Do you need to go to class?: NSHE: No; UNLV: Yes

By Blaze Lovell | April 25th, 2017

Attention students: thinking about skipping that 8:30 a.m. lecture? Think again. Because if attendance is required in your instructor’s syllabus, you’ll need to go.

After the UNLV Faculty Senate passed a policy statement regarding class attendance last Tuesday, students are now required again to “attend classes in which they are enrolled.”

But for a good portion of the semester (about a month), students may have been able to get away with not going to class.

That provision adapted by the senate—which not only mandates class attendance but also gives each faculty member the power to set attendance requirements—had been deleted from the NSHE Board of Regents handbook at a March meeting.

“We don’t want to send the message to students that they can be successful without coming to class,” Faculty Senate Chair Bill Robinson said.

Robinson told the UNLV Scarlet & Gray Free Press that faculty members had come to the senate and expressed their concerns regarding their ability to control attendance policies.

The issue stems from a December Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents committee meeting in which the wording on class attendance was discussed.

The Academic, Research and Student Affairs committee discussed revising the NSHE Handbook’s policy on class attendance to coincide with a current policy that allows athletes to miss classes if they are required to be at a university sanctioned event.

Discussion shifted to whether or not students must even attend class in the first place. During the December meeting, Regents Jason Geddes and Trevor Hayes both admitted to occasionally skipping class during their undergraduate years to pursue interests that they said would better serve their careers.

Vice Chancellor Crystal Abba suggested amending the language of that section in the handbook, while the committee drafted a proposal that would delete any provision in the NSHE handbook that says students are expected to attend class or that instructors may set attendance policies.

The Board of Regents adopted amendments that said students didn’t need to go to class if they didn’t want to and that teachers can’t do much about it at a March meeting.

However, the statement that the Faculty Senate adopted (which is essentially the deleted portion of the NSHE handbook) reads:

“Students are expected to attend the classes in which they are enrolled unless absent for approved activities or other reasons allowed under policy. It is the student’s responsibility to consult with the professor in advance, or as soon as possible, regarding any absence and to arrange for the completion of all missed coursework, if permitted by policy and established course requirements.”

Though this section was deleted from NSHE Handbook, UNLV General Counsel Elda Sidhu said that it does not conflict with NSHE’s policies.

The Free Press reached out to Hayes, who was on the Academic, Research and Student Affairs committee at the time the revision were made. He said he would not comment on the decisions of the Faculty Senate.

For now, students will need to comply with UNLV’s policy on attendance. So get to class.

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