeral, hospital discharge, physician letter, etc.).
When making contact with a faculty member about an absence,
students should clarify expectations about how and when to make
up missed assignments or tests. While absent, students are encouraged to keep
up with readings, submit assignments, make arrangements with classmates to
exchange lecture notes, and even take tests online if possible.
In emergencies, our office
will assist students and parents with notifying faculty of an unexpected
absence. Typically, this notice will be for students who are unable to contact faculty
on their own. For instance, we will be happy to contact faculty for a
student who is suddenly hospitalized due to severe injury or severe
mental/emotional distress. In these cases, a parent is usually contacting our
office and does not know the student’s instructors.
Why is Student
Rights and Community Standards no longer providing regular absence
notifications for students? (May, 2015)
The previous practice
did not provide value to students or faculty. Our office
already instructs students to:
a. notify faculty of their absence (even if already in
b. show documentation of the reason for absence (e.g.,
evidence of medical treatment) to faculty if requested.
When contacted about absences, SRCS staff members will continue to advise students to notify their faculty and arrange documentation to support the absence.
Faculty members, as has always been the case, retain the prerogative to excuse
or not excuse an absence.
The practice of absence
notices is a hold-over from a time when smartphones and 24/7
Internet access did not exist. Students who are able to contact our office and
request notifications are capable of notifying their faculty members, as we
already instruct them to do. With the widespread use of online classroom
management, many students are able to continue class participation, submit
assignments, etc., while physically absent from class.
Our previous practice
has often been misunderstood by students, faculty, and parents
as providing an “excuse.” Students and parents, relying on their high school
experience, will contact SRCS for an “excuse” and are frustrated when we inform
them that only faculty can excuse an absence.
Faculty members inadvertently
create stress when they insist a student contact us to have an absence
notification sent when they are already aware of the absence and have access to
documentation regarding the absence.
Faculty members are often surprised to find out that our office does not investigate and
verify information or maintain documentation supporting an
absence. As faculty members determine whether to excuse an absence, they should
feel free to request that students provide documentation to support the reason
for an absence. Faculty members express discomfort with keeping a student’s
medical or other personal information to document an absence; we do not
recommend this practice. If documentation is requested—review it and return it
to the student or destroy it.
Thank you for your consideration. Please contact me if you have any
questions about changes regarding to absence notice procedures.
Mike Gillilan, Ph.D.
Director, Student Rights & Community Standards