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Class Attendance Policy

Class attendance is a student’s responsibility. Rhodes, as a residential college of the liberal arts and sciences, considers interactive engagement with other students and the professor in a structured setting to be one of the essential and central components of the academic program. Students enrolled at the institution commit to fully participate in their education, including attending class.

Monday-Wednesday-Friday (MWF) classes meet a total of 42 times in a semester; and Tuesday-Thursday (TR) classes meet a total of 28 times in a semester.

Missing three (3) MWF classes, or two (2) TR classes, is equivalent to one week’s work out of the fourteen (14) weeks of the semester; this is a significant amount of time. Absenteeism is not to be taken lightly.

Specific attendance policies are set by individual instructors, who state them in the course syllabus and during the first class session. Faculty should be mindful in setting attendance policies that college-sanctioned activities may require participating students to be off campus and consequently miss class. Additionally, some religious observances may cause participating students to miss class. Faculty are discouraged from penalizing students solely for such absence and should normally, at their discretion, accommodate such a student in, e.g., an alternate date for a test. However, it is the student’s responsibility in undertaking college-sanctioned activities (e.g., varsity athletics, internships, and off-campus competitions connected with courses) to understand that their participation may come at the cost of absences from other courses or even forfeiting credit on specific assignments when making them up is not feasible.

When health and personal matters interfere with a student’s ability to attend class, students should review and follow each instructor’s syllabus guidelines on missed class time and assignments. If the instructor’s policy requires student notification, then the student should communicate with their faculty as soon as they can do so. The individual professor decides what constitutes an excused absence from their course. Students are responsible for learning and understanding the attendance policy in each course, obtaining and mastering material covered during an absence, and consulting with the instructor to learn whether and under what conditions make-up work will be permitted. 

In emergencies where the student cannot communicate or develop a plan, the Care Manager or Dean of Student Success may notify the faculty using discreet language (see below Emergency Notifications to Faculty). Please note that leniency with attendance and options for making up work remains at each professor’s discretion and based on their specific course requirements and syllabus guidelines.

Note: If a student is struggling with a chronic, ongoing medical issue that rises to the level of disability, they should contact Student Accessibility Services to explore possible accommodations.   The student must address the issues related to missing a class, whatever the reason for the absence. If, by the course policies, the instructor determines that excessive absences are jeopardizing a student’s ability to obtain a passing grade in the course, the instructor may make written request to the Office of Academic Affairs that the student be removed from the course with a grade of F. If a student is removed from two or more courses in the same semester for this reason, the student may be asked to withdraw from the College. 

Emergency Notification to Faculty

If a student cannot communicate with faculty due to an emergency, a student can request an emergency notification be sent to the faculty. Examples of circumstances in which an emergency notification can be requested include:

  • Hospitalization
  • Experiencing an assault or other crime
  • Death or serious illness in the immediate family
  • Legal or military obligations

Please note, these services are to assist students with unforeseen situations that are immediate in nature. The following are not appropriate reasons to request an emergency notification:

  • Short term sicknesses (i.e. flu, migraines, colds)
  • Doctor or other appointments
  • Pre-planned events (weddings, vacations, trips)

To submit a request, please email care@rhodes.edu. In some circumstances, a student may be unable to initially communicate with the Care Manager about an emergency. If the office is made aware of an emergency where a student cannot communicate with the College, the Care Manager may inform the faculty of potential absence using discreet language. If a student experiences the death of a parent or legal guardian, certain offices will be notified, including the President’s Office, Development, the Chaplain, Academic Affairs representative, Financial Aid, and the student’s faculty.

Processing time is 1-2 business days, and requests are only processed during regular business hours. After sending out an emergency notification, the office will contact the student involved to ensure that support is offered once the student resumes academic obligations. 

  • Emergency notifications are a supportive measure when a student cannot fully communicate with instructors. If a student contacts a professor directly about resolving an absence due to an emergency, it is optional to involve the Care Manager if not needed by the student. Instructors are always welcome to submit a Share a Concern report if they are concerned about a student’s well-being.
  • Emergency notifications are not verification that the emergency occurred. The Care Manager does not require documentation to send out an emergency notification. However, the Care Manager asks for enough detail to assess the situation to assist students in managing their academics. The Care Manager also helps students think through their needs and abilities during their challenges. Individual feedback from faculty allows the Care Manager to do this effectively. The Honor Code is expected to be upheld. If a student is found misusing the emergency notification, they are subject to an honor code violation.
  • An emergency notification does not require an instructor to excuse an absence. The decision to excuse an absence lies solely with the course instructor. The syllabus guidelines and essential course elements determine an instructor's ability to allow academic flexibility. Instructors are encouraged to understand that students using the emergency notification process are typically recovering from a crisis and would benefit from some academic flexibility when feasible.

The College understands that grief, health challenges, and other personal challenges impact every student differently. Given their academic responsibilities and goals, students are encouraged to use their judgment about the time they need and can afford to take. Similarly, students should use their discretion taking more extended time through individual course withdrawals, conditional grades, a mid-semester withdrawal from all courses, or a leave of absence. The Care Manager or Dean of Student Success can meet individually with students to discuss these additional options when needed.

Grade Queries

There is no more fundamental relationship in an academic program than that of the instructor and student. The Faculty and its academic officers work to support and to sustain a meaningful and productive instructor-student relationship to secure the educational aims of the College and of the members of its Faculty. Clearly the relationship is not one between equals, and this is most clearly evident when the instructor must assign a grade for the work required of, or expected of, a student.

