MSA mullsoptional lecture attendance

JP Leider

In the final Forum meeting of the year, members of the Minnesota Student Association are to consider resolutions and position statements that run the gamut of how they affect student life.

One resolution to be debated at today’s Forum would call for a radical change in the way the University regulates students’ academic lives.

The resolution would request a ban on requiring attendance at lecture classes (those labeled LET or LEC) in which students cannot test out of that class.

The University does have policies allowing students to test out of some classes, although Twin Cities-specific policies are under review.

Another resolution that will be considered at today’s Forum would call for the creation of obligatory test-out procedures for University classes.

Eric Ling, co-author of the lecture resolution, said classes should be about education and not attendance.

“The purpose of taking a course at the University is to acquire knowledge of something and prove you do know it; it’s not to be at class,” he said. “It’s unfair and it’s abridging students’ rights to require them to be at class instead of requiring them to know something.”

The resolution would call for lecture sessions that heavily employ discussion to be relabeled as colloquia or seminars.

According to the resolution, only students with B grades or higher in the class would be disallowed from being evaluated based on their attendance.

There is a difference between a B student and a C student that should be recognized, said Kevin Wendt, the resolution’s co-author and speaker of Forum.

Wendt said it would be easier in classes that are heavily impacted by a few large tests for a student to drop to a failing grade from a C than a B.

“This (resolution) isn’t aimed at students who don’t want to go to class, but for those who know they don’t need to go because they have the knowledge,” he said.

The resolution would address issues some double majors have to deal with – that the two majors require similar but incompatible classes, Wendt said.

Peter Hudleston, associate dean for student affairs in the Institute of Technology, said that while he doesn’t require attendance for lectures, he understands why some professors do.

Attendance often is integral to understanding information presented in class, all of which might not come from a textbook, he said.

Hudleston said students shouldn’t view education as a product that can be purchased, like an item from a store.

In the case of an education, it involves some certification by the University of the competence of that person, he said.

“By paying tuition students are paying for the opportunity to develop that competence and get that certification,” he said. “In doing that they are not necessarily in the position to know all that’s involved in that assessment,” he said.

Student Senate is to consider a similar resolution at its May 4 meeting.