Kimberly Harris was on her way to class to take a chemistry exam but ended up in her doctor’s office after suffering complications related to her pregnancy.
The sophomore was on the Utah State University campus preparing for the exam when she felt light-headed and dizzy. “I’ve had problems with my heart, being pregnant. But it’s never affected my schooling”, she explains.
She mulled over the decision to go to the hospital and miss the exam. Harris has a 3.87 G.P.A and hopes to get into the university’s nursing program. This exam was an important one. “This one in particular, because if I do apply to the nursing program,” she said, “this one will directly affect my science G.P.A, which will affect my chances of getting into the program.”
Despite the importance of the exam Harris chose to play it safe and called her husband who took her to the doctor. It’s a good thing he did because she passed out and spent some time in the hospital.
Shortly after leaving the hospital Harris sent an email to her chemistry professor explaining why she missed the exam.
In an e-mail obtained by KSL News in Salt Lake City obtained, the professor wrote in part:
“Thank you for this message. I certainly hope that you and the baby are doing fine. Please review our syllabus course policy #3…”
The syllabus states that students need two weeks advance notice to reschedule an exam. University officials explained that includes things like school sponsored athletic events, weddings, and surgery. However, in the case of a medical emergency, students can drop one exam that will not affect their overall grade.
“A student can drop an exam with no penalty should they have to miss one,” explained Alvan Hengge, head of the university’s Chemistry & Biochemistry Department. “The information that I had from the student was that this was just a one-time event and that she would have no difficulties finishing out the rest of the course. In this case this exam wouldn’t have counted against her in any way.”
Hengge says emergency situations frequently arise among students, especially in a large class of about 180 students like the one Harris attended. Hengge feels the university made the right decision.
“That’s the policy. It’s not perfect. There’s no way to be perfect,” said Hengge.
Meanwhile, Harris says she felt like she was forced to drop the class.
“Because I am pregnant and because of the complications that I’ve already had, I’m not guaranteed that in the future I’m not going to have more complications,” said Harris. “And if they can’t work with me this time, they’re not going to work with me again.”
At this point, Utah State University says Harris has no recourse because she dropped the course.
I’m not clear why Harris dropped the course if she had – at this point – only missed the one exam and it wouldn’t have counted against her grade.
However, is this a good policy? We make all sorts of concessions in this world for people dealing with medical issues. Should a college student dealing with pregnancy complications be given special consideration or is school policy paramount?