Faculty Senate approved Student Absence Policy

By Gus Bode

Goes to provost for final approval

The Undergraduate Student Absence Policy for University-Approved Activities has one final step to take before implementation. It was approved Tuesday by the Faculty Senate with little opposition.

If signed by Provost John Dunn, the policy could go into effect at the start of the spring semester to allow time for the University to adopt and adapt to the new plan. Under the policy, undergraduate students who are required to miss class due to university-approved activities would be allowed to make up missed work.


“I am very pleased it was approved, and it is my intent to approve it also,” Dunn said. “I think the Faculty Senate’s vote and the strength of the vote conveys very clearly the faculty’s commitment to supporting students in University-approved events.”

Several students each semester are faced with the decision to attend a University-sponsored event and miss a class or exam, or go to class to the detriment of their team or organization. In several cases, students receive scholarship money for their involvement, which could be threatened if they choose to attend class instead.

Senior Katy Fortune, a photography major from Oklahoma City, Okla., said she did not agree with letting athletics and others miss class for no reason.

“I guess in a situation where you could lose your scholarship, in that case I would understand,” she said. “I wouldn’t feel cheated as long as they made up the work and it wasn’t just an excuse to miss class.”

The proposed policy requires students to fill out a form at the beginning of each semester, documenting ahead of time the dates and reasons for their absences. Though students would not receive an automatic approved absence for filling out the form, it will provide a starting place for discussion.

The form must be accompanied by written verification from the SIUC faculty of staff member requiring the absence, but the instructor could still deny the right to make up exams and quizzes. There is no set date for the forms to be submitted, but the senate urged them to be turned in as soon as possible to prevent conflict and allow the professor to plan ahead. Ultimately, it will still be the students’ responsibility to make up the material missed in class.

If a conflict arises, students can appeal to the chair of the department, then the dean of the college and finally the provost. The original draft sent the dispute directly to the provost for arbitration.


The senate feared the chairs and deans may favor the professors in the dispute but was also concerned the provost could intimidate the students, discouraging them from placing their complaint. Dunn said the revised chain for seeking resolution is consistent with University practices.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Larry Dietz will have the final say on what qualifies as a University-approved activity, though he was unavailable to clarify what the term will include.

The committee that proposed the policy examined similar ones at other universities and modeled its proposal after those used by Illinois State University and the University of Colorado. SIUC is the only university in Illinois without such a policy already in place.

Jeremy Nunes, a senior in radio and television, said he supports the policy and thinks it will really benefit students.

“It’s a school function, not like they’re going to the dentist,” Nunes said. “The students will still have to make up the work and are going to represent the school. It’s good they’re protecting students’ rights.”

Reporter Valerie N. Donnals can be reached at [email protected]