A flu bug has swept through campus recently, making many classrooms an exhibition of coughing, sneezing and sniffling. Sadly, many professors impose strict absence policies that only reinforce the spreading of germs on campus.

As it stands, professors are not obligated to allow sick days as excused absences when students don’t have a doctor’s note. Many professors either do not require doctors’ notes or offer a reasonable number of unexcused absences. A significant portion do not however, and students wishing to prove to professors the legitimacy of their illness must wait in long lines at the Student Health Center, often exposing themselves to other germs in the process — and the cost of a medical visit. If the student has only the common cold, a trip to the Student Health Center would give them no benefit and add to the wait time for those with more serious concerns.

If they are unable or unwilling to make this trip, then sick students with such unyielding professors must either attend class sick and therefore expose their classmates to infection, or stay home and lose attendance points toward their grade. It makes sense for sick students to stay home and recover — both for their sake and for general campus health. Professors should facilitate this by not mandating a doctor’s note for an absence due to illness. As Fr. Matthew Carnes, S.J., states in his syllabus for “Comparative Political Systems,” in the event of serious illness, “The most important thing you can do is to get better quickly. … Please note that you do not need to go get a doctor’s note and, if your flu is severe, it may very well be best not to go to the health center (or Leo’s, or class, or anywhere else) and risk infecting others.”

The professional world accepts the risk that workers might be abusing the sick-leave system, but demanding anything more is needlessly distrusting. Georgetown students deserve the chance to recover from sickness without choosing attendance points over common sense.

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