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The Baruch College Faculty Handbook

Student Classroom Attendance Policies - Memo of March 2015

This page last updated on 3/12/2015

From: Dave Christy, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Baruch College faculty and staff must navigate some subtle and occasionally contradictory mandates regarding student attendance at scheduled class sessions. While it is difficult to state a simple, clear set of rules, this document is the best advice we can give our faculty and students.

Our premise is that student attendance at scheduled class sessions is fundamentally valuable. Our faculty dedicates significant preparation to their class sessions with the goal of maximizing student learning through skilled presentations, answering questions, and promoting student engagement with the material. Indeed, even in large classes, or sessions that are largely lecture, the act of attendance is a conscious and regular confirmation by the student of their commitment to achieving the learning goals of the course. The drumbeat of regular attendance supports student achievement.

At the same time, CUNY and most US universities are classified by the US Department of Education as a non-attendance taking institution. This is a regulatory issue: if we were ‘attendance taking,’ faculty would have to record and confirm attendance of every student during every class session without exception. Such meticulous record keeping would consume a large portion of faculty time. Thus, it is essential that we retain our ‘non-attendance taking’ legal status.

However, there are a couple of important exceptions to this policy where faculty must track student attendance. Baruch accepts Federal Title IV (e.g. Pell) funds, New York State Tuition Assistance Programs (TAP) funds, and enrolls some students who receive public assistance from the City of New York where enrolled attendance is recognized as a substitute for paid employment. Baruch is accountable to insure that students receiving these benefits are indeed attending classes, and we are held liable if we accept tuition for students who are not attending. We must rely on our faculty to confirm attendance by these students.

What should faculty do?

  1. No grades are submitted by faculty until the close of the semester. Students who withdraw for emergency or medical reasons will be handled by the Division of Student Affairs and the Registrar.
  2. Take attendance using mechanisms that make sense for format of your course. This may mean passing around a roster that students can initial or sign in a larger class, or just keeping a personal notation for smaller classes. This has two purposes: 1) for roster certification and other inquires that are mandated by funding sources, you will be able to accurately report whether a student is attending class, and 2) you may have a component in your course grade that is for attendance or participation.
  3. Students receiving public assistance are required to attend every class. You will be contacted via e-mail to confirm the attendance of this small number of students. A best practice is to reach out to these students before or after class, and establish a protocol by which they can confirm their attendance with you. It could be as simple as the student routinely saying ‘hello’ before or after each class. It is unlikely that you will have more than one or two public assistance students in any class section.
  4. Confirm rosters, respond to enrollment verification requests, and do your best to do so immediately when requested. Baruch students rely on our faculty to insure the accuracy of enrollment records, and we avoid costly financial penalties.
  5. Be patient with the fact that the regulations to which we must comply are sometimes inconsistent. We are doing our best to act in the best interests of our students; thank you for your support.