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Sick passes at Colleges, what the heck?

  1. Nov 7, 2011 #1
    My girlfriend is in college, and I am working as a software developer.

    She just stayed the weekend at my place off campus, and since yesterday she's been complaining of persistent nausea. Today the alarm rings for her to wake up for classes, but she asks me to go get a thermometer instead, and it turns out she has a fever; and also she's feeling weak and tired. She starts saying how she's going to skip her classes and sleep, but then she starts getting panicky and saying that I*absolutely have to wake her up before 2pm so that she can go take the train to campus and get to the heath services department in time for their walk-in hours, all in order to get a health evaluation and a "sick pass" for the day.

    I told her that I refused to wake her up for that if she was sick and sleeping. I called the school's heath services department instead. When the lady picked up I explained and asked if my sick girlfriend really had to drag her ill self out of bed in the cold weather and walk to and then from the train just to get a pass to prove that she's sick.

    The lady said
    "yes, she really has to."

    That really pissed me off, and I responded
    "Seriously!? Shouldn't she be sleeping if she's sick? I would understand if she was on campus and could get the school shuttle to give her a warm ride to the health department, but it's cold, and I live far."

    But the woman said back
    "Well, if students don't come in for an evaluation then anybody could call in and say that they're "off campus" and sick whenever they just didn't want to go to class."

    To that I said
    "Well, other students might lie, but I'm here to verify this particular case, and I can tell that she really is sick. I'm not going to wake her up, sorry. What should we do?"

    I was begrudgingly told that she could come in the next day instead if she really had to, and then we hung up.

    What's the deal with this sort twisted distrustful policy? Do schools usually treat their students like untrustworthy juvenile delinquents on parole? This isn't a dumpy school either, it's (very literally) the most expensive school in the country, or at least very close contender for the that title. The student body isn't exactly made up of the sorts of lazy kids who don't want to be there and would lie to skip classes on whims whenever they felt like it.

    I've never seen any of these sorts of perverse policies in the working world either. I thought treating people like that was a thing that primary schools did to small children, and that colleges considered themselves to be part of the adult world, and were expected to treat their students as such.

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 7, 2011 #2


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    You're wrong, the school is right.

    And your girlfriend should see the doctor anyway. You think she's really sick, so you don't want her to get checked? :uhh:
  4. Nov 7, 2011 #3
    Uh, no sorry.

    In elementary school you'd do what you've just done, and call the school and say you're sick. That doesn't even fly in highschool. You need a note from your parents or doctor in highschool saying you were sick, even IF you call in to the school sick.

    What you suggest is completely ridiculous and gives students who otherwise would not have completed or done as good on an assignment an advantage over those that DO complete it. 'Oh sorry, I couldn't hand in this lab report worth 25% (which is something I'm actually writing right now for a bio course) of my final mark because I wasn't feeling well, here it is now though!' Then they just accept it and mark it equally?

    Having a job and attending school are completely different, it doesn't pay off to be sick from work, yet it DOES pay off (sometimes substantially) to be sick from school.

    Also, this only applies if you have something in class for marks to do. The university/college hardly cares if you miss lecture or seminars (unless participation marks) or tutorials (unless participation marks).

    I had strep throat and had to miss a chemistry laboratory at the start of the year. I dragged my *** out of bed to the walk-in and then to the hospital emergency room and got a note and handed that in. If I didn't do this I would fully accept not getting the marks for the lab, why should I get credited for something I didn't complete or attend? (By credited you actually just get no mark for it and everything else is pro-rated it's not like free marks)

    I also think what you did was incredibly rude; your girlfriend asked you to wake her up and you refused based on this ridiculous idea that 'she's an adult and can stay home from school if she decides to.'

    Everyone's a doctor and I'm sure you're the only boyfriend willing to verify in this particular case.

    PS. It's incredibly stupid to not bring your girlfriend to the hospital when she's having symptoms you've described for a prolonged period of time. You claim she should sleep vs. seeing medical professionals. LMAO. Very working world 'adult' of you.
  5. Nov 7, 2011 #4
    Such policies are in place because of past abuses. Administrators don't just sit around all day thinking of how they can inconvenience students. I'm sorry to hear you are frustrated and your girlfriend is sick but you come across as if you should be treated special. Welcome to the real world. btw, if you don't like it, you can change schools.
  6. Nov 7, 2011 #5
    I never ran into this problem myself. Why is it that if a person needs to see a doctor, they must also go to the school? Are you supposed to throw up on the nurse's desk as proof of illness? All the school needs is a doctor's note.
  7. Nov 7, 2011 #6


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    The medical clinic is probably on campus, I would assume they would give her the note she needs. She could probably see another off campus dr, but she probably doesn't have health insurance.
  8. Nov 7, 2011 #7
    Ah. I went to Temple U. They don't just have a medical clinic, they have a hospital. I don't know where I was supposed to go if I got sick, I don't think I ever did.
  9. Nov 7, 2011 #8
    I agree whole heartedly with the OP. High school should be the end of babysitting. If this is a post secondary establishment, then the students are also adults, and there should not be "attendance". I don't understand how your girlfriends attendance should affect anyone else other than her. If she missed a test, or a lab, or something along those lines then I understand. Otherwise, its stupid.
  10. Nov 7, 2011 #9
    If you don't go to work you get fired. If you don't go to class you likely fail. What is the difference, how is that babying?
  11. Nov 7, 2011 #10
    Really? It's so rude that he called in to the school for his girlfriend who is feeling terrible to allow her to sleep for the rest of the day and get a note tomorrow that serves the same purpose?

