Double standards of attendance

Shae Slaughter

Getting out of bed at 8 a.m. is hard, getting to class by 8 a.m. is even harder. I am by no means a morning person, in fact I’m barely an afternoon person, but still I tried to schedule myself a class bright and early two days out of the week this previous semester.

Not once did I come to this class late, in part because I am a punctual person, but also because my professor would penalize students who missed part of class by reducing their attendance points. For the beginning of the semester, I found this acceptable because class time is important. However, as the class progressed it wasn’t the students arriving late that was the problem, it was the professor.

No person is perfect of course, a few minutes late on one day is totally acceptable to me as a student sitting in class. A few minutes of tardiness could be contributed to weather, car troubles or even just a late start. The problem arose when my professor was not two minutes late, he was ten. He wasn’t late one day, he was late five. On those days where our professor was late, we were also held over because they did not cover all of the material they wanted to.

By no means do I wish to be inconsiderate of outstanding circumstances, but I also don’t believe that it’s fair for a professor to hold students’ tardiness against them, when we cannot hold them accountable for their absence. As a professional who is paid a salary, professors should be on time if students who are paying to attend are expected to do the same. I also disagree with the practice of some professors to extend class because they did not budget their time correctly.

Though I know a professor’s time is very important, so is mine as a student. As a full time student, part time writer and full time server/bartender, time is precious to me. To better use my time, I often schedule my classes with 10-15 minute breaks, the amount of time it will take me to walk across campus. When a professor does not value these prior engagements it detracts from my learning in both the class I am being held over in, but also in the class I will be late to as a result.

Of course, I could walk out of class right when time expires, but what if my professor decides to give the homework after the end of class? What if they hold my apparent insubordination against me at later times? To play devil’s advocate, I am on the professor’s time, not my own. At some points I have been forced to leave a class running over time due to another engagement and it creates a worry that I will be unprepared due to the information I miss.

My time spent in class is important to me, but so is my time spent out of class. I value my time for homework, friends and sleep. Professors who don’t realize that their time management affects mine seem to be a consistent problem that I’ve encountered. I disagree with the double standard that often exists with students in terms of tardiness or absences. I have the utmost respect for professors and their line of work and trust me I know we are all human, but trust me again when I say that my time matters too.