Should Weather Affect Attendance?

By Angela Alfano
Staff Writer

“I think it’s unfair that teachers are counting absences. I’m a commuter, and usually take the buses, but even the buses weren’t running properly. I had to go out of my way to get here [after the storm].” -- Andrew Kim, freshman Biology major (pictured above) Photo by Alyssa Seidman

“I think it’s unfair that teachers are counting absences. I’m a commuter, and usually take the buses, but even the buses weren’t running properly. I had to go out of my way to get here [after the storm].”
— Andrew Kim, freshman Biology major (pictured above)
Photo by Alyssa Seidman

Attendance policies are classroom specific. But is that fair?

On the first day of classes every semester, the professors of LIU Post distribute syllabi, and the common concern of many students is the attendance policy. The number most commonly thrown about is three: three absences per semester. What professors do not say is where the gray area is?

What happens if there is an emergency? What if a student is severely ill? Family tragedies? This semester, many Post students were concerned about the weather during the second week of classes, when the Juno storm hit Long Island. According to http://www.weather.com, parts of Long Island received over two feet of snow. The snowfall started at 6 a.m. on Monday morning and continued heavily throughout Tuesday evening.

LIU Post made an announcement late on Monday night, Jan. 26, that classes would be canceled on Tuesday, Jan 27. The clean-up for this storm was not as severe as Superstorm Sandy in 2012, however, there were some complications.

“My street did not get plowed until 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday night,” said junior Broadcasting major Kaitlin Veygel. “And by then my entire block was one giant sheet of ice.”

According to the LIU website, about 80 percent of students commute to Post. Commuting from Suffolk County, Veygel, much like the greater half of her student body, was not happy to see that school would be open at regular time for Wednesday classes.

The students who attend Post are also not confined to a specific radius around the campus. There are students who commute from outside of Long Island, where various towns and counties all got hit differently with this storm.

Despite the opinions of the administrators who made the decision to hold classes, believing that the campus and roads were safe enough to be on, many students felt otherwise. If the school does not cancel class, many professors go along with what has been decided and continue with their classes.

“When I went to Suffolk Community College, absences were not taken so seriously as here at Post,” Sofia Conigliaro, a junior Journalism major, said. “Of course, if you missed class, your grades would suffer, but I think they had a better understanding that if things come up, people can’t make it to class.”

Should this mentality be passed onto other schools? Absences cannot always be excused with a doctor’s note. Weather conditions are reason enough for missing classes.

Most of the students attending LIU Post are commuter students who could have gotten their drivers licenses as recently as one year prior to coming to Post.

Melissa Weisman, a senior Electronic Media major, said that when she emailed her professors explaining her absence due to the storm, some responded that they understood her reason for missing class, but that her absence would still count against her.

Journalism professor Sandra Mardenfeld said that she always follows protocol when it comes to canceling classes. “If the institution is open, I come,” Mardenfeld said. When asked if she would consider canceling classes due to weather conditions, Mardenfeld said that she considers the commute and unless it is a “suicide mission,” class is in session. During the second week of classes, we saw similar weather conditions without a single day to recuperate. However, the snow accumulation was not as bad as the black ice on the roads, as well as the thick layer of slush-turned-ice that coated sidewalks, and the entirety of campus.

“I commute from Wading River which is very deep in Suffolk,” Leah Fischman, a junior Criminal Justice major, said. “I drive a small car and it does not handle well in the snow, let alone having to drive 52 miles on ice. When I got to campus, there was a thick layer of slush that was just beginning to harden. By the time I got out of that one class to go back to my car, it was solid ice.”

Fischman mentioned that her concern had nothing to do with not wanting to go to class. In fact, she had stayed up well into the night prior to the first snow day to do homework for the next day. When she found out that classes were canceled, she was somewhat annoyed.

The weather conditions were stressful enough, but to attend a school where students are being penalized for staying home due to safety precautions is alarming.

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Categories: Opinions

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