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Turkey Day prompts drop in attendance

Kaitlyn Lyle / Lantern reporter

Is anybody reading this? No, because everybody’s home for Thanksgiving — except those stuck in mandatory classes.

Though the Ohio State academic calendar says classes are regularly scheduled for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving every year, some students, and even some professors, choose to consider attendance on this day “optional.”

The university rule book states in Section 3335-9-21 and Section 3335-9-22 that “Each department or school may make its own rules relative to occasional absences by students from scheduled activities,” and that “the instructor, however, is not obligated to provide make-up classes, laboratory exercises, field trips, or examinations. The student is responsible for material covered in class during the absence.”

Some students find the mandatory-attendance policy frustrating because it interferes with travel plans.

Jamie Moore, a second-year in environmental science, said he had to schedule his flight home according to his class times, and it will put a damper on his holiday.

“I had to try to make sure I could find a flight that worked at a time that I had enough time to get to the airport and deal with airport security,” Moore said. “So instead of being able to go home Tuesday, I have to go home late Wednesday night.”

Moore, who is flying home to Chicago, said he would prefer if classes on the day before Thanksgiving were cancelled.

“Coming from the opinion of an out-of-state student, it’s hard scrambling around looking for a flight time that works with your schedule,” Moore said. “And it’s one of the busiest travel days of the year.”

Deborah Rumsey, a statistics professor at OSU, said in an email that her Wednesday classes are still meeting this week, including the evening classes.

“As far as I understand it, the university policy is to hold all classes on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, including the night sections,” Rumsey said. “We have a night section that goes from 5:30-6:48 and we hold classes because of the policy.”

Rumsey said she does not necessarily agree with that policy, as many students are then rushing to get home for the holidays, and many students choose to go home earlier rather than attend classes.

“In my experience, very few students (including our regulars) come to our 5:30 night section the day before Thanksgiving (probably less than 10 percent of them) so we are not doing the students a service here,” she said in the email. “It would be better in my opinion for the university to cancel classes after a certain hour, and for the professors to offer online information/activities students can use to stay caught up over the break, such as podcasts of lectures, which are fairly easy to compose, especially with help from the Digital Union.”

Emma Manier, a second-year in psychology, said her biggest issue with Wednesday class is the inconsistency of who will hold class. Manier said she made travel plans a few weeks in advance to avoid price hikes, only to find out a few days ago that she does not have class today.

“I bought Megabus tickets two weeks ago, but had I known that I wouldn’t have class, I would have just been able to drive home,” Manier said. “I haven’t heard of many teachers cancelling class, so I just assumed I would need the ticket either way.”

Seeing extended family is nearly impossible because of how short the Thanksgiving break is for OSU students, Manier said.

Students “absolutely” skip class in order to go home early, Manier said, who had one professor last year cancel class after “nobody showed up.”

Andrew Hayes, a professor of psychology at OSU, said in an email that he cancelled his classes on Wednesday evening.

“I think it would be cruel and family-unfriendly to expect students to attend a class when most of the rest of the country is on the road, entertaining visitors and so forth,” Hayes said in an email.

Hayes’ Wednesday classes are mostly graduate courses that meet in the evening. However, if he were teaching a morning class, he said he would have a different policy.

“If I were teaching an undergraduate course, which meets in the morning, I would be less likely to cancel class,” Hayes said in an email. “But I would expect attendance to be even lower than the standard 60-70% (SIC) that is typical at this university, at least in my experience.”

Both Manier and Rumsey agree the current methods of dealing with the holiday are causing more frustrations for students, but could be alleviated with a few small changes.

“I think the teachers need to decide early what they are going to do with (that day), just so it’s more convenient for students,” Manier said.

“It’s also interesting to note that many departments allow their office staff to leave an hour early on the day before Thanksgiving, to get a head start on the traffic,” Rumsey said in an email. “Maybe the same should be applied to our students.”

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