The necessity of going to the Health Center for an excused absence is the most disagreeable aspect of the Fordham attendance policy. First, it crowds the Health Center with students who otherwise would not be seeking treatment there, creating longer wait times for everyone and taking space away from people who actually believe they need medical care. Students are also forced out of their dorms to spend half an hour or more waiting in the Health Center, which is completely in opposition to the advice the staff are most likely to give. The policy also minimizes the efficiency of the Health Center staff, who have to function not only as nurses and insurance agents, but also as truant officers.
At the University of South Carolina, the attendance policy mandates that students miss no more than ten percent of their scheduled meetings for a course. At Fordham, this would mean four absences from a class that meets three times per week, three absences from a class that meets twice per week and one absence from a class that meets once per week. To me, this percentage policy is a much better solution than cramming half of the school into the Health Center during cold and flu season.
The University is also trying to protect students from taking advantage of a more lax attendance policy. “I understand why the school mandates the Health Center policy to keep kids from skipping class. It would be easy to abuse a policy that let us be in charge of absences due to illness”, says Emma DeGrace, FCRH ‘17.
There’s no easy answer to this question; the University wants to make sure we are in class, and we want to be in charge of our own decisions. However, at this point in our lives, we should at least be trusted to make appropriate decisions concerning our healthcare. The mandate to go to the Health Center to excuse an absence does not seem to be benefitting anyone. As someone who gets sick fairly often, I know when I need to stay in bed and when I need to go see a healthcare practitioner.
Catherine Carrejo, FCHR ’17, is a communications and media studies major from Huston, TX.