General Provisions: On occasion a student may believe that a grade assigned is incorrect. Indeed it is possible that a mistake can be made in reporting a grade. The student has the right to initiate a discussion with the instructor to determine that the grade given is in fact correct. If a mistake has been made, the instructor changes the grade and, if it is necessary, requests the Office of Academic Affairs, to change a grade that has been officially entered on a student’s final grade report. In the event that, after consulting with the instructor, the student is not satisfied that a grade has been assigned fairly, the student may write an explanation of why he or she believes the grade assigned is not justified. The student gives this statement to the instructor who may decide that the explanation warrants a reconsideration of the grade assigned. If the instructor decides not to change the assigned grade and discussion with the student does not result in the student’s agreement with this decision, the instructor will ask the department chair to review the procedures for determining grades in the course, the student’s request, and the instructor’s response to it. The faculty member provides a written statement to the department chair about why the original grade is valid.

Should the chair of the department determine that no lapse in procedure has occurred and that full attention has been given to the explanation by the instructor, the matter is closed. The chair of the department communicates this to the student and the instructor.

Should the chair of the department determine that the procedure was not properly followed or that additional attention to the explanation is warranted, the chair discusses the situation with the instructor. The chair may also obtain additional evaluations of the student’s work that promises a constructive response to instructor and the student. These evaluations will be requested from colleagues within the Faculty whose knowledge and expertise are appropriate to a review of the student’s work. Having completed this additional evaluation, the chair’s determination about the grade closes the matter. The chair of the department communicates this to the student and the instructor.

Special Provisions:

  • Time-limits: If the grade on a particular piece of work during a semester is questioned, the appeal for reconsideration must be made within four weeks of the receipt of the grade. The period of time during which appeals of final grades can be made expires at the end of the fourth week of the semester following the posting of the grade.
  • Substitutes for the department chair: In the event that appeals for reconsideration of grades involves grades assigned by a chair of a department, then the procedure outlined here will be conducted by the senior member of the department, or the next senior member of the department in the event that the chair is the senior member.
  • Claims of discrimination: The provisions outlined above are meant to apply to situations in which appeals for reconsideration of grades are made by students. There can be circumstances in which a student’s complaint involves a belief that he or she has been discriminated against because of the practices in managing a course. The Vice President for Academic Affairs is the administrative officer to receive any such complaint. It may be that the Vice President for Academic Affairs will ask that the general provisions above be followed in an investigation of possible discrimination.


The Honor Code represents what the students, the faculty, and the administration believe to be the best environment for the pursuit of the College’s educational aims. All tests and examinations are conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Honor Code, and students are asked to indicate on their tests and final examinations that they have abided by the principles contained in the Honor Code. Students “pledge” that they have completed academic work in accordance with these principles, and faculty are expected to ask for this pledge before accepting academic work from students.

Normally every course for which credit is given has a final examination as a component. Final examinations are intended to assess students’ mastery of the subject matter of the course and are normally comprehensive in scope. The Foundations Curriculum Committee expects, in reviewing course proposals prior to approval, that the provisions of the final assessment of student performance are made explicit.

Final examinations are given during the examination week according to the published schedule. A professor may offer optional examination times for an entire class within the examination period, except for a Reading Day. Each member of the class must choose one of the optional times at least one week before the first day of examinations. The feasibility of implementing this option is left to the professor’s discretion.

No examination, including examinations at optional times, may be scheduled on a Reading Day. A student with three examinations in a row (not to include reading days) may petition the Office of Academic Affairs to reschedule no more than two examinations later in the examination period. Other changes because of extenuating circumstances (e.g., illness, religious observance) also must be approved by the professor and the Office of Academic Affairs.

In some courses the purposes of a final examination are best served by special testing, for example take-home examinations, departmentally administered oral examinations, or special projects and assignments. Whatever the testing method, the important factor is that students are asked to synthesize major concepts, approaches, and facts for the course, and to demonstrate that they can do this on their own. If a professor wishes to give an in-class final examination outside the dates and times of the published examination schedule then this request, along with the approval of the chair of the department, must be made in writing to the Office of Academic Affairs.

A student who has a failing average on course work should be counseled before the final examination about the status of his or her work and about the role the final examination will play in determining the final grade, but the student may not be excluded from taking the final examination. A student who has a passing average on course work and who fails the final examination and as a result has a failing average for the course, may at the discretion of the professor be given an E grade and be permitted to take a reexamination. The highest grade in the course that can be given upon reexamination is D+.

A student who has a passing average on course work and who fails the final examination, but who earns a passing final grade, may be given the appropriate letter grade for the course. Unexcused absence from a final examination automatically results in failure in the course. A student who is prevented by illness or other reason from taking the final examination at the scheduled time must present a written excuse or doctor’s certificate and will be given a grade of X. In some courses, due to the lesser weight given to the final examination in determining the final grade for the course, a professor may not wish to give the grade of F for an unexcused absence or the grade of X in the event of an excused absence. The professor’s policy on this matter should be made clear at the beginning of the course so that there is no misunderstanding and so that it is clear that this situation is an exception to the general College policy.

Final examinations should be available for review by students and may be returned to students at the discretion of the professor. Professors should maintain copies of final examination questions for a period of one year, and if a professor keeps copies of the actual examinations they should be maintained for at least one academic year after the administration of the examination.