The 15 minute rule is an unwritten creed that shapes the lives of college students every day.
However, this rule fails to appear anywhere in MCCC’s college catalog. There is no policy or regulation that gives a time when a late professor equals a canceled class.
That leaves students with questions: When does an instructor cross over the line from justifiably tardy to rudely late?
When is it acceptable to leave?
Is the “urban myth” just that — a myth?
It would appear that several MCCC students and even some of its faculty adhere to the 15-minute rule.
“I usually wait 15 minutes. But I do not think it’s acceptable for professors to be late, because we are paying them to be here whether we come to class or not,” said Hallie Casper, an MCCC student.
MCCC students Karianne Kidd and Patricia Austin also believe that 15 minutes is a more than fair amount of time for students to wait for their professors when they are late.
“I say if the teacher is 15 to 20 minutes late, then the students should be allowed to leave. If the class isn’t there, it’s the teacher’s fault,” Austin said.
“I think we should wait about 15 minutes. I don’t think it’s right when teachers are late, just like they don’t when students are,” Kidd said.
Dr. Ken Mohney, an MCCC professor of sociology and anthropology, feels that the 15- minute rule is fair.
“I was always told that 15 minutes was an appropriate time to give an instructor. Having said that, I believe that students have a right to expect their instructor to be there on-time, though occasionally it is possible to be delayed a minute,” Mohney said.
Some students, however, feel that 15 minutes is a bit longer than necessary to wait for an instructor.
Paige Longworth and Kaylie Thomas both feel that ten minutes or more is unacceptable, while student Devon Cordts finds ten minutes to be too long to wait.
“It’s ridiculous for a teacher to be more than 10 minutes late. We only have roughly an hour and a half, two days a week, to learn the material and we are paying for not only the class but also the books and the learning experience in general,” Longworth said.
“I think if the teacher is late past 10 minutes it is time to leave, and also they should try to be on time because that is their job,” Thomas said.
“I think they are paid to be there on time. Just like when I go to work. If I’m more than 5 minutes late I get yelled at. I think five more than five minutes late, then leave,” Cordts said.
Gary Wilson, art professor, believes that after ten minutes the division’s dean should be contacted.
“The truth of the matter is if a teacher doesn’t show up within 10 minutes, someone should contact the dean of the division and ask where the instructor is,” Wilson said.
Jessica Ervin and Lora Worrell feel that since they‘re paying to be there, then the professor should be there on time.
“I would only wait around for 20 minutes max, and I think it’s very unprofessional for the teachers to be late. It is a waste of my time, especially if I’m paying for everything. I expect them to be on time just like the students have to be,” Worrell said.
“As someone who pays for their education straight out of my pocket with no help from anyone, I say it is not okay for my teacher to show up whenever the hell they feel like it. That is time I’m paying for, time I should be learning so I don’t have to repeat that class and pay even more,” Ervin said.
MCCC student Arianna Johansen thinks that there is an equilibrium between students and teachers being late.
“I don’t think it’s a big deal when a teacher is occasionally late–sometimes it just can’t be helped. Students are late all the time, after all; we should be equally as understanding for both. If the instructor starts making a habit of it, though, then I think they’re wasting their students’ time and money, and should be reprimanded for their irresponsibility,” Johansen said.
Childhood development professor Tiffany Wright points out that there are several legitimate reasons for a professor being late.
“Things do happen. Traffic can be an issue. It is typical that professors get calls right before class from students who are going be late or absent –that sometimes holds you up for a couple minutes. Also students come to the office right before class to ask questions,” Wright said.
Student Ben Romero believes that if instructors are going to be late, they need to find a way to tell their students.
“A teacher has just as much of a responsibility to be on time to class as a student, and if a teacher feels like they are going to be exceptionally late to a class, more than 45 minutes, than the teacher should have the decency to find a way to contact the students, to let them know that class is either canceled or at the least that the teacher is sorry for the delay and that they will be there shortly,” Romero said.
Business professor Dr. Patrick Nedry’s opinion mirrors that of Romero’s.
“If I am going to expect students to advise me when they are not going to be in class or be late, and I do, then it seems reasonable to me that they should and could expect the same of me,” Nedry said.
Instructor Melody Carmichael acknowledges that if an instructor comes late, there is still the chance that she might teach material essential to the student’s understanding of class.
“I would say stick it out until you hear from a staff member regarding the whereabouts of the instructor. A good idea is to check with an administrative assistant if you have been waiting more than half an hour. But I wouldn’t leave until you have some answers. Luck would have it that 30 seconds after you leave, the instructor will show up, with information you will depend on for the next class,” Carmichael said.
Adrianna MacAllister has a similar view, but looks at the opposite side of the issue.
“The worst part about it is though, that even if they come in super late, some students are going to wait and the teacher is going to come in and cram the information down their throats. It isn’t fair to us that they were late and that they are going to try to shove the same amount of teaching at us in an insufficient way,” MacAllister said.
Dr. Grace Yackee, the vice president of instruction, said there is no college policy, but a student shouldn’t leave a class unless it has been officially canceled.
“Sit down and get comfortable. Pull out a book and read a chapter. Do some homework,” Yackee said.
Mohney finds that one thing can attribute to late instructors: the clocks around school.
“Of course, one problem involves the clocks at the school. Every clock, from my computer to the clocks in the hallways seems to be different! I usually start and end classes based on my watch which often differs by a couple of minutes from those clocks posted around campus,” Mohney said.
Mathematics professor James Vallade offers the following advice when it comes to teacher tardiness.
“If I were the student whose professor is late, I would check with the division office to see what the issue is. They should be able to tell you if the professor will be present for class or not. If they are unable to I would say that a half hour would be enough time to wait for either a one, one and a half, or two hour class,” Vallade said.