You wake up with your alarm blaring in your ear. After wrestling with the covers for a minute you manage to stumble out of bed, but as soon as your feet hit the floor you can feel your stomach churning.
While you’re hurling over the toilet saying hello again to last night’s dinner, your mind starts racing trying to figure out how you will get anything done for the day if you’re stuck in the bathroom.
Eventually your mind and body will come to an agreement to stay home from class.
So, what now?
You email your professor that you will miss. Their response is that according to their attendance policy, you will need a doctor’s excuse in order for your absence to be excused.
You begin to become frustrated because you just remembered both of your parents lost their jobs a few months back and currently don’t have access to health insurance to cover a doctor’s visit.
You decide to take the loss and not go to the doctor for a simple stomach flu and just take an unexcused absence due to the potential cost the doctor’s office could charge.
Unfortunately, this is the harsh reality for some students at YSU.
According to YSU policy, “The instructor … has the prerogative of determining the relationship between class attendance, achievement and course grades, and the responsibility for communicating the relationship to the students at the beginning of each term.”
A majority of attendance policies implemented by professors require a legitimate excuse for an absence such as a doctor’s note for a medical absence or an obituary for the absence due to the loss of a loved one.
According to a study conducted by AgileHealthInsurance.com, researchers found that “70 percent of college students and recent graduates reported having difficulty finding affordable insurance coverage.” Some students might not have access to health care or insurance to cover the visit.
By requiring a doctor’s note, the university and staff are causing students to have a non-reporting failure in a course or attend class while sick and run the risk of infecting those around them.
Neither decision is a viable option for students who struggle to pay for everyday expenses on top of tuition.
In addition, a common issue nontraditional students face is finding a caretaker during class for their child or loved one who they regularly take care of. If something happens and the student must stay home to take care of someone, then according to some professors’ policies, that is considered an unexcused absence.
Sometimes, students can’t help that they miss so much. Whether it comes to taking care of someone or suffering from a chronic medical issue, they have the risk of failing classes due to absences that are considered “illegitimate.”
While these policies make sense in order to encourage students to miss class less due to illegitimate reasons, they are also discriminatory towards students who are living in poverty or who are nontraditional.
By making the attendance policy less strict, YSU would decrease the spread of viruses and diseases due to sick students attending class, and improve the mental health of those who might need to take a simple mental health day during the semester.
Students with chronic illnesses or disabilities can register with Disability Services to avoid being penalized for absences, but that doesn’t help students who suffer from an occasional cold or flu.
Whether students attend class or not, YSU still receives their money.
For those who do not have access to health care, the Mercy Health Student Health Center is open to students who need medical attention provided by Wick Primary Care. These services are free. Appointments can be made Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.