Marked Absent: When Student-Athletes Miss Class

Photo by Stacey Lempel
Photo by Stacey Klempel

— By Stacey Klempel, Class of 2016

As student athletes patiently sit in class and watch the clock as their professor’s mumble in the background. They wonder if they’re going to have time to eat before their game because they couldn’t miss another class.

In the Saint Peter’s University academic policies, it states that all students can’t miss more than twice the amount of classes they have a week for the whole semester or they could fail the course. Therefore, if they have class three days a week they can only have six absences, two days a week is four absences, and one day a week is just two absences.

“I’ve had to miss too many classes because of games that have counted against me,” said Colin Covello a junior on the men’s soccer team.

Student athletes know coming into college that they are going to have a lot of obligations and sometimes missing a class is going to be necessary. Athletes have practices, games, community service, study hall, homework, and still have to attend most if not all of our classes.

I do not think that it should be in effect for student athletes because we can’t control when we have meets or games. Our coaches schedule them and obviously cannot fit everyone on the team’s needs,” said Rachel Wuko a junior on the women’s swimming and diving team.

Saint Peter’s is one of the 28 Jesuit universities in the United States. Only three of the 28 universities, including Saint Peter’s, have the same attendance policy, Fordham University and Gonzaga University. The other school’s policies are up to the individual professor, but the school itself does not have a specific rule.

“Honestly, I feel if you can get an A without going to class then that shouldn’t be a problem because you’re essentially paying for your classes. Missing class would be on you and shouldn’t be on the school,” said Lauren Behrens a senior on the women’s volleyball team.

Although, when talking to professors they don’t seem to mind as much that the students are required to attend their classes whether they’re an athlete or not. “I think it’s tough because they have to make up the classes, but I still think it’s fair,” said professor Joseph Gilkey.

Student athletes are definitely capable of working around this attendance policy, but in some ways it seems to make their schedule a lot more hectic than it needs to be.

“I don’t believe the attendance policy is fair to student athletes. It’s out of the students’ hands as to when contests are played or when certain classes need to be scheduled. To be forced to either fail a class or miss contests because of scheduling conflicts is not fair to the athlete,” said John Burton the assistant coach of the women’s softball team.

Assistant coach John Burton also mentions how he attended two separate universities, one with an attendance policy and one without. “The no attendance policy school had a better class atmosphere because the students who were there were in class looking to learn and participate. The school with the attendance policy often had little participation because it was a large number of students who were forced to be there.”

Team schedules at Saint Peter’s are well thought out ahead of time to make sure that everyone’s class schedules overlap the least amount of games as possible as. The travel time and weather have to be put into account as well.

For instance, the women’s softball team has had eight games canceled and six games rescheduled due to bad weather. This means that there are other days in the week they have to find time to play and potentially miss more class. There have also been incidences where girls were not allowed to travel because they couldn’t miss anymore class.

“I would get rid of it all together because there are some classes where I could just do the work and do well, but there are some classes I do need to attend. It should just be on the student to decide whether they want to go to class or not,” said Lauren Behrens.

It’s understandable that Saint Peter’s University wants their students to attend the classes their paying a lot of money for and to get the best education. It’s hard enough as it is on the athletes, but some students that aren’t athletes don’t agree with the policy either.

“In this school there are a lot of commuters that sometimes get stuck in traffic and can’t help but miss a couple classes per semester. Also, the most successful and determined students tend to be those that are involved in many clubs, sports, and internships. They should be able to have the flexibility to keep participating in those activities without getting points taken off of their grades due to absences,” said junior Tamar Mendez.  


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