University clarifies what constitutes an excused absences with updated policy

One of the newer classrooms in the Seaton Hall/ Regnier Hall complex on campus sits empty. (Archive Photo by Cooper Kinley | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State will leave its “vague” excused absence policy in the past following faculty senate’s passage of specific rules.

The previous policy briefly stated that determining student absences and any makeups were up to the discretion of the instructor of the course. This statement left faculty and students with some questions about what a student could miss class for and not be penalized.

“There’s a lot of different reasons why students might be leaving to have an absence in class and yet we had no university-wide policy to get the professors an understanding of this is something that is excusable,” Brian Niehoff, associate provost for institutional effectiveness, said.

The revised policy includes specific situations that students may miss class for and count as an excused absence, including any event in which a student represents K-State. Many instructors already practiced the main points of this policy in their own classrooms, but now every instructor and student will understand the guidelines.

“There were a few reports that there were some student athletes and some [Student Governing Association] representatives that were not having the ability to be able to make up their work when they were missing class because of some kind of university-sponsored event or where they had to be a K-State representative,” Melinda Markham, president of faculty senate and associate professor of applied human sciences, said.

Members of SGA, faculty senate and university support staff leadership drafted the revised student absence policy more than a year ago, but it was only recently finalized and released.

“It was a pretty lengthy process, but I think getting that many people involved we were able to have a pretty robust policy that we think is going to be really helpful for both students and instructors moving forward,” Markham said.

Absence verification

Students that need an absence verified can use the policy as a guide for that process, as well as what specifically counts as an excused absence.

“I also think that it’s helpful that it outlines a lot of different situations that this might apply to and that there is detailed information about what office students should work with in order to get that identified as an excused absence,” Markham said. “I think that’s really important for students, for them to know what their rights are and know what the processes are and how they go about getting those things identified as excused absences.”

While the new policy includes more clear details than before, some aspects are still left up to the professor.

“If there’s something that doesn’t fit into any of these categories, they can still get excused from it and still get a chance to make up the work, it’s just up to the instructor’s discretion at that point,” Niehoff said.