    And she's been feeling tired and sick since "yesterday", does that warrant a trip to the hospital for you?
  12. Nov 7, 2011 #11
    Then let her "likely fail". thats her choice. Saying that she fails regardless of her performance on exams because she didn't justify an absence is babying.

    The difference is that you get paid to go to work. Showing up at work is part of your job. In college, you are paying thousands of dollars to have to resources to learn. It should be up to you how you use those resources.

    If you miss a test, by all means you have to justify it. But if you are missing an ungraded lecture, then you aren't hurting anyone but yourself by not being present.
  13. Nov 7, 2011 #12

    Thanks for the great reply, your method of explaining your view by way of giving no explanation at all is truly minimalist genius.

    Also, saying "don't you want her to get checked anyway?" doesn't fly as an excuse for the school to mandate her to come in *before 2pm* on the *same day* to get checked out. Since when do sick people in the adult world wake up to an alarm, notice a fever, and immediately fly out of bed and into a doctors office? I don't know where you're from, but where I'm from we stay in bed until we've gotten 8 hours, or maybe 12+ if we're sick. And then we go to the doctor when we're feeling up to it. You don't wake up a sleeping sick person and drag them out into the cold. You let them get enough rest and wait for them wake up on their own, and screw any institutional requirements that say otherwise. It's just common sense. What kind of heartless jerk are you?


    "What you suggest is completely ridiculous..." I never said that there should be no consequences to calling in sick, and I certainly didn't mean to imply it either. Yes, if you let people call in sick on class work with no consequences then it would be inviting abuse from even the most honest of students. You don't have to explain that to me, I'm not an idiot.

    A proper and civil way to handle this would be to give every student X number of assignments every year that they can hand in late without explanation, and get marked equally. If they use up all X freebies then late reports thereafter get marked with a certain number of points off for each day late. Problem solved.

    Also, assuming that by "school" you mean college, I do not see why you think it pays off ("sometimes substantially") to miss a day. Firstly, I'd guess that professors marks you off points for handing in work late, or they just don't accept it at all, so that's one bad thing for starters. Secondly, in the case that there is no work to hand in and you're just skipping a lecture, you paid the tuition already, so not going to the lecture out of laziness is just silly because you're throwing away your own money. Thirdly, if you miss a day then you have to do more the next day to catch up. I could probably think of more down sides if pressed to. I see no positives to willingly skipping a day of classes. But maybe I'm missing something?

    "I also think what you did was incredibly rude..." No, it wasn't rude, because I still listened to her concern and handled it. She had the concern of being penalized for not getting the health pass on time. In that situation you can deal with things in one of two ways, you can either

    (A) Agree to wake her up knowing that you'll be waking up a person who still needs more sleep, and kicking them out into the cold (and with a fever to boot).


    (B) Say you care about her too much to consider option A, but then instead call the health department and get her an extension so that she can go to the doctor when she's rested.

    In what world is B not the better option? Yes, it might be rude in the most shallow sense that you're technically saying "no" to someone's request, but you're just blind if you can't see past this and to the that to the fact that the situation was rectified by just making the whole requirement to wake up for a stupid sick pass just go away.

    Also, the symptom of mild nausea just started late last night. I hardly think that 12 hours of mild symptoms warrants waking up a person who's still tired and dragging them to the doctor. Do you have no respect for sleep?


    Thank you.
  14. Nov 7, 2011 #13


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    If she's vomiting and running a fever, you don't know what the cause could be. People don't wait until they "feel up to it" to go to the doctor. If you're feeling better, then there is probably no need for a doctor by then, and if the doctor sees she's ok, she probably will not get a note. That's why you go to the doctor before you get better. And by waiting you run the risk that it's serious and you've waited too long. In a hospital, they are constantly waking patients up to take vitals, give meds, change the linens, etc... I think it's time that you realize how things work in the real world.
  15. Nov 7, 2011 #14


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    By missing one class you put yourself at a disadvantage for the rest of the material. If this leads to you asking more questions in class later because you can't follow as quickly, seeing the professor after hours to try to get caught up, asking classmates to clarify subject matter that you perhaps may have understood if you had attended, etc. Then YES, it does hurt others.

