Mandatory Attendance: A Necessary Evil?
Kyle Florence
kflor654@uwsp.edu

As winter’s icy grasp tightens around Stevens Point, students may find themselves feeling less inclined to leave the comfort of a warm bed and attend class.

Unfortunately for many however, this is not an option as attendance is often mandatory.

Though the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Registration and Records homepage advises students to “attend all your classes regularly,” class-specific attendance policies are left entirely up to instructors. Taking this into account, it is not surprising that many have enacted mandatory attendance policies.

Jeff Snowbarger, a lecturer of English at UWSP, is an advocate of mandatory attendance policies and believes they are necessary to ensure that learning takes place within the classroom.

“Attendance policies can be helpful in laying a foundation of expectations for student participation given the various classes,” Snowbarger said. “Some classes will differ depending on the amount of participation they require to accomplish the goals of the class, but for the most part, attendance is a big part of the education process.”

Professor of political science John Blakeman also believes that mandatory attendance is useful but acknowledges the fact that, ideally, it shouldn’t be necessary.

“Students need to be mature and come to class as much as possible,” Blakeman said. “I recognize that life sometimes gets in the way—students get sick, or non-traditional students have sick kids at home, what have you—but the reality is that I think students should treat college like a job. In the work force, you only get so many sick days per year.”

UWSP students also seem to have mixed feelings in regards to mandatory attendance policies.

“When attendance is mandatory, I definitely feel more obligated to attend. It’s part of your grade, and I don’t want to lose points just for not showing up to class,” said Kelsey McNamee, a junior psychology major.

Josh Weigand, a senior communication major, agrees with McNamee.

“I get the reasoning behind mandatory attendance. After all, you’re paying to be here, and it is your grade,” Weigand said.

Katie Bragg, also a junior, mandatory attendance is what keeps her consistently attending classes in the first place.

“If attendance wasn’t mandatory, a lot of times I probably wouldn’t go,” said Bragg.

Samantha Nehls, a sociology major, understands the reasoning behind mandatory attendance policies. However, she doesn’t agree with them.

“I feel like if I’m paying for my tuition, I should be able to decide whether I go to class or not. It makes sense in high school, but not in college,” Nehls said.

Contrarily, Snowbarger is unyielding.

“I hold pretty firmly to a pretty strict attendance policy because I believe it matters. For the most part, my attendance policy is given to provide expectations for [students] to achieve the goals I have for them as students in the class,” said Snowbarger.