Attendance requirements harm mental health

By Kayla Ross, Staff Writer

My mind is always full — between the stressors of classes, a part-time job, making time for family and friends and keeping myself healthy, sometimes it feels like I don’t have time to breathe. Honestly, I sometimes find myself making time for homework before I make time to shower, eat and sleep. Classwork alone consumes our minds, typically taking up more than half  our days outside of the time we spend in class, lectures or labs. 

However, I have found that, this semester, professors have not allowed students any grace in regards to missing a class. Most professors, at least in my experience, are now heavily factoring attendance into our grades, meaning that if more than one to three classes are missed, students’ grades may be dropped by an entire letter grade. I understand that I should be grateful to have an in-person option after battling the pandemic for two years now, but I also think our faculty and administration should consider that there are other sources of stress in my life besides my course load. 

There are some days that I have to skip a class, just so that I have enough time to complete all my homework in time for the next day. There are some days that I am so overwhelmed, sitting in another lecture physically brings me to tears. I am so stressed. I am so tired. 

Adding an attendance requirement to classes only causes more stress to students about their grades, and does not take into account the necessity of occasional mental health days. 

Of course, I think students should be attending class most of the time. I understand that attending class is vital to success in our education here. But attendance policies do not account for mental health issues or the overlap of our own personal lives. 

Take into consideration high school attendance policies. In Ohio, students are permitted to miss 10 school days per year. After this number, a doctor’s note is required to mark further absences as excused. 

Although college classes move at a much faster pace, professors’ policies should account for days students may not be available due to mental health factors or other life events. 

While current policies do not consider mental health, they also do not account for the current state of public health. Yes, COVID-19 circumstances have improved considerably; but, if a student feels ill, they should not go to class. 

COVID-19, as well as many of other illnesses, could be transmitted if students continue to come to class despite feeling ill. Most students attend class, even while showing symptoms of COVID-19 or other illnesses, because their professors do not excuse absences without a doctor’s note or a death in the family. 

Professors should adopt policies that allow students to miss occasional classes on account of mental health or personal illness that may not be accompanied by a doctor’s note. This could be achieved through professors making a commitment to posting lectures and notes on Canvas. 

Mandatory attendance policies may prevent students from “falling through the cracks” as some may say, but they do not protect students’ mental health. If lectures were consistently posted on Canvas, students would not feel as far behind if they miss a class. Class is the most important part of college. Class is college. But a college cannot operate if its students are burnt out.