Mythbusters: If the professor’s late, how long to wait?

by Stephen Keimig

You are sitting in class and the clock strikes 8:00 a.m. Class is officially supposed to start, but your professor isn’t there. What do you do?

“I heard that if your professor is not a doctor then you have to wait ten minutes before you get to leave,” said senior John Viaes. “However, if they are a doctor then you have to wait fifteen minutes for them to show up before you can leave.”

However, other students disagree with the 10-15 minute rule.

“Personally, I have heard that the whole rule is bogus and that you have to wait the entire time, which is ridiculous,” said senior Morgan Baker. “I think that if you are in your class and you are waiting at least fifteen minutes for your professor to show up then it is acceptable to leave.”

So who’s right?

The truth is that there is no clearly defined answer.

“There is actually no written policy or guideline about how long students should wait which is why everyone discusses it,” said Dr. Kerry McKeever, Dean of the College at Rindge. “No other university that I know of has nailed down that policy.”

McKeever understands the predicament students are faced with.

“When I was in college, a long time ago, we had the same issue and the same discussion,” said McKeever. “We would be sitting in class wondering how long we should wait for the professor to show up. As a student, I used the time like a study period in high school. If the professor didn’t show up then I opened my books and reviewed my notes.”

Paying for college can be tough for many, and most want to get their money’s worth.

“When I was a freshman, it was cool at first if I had a professor not come to class because I had that time off,” said senior Shawn DeCost. “However, now that I am older it really sinks in and I realize that I am paying for a class that I am now missing because the professor is not there and gave us no warning about it. It doesn’t happen too often but when it does it’s annoying because if I am expected to be there than so should they.”

If students have professors who are constantly late, McKeever suggests steps students should take.

“Students have the right to be heard,” said McKeever. “Should students feel that it’s a pattern that their professor is late, then they should respectfully talk to the professor about it. If they don’t get some satisfaction then the next step is to talk about the issue with the division chair. That’s the way students should approach any problems with faculty members. If they still don’t get satisfaction after talking to the division chair then they can come to me.”

McKeever wants to stress how important it is that students are given opportunities to succeed.

“I always ask myself ‘what is the best thing for the students,’ and if a professor is constantly not showing up to class on time then that is not best for the students and must be addressed,” said McKeever.

Senior Samantha Hulme knows that people have different reasons for being late but appreciates how when her professors are not going to be in class, they let her know in advance or at least an hour before.

“My professors are usually good about emailing me if they are not going to be on time or miss class,” said Hulme. “I really enjoy it because I can know how to plan my time accordingly for the rest of the day and class time.”

McKeever agrees that everyone has different reasons for being late and that people need to be understanding.

“I tell many professors that before they develop an attendance policy, they really need to think about who they are as a human being and what they expect from themselves as an educator,” said McKeever. “No one should expect more from their students than they can of themselves. It is a good way to keep in mind our humanness and how none of us are perfect. I emulate the behavior I want my students to adopt. If I want them to be on time, then I have to be on time.”

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