Counterpoint: Who should be able to drop students from the class?

Counterpoint: Who should be able to drop students from the class?

Ethan Pham

The instructor-initiated drop policy allows faculty to drop students who exceed the absence or missed assignment limit in their classes. Some students find this practice unfair, while others believe it is a requirement for students to participate in their education by attending class. This point-counterpoint explores the two perspectives of the issue.


UTSA’s has new policy for the fall semester—the instructor-initiated drop—has found its way to some classes. This policy will not foster a better education for students. In fact, it has the potential to hinder an education.

The drop can be initiated for a variety of reasons, but I have only seen it used to reinforce attendance and participation policies. I understand that instructors want to see students succeed and grow, but an instructor-initiated drop may not be the answer.

The instructor-initiated drop is used to reinforce mandatory attendance. For example, I used to suffer from insomnia and depression. I tried to attend all my classes, but showing up was almost impossible on certain days because of my lack of sleep or mental state. When my body decided it was finally able to sleep or needed a mental break, class was not a priority; my health was at risk. That is not to say that my education isn’t important, but being forced to attend class to save me from a drop would have been a nightmare for my sleep-deprived body or depressed mind. Instead, I made up the lost days with extra study. It would’ve been much more difficult to make up a dropped class.

I’ve had to drop classes before, but it was a decision I made for myself after thinking about what was best for me. It serves no purpose to strip important choices away from students.

That is my personal experience with class attendance. Some students feel that because they are paying for their education, they should decide how they will go about earning their grades. If a student is succeeding in class without needing to attend regularly, why should they suffer? Why shouldn’t students be able to allot that time to other aspects of their crazy college lives? Whatever the reason is for the student’s attendance (or lack of), they should be able to decide the route they take towards their degrees.

Just forcing students to attend does not guarantee their success in the classroom. Students may attend class, but they may not focus if they’re not interested. The instructor should work to make their class worth attending, not a class that students are attending because it’s required. Dropping a student from a course due to momentary shortfalls can destroy the student’s ability to make-up dips in their performance.

If an instructor-initiated drop policy is to work, it should be used in ways that help students, not hold them back. It shouldn’t be used to reinforce mandatory attendance. Students are adults and should decide for themselves how they learn best. For some, attending class every day is not the answer. That doesn’t mean class time is not important—it very much is. However, instructors should advise students on whether they should drop a course, not make the decision for the student. We should be given the opportunity to navigate our own education. Having important decisions made for the student will not help them grow; it is a glorified, unsolicited hand-holding.

Give students the chance to think and decide if they should remove themselves from a class. If education is truly important to students, they will decide if they should drop the class.