Should ESU Students Bother Asking For a Doctor’s Note?

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I love East Stroudsburg University, but hate the attendance policy. Now, I’m not the kind of student that wants to skip class if the weather is nice or to watch Netflix all day, but like anyone, I get sick. However, if your head cold makes you feel like a volcano that’s about to burst and your doctor gave you the clear to skip class, don’t depend on that little yellow piece of paper with the doctor’s illegible signature just yet. Some professors won’t take a doctor’s note.

The lack of a university attendance policy is the problem. Every professor I know had different rules; some of the policies were reasonable, and others were absurd. Professors can choose to take attendance and follow the third or fourth absence “rule,” which basically allows the professor to say, “See-ya,” to their students, or they can make up their own policy. Some professors allow students up to four absences without a grade change, where others only two. If students miss more classes than allowed, they either end up with a drastic grade change, or find themselves removed from the course.

Last fall, I took a newspaper writing class where the professor only allowed his students two absences. A couple days before the first class, I had to get four impacted wisdom teeth removed. I couldn’t attend one of the two newspaper classes that week, but I wasn’t worrying because I had a note from my doctor. I should have been fine, right?

Wrong. I walked into the second class forcing a puffy smile, and handed the professor the note. Not without attitude he explained that he doesn’t take doctors notes, and that this would count as one of my two absences. My face remained swollen, but grew red. The only thing I wanted to write down on our first assignment was, “Are you for real, dude?”

If a student happened to be sick, why would professors want them to come into class and spread their germs to everyone else? Surgery should also be a pretty good excuse, especially with a note. Though, if you’re taking advice from Karen in  Mean Girls, the popular, “cough, cough… I’m sick,” will fail, and won’t even receive an “A” for effort. A doctor’s note will help you pass an absence mark if you have a reasonable professor, if you don’t, good luck getting that valid excuse.

When the common cold (or a particularly bad hangover) doesn’t keep you in bed, inclement weather can make the commute to class dangerous, if not impossible. When it snows in Pennsylvania, it comes strong. I’m not a meteorologist, but I can tell you that half the time it’s raining at ESU, it’s snowing where I live near the top of the mountain. Commuters that live in colder climates should be able to decide if they want to risk their life, or their car’s life, just to go to a class or two.

Why risk personal safety and potential car crashes when you can often learn the same lessons from home? I’ve had a professor in the past that had a strict attendance policy, yet uploaded the exact same PowerPoint he went over in class, online. In other words, there’s no point taking the chance.

If students want to skip classes for fun, and miss notes or important information, then that’s issue and they should be left to deal with the repercussions and the failing grades. The students that are drinking NyQuil like soda, or picking up shovelfuls of snow instead of books, should have the option to stay home when needed. Not all students intend to parade around a city like Ferris Bueller. Bueller… Bueller… Bueller…?

Amy is a senior at East Stroudsburg University studying Magazine Journalism. She’s an editor on The Stroud Courier, a frequent concert-goer, constant writer and a professional car singer.

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