Policy for make up coursework could sway in student’s favor

A University senate committee is discussing a formalized makeup policy that protects students who enroll in a class after the semester starts.

Rilyn Eischens

Students who enroll in a class after its first day would be able to make up work and avoid unexcused absences under a policy proposed this month.

The University of Minnesota Senate Educational Policy Committee discussed altering the University’s legitimate absence policy which doesn’t protect students if they enroll late. But committee members worry students would take advantage of the change.

While students are allowed to register for classes during the first two weeks of the semester without penalty, there isn’t a policy in place for assignments or classes missed during that period, said University Student Conflict Resolution Center Assistant Director Michael Huyen, who introduced the topic at the meeting.

This means professors aren’t obligated to excuse those absences or allow students to make up assignments due before they registered, he said.

Still, many professors are willing to work with students who register late, he said.

“There are a few situations we did run into where the professor is unwilling to provide any type of accommodation … for the absences [a student] incurred when they were not registered for the class,” Huyen said.

If that’s the case, he said, students can file a complaint with the SCRC.

The SCRC received four complaints this fall. Typically, they receive one or two each semester, Huyen said.

The issue is underreported among students, Huyen said. Establishing procedures for these situations could help students stick to their four-year graduation plan and be academically successful.

SCEP Chair Susan Wick said she doesn’t think the idea went over well in the committee meeting. Still, she said, the discussion should continue next month.

Students could take advantage of the policy if they’re allowed extra absences, Wick said.

“That encourages bad student behavior, to not commit to a class in a reasonable amount of time,” she said.

Plus, it can be difficult to catch up after the first few days, Wick said — especially in labs or discussion-focused courses.

“If a student misses the first two weeks of class and tries to add the last day, they’ve missed 15 percent of the course,” Wick said. “In some courses, if you miss more than three or four classes, you get an F.”

But sometimes students have no other choice but to register late, said SCEP student representative Will Dammann.

“Sometimes you get into a course, and you’re not really sure about what the course is going to be like, so you have to drop it … and then you fall below the full-time student level,” Dammann said. “You have to pick up a class.”

At the same time, he understands why some may be opposed to the idea.

“I know there are many professors that would be fine with it … but then again, there could be students that would say, ‘Hey, I can do this so might as well skip out on these classes’ … so it does get complicated,” Dammann said.

Lauren Mitchell, also a SCEP student representative, said in an email that she’s taught several courses at the University and figured there was already a policy in place.

“[I] assumed that providing an option for students in that position was just the norm. It just seemed fair,” she said. “That said, it can be really inconvenient for instructors.”

Mitchell said she doubts students would take advantage of the policy by purposely signing up for courses late.

“Even if we changed the policy … those students will still need to scramble to complete those assignments,” she said. “I think that is enough of a deterrent to prevent students from abusing the policy.”