The Late Debate

by Austin Giles

Horizon Reporter

Wayward in your endeavors and running on your own schedule, you decide what you wear, where you go and what time you get there. Even if you’re late, it’s your decision.

What do we really miss in the first five minutes of class? Are we missing some morning grumbling, some light chat about what your teacher did over the weekend? Or are we missing the entire introduction to the agenda of the day, what page to turn to, the collection of last night’s homework and what day the quiz will be next week; leaving you to play catch up for the rest of the class period.

In John Gonzales’s Humanities 101 class, repeated tardiness will hurt your grade. A percentage of your grade is determined by your attendance, class participation and punctuality.

“I try to create an atmosphere where being late is disrespectful,” said Gonzales. To him, tardiness is “the wrong way to handle your college education”.

Many students would argue that in the collegiate realm, their decisions lie entirely with them and should not come under fire.

“You’re paying for your classes so it’s your choice whether to be there or not and what time it is you get there,” said Cody Caseria, a Whatcom student. He is usually on time or early to his classes but feels being late is not a punishable offence and no major disruption. “As long as someone comes in, sits down and gets to work,” said Caseria.

Gonzales sees it differently, “You pay for a degree that means you have credibility, which means you committed to something,” he said. “You are paying to be a part of an effective educational community,” which he defines as including punctual attendance.

“It’s a way of showing respect for instructors,” said Whatcom student, Koichi Hirata. Aside from the debate as to whether or not tardiness should affect grades, many students feel it all boils down to respect. Though they rarely agree that lateness should be punishable in college, most agree students shouldn’t be coming in late.

“It’s an integrity thing,” said Jonathan Dominik, another student. “Respect everyone else that’s already in class on time by not disrupting them.”

Not all students are disturbed by someone coming in late. It all depends on the individual.

 “I don’t get distracted easily, if someone walks in, I don’t notice,” said Ruthie Tedla, a nursing student at Whatcom.

Not all teachers mind either. “I ignore it. I would rather people come in for part of my class than not come in at all,” said Bob Riesenberg, Whatcom psychology instructor. He takes attendance in his classes and not showing up at all hurts your grade but showing up late has no effect.

“There are all kinds of good reasons to show up late, you could have been sick that morning or had car problems, I don’t judge too harshly on that,” said Riesenberg.


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