Mandatory attendance increases student sickness

By Chris Grask

Strict attendance policies coupled with bad student health are forcing sick students to attend classes when they should be at home resting. Professors forcing students to attend every class, regardless of circumstances, pushes ill students to drag themselves to class. Students need to put a higher emphasis on their health and realize it’s acceptable to miss class occasionally.

“I have been there before where I had to show up to class even when I was sick,” senior journalism major Mike Kelly said.

He said it wasn’t torturous for him to sit through class, but it was awkward more than anything. Kelly said that because he was ill, he was more focused on his health than the lecture. Professors have the ideology that all students attending class are fully engaged with the class, yet when they’re forcing the student to be there, they sacrifice attentiveness for presence.

During the season-changing months, it isn’t surprising to see an uptick in people getting sick. Cold weather hits, and the body isn’t acclimated to the new temperature. The peak flu season occurs in the fall as well as winter, according to the Center for Disease Control’s flu webpage.  

From 2011-2012, it was estimated that there were 12,000 influenza-related deaths while in 2013-2014, there was a high of 56,000 deaths, according to the CDC’s FAQ section.

Kelly said he has avoided the flu in recent years by practicing good hygiene and hydrating during the dry winter months.

Often overlooked is diet, but with the right vitamins, students can keep the cold from taking over this fall.  

By avoiding eating late at night, lowering the intake of sugary foods or beverages and lowering your caloric intake, students can help prevent getting sick, according to Andrew Digate, Director of Health Services. He said the flu shot is important as well.

“First and foremost, the most important thing to prevent the flu this year is to wash your hands,” Andrea Drott, Associate Director of Recreation and Wellness, said. “Getting a good night’s sleep and handling stress is very important.”

Group projects are stressful as is, and if the group has someone who must miss out on classes because of their cold or flu it makes the project much worse.

“I have done projects with group members before who have been sick during the project, but if they’re incapable of doing simple tasks then it is better for them to get some rest than try to contribute,” Kelly said.

Kelly has the right idea, it is important to realize not to over exert yourself to go for that grade. Mandatory attendance and strict class guidelines often force students who may not feel the best to over work themselves for the grade.  

“They should be staying home, but communicating with faculty is important,” Drott said, “Even with the zero-tolerance policy, it is important to email your professor why you can’t make it.”

Communicating the reason of absence with professors is the nice thing to do, yet the professors who hold the zero-tolerance policy scoff at the notion of giving a free pass. The health of the student deserves to be at the forefront of the professor’s mind, and disregarding the notion that nobody should ever miss a class is absurd.   

Kelly said he had forced himself to go to an electrical engineering class when he did not feel well.

The academic experience is in peril if strict attendance is enforced. A good diet and an overall healthy lifestyle are a great deterrent to the occasional cold, and it will keep students in the classroom. Having a healthy student body means better attendance numbers and students paying attention. The professor’s job is to improve the mind of the student, yet when they take on the role of medical doctor that is crossing the line. Forcing a flu-stricken student to attend class when they should be in bed or receiving medical treatment is a disgrace.