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Tardy policy needed for late teachers - The Red and Black : Opinion

Tardy policy needed for late teachers

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Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2007 12:00 am

At the start of every semester, I find myself reading the same general syllabus. The course schedule and material might be different, but, for the most part, every class I have taken has the same common rules, policies and procedures.

After three years at the University, I have noticed a recurring contradiction that our oh-so-prestigious instructors seem to hold as their glorified entitlement. I am, of course, referring to the University's contradicting policies on tardiness - or lack thereof.

Most syllabi include a policy similar to the following: "Oversleeping is not an excuse for being late" or "Tardiness will be counted as an absence."

I understand how students arriving late can be a disruption to a lecture, not to mention if several students find themselves wandering in after the class begins. I myself have even been known to arrive a few minutes late.

However, I do not understand how an instructor can implement a strict tardiness policy such as those listed above and then not hold themselves to the same standard.

I find myself questioning this all too often as I have waited from five to nearly 20 minutes for an instructor to arrive and begin the class.

After asking a few instructors - graduate students and tenured professors alike - I have found no one who knows of any University-wide policy on the matter.

I've heard rumors of professors who arrive in the last five minutes before the end of class and still hold all the students accountable for attendance. I find this to be outrageous.

Dr. David Stooksbury, associate professor of engineering and atmospheric sciences said, "I am not aware of any policies that the University has on the tardiness of professors."

In any other profession, being late on even a few occasions is grounds for review or dismissal.

I call on someone, anyone, to clarify this for me. Is the five minute - or 15 if you are generous - rule just a tall tale? Can I actually leave and not be penalized? Is there no accountability for our instructors to even attend class? My search of University Web sites and online handbooks for any policy making reference to an instructor tardiness policy turned up empty.

I propose the University adopt the following policy:

Students should allow for the late arrival of a graduate student or teacher's assistant for five minutes, a doctoral student instructor for 10 minutes and a tenured, full professor for 15 minutes.

This is more than reasonable - or is their time more valuable than that of those who are paying to be there?

"I think that graduate students should be held more accountable than a tenured professor," said Clint Mullins, a University student from Decatur. "They are still students and still have something to prove."

This may be the perfect opportunity for the Student Government Association to prove its usefulness for a cause the entire student body can support.

Hint, hint, wink, wink, Bowers and Gibbons.

- Cody Pearson is a senior from Grayson majoring in Speech Communication

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