The renewed class attendance policy at Southern does more harm than good for students. Not only does this change in policy instill the idea that rules are required to motivate students, but is also is unfair to students who are self-motivated and able to manage their time well.
While I understand that for certain classes, such as labs, medical science classes and more hands-on courses, attendance should be necessary and greatly encouraged, I do not believe that it is fair to take off points for a student who decides not to attend class for all courses and degrees. For those who are able to maintain a high GPA, excel in their academic endeavors and manage their lives properly, attendance should not be necessary. Those who are responsible should not suffer the consequences of those who are not.
However, this policy is also harmful for teachers. The culture that this policy creates is that at the end of the day, teachers are the ones responsible for the engagement of their students and not the students themselves. If students aren’t able to maintain their motivation and work ethic, that does not fall on the professor.
By reinforcing the policy, Southern is also reinforcing an academic culture where teachers are expected to pick up the slack for the students. Self-governance and self-motivation are not encouraged by this policy. Rather, it encourages the opposite. I am not going to state all of this without also acknowledging the grace and understanding that Southern professors have shown and continue to show. It is deeply appreciated and readily accepted.
Additionally, I think that if a teacher can grade on attendance, despite the email stating students shouldn’t attend class if they are feeling ill, students are more likely to write off their symptoms and still attend out of the fear of their grade dropping.
As a whole, I do not think the reasoning behind the policy is truly in the best interest of either the student body or the faculty. It does not encourage growth. It does not encourage health. It was a shallow decision meant for familiar comfort and not the actual positive change and growth of the students as individuals.