College Pulls Volleyball Player From National Tournament Over Attendance Debate

Categories: Sports

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Hannah Leslie
A notoriously tough biology professor in Union is threatening to drop a scholarship student athlete from her class if she misses one lecture to play in this weekend's national volleyball tournament.

Hannah Leslie, a nineteen-year-old from Washington, has missed three classes at East Central College because of away games, each time presenting an official excuse from the school's athletic director. Despite negotiations with the school's administration, professor Parvadha Govindaswamy says she'll drop Leslie from her biology class if she has one more absence -- even if it's for the national college volleyball championships in Ohio.

If Leslie has to drop the class, she'd lose her athletic eligibility and would have to delay graduation by a year.

"Hannah is just doing what she's told to do," says Sonia Leslie, Hannah's mother, just hours before Hannah left the championship tournament to make it back for school on Friday. "She's in the middle here. She's a quiet, shy person and very uncomfortable being in the middle."

Sonia says Govindaswamy didn't mention her attendance policy until after Leslie had missed three classes.

"Had we known this was an issue earlier, we would have done something different," Sonia says.

For example, the volleyball team left for one game at 8 a.m., causing Hannah to miss a class that ends at 8:20 a.m. If Hannah had known twenty minutes would make the difference between playing in the championships or staying at home, Sonia says, the team would have waited for her class to end.

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Hannah Leslie's volleyball team.
Administrators at the college offered to send another student to Friday's lecture and Skype it for Hannah to ensure she still heard the material, but Govindaswamy refused. The school's vice president personally drove her to the airport immediately after class on Thursday so she could make it to Toledo in time for Friday's game.

"I feel like the athletic department and the administration have given some very good offers," Sonia says. "They've compromised so much. It is just unfortunate that a compromise wasn't made."

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This week's national tournament was Hannah's big chance to shine after four years playing high school sports with her standout twin sister, Kirstie, who now runs track at Missouri State University.

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East Central College
Parvadha Govindaswamy
"When Hannah made it to the nationals, she told me she'd never been a part of anything this big," Sonia says. "Her twin sister usually got the recognition."

Rather than take another biology class with Govindaswamy, Hannah is transferring to Missouri State, where she'll be with her sister.

"East Central College recruited her and gave her a scholarship to play volleyball but is punishing her for doing well," Sonia says. "She has not missed a lab. She has not missed a report. She's not in threat of not passing the class. It has nothing to do with her academics whatsoever."

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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45 comments
JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

Is she attending college for the education or to play a game? Personally, I think the professor is being idiotic, but if she had a rule, and that rule was broken, she should enforce it. Should only varsity team members get an excuse? I played a club sport and knew missing classes was not an option without the professor's knowledge. The college attendance policy is strange, but everyone knows it going there, so no big deal. The only question is whether this girl was absent the day her professor announced her stricter attendance requirements.

Ellen Bond
Ellen Bond

What happened to common sense? Could'nt this have been worked out sooner? Sounds like the Professor is being very inflexible. From now on, have a well stated policy for heavens sake!

Donnie Kissell
Donnie Kissell

Why exactly can the professor tell the college what to do?

Angela Andrews Foldi
Angela Andrews Foldi

The professor is a her, not a he and she is a nice person. However, I do not agree with what is happening. As an ECC alum I'm pretty embarrassed! We have technology and should be using it. There is no reason she could not have used Skype for the class.

Lori Franke
Lori Franke

Very sad that the student has to miss an opportunity like this because of one class. It'd be different if she was doing poorly in the class and didn't have a Vball scholarship, but she was recruited to play for the school.

dammitwheeler.com
dammitwheeler.com

that teacher is a power abusing cunt and should be reprimanded . the student athlete and her teammates are big time victims of the over inflated ego of this "professor".

Bob Dunn
Bob Dunn

Amy, it's a junior college. Megan works in the human resources dept . And everyone in this area is outraged at the school for backing the instructor ........a junior college instructor.......

