Three weeks ago, Courtney James, a CCNY English major, sat in a class waiting and waiting for her professor to show up. After 15 minutes she and her classmates began to wonder if they should leave.
“I was first told about the 15-minute rule by my freshmen English 110 professor,” says James, a senior. “She walked into class elated that we stayed the extra 20 minutes for her to show up and then told us that as tuition paying students, we have the right to leave class if the professor doesn’t arrive after 15 minutes of waiting.”
Is the so-called 15-minute rule-that after 15 minutes students can leave class if the professor hasn’t showed-an actual rule? And if it is, is it fair?
“The fifteen minute rule is somewhere between myth and tradition, not written anywhere that I know of,” says Mary Lou Edmondson, CCNY’s vice president for communications. “It is a long-time tradition passed on from student to student, a loose kind of tradition that is not in some kind of handbook for students or CUNY policy.”
On the books or not, do students think the 15-minute rule makes sense?
“I think that the 15-minute rule should apply to all classes and professors because it’s unfair to students to stay in a class waiting for a professor when some professors won’t even allow students in their class after 5 minutes,” says June Soto, a junior English major.
Even some professors agree. “I think, if a professor has a lateness policy for their students then they themselves should be responsible for being to class on time,” says a CCNY adjunct professor who didn’t want her name to be disclosed for privacy reasons.
In the end, it’s about being accountable, explains an irritated Soto: “Professors need to be more responsible and show their students that they care about the class.”
For the record, Courtney James and her classmates created an attendance sheet to take to the English department-and left class after 15 minutes of waiting for their professor.