So let’s say that there’s this Muppets on Ice performance in Fargo, North Dakota… And let’s say that Joe Junior and his mother really want to go… Can he skip school on Friday in order to make his flight? That would probably be frowned upon. So why is it okay for students to ditch school for Coachella as long as it is parent-approved?
Last week the administration announced at a faculty meeting that it will be taking a more relaxed approach toward students who miss school to go to the Coachella Music Festival in April. While, technically, this new conciliatory approach only serves students’ interests, it serves as another example of how the administration has disregarded precedent and the established school attendance policy.
Last year, more than 70 students were punished with detention for missing their Friday classes for Coachella. Coachella was not considered an “excused absence.” Students were informed of this ahead of time through email and told that there would be repercussions for missing school. Missing school for Coachella continues to be disrespectful to teachers and the students who do attend their classes, regardless of whether or not the administration decides it’s an “excused absence.”
In a discussion-based class of 20 students, what would be accomplished if 15 are missing school to go to Coachella? Teachers’ lesson plans are affected and they will need to explain everything to the absent students the following week, throwing off their pace of teaching.
By creating this loophole, the administration is undermining its entire policy. How can students be deterred from missing school for unnecessary reasons if they will face no repercussions? The administration loses its credibility and its power over the student body if it shows such inconsistency in punishments and does not adhere to the rules in the Student Handbook. Rules are not written to be mere suggestions; they are principles that are adhered to and respected.
What makes a music festival more excusable than anything else? Yes, Kanye West and Duran Duran will be there, but Coachella is still not a religious holiday, college visit nor a Wolverine athletic event. While it is easier to punish three students than 300, a point needs to be made nonetheless. If the school takes this kind of laidback approach for Coachella, students, particularly the ones affected by chronic senioritis, will think they can get away with more days like this.
Just to clarify, we are not bashing Coachella. If the school were steadfast in its approach to Coachella absences, it would force students to grow up. To avoid inconviencing teacher and students, in addition to a marred attendance record, students might go to their Friday classes and hightail it out of school at 2:35 p.m. to still make the weekend performances.
The administration said it has taken this new approach because it wants students and parents to be forthright and honest if students miss school for Coachella. While the integrity of students and their parents is extremely important, so is the integrity of the school to act accordingly when students violate a rule.