Approved by the:
Administrative Response:
Student Senate March 5, 2015
The Senate Committee on Educational Policy (SCEP) is working with Student Senators and others to address the issues identified in the Resolution. The April 15 SCEP meeting included discussion of three proposed changes to the Administrative Policy on Makeup Work for Legitimate Absences.

Following a substantial discussion in the committee, SCEP members agreed to form a small subcommittee to meet this summer, to continue discussions and to work on drafting language to bring back to SCEP in the fall. Among the areas for discussion are (1) adding language to clarify that faculty members do have the discretion to approve absences and allow for makeup work in addition to those explicitly mentioned in item #1 of the policy as legitimate absences;(2) how best to define bereavement and the relationships for which it would be applicable; (3) consideration of a statement to encourage faculty to take into consideration students' religious practices related to bereavement; (4) further clarification that faculty have the authority to determine when a student cannot meet the objectives of a particular course because of absences, (5) further discussion and consultation

Resolution to modify Bereavement in the Administrative Policy on Makeup Work for Legitimate Absences

The Student Senate recommends to the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost of the University that the Administrative Policy on Makeup Work for Legitimate Absences be updated.

The Student Senate supports the clarification of "relationship" in the Makeup Work for Legitimate Absences, section 1 and supports a minimum length for excused absences in the case of bereavement. We support changing the 8th question in the FAQ section of the policy as stated below:

8. The policy mentions "bereavement." For what relationships would bereavement apply in this policy, and how many excused absences should be given?

This is also partially at the instructor's discretion.  Relationships should include significant other, cohabitors, cohabitor's parents, children, stepchildren, parents, parents of spouse, and the stepparents, grandparents, guardian, grandchildren, siblings, or wards of the student. Further associations may be deemed acceptable of excused absence by the respective instructor on a case by case basis asThe death of a close family member is usually included in the absences related to bereavement circumstances.  In addition, there may be other circumstances when a student is affected by the death of a person who was close to the student, and was not a relative (for example, the death of a roommate or friend).  The student is responsible for explaining the circumstances and requesting to be able to make up the work. A reasonable minimum duration for excused absence in the case of bereavement is 3 days with an additional 2 days if the student must travel beyond 300 miles from campus and 4 additional days if the student must travel outside of the 48 contiguous United States. Further days of excused absence are allowed and should be up to the approval of the instructor.

COMMENTS:

The University of Minnesota acknowledges that students should not be penalized for absences during the semester due to unavoidable or legitimate circumstances under "Makeup Work for Legitimate Absences, section 1". Of the listed circumstances qualifying for such treatment, "bereavement" is included. The administrative policy vaguely denotes "relationships" as the association required for bereavement related absence. The "relationship" definition parameters are non-existent and interpretation by the professor is required. Without a more detailed description students can feel penalized in a time of increased stress by professors who are not sure if the student has a reasonable excuse.

The Senate Committee on Educational Policy (SCEP), Policy Advisory Committee (PAC), and Presidents Policy Committee (PPC) most recently conducted a comprehensive review of the Makeup Work for Legitimate Absence policy on June of 2014, overlooking the significance of a lack of clarity regarding the definition of "relationship." Without clarification and more detail, a double standard will continue to be set by University administration as faculty members are allocated three days of paid leave when suffering bereavement, with two additional days of paid leave possible upon supervisor consent according to the "Bereavement Leave for Faculty and Academic Professional and Administrative Employees" policy.

University policy grants instructors permission to request proof of legitimate student absence such as a funeral director waiver in the case of bereavement, which eradicates abuse of a mandated excused absence policy. Additionally the University of Wisconsin and Purdue University both have successful student policies similar to the proposed student bereavement policy. (See: Purdue University's Grief Absence Policy for Students  https://www.purdue.edu/odos/sac/grief-absence-policy-for-students/ and the University of Wisconsin's Student Bereavement Policy http://www.uwgb.edu/deanofstudents/policies_procedures/students/studentbereavement.html)

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