A shocking oversight

Student-parents should be allowed excused absences for their children.

Last week, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly unanimously reaffirmed a prior vote by the Council of Graduate Students that would expand the University of MinnesotaâÄôs excused absence policy to parents who need to care for their sick children. This common-sense measure should be resoundingly supported by administrators. Though the new rule is being championed by graduate student organizations, itâÄôs significant and applicable to the student body as a whole. So-called âÄúnontraditional studentsâÄù âÄî a group comprised of âÄúolder than averageâÄù students, veterans, parents and first-generation college-goers âÄî comprise an increasing proportion of the nationâÄôs university students, and the University of Minnesota is no exception. Especially in an economy and job market that is sending many Americans back to school in search of new professional opportunities, it is vital that the University recognize and incorporate the diverse and invaluable experiences of its students. In order to remain fair, hospitable and competitive as an educational institution, the University must do everything in its power to accommodate the special needs of nontraditional students. Though compassionate course instructors may well grant unofficial leeway to student-parents, a failure to explicitly address their situation in our official absence policy amounts to discrimination against students who have children. To both parent and attend school is an immense challenge, but to excel in one area need not mean falling short in the other. Students brave and dedicated enough to juggle these roles together are to be commended and encouraged âÄî not penalized âÄî for trying.