Poor faculty attendance plagues students

According to students, professors not showing up to class is a common occurrence on campus, with the highest number of complaints directed at the College of Arts and Sciences.

Alison Gaines, 19, a junior elementary education student from Atlanta, said she took a history course where the professor only showed up to seven of the 15 class meetings.

“We only met once a week so I felt it was really important for the professor to come,” Gaines said. “As the semester went on I got more and more upset.”

Gaines said there was never any prior notification of the professor’s absence and all the students could do was wait 15 or 20 minutes and then leave.

Paul Lovely, 20, a junior political science student from Pensacola, said he had an English professor that was absent more times then present.

“I was kind of upset because I paid for the class,” Lovely said. “If worse comes to worse, my advice to other students who have a teacher who is absent regularly is to withdraw from the class.”

Arthur Washington, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, addressed attendance issues with some faculty members within the college.

“There is a problem with some professors missing classes,” Washington said.

Washington said that when he does receive complaints, he notifies the chairperson of the department who Washington said will then “handle it.”

But according to Jennifer Jackson, 21, a junior political science student from Boston and Saleemah Stanley, 22, a senior journalism student from Sarasota, their complaints to Gary Paul, chairperson of history, political science and African-American studies department, did not change their professor’s poor class attendance.

Stanley, who plans to attend law school after graduation, said the political science classes she took were a waste of time and money.

“My professor would always miss class at least once a week and when he did come he was ridiculously unprepared. I was extremely upset because I was showing up and my professor didn’t even have the decency to tell us he wasn’t going to be there,” Stanley said.

Stanley said she went to Paul after midterm to complain about the professor’s poor attendance.

“I told him how we didn’t use a book, have a syllabus or do any work and how it was obvious that the teacher was just going to give out A’s. I was told [by Paul] to just take my A and audit the class next semester,” Stanley said.

A student who audits a course receives no credit but must register and pay the appropriate fee for the course.

Jackson said she went to Paul with a similar complaint and was once given the same response.

“I told him we had not done anything and the teacher had already told us that we will get an A,” Jackson said. “I was told [by Paul] to take an A for this class and audit the class the following semester.

Responding to Stanley and Jackson’s comments, Paul said, “I never told a student to take an A and audit a class.”

Paul also said he does not think professor absences are a problem in the political science department.

But what students are saying is entirely different. Stanley complained last spring, However, students say they are still experiencing poor attendance from Stanley’s past instructor, County Commissioner Bill Proctor.

Tiffanie Rivers, 21, a junior political science from Clewiston, said her political science class taught by Proctor was cancelled for almost two weeks in October.

“The class was told [on Oct. 3] by the office secretary that he was in court and to call the office the next week to see if class would be held,” Rivers said.

Proctor’s criminal county trial was held in Tallahassee on Oct. 8.

Although Proctor’s class was cancelled for several days, according to his students, his trial started and ended on the same day.

Proctor declined to comment when he was asked to comment on student complaints about his attendance,

Paul said he has an idea whether or not a professor is attending class because a professor has office hours and meetings where he sees them.

“If there are no complaints and documentation is being done then it is our assumption that class is being held,” Paul said. “I don’t go down in their classroom and look, I don’t have to do that with our faculty.”

But students disagree. Senior political science student Yvette Massey, 36, from New Orleans, and Jackson said every semester they take political science courses there is at least one professor that does not show up regularly.

“We are going to be very ill-prepared for law school,” Massey said.

Juanita Coats-Brooks, a professor of biology, who works within the College of Arts and Sciences, agrees with student complaints about the college.

“There are some faculty members that are responsible and we have a lot that are not,” Brooks said.

“I have had students come to me and say, ‘Dr. Brooks, we haven’t had a professor in two weeks’, and these are kids that have to take licensed exams but the material is not being taught.”