Reimburse cancelled classes

There are posters around Western Illinois University’s campus created by the Academic Funding Campaign (AFC), informing students they throw away $26.76 in tuition and fees every time they skip a three-credit hour class. As I read this very specific dollar amount, I could not help but think how much of my tuition money goes to waste when my professors cancel class.

Off the top of my head, I can count at least 10 different times this spring semester that my professors have canceled class. I could figure the cost of these cancellations using the same estimation given by the AFC. Just this semester, I have lost $267 in tuition and fees as a result of class cancellations that were completely out of my control.

The estimated dollar amount of $26.76 was given by the campaign in attempts to startle students and also bring awareness to the real cost of skipping class. But, for a student who never skips class, this statement is upsetting for other reasons. I am left wondering why we aren’t looking at this same estimation from another perspective?

Class cancellations are costly for students who value their education. We pay thousands of dollars each semester to spend very little time in class, usually only 12 hours a week. Inevitably, every single time a professor calls off class, we are being deprived of the education for which we paid. To fix this problem, I believe students should be reimbursed or refunded the $26.76 in credits that they paid for, but were not given, due to a cancellation by the professors.

Call me a nerd or even a teacher’s pet, but I cannot stand when my teachers cancel class. A majority of students love when they see a message in their inbox informing them class is cancelled. This means even more time in bed and even less time sitting in a classroom. However, I am always left with an unsettling feeling when I see class cancellation emails.

When I learn that my professor has cancelled class, I am left knowing we will have to play catch up for the remainder of the semester. A teacher cancels class and is usually left trying to find other times in future classes to make up missed material. Often, this material is presented in an accelerated manner. Teachers have no option other than to cram material into a much shorter time frame. They may decide to not even cover it at all. This can create obvious concerns for students.

I am human and understand emergencies happen. Not every teacher can be in every single class, every single day of the week. I understand professors are human too. They get sick just like us or sometimes they may have personal problems in which they need time off. However, if universities cannot refund the cost of each credit hour missed, I believe teachers should then be required to provide other resources for their students to assist them in learning the material not taught in class.

For instance, I have an online teacher who provides all students with a video lecture about every chapter we are to study throughout the semester. Video lectures give a professor the ability to share PowerPoint slides while also giving in-depth details and explanations regarding each topic. All while seeing the face of their professor through their computer screen. Students are given the benefits of traditional classes, yet in an online and more convenient format. Similar video lectures may be excellent options in providing students with educational resources when class is canceled. I think it would be a great idea if professors prepared similar video lectures as a form of “back-up” when they decide to cancel class.

Sadly in college, gone are the days of walking into class, seeing a TV on wheels and knowing our typical teacher is absent for the day. We always knew a substitute teacher would soon be responsible for teaching us new material. Most commonly these substitute days were great to spend reviewing past coursework. Perhaps these familiar days of the past should soon become more popular again within our higher education system.

Substitutes or teaching assistants may be another solution in covering material missed as a result of cancelled class. These replacement-teacher alternatives would allow students to receive the proper class time they need and deserve during their time in college. After all, we have already paid hundreds of dollars in tuition and fees for such class time.

Students are being robbed of their tuition money and, even worse, valuable classroom time when teachers decide to cancel class. Students lose a whopping $26.76 as estimated by the Academic Funding Campaign. 
It is time that the university and professors begin providing alternative resources to students as a result of canceled class. Whether the solution be reimbursement of credit-hours, video-lectures or substitutes, we can not continue to rob students of the education they so desperately deserve.  

Originally published for the Western Courier by freelance writer Victoria Hall. 

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