Students who commute to college often have a hard time meeting attendance requirements when it comes to the weather. It doesn’t take a lot of snow or ice to make a road seem unsafe to drive on, especially on backroads or poorly lit streets.
Class attendance is always important. A student has to be in class to learn, and attendance rates can affect retention rates, which are very important to a small college. Sometimes, however, the weather should call for an exception for commuter students. Aside from the attendance policies, missing classes can already affect a student’s grade just because they’re missing out on a lecture. The attendance policy that most professors are encouraged to have in their classrooms can deduct points just for a student not being in class for a certain number of days. It’s a double hit to commuters who are just trying to stay safe when driving in the winter.
As a commuter, I don’t feel safe driving when the roads are frozen, and because of this I have also missed some of my classes. It’s harsh to expect commuters to show up when they live near roads that might be coated in a thick sheet of ice. Commuting students deserve some sort of leniency.
Senior graphic design major Taylor Cranmer is a commuter who thinks the attendance policy is very restricting. She said, “I have to save my sick or emergency days for bad weather, otherwise I’m penalized heavily with my grades and work. I realize Blackburn has more students that live on campus than off, but driving in bad weather is a risk to myself and other drivers.”
Political science professor Dr. Laura Wiedlocher said she has two different policies when it comes to attendance during poor weather. She puts the needs of her commuters first and gives them the benefit of the doubt when they say they can’t come to class because of the weather. “Dead students are super depressing,” she added, “I don’t want that energy in my life.”
It’s hard to drive when the roads are covered, or when there is a chance a student’s vehicle could veer off of the road. The attendance policy should consider this when it comes to commuters, because the weather is often unpredictable. Being safe and alive is more important than your grade falling, but a student shouldn’t have to choose between the two.