The hazards of holding a student’s hand

Is school administration negatively affecting your education? The University of Texas at San Antonio is slowly taking more and more control away from the student body with the implementation of unreasonable attendance policies in the College of Liberal and Fine Arts and potential mandatory freshman orientation courses intended to guide you into the world of higher education. It seems more like another way for the university to control your educational path.

UTSA has implemented a policy for their COLFA students that stipulates how grades will be affected for being late to or absent from class. With this attendance policy, anyone who misses a total of three days will have his or her final grade dropped an entire letter grade. After the third absence, each subsequent missed day of class will further lower your overall grade until the seventh absence, which results in a failed grade for the course. This policy is not being practiced campus-wide and begs the question of whether or not it is fair.

Each student is allowed three excused absences. The wording here is very up front with little room for interpretation. Students pursing a degree in liberal arts often take longer studio courses than other degrees, which last about three hours per course. Missing even one day of studio can set your progress back, with the need to make up the time lost. This sounds like a personal problem normally left to the student to work out, but with the COLFA policy these decisions are not just your own to make.

This policy does not consider all variables. Giving three free absences looks fair on paper but does not take in the human variable of life placing obstacles in the way of making it to class on time each day or at all. Students who must also work while attending school must constantly juggle with available time and time dedicated to schoolwork. Students who have children must save the their “free” absences to cover any circumstances that might arise, but is this enough of a buffer to cover life’s unpredictable ways?

As UTSA moves towards Tier One status, it will also soon implement a required introductory course that must be taken by all incoming freshman. Pending the approval of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the new Academic Inquiry and Scholarship course will introduce incoming freshman to college and show them the difference between university and high school education. The trend seems to be moving towards more administrative control over the student body, rather than leaving the students with more control over their academic career.

The fact that UTSA is coddling adults like school children should not sit well with the student body. By placing added stress to the already cumbersome task of completing degree requirements, the university is doing liberal arts and incoming students an injustice with this stringent attendance policy and additional freshman courses. Students should not have to worry about signing a roster when the cost of education should be reason enough for you to control the path of your academic career.