USM VP LOBBIES FOR A NEW ABSENCE POLICY
|By Quinell Ming
Northern Caribbean University’s (NCU) United Student Movement (USM) Vice President of Academics, Leera Carr says that a policy should be established to prevent diligent students from being penalised for missing classes due to them representing the university.
Carr, is advocating for a policy to be in place to prevent a decline in the grade point average of students who engage in certain extracurricular activities. The VP believes if a student is representing the university at a particular function, he or she should not be penalised for missing the class session that happened simultaneously. However, this policy will only be applicable to students who are maintaining good G.P.A. requirements.
On page 43 of NCU’s 2018-2019 undergraduate Bulletin – under the subheading “Absence Policy”, the university states, “Students with excessive absences may only be readmitted to class by the instructor. Students who have not been readmitted to class by the official withdrawal date, may not be readmitted to that class and will receive a mandatory grade “FA”. After four unexcused absences in a four-credit course, three unexcused absences in a three- credit course, or two unexcused absences in a two-credit course, any further unexcused absences will result in the lowering of the student’s grade by the teacher. If a student incurs absences (excused or unexcused) amounting to 20% of the scheduled meeting of classes, the student must either: withdraw from the course or be given a failing grade (FA) for the course.”
Carr believes that this regulation does not cater to the diligent students who are forced to be absent from classes because they were representing the university in various capacities. She says, “If the teacher sees that that student is a diligent student, if it is a student who does their assignments, who pays attention in class then they should not be marked down as absent because they were out representing the university”
She added, having a life where you are involved in extracurricular activities; whether it is sports, music or debating will contribute to the overall growth of the students and in accordance with NCU’s motto of holistic development, the lectures are responsible for helping these students develop holistically.
However, Carr said that if a teacher realises that a student is weak in the specific course he/she is requesting absence from, the lecturer should not grant that student the opportunity to be absent from their class session. She said, “If it is a case where the teacher realises the student is weak in certain areas and they are missing certain classes then they can say that ‘Leera’ you should come to class.”
She also mentioned that students must also display a level of responsibility concerning their academics. “Of course it requires responsibility from the students. If they missed a class, then they need to see their lecturers to updated on what they missed” She said.
Aside from her proposed policy, Carr believes that there needs to be a strengthening in communication between the necessary sectors. She said that lecturers must acknowledge emails sent on behalf of students requesting a leave of absence.
The Vice President says she plans to recommend her proposals to the university’s academic board during her tenure in USM.