Doctor’s note requirements place grades over health
Biola’s attendance policy forces students to sacrifice their health to get good grades. | flickr.com
We have all experienced it. You sit up and your nose immediately begins running and your brain pounds against your skull like it is excavating a mine. It is the common cold.
You know you put other students at risk, but if you miss class, you lose participation points that can make a difference between an A and a B. You go to class and three days later Jimmy, who sits next to you, comes to class with many of your similar symptoms.
One reason students cannot stay home is many of Biola’s attendance policies require a doctor’s note to miss class without losing participation points or missing attendance quizzes. These are extremely hard to acquire and can cost a lot of money.
“A physician's note is very much old school,” said Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “It was designed to say that if you’re not sick enough to see a physician then you should have to come to class or go to work, but there are many conditions for which a person does not need to go to a doctor.”
These include the common cold, menstrual cramps, depression, anxiety and self-medicated asthma.
Many attendance policies are in place to ready students for the working world post-graduation, but Benjamin feels an honor system would prepare them better.
Benjamin says in order to help students be adults we need to give them adult responsibility. Part of that responsibility involves knowing when to stay home and when to go to school, and another part is being aware of and realizing the value of education and how much of their money goes towards it.
Honor systems give students that responsibility and create trust between students and faculty that they will make the right decisions regarding their attendance.
Mirroring the Working World
In the working world, employees are encouraged to stay home when sick.
Dr. Jennifer Shu wrote an article for CNN saying people should stay home from work when sick because they will not be as productive, they can get others sick and it may take longer to recover.
Classrooms could better mirror the workplace by integrating technology that allows students to work from home.
“I understand the idea of preparing people for the workplace, but the modern workplace allows for teleworking, telephone conferencing, and skype and video conferencing,” Benjamin said. “Education needs to evolve with that trend, more innovative classrooms are allowing those options to occur as well.”
Responsible students stay home when sick and make up for missed work while irresponsible students will abuse the honor system. Responsible students will become responsible adults in the working world and the irresponsible students will go on to struggle in the workplace.
Attendance is a responsibility students can only learn themselves and it is better to learn it in college before they get to their jobs.
“[Students] should think thoughtfully about when they’re not going to class, but if they’re not well, they should stay home and take care of themselves,” Benjamin said. “Their health is far more important than anything else.”