Professors shouldn’t mandate attendance outside of class time

Ashka Dighe

In Robert Quigley’s J302F Digital Storytelling Basics class, an absence from the class’s midterm election watch party without a university-approved reason would result in a deduction of 7.5 percent of a student's final grade. This means if a student has an A in the class and didn’t attend the event, they could be dropped to a B. 

Many professors ask students to attend performances, participate in psychology studies or do other similar projects out of class. However, students have numerous other commitments scheduled throughout the week which means these events could be conflicting. 

Professors should not require students to attend events outside of class time without providing a time-flexible option and notifying them in advance. If a professor requires students to be at an event on a specific date and time, there needs to be a make up assignment for students who miss the event. 

“It is important for journalists to attend events,” Quigley said. He explained that as future journalists, his students would have to attend evening and weekend events anyway. 

In this case, while Quigley did require his students to attend an event scheduled outside of their regular class time without much flexibility, students were made aware of the event well in advance and were able to miss it for valid excuses. However, this still might have required students to reschedule their job shifts, miss meetings for organizations, extra-curricular activities, or in the case of weekend events, prevent them from going home to visit their families.

In the lab for PHY 317K, students are required to do lab practicals and take orally administered quizzes outside of their normal lab time. This semester, students in this lab were notified less than 72 hours prior to the first lab practical and oral quiz.

Vaishnavi Patel, a human biology and sociology junior, said she was “irritated beyond belief.” Patel is very busy during the week and adding last minute events — like a lab practical — to her schedule throws her whole routine out of whack. 

“I had to skip a research meeting I usually have and postpone shadowing an anesthesiologist,” Patel said.

When Patel spoke to a TA about this, the reason she was given for the last-minute schedule change was the lab was too long to complete during the regularly scheduled three hours.

Learning happens both in a traditional lecture setting as well as through labs, political events, guest lectures and other mediums, and it is important for students to experience both methods of teaching. However, professors should not be requiring students to attend specific events outside of their allocated class time. 

Students cannot be expected to build their lives around individual classes nor can they be required to miss their other commitments to attend events out of class time. Events scheduled outside of students’ regular meeting times should not impact their grades unless a make-up assignment is offered. If professors want to require students to attend events for a grade, they need to be more flexible so students can work around their other priorities without it harming their grades.

Dighe is a Plan II and neuroscience sophomore from Houston.