    I'm sure there's quite a few that can skip a week, catch themselves up on their own, and never have a question about the missed material. But for every one of those there's 100 that waste everyones time by asking questions that were OBVIOUSLY covered on the previous day, etc.

    I used to be of the same opinion as you, as I feel I am one of those 1% who can easily miss classes and catch myself up; never ask for help outside of class; never ask questions that waste everyone else's time; etc.

    The one exception to this was in my senior year of undergrad I had a "Works of Shakespeare" course, taught at 8am, MWTF. The professor was 79yrs old, and his "lecture" was, EVERY DAY, reading the book out loud to us, slowly,while we read along, and then asking random questions about what he just read every 20 miniutes or so. Attendance was required, and if you fell asleep in class it was considered an absent, or if you were doing something other than reading the current book it was an absent. Each absent took you down 1/2 grad. So 2 absents = max of a 3.0 in the course.

    Horrible course as I'd finish the book in a day when it took him 6 days to read it. Then I'd be bored, couldn't do homework, couldn't sleep/skip/read something else. I should have complained to the school as it was a waste of my time and money. There's no reason that I should have been forced to attend.
  16. Nov 7, 2011 #15
    I'm assuming she goes to a regular uni/college? Where they don't mark attendance?

    At my school if you miss something for marks you don't get marks. With some exceptions. In my physics course if I miss the date to hand something in I lose 10% per day. All other classes I immediately receive a 0 grade unless I bring in a note. If I miss a lecture it's my job to catch up on what I missed, the prof hardly cares, in fact if I miss ANY class no one would even notice my absence. They don't know me and they would hardly notice anyone missing in hundreds of students.

    You talk about treating people like adults yet you talk about giving people 'freebies' or extended extensions. I wish they'd give me freebies and extensions at my job.

    Also, have you ever gone to university/college? How can you not see that having an extension on an assignment would be of great benefit. As I said I'm currently writing a bio lab (which is due tomorrow) and I also have a calculus assignment due tomorrow. If I got an extension even by one day on either of these I would be greatly benefited. Even if it were only one assignment, one extra day to write a lab report? That'd be GREAT and I'd take it in a heartbeat. I wouldn't sit there saying 'oh no-no here it is.'
  17. Nov 7, 2011 #16


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    Are you serious? I'm shocked. How can you get fired from work if you call in sick? Attendance can be noted and when someone calls in sick one a year: what's the problem? I say that is definitely babysitting and I'm glad I work somewhere where I can handle my own responsibilities (and study/work at home when I'm feeling sick).

    If grades suffer it's the person's own responsibility. If something is really wrong, the person needs to see the doctor anyway and appropriate action can be taken on deadlines, if required. No freebies, just common sense.

    Today I actually have a splitting headache due to a cold, the thought of going to work and infecting everyone around me doesn't sound appropriate and would be counter-productive. Only if there would have been a very important meeting would I have gone in today. I'm convinced that I managed to get more work done in the comfort of my home than in a hectic office.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2011
  18. Nov 7, 2011 #17
    At that point in the discussion we weren't talking about calling in sick.
  19. Nov 7, 2011 #18


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    Talking about work is getting off topic, but yes many jobs where you work a shift requires a doctor's note. Management level jobs usually don't unless it's an absence of a week, and the reason is for disability benefits. Some jobs give you a certain number of "sick days" a year and you can be fired if you exceed them.

    But back on topic, colleges here require a doctor's note if you want to be excused, if what you missed isn't important, or you don't care, then you don't need a doctor's note. The school is giving another chance for truly ill students. It's up to the student if they wish or need to take advantage of it.
  20. Nov 7, 2011 #19
    It was nausea, I never said vomiting.

    And you're right, I don't know what the cause could be, but I'm reasonably certain it's not going to kill her in the next 5 hours while she sleeps and gets a full night's rest.

    And yeah, in hospitals they wake you up to check vitals, and give meds. But that's when you already know you're seriously ill enough to warrant it. She basically just has a mild tummy ache and a tad above normal on the thermometer. You don't poke a person like that while they're sleeping and say "Hey, hey, hey, time to go the ER. Get up. Get up. Aww, I know you're tired, but we have to go, come on, let's go." No, you let them sleep. Especially when it's just starting to get cold and your life experience tells you that this is the time of the year when people get mild non-threatening bugs which you take to the doctor only to get prescribed chicken soup and tylenol. Or maybe she's getting one of those super-bugs that kills like 23 people per year which you have to take the hospital instantly lest you die tomorrow... but I think I'm willing to run that risk.
  21. Nov 7, 2011 #20


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    The point is she apparently has something she's missed that she wants to be given a second chance on. If she waits until she's better to see the doctor/nurse, how can he say he knows she was really sick? It's her choice to do what she needs to do. No one wants to get up and go to the doctor when they don't feel good, but if she's missing something important, and it's truly just a tummy ache, then it's her call to get the note or not. The school is willing to give another chance to students that are actually ill.
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