Faculty senate encourages flexible attendance policies on Election Day

Michael Bragg

Members of the faculty senate announced a resolution Monday on the issue of student voting in the upcoming municipal elections by encouraging instructors to be flexible regarding their class attendance on Election Day.

The resolution was based on the Student Government Association’s original plan to have classes canceled Nov. 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in order for students to have time to vote. The resolution does not require faculty to waive their attendance policies.

Nov. 5 is the only day students may vote on campus as a result of early on-campus voting being eliminated by the Watauga County Board of Elections, according to a Sept. 4 article in The Appalachian.

“We’re trying to encourage students to participate in the electoral process,” Andy Koch, chairman of faculty senate, said. “It’s a delicate balance. We don’t want to tell faculty members what to do, but as citizens of North Carolina we also have to appreciate the importance of democracy and the opportunity to vote.”

Jay Fenwick, a member of the faculty senate, said he strongly believes in instructors using academic freedom to allow attendance policies to be waived in order for students to vote.

Koch said it is inevitable that some students will take advantage of flexible class attendance on Election Day, but there is nothing that can be done about it.

Secretary of the faculty senate Holly Martin said she felt deflated as she read the resolution and wishes there was a stronger position taken.

There was consensus among the faculty members that they were concerned about the voting changes made that affects students, specifically the potential problems that may occur due to the voting sites and the elimination of an on-campus “transfer station,” according to the agenda for the meeting. The lack of a transfer station on campus could mean that students who waited in line to vote may then be re-directed to an off-campus voting site.

SGA President Dylan Russell said he is extremely pleased with the resolution because he thinks students should be proactive and that it is important to be civically involved.

“I applaud the faculty senate for this resolution,” he said. “SGA was asking for flexibility and for the opportunity for students’ voices to be heard.”

Story: NICOLE CAPORASO, Intern News Reporter