University attendance policy may see changes

The university attendance policy is currently under review in order to clarify and refine the rules, said Michael A. James, university registrar and head of the review committee. A university-wide committee has been formed to address the guidelines.

James said that it would be premature for the committee to reveal any proposed changes to the actual policy. Some university professors feel that the policy in place should be bolstered. David W. Felder, philosophy professor and program coordinator, suggested modifications to the attendance policy. “I think it needs to be strengthened. I would like the ability to drop people from my class that don’t attend,” Felder said.

The Felder added that FAMU should consider implementing Florida State’s mandatory first class meeting attendance policy. According to the FSU registrar Web page, students that fail to attend the first class meeting will be automatically dropped from the course.

The university attendance policy should be used as a general framework for class attendance, according to James. “The various schools and colleges are expected to take the policy in the catalog and adjust it to fit their needs,” James said.

Each department of study is expected to structure its attendance policy in accordance with the university policy. Professors are then allowed to form class attendance regulations based on the rules set forth by their respective school. Genyne H. Boston, English department chair, said that professors should transcribe their guidelines. She recommended that instructors include attendance guidelines on their class syllabus.

James said that students are expected to attend classes regularly. The university registrar also said the attendance policy is in place to ensure that students are taking advantage of class time. Shirley Burggraf, professor of economics, agreed that class attendance is important. She said that a correlation exists with class attendance and achievement.

Burggraf does not count attendance toward grades. “I don’t give points for just sitting in a chair,” she said. The professor of economics said that she takes attendance to show students that she cares. “If I see them in the halls and they haven’t been in class, I chew them out.”

Ashley Brown does not understand why students do not come to class.

“You should come to class because you’re paying for it. What if nobody ever shows up…then what,” said the 19-year-old second-year nursing student from Jacksonville.

Boston said that students are penalized once they surpass three unexcused absences. “When they go beyond the limit, the outstanding unexcused absences affects grades,” Boston said. Boston calculates grades based on a total point scale. “For every one unexcused absence exceeding three, the total points are reduced by ten,” Boston said.

Boston requires that students submit documentation in a timely manner, usually one week’s time.

Burggraf said that she takes attendance regularly, but not on a daily basis. She said that attendance takes time because she has 90 students in one class.

“If attendance takes 10 minutes and it’s a 50 minute class, then that’s 20 percent of the time,” Burggraf said.

Some university instructors have stated their current policies and offered areas of the attendance policy that need to be addressed. The university-wide committee may complete their review by the end of this semester, according to James. The new attendance policy may take effect as early as fall 2006.

Contact John W. Marsh at