Students deserve lenience in ‘no exceptions’ policies

Henry Corwin

Physical culture and sports sophomore Bryce Reiner was in the hospital vomiting uncontrollably just days before he was supposed to take an exam in his UGS class. Although this clearly hindered his ability to prepare for the test, his professor did not excuse him from taking the test on the day it was administered, Reiner said.

“I said that I’ve been really sick … and (asked) if it is okay if I move this test,” Reiner said. “She (said), ‘No. You’ve had time to prepare. You should be prepared for this. I’m sorry but I can’t make any exceptions.’”

Reiner said he had documentation from the hospital proving he was truly sick, and therefore didn’t understand why he was not allowed to take the test at a different time.

“I just didn’t really see how that made sense,” Reiner said. “How am I supposed to prepare for this if I’m literally in the hospital?”

Professors’ “no exceptions” policies about missing exams or deadlines shouldn’t really be “no exceptions.” When students have an excuse for needing a makeup exam or an extension, professors should examine their reasons on a case-by-case basis and use reasonable judgement to determine whether or not a student should be excused. If their case is reasonable and legitimate, professors should be willing to grant exceptions for situations that are out of students’ control. 

According to the University’s General Information Catalog, UT does have policies for attendance and final examinations. However, after contact with the Office of the Registrar, I was not able to find a specific policy regarding students who have to miss regular exams or class work deadlines during the semester due to illness. Kendall Slagle, the communications coordinator for the Office of Executive Vice President and Provost, said it is up to each individual professor to decide whether or not to excuse a student.

“We encourage students to talk to their instructor about situations that arise,” Slagle said. “It is the faculty member’s discretion to excuse absences or class work or not to. If a student is not satisfied with the outcome after speaking with their instructor, a student can appeal to the department chair and the dean’s office.”

Advertising junior Pedrum Rasouli found himself in a similar situation to Reiner’s in the spring of his sophomore year. Rasouli was in the hospital with pneumonia just three days before his exam and had to travel home to recover, causing him to miss the exam. Despite documentation from the hospital and desperate explanation of his situation, Rasouli said he received a grade of “zero” on the exam and instead had to take a more difficult, optional final exam to replace that score.

“I just thought it was unfair because I had to study for a test that was over a lot more (material),” Rasouli said.

Although these policies are made uniform for all students to ensure fairness, there should be some room for interpretation and exceptions made for unique cases. The same concept is applied to laws in the United States.

One law may seem right at one point in time, but new unique cases have caused laws to be reinterpreted and changed over the course of American history: Brown v. Board of Education, Miranda v. Arizona and Roe v. Wade. 

A judge can issue an opinion that varies from accepted law so long as they have a legal basis for doing so. Professors should do the same when it comes to their policies.

In the cases of Reiner and Rasouli versus their professors, the unique situations of both of these students should be enough for the professors to rule against the accepted laws.

Corwin is a journalism sophomore from Long Island, New York.