Editorial: Reviewing the University’s sickness policy

As students become ill, limits with the University of Minnesota’s sick policy become burdens on the student body.

Daily Editorial Board

Students get sick. 

With over almost 50,000 students populating on the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus, you are bound to catch some sort of virus or bug. Typically, these minor illnesses don’t require a visit to Boynton Health. They can get better with a brief search of symptoms, a few days of rest or the use over-the-counter medication. 

The university’s absence policy allows students to miss a day of class without any documentation to prove  they were seen by a doctor. This policy is not understood by all professors. Some still require some form of proof by a medical professional that you were legitimately sick and could not make it to class. 

The policy guarantees a legitimate excuse for a single-episode medical absence. Sending students to clinics to obtain documentation is often a waste of resources and exposes others to your germs, which can spread sickness. Most of these issues can be avoided by simply staying home, emailing your professor and prioritizing your health — but are nevertheless not covered as an excused absence.

There needs to be more trust between students and faculty. After college, when most students enter the “real world,” employers don’t require some form of documentation to prove every illness. If college is supposed to get us ready for the real world, students should be trusted to hold themselves accountable. 

It may be inevitable that some students abuse the policy, frequently convey illness as an excuse and have regularly low attendance. Professors should not ignore this behavior, but instead attempt to address it case by case. There may be extenuating circumstances affecting the student and their intent may not be to abuse the policy, but rather that medical attention was not necessary. 

Administration at the University have realized the absurdity around requiring students to have documentation for every single missed absence due to illness, and have tried to combat this issue by implementing the one-class exemption policy. But the next step is to ensure the policy is followed and enforced, with professors and faculty are sticking by the rules put in place. 

Students are adults and should be treated as such. We should trust students enough to hold themselves accountable and be honest with their professors. Students are committing their time and money by attending the University. More students continue to be inhibited by strict or unenforced sick-policies that become detrimental to their health, both mental and physical, as well as the health of our entire student body. We believe this needs to change.