Did you know that Rollins does not have an official campus-wide attendance policy?
Elizabeth Cameron ’11 did not. “I thought there already was one. They all [classes] seem to have the same one,” she said.
According to Dr. Barry Levis, professor of history, the only institutional policy that Rollins currently has is “that every faculty member must have a policy [about attendance] in the syllabus.” Teachers are allowed to have different policies for each class they teach.
Recently, the Student Life Committee (SLC) and the Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) have been working to rectify this problem, particularly when looking at religious observances and collegiate business.
Dr. William Boles, chair of the Student Life Committee, believes that Rollins should have a set policy across the campus and that both of these issues need to be addressed in the new policy. “Should students be penalized because of their religious beliefs? Since we are a campus that wants to internationalize our student body, we need to be aware of the variety of religious observances that such a diversity of students will bring.”
Boles also questioned, “Equally, should students be penalized for traveling on student business? Faculty can and do travel to conferences and cancel class. They are not penalized for missing a class. It is part of their job to be a member of their academic community. In turn, shouldn’t students be given the same right? We have students who are on scholarship. Why should they be penalized for missing class when the college expects them to travel? We also have students who give papers at conferences. We have students who represent the college at admission receptions around the country. All of these absences are for college business.”
Although no particular instance occurred to cause the committee to address the problem, in fall 2009 a few students brought the issue of religious observances to the committee’s attention.
Members of the committee supported the proposal for an attendance policy and began to work on the language. Over the summer, members were made aware that many student athletes were unable to take classes with rigid attendance policies because they would be penalized for attending competitions. SLC then broadened its view on the issue.
Boles noted that the policy is still in a governance committee. The policy has already been sent to the AAC and subsequently sent back to SLC for revisions.
Once SLC makes those changes, it must be sent back to AAC, then to Professional Standards and the executive committee before being voted on by the faculty.
Boles continued, “the one thing for students to do in our current climate is to be diligent and communicate with their faculty member about any known absences that will be coming for religious or college reasons.”
Most importantly, “if students feel that they have been treated unfairly by a faculty member because of absences due to religious practices or college business, then they need to communicate this mistreatment to the dean of faculty.”