While there is not a university-wide policy, individual schools can enact truancy policies.
Although students are generally expected to let their professors, instructors or teaching assistants know in advance if they are going to miss class or are going to be late, the regulations for teachers can sometimes be unclear to students.
“There is no general policy at the university,” Diane Maleson, the senior vice provost for faculty development and faculty affairs, said. “However, each school and college has a [teacher truancy] policy.”
Maleson, who is also a professor at the Beasley School of Law, said at the law school, professors must properly notify the school if they are going to be late or miss class.
“If I were to be absent from a class [at the law school], I would either call or e-mail in, and it would go up on a central monitor,” Maleson said. “You are expected to make it up.”
The truancy policy in the law school is very similar to others across the university.
Dr. Kevin Delaney, the vice dean for faculty affairs in the College of Liberal Arts, said the school requires faculty who are going to cancel class to contact the dean with a plan to make that class up, which the dean must approve.
Although most teacher-truancy policies across campus are very similar to that of the CLA and the Beasley School of Law, some students said there have been instances where their professors have failed to give any notification of being late to class or canceling entirely.
Freshman Brandon Shefton, a fine arts major, said last semester he showed up for class on time, only to wait 15 minutes for his professor to show up.
“At the end of the day, they should at least give us correspondence before they show up late,” Shefton said.
Shefton added he believes that after 15 minutes of waiting for a professor, students should be able to leave class even if the professor arrives after that.
Dr. Scott Gratson, the director of undergraduate studies at the School of Communications and Theater and the director of the communications program, said the “15-minute rule” isn’t a real policy.
“The oft-noted meme ‘Wait 20 minutes if they’re a Ph.D, 15 if they’re a master’s’ is completely bogus,” Gratson said. “There is no such rule.”
“It is a sort of urban legend that depending on your rank you get 10, 15 or 20 minutes of deference,” Maleson said. “I think it’s rare that [professor not showing up to class] happens.”
In other cases, students mentioned that without notification, professors allow teaching assistants to take over class if they are unable to attend.
“On occasions where my teacher did not show up or did show up late, what would happen was the TAs would take over for them,” Charles Paraboschi, a freshman business major, said.
“In one class, my TAs were very competent and taught the lesson very well,” Paraboschi added. “However, in other circumstances, the TAs would come and teach a very dumbed-down form of the curriculum, and I wouldn’t feel the enriched education … as if I was getting it directly from the professor.”
Paraboschi said if an emergency or weather conditions similar to last month’s snowstorm caused a professor to be late or miss class, he would not be angry at the teacher for failing to notify students that he or she would not be able to make it to class.
If a teacher in the CLA was late or missed class without going through the proper procedures, Delaney said the faculty member would attend a meeting with the dean to explain procedures.
He said this may result in the college or school monitoring that particular class and further penalties would be assessed if the faculty member repeated his or her actions.
These policies are similar to the law school, where Maleson said any problems with following procedures would go to the dean, but added people are expected to meet their obligations.
“A teacher, of course, has a responsibility to teach her or his courses,” Gratson said.
Sean Carlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.