This year, Washington state endured its most deadly flu season in the past five years. There were 120 confirmed deaths in the state caused by the flu—26 of which were in King County—but the total number is expected to be much higher since not every case is reported.
Sometimes all you can do is curl up and wait for some medicine to kick in. Erin Dwyer shows off her fashion of choice and combat weapons when battling with the flu.
Another concern with this year’s strain of influenza is that the vaccine was not as effective as in past years, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Over the course of the flu season, the Student Health Center at Seattle University administered 600 doses of the influenza vaccine and saw five cases of the flu. Of course, not every ill student comes to the Student Health Center, so the total number of students affected was probably much higher.
When suffering from an illness such as the flu, people are expected to rest and refrain from participating in regular activities. But in college, when students are taking several classes and are involved in jobs, clubs and other activities, it can be difficult to overcome an illness.
At Seattle U, teachers understand the importance of student well-being, but of course it is necessary that students do not fall behind in their courses, and that they take responsibility for catching up if they wish to succeed.
“If you miss a class because you are sick, it is your responsibility to get caught up,” said associate professor of mechanical engineering Bob Cornwell. “One way is to talk to other students in the class and if that doesn’t answer all of your questions, come see me or whoever your professor is to iron out things you don’t understand. It is your job to catch up and I will help you if you ask for help.”
When students are sick for an extended period of time, it makes sense that they not only fall behind on the information presented in class, but on assignments as well.
“I had a 100-degree fever and two of my teachers were really nice about it,” said junior journalism major Lexie Rodriguez. “I had stuff due that week and they told me to just do what I could and I got extra time to finish the rest of it.”
Teachers try to be accommodating because they understand that things come up, such as the flu, that will cause students to fall behind. However there are some cases where it becomes too difficult for a student to catch up.
“There is some point where it would be better for students to take a withdrawal and do what they need to do to heal and then come back the next quarter,” said associate professor of business and international law Gail Lasprogata. “At some point it is too much for a student to make up.”
Aside from illness, there are several other reasons why students may be absent from the classroom. Some students have other appointments such as job interviews, some students are athletes and have to travel for competitions and some students just choose not to attend for a day. Some reasons are excusable to miss class but for many professors at Seattle U, attendance and participation in classes are extremely important.
“I expect students to be in class and for absences to be rare,” said core philosophy lecturer Elizabeth Sikes. “Things come up and I understand, so that doesn’t necessarily count against them, but I do have limits. In a two day per week class, eight absences is an automatic fail for the class because at that point you’ve missed a whole month. It doesn’t generally happen, but it has happened.”
Not every class keeps track of participation, however. Engineering courses, for example, do not include participation as a part of the grade, but that does not mean attendance in class isn’t important. Students are given a lot of responsibility in college and they should make the most out of the opportunity presented to them.
“Engineering classes are very sequential so if you miss a day, you need to learn that stuff because it will be used in the classes coming up,” Cornwell said. “You pay a lot of money to go to school so when you miss a class, that’s a lot of money down the drain.”
Harrison may be reached at [email protected]