Required academic engagements should be scheduled on a course?s syllabus during the first weeks of the semester. Most required activities should take place during the day. The course should have a clearly written attendance policy included on the syllabus. These ideas are hardly radical, but to some here on campus, they seem to be: The Student Affairs Committee has spent the last academic year reworking the College?s attendance policy, and it remains to be seen whether the faculty will approve it.
The proposed policy aims to ease the strain on students? schedules by mandating that no event, be it a lecture, test, film screening, or field trip, be deemed obligatory ex post facto?that is, if it does not appear on the course?s original syllabus. For students who feel stretched in all directions by academics, athletics, volunteer activities, and extracurriculars, such a policy would provide them the opportunity to prioritize their commitments well before any conflict ever arises. By knowing that a certain class has Tuesday evening film screenings, for example, a student could choose from the start whether his schedule could accommodate both the course and his non-academic commitments. Such a policy would help ensure that no one wears himself too thin, a fate that we all risk at an institution with such rigorous standards for both academic and residential life.
We commend the intentions of the proposed policy as it seeks to simplify our schedules and help us better divide our days. However, we believe it should be far stronger, specifically surrounding the difficult decisions student-athletes face when forced to choose between their place in the classroom and their loyalty to their team. We?ve found that this week, a total of six athletic competitions were scheduled to take place at a time that would require athletes leave 2:30 to 3:55 p.m. classes early?or not show up at all?in order to make it to the field before the starting whistle. They are made to constantly negotiate their roles as both students and athletes, and the newly proposed policy does little to alleviate this tension.
While we support the increased communication that this policy would bring between faculty and students, we wonder whether it only tackles a fraction of the issue at hand. Communication between professors and students is indispensable, but we suspect that students will continue to feel the pressures of conflicting interests that this proposed policy only begins to address. We urge the faculty to approve the proposal and use it as a start for discussions about academics and student life on campus.
The editorial represents the majority view of The Bowdoin Orient?s editorial board, which comprises Bobby Guerette, Beth Kowitt, Anna Karass, Steve Kolowich, and Anne Riley.