Attendance Matters
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Most of us had had the unfortunate privilege of having professors that treat attendance as a life-or-death matter. Too bad it’s not. Your class is not a knife fight to the death; otherwise I’d want it to be at least 10 credits.

I understand that often times it’s a matter of respect, that we the students should worship and cave to the will and whim of our well-educated and experienced professors. And I do as much as I can to appease them. 

After all, they’re our metaphorical Mr. Miyagi’s and are preparing us with wax-on-wax-off busy work for our future careers as not a karate kid and probably a business analyst at Target. After all, if they’re willing to get to East Bank by 9am to teach us, we should be able to get to East Bank by 9am – even if it’s in our pajamas.

But it’s not only our professors job to teach, but also to support. And when I miss your class for Fashion Week in New York (promising to make up all work, and keep up with the class in accordance with your syllabus’ schedule), it would be supportive for teachers to encourage.

Most of my teachers were fine with my week absence in NYC, albeit a bit hesitant of having a student miss the entirety of the second week of school (aka the first important week of school). Others were not. And they didn’t even attempt to mask their disdain.

Instead of receiving support for pursuing my future career, I was told that I’d be docked participation points, and not be given the slides for the classes I missed. Really? There’s a girl in the back of this class whose only contribution to our class will be the sound of her slurping coffee-water from the bottom of her Starbucks iced mocha latte. And she’s gonna have all her participation points at the end of the year?!

If I was a student in a case competition it would be fine. If I was an athlete missing class for away games, it would also be permissible. And although Fashion Week may not be “academic” in the way that traveling with your math team might be, for me it’s equitably as important as a sporting event, case competition, or a math meet. It was a chance to learn and further my professional ambitions.

Of course, I'm sorry that I had to miss a week of class to do this. (Remember that I pay for this education too!) But if a student is willing to take the initiative to independently pursue professional opportunities, I believe they should be lauded for their ambition. Not slapped on the wrist and docked participation points. 

We come to university to learn and grow. How can a student to this to it’s fullest degree (pun!) without being able to be in control of the parameters of their education? I understand that it might not be considered academic by many professors, students, and non-students, but just because one person can’t learn from experience does not mean that another cannot. All no’s accomplish are the dampening of our learning and growth (and encouragement of mediocrity and cookie cutterness). So when I’m being told that I can’t or shouldn’t, why go to school?

Well, I gotta get a degree, I’m not that ignorant. But I believe I still make a compelling point. In a quirky summation, “Try less” is a phrase that is appropriate muttered in the gym behind the dude with 5 sets of dumbbells secured for himself, but never by a teacher in a classroom to a student. To me that’s wrong.

And beyond teachers - who is anyone to tell another person that they can’t do something? Imagine how wonderful a world we’d live in if people focused on empowering instead of discouraging. It's idyllic and naïve to hope for this, but as we move forward into a new year of school, it’s something that I encourage everyone to try. 

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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