Ithaca College students will not be able to have an excused absence on Election Day if they are voting or working as poll workers.
La Jerne Cornish, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, sent an email to students Oct. 26 that was originally sent to faculty. In the email, she wrote that Nov. 3, which is Election Day, is not a holiday and the college has no formal policy for excused absences but that faculty should be flexible with students on this day. The email was in response to two bills — the Ithaca College Voting Act and the Excused Absence for Poll Workers Recommendation — passed by the Student Governance Council at its Oct. 5 meeting but not enacted by the administration. The Ithaca College Voting Act would allow students to have an excused absence if they are voting in the 2020 election and the Excused Absence for Poll Workers Recommendation would have the college temporarily change the attendance policy to state that students who are poll workers can have an excused absence.
The SGC senators expressed concern at its Oct. 20 meeting about the administration not enacting the two bills. Senior Agnes Scotti, Class of 2021 senator, said there was no formal notification from the administration about why the bills were not approved.
In the email, Cornish included her response to senior Connor Shea, president of the SGC, about the bills. Cornish said any students who miss classes Nov. 3 because of election activities should notify their professors ahead of Election Day and ask to make up work.
“On behalf of the senior leadership team, please know that we are proud of our students’ commitment to the electoral process by planning to vote and by volunteering to serve as poll workers, but Election Day is not a holiday and we do not have a formal policy for excusing absences,” Cornish wrote in the letter.
In response to The Ithacan’s editorial about the college not enacting the bills, some faculty members commented that many professors will allow students to miss a class.
“Faculty across campus discussed this in detail, and I’m sorry the message didn’t make it to students,” Susan Adams Delaney, associate professor in the Department of Writing and director of the Integrative Core Curriculum, wrote on the post. “While we were unable to make adjustments to the academic calendar this year, I hope that this can be considered for future fall terms.”