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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I am a current student at UMass Boston. I am in good academic and financial standing with the institution; however, that will be changing due to a failure on many levels by both myself and UMB. I matriculated as an official degree-seeking student two years ago after more than a year in the Continued Education program spent raising my GPA. Since then, my GPA has continued to rise despite numerous obstacles to both my academic and financial life.

I originally came to UMB specifically because of my individual needs as a student. My academic record prior to attending UMB was exemplary save one immature and disappointing semester at a far more prestigious liberal arts school. In high school I attended arguably the most prestigious preparatory school in the country, if not the world, Phillips Andover, on an academic grant. I have been extremely well prepared for college, at least academically. I have the tools to succeed at UMB, except the ability to accept ridiculous demands and ultimatums promulgated by professors, the results of which do not benefit the student but UMB.

At a state university that is primarily a commuter school comprised of working class individuals, attending for reasons of affordability and flexibility, it is outrageous that professors have the power and the audacity to inflict grades of “F” or “W” for truancy. My case is simple: we the students are paying the salaries of these professors in the hopes that their knowledge and guidance might bring us all more fruitful lives. If a student with extreme non-academic responsibilities must miss classes for reasons of necessity, what right does their professor or UMB have to inflict further damage to their educational progress, which in some cases may have even further-reaching and potentially damning financial repercussions?

If that student who works 60 hours a week to make rent, bills, and tuition has to miss classes, isn’t the disadvantage they have put themselves at academically punishment enough? If that same student only sleeps 20 hours a week so that they can keep up with their readings, turn in their papers in a timely fashion, and make grades of “A” or “B” or even “C” on those assignments, who has the right to say they are less of a student than one who attends all of the classes and achieves the same results? Why because of excessive absences are students faced with the choice between taking a failing grade or withdrawing from a class only to pay nearly a thousand dollars for three or four credits they will not receive?

In today’s financial climate, I would venture to guess that there are few if any of my fellow students here at UMB who are supporting themselves and their education through long hours and arduous work that can afford to donate four credits’ worth of wages to our beloved school. Even more disconcerting is the fact that in cases like my own, a class that is mandatory for graduation results in the choice between an “F” and a “W” as well as the financial burden of paying a second fare for this whimsical ride on the academic merry-go-round. When the only strike against a student is that they work too many hours outside of school, or have a family to take care of, or have health problems, any of which contribute to their truancy, these students should be judged fairly based on the primary academic work completed.

Who is really hurt by “A” or “B” or “C” student missing class? If the student is satisfied with what they have gained and their work is of a level sufficient to receive a passing grade when measured against their peers, who is hurt by their truancy? If a student is passing and satisfied with their limited experience in the classroom, the only parties who may be offended are the less gifted or committed students who wish they could achieve their academic goals without the aid of class discussion or the delicate egos of the neglected professors.

Let me make apologies right now for all of the students, including myself, who struggle daily not only to learn but to survive and achieve despite extreme obstacles whatever they may be in their personal life. Professors, we are sorry we missed 20% of our classes, take 20% of the grades we earned if you must, make our “A” a “B” or “C” if that will assuage your all important ego. Just please don’t derail our whole life with a GPA-sinking “F” or a financially damning “W” because we had to work.

-Stephen Turro