The unwritten 15-minute myth debunked

For decades, the unwritten rule at Youngstown State University has been that instructors are allotted 15 minutes to get to the class they’re teaching before it’s deemed canceled.

Jodi Clowes, executive secretary in the provost’s office, attended YSU in the late 1970s and said she remembers holding instructors to a similar standard.

Since then, she hasn’t seen any written policy to back up what students have believed to be true for years.

“In the different roles I’ve been in, I’ve never seen anything in the policy catalog,” Clowes said.

Ikram Khawaja, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said no such policy exists.  

“Traditionally, this is something that has happened,” Khawaja said. “Hopefully, it happens very rarely.”

Khawaja said it is more of an academic courtesy than a written policy.

Clowes added that technologies such as email and text message alerts allow instructors to inform students of class cancelations or delays.

“With technology, it’s become easy to forward [a message] to the class and notify students that they will be absent,” Clowes said.

Teresa McKinney, a sophomore who lives on campus, said she’s always been notified of any cancelations ahead of time.

“They want us to respect their time, so they should respect ours as well,” McKinney said.

Junior Liseli Baich said students should recognize that their instructor might have a busy schedule.

“Sometimes [tardiness] is OK because they have other full-time jobs,” Baich said. “But if they are strict on attendance, I don’t think it’s right if they are tardy themselves.”

Despite the conveniences that technological advances provide, some instructors simply post a note on the classroom door, informing students as they arrive that class is canceled.

Andy Schumaker, a commuter student, said he’s spent time waiting around on campus after finding a cancelation notice on the door of his classroom.

“I’ve never experienced that where I drove for a class that’s canceled,” Schumaker said. “But I’ve spent time waiting around between classes after finding a note on the door.”