Reporting absences requires honesty
If you've been on MyRutgers lately — or read yesterday's issue of The Daily Targum — then you've probably heard about the new Self-Reporting Absence Application (SRAA). In short, the SRAA is an application that allows students to report their absences online to the Student Information Management System (SIMS), which will help professors keep track of the absences. The SRAA is an interesting idea, and it could bring about some excellent benefits, like allowing SIMS to keep track of absence statistics and letting professors rest a little easier when it comes to keeping tabs on attendance. However, the SRAA will only bring about these benefits if students act like responsible adults.
By virtue of the University's impressively large size, students here are used to being largely left alone by the school. The burden of getting in touch with professors and administrators usually rests on the students. However, most of the instances wherein students need to contact University personnel are pressing matters — for example, disputing charges on a term bill, lowering a meal plan or talking to a professor about grades. In these situations, there is actual motivation for students to open lines of communication. But in the case of reporting absences, the same level of motivation does not exist. Most students just figure their professor will catch their absence when they call role, and if the professor doesn't take attendance, that's all the more reason to not go to class in the first place.
Not only is there a lack of motivation for students to use the SRAA, but there is also the obvious possibility of abuse. Say a student decides they don't want to show up to class, so they use the SRAA to report their absence and cook up a fake illness. Suddenly, the truant has documentation of a "legitimate" absence. Who's going to spend time investigating such claims?
The SRAA is predicated on an unspoken honor system. The administration fully expects students to be responsible and use the SRAA the way it is meant to be used. In some ways, it is actually kind of flattering that the University thinks so highly of its student body, even when said students sometimes prove them wrong. It is the job of every student to use the SRAA appropriately. Only then will the application be elevated from "interesting idea" to "highly useful