Faculty Senate Subcommittee on Academic Policies—Excused Absences
The subcommittee is not prepared to make a recommendation about “Excused Absences” at this time (Spring 2004). We have, however, ascertained certain points about this issue and offer the following as a statement of our findings, thinking that a future committee might wish to pursue the matter further.
Statement of findings:
1. Most faculty generally have either no opinion or have experienced no problem with the numbers of "excused absences" messages we receive each semester;
2. The few faculty who have expressed concern seem to focus on two major points:
a. the absurdity of "making up" work that was missed in class--that is a process that cannot be duplicated and so the professor should not be expected to do so.
b. the fact that some work in class may be quizzes/exams that count only a small percentage of the grade but that over time combine to form a larger portion. How can a professor "make up" that work for a student who habitually/regularly/often misses class, even with excused absences? The decision of what missed assignments can and need to be made up should be left to the professor’s discretion.
3. What exactly constitutes an absence that may be deemed “university business” is another issue that arose frequently in our discussions with faculty.
We find that the policy statement does not clearly define excused absences related to university business nor to what extent students should be allowed to make up missed work or assignments. Generally, faculty should have autonomy in deciding what part of the unfinished work or assignment can or cannot be made up. However, we believe that suggesting a policy change in this matter could cause complications and contradictions with other policies and procedures. Hence, further careful and comprehensive analysis is needed. Given that most faculty were not overly concerned and expressed no sense of urgency in this matter, it should be up to the Senate to determine whether a future subcommittee wishes to pursue the matter further.