Barrenechea: Teach timeliness with slammed doors

Barrenechea argues that a lockout might be necessary to teach punctuality.

Edward Barrenechea

Edward BarrenecheaWhen I arrived on campus one frigid morning, I was running late enough that I knew that my political science class had started without me. To try and catch up, I darted through the hallway, passing a flock of students heading in the opposite direction. Once I had reached the door to my classroom, I found it locked with a note in front: “After 10 minutes, this door will be closed for the remainder of class.”

Tardiness now seems to be physically imposed. Whenever the topic of class punctuality comes up, both professors and students have mixed emotions.

Teachers are reluctant to give a late student a chance to redeem themselves, sending them back into the wild after arriving 10 minutes late. During my college career, I have experienced a few techniques that professors have used to enforce promptness. Some will lock the door right at the beginning of class, others will call a student out in front of the entire lecture hall.

However scary that may seem, a first instinct is to find the most ridiculous excuse imaginable. The only thing you may learn that day is how painful a door slam can become.

On the other hand, students are being taught a valuable lesson in the importance of punctuality. Chances are the same few students who came late the first week of the semester would carry on the tradition for the remainder of the course if not given such a sharp reminder the first time.

“I always try to be on time, but if it’s the same person coming late over and over again, I can understand why the professor locks them out after some time,” said Rachel Manning, a senior English major.

Lateness in the real world could hinder chances to succeed, and could end up with an employer giving a pink slip.

This can prove especially problematic in these colder months, considering winter is such a harsh season. It seems inevitable to have a few lateness marks on your attendance. Driving – or sliding – through the messy snow is one of the worst experiences anyone can face, and the last thing you want to see is a door shutting down in front of your face after the terrifying ordeal.

Snow can be hazardous when walking as well, having experienced the occasional tumble near Paley Library just the other day.

How about when winter is not a factor in your lateness?

Then it must be something else hindering you from attending class on time. Talking with friends in between classes perhaps? Maybe it’s someone you haven’t seen in ages, and you would like to catch up because no one knows when you will ever see them in person again, and you can’t tolerate Facebook conversations. Admittedly, I am at fault for this type of excuse. Temple is such a social school, you simply cannot get to class without meeting at least one of your friends near the Bell Tower. You don’t want to seem rude when you meet your buddy as he or she discusses their last class.

Whatever the reason may be, the final part of the chapter will always end with the wooden door shutting ever so tightly in front of you.

Ultimately, the problem lies with the students. It is their responsibility to wake up on time and head to class.

Students have to be aware of the consequences for being late to anything. Employers are paying for services, and the last thing they want to see is someone come in 30 minutes late. Unlike some teachers, corporations will not tolerate tardiness.

Ed Barrenechea can be reached at 


  1. Please. Undergrad is nothing more than overpriced day care. Here’s an idea. Show up to class. If you can’t make it, don’t sweat it. Do the work on your own time. The best instructors I have are the ones who discourage tardiness by providing a quality classroom experience, and not getting fussed about the clock. To act like it’s a noble thing, and preparing students for work, is a farce.

  2. Apperently Temple tolerates the tardiness of its employees. Throughout my college career I’ve had professors who show up late to class. In fact this semester one of my professors is an average of ten minutes late, yet I learn all of the material in spite of it. If you’re showing up over ten minutes late to class, then its probably not because you chit chat too much. It’s probably because of things you can not control like traffic on I-95 or a delayed train. Temple is a commuter school and a good portion of students do so. On a day like today where the weather is atrocious, is it right to ask a commuter to put themselves in danger if they are running ten minutes late to class? No! Additionally, if a person has not developed the ability to not be tardy by the time they have gotten to college, then you can not just force them into it, for people would start failing due to abscence left and right. The better way to educate students on timeliness is to run seminars and help sessions just as we do for writing, campus safety etc. The easy answer would be to lock students out, the more difficult solution would be to help them develop it.

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