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 progress); and

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
 May, 2015