Chrysta Lynn
Chrysta Lynn

Since when is the teacher have more authority than the administration. Looks like that college just lost out on a lot of tuition money because of one stubborn teacher. They should prob reconsider how much money it's worth to keep her. Because having students transfer out of their college because of one professors actions is terrible.

Amy Hennies Priddle
Amy Hennies Priddle

It looks like the university needs to write a policy to address this. You would think that they would all ready have one in place.

KittyLitterKing
KittyLitterKing

Attendance policies for college students is ridiculous.  If a student opts to not attend class because of a desire to do something else during classroom time, be it athletics, community service, sleeping in or playing Wii, it is their choice.  If she can manage the coursework while still missing 4 classes (which is probably at most 10% of the classes), good for her.  It's hard to believe her absences have any impact on others learning experience, such as a advanced-level seminar.

As for the professor, if lecture attendance is such a big deal, the solution is to make an effort that the information conveyed during the lecture is too important to be missed.

Paul Burrows
Paul Burrows

You can write a book - but the professor is in the right. It's his class.

peteyangel
peteyangel

Would the prof do the same if it was a cricket match instead ?

Just asking...

picco1414
picco1414

This is complete garbage; what an unreasonable ego maniac this professor is. Student athletes, who represent and essentially work for the school, miss classes (even exams), and life goes on. Believe me, there's nothing that important in college classes that will be missed with an absence or can't be made up later; especially with an official excuse of "university business". If the the athletic department and other administrators weren't spineless, this whole mess could have easily been handled. It's not like she's a regular student missing class for mental health days. And in the end, it looks like the school is losing a student-athlete over this whole thing.  Embarrassing.

robertj.mccollum
robertj.mccollum

What's the point of going to lectures anymore? Can't everything that lectures accomplish be done through videos/forums. I understand that more hands-on classes require attendance, but if you're just sitting in a soulless/faceless/nameless lecture hall taking a class that you have to take, which I'm assuming is the case here, why does it matter?

Carolyn Peters
Carolyn Peters

Why are we punishing a student who is doing something with her life and representing her school in a positive way? This isn't special treatment for an athlete, it's nit picking because a professor has too much time on her hands.

Tonyasue
Tonyasue

Good response dalediversity...you're an idiot for making that comment! Once again, this is about an attendance policy that Hannah was made aware of on the first day of class. For once an instructor holds all students as equals and she gets criticized for following policy! Unbelievable!

Jacob DeVore
Jacob DeVore

Strong recruiting message for East Central College.

Zach Samples
Zach Samples

Sounds like this bitch won't be teaching long now that she's just about tarnished the school's name on what I'm sure will be at least a regional level.

Norma Cole Sosko
Norma Cole Sosko

I would guess that the professor personally disagrees with any girl playing sports. If she was missing for a math competition I bet it wouldn't be an issue. I could understand if she was doing poorly in class but I think the professor needs to learn to compromise.

Benjamin Steenrod
Benjamin Steenrod

Just another example of arrogant professors. Missouri state will gain from this at least.

Melvin Mohn
Melvin Mohn

It's not like she's doing poorly in the class. It sounds as if the school has a lack of appreciation between sports and academics departments. The team should have made arrangements to allow her to attend the class before leaving for the game. Also, the teacher should have been more transparent about his attendance policy. It just sounds like he did not appreciate the importance of the game. Now the school has lost a quality volley ball player over miniscule issues that were easy to accommodate.

Chris ShoKill
Chris ShoKill

WTF are you talking about? It's definitely silly.

Pat Poe-Kolbow
Pat Poe-Kolbow

According to the professor this young lady is a good student and the college did offer her a scholarship to play for them. So why should she be punished? Has there been any other student that had to deal with their professor's treating them in the same manner?

Tom Sincox Jr
Tom Sincox Jr

Do the Administrators or the Professor make the rules? Seems to me this Professor isn't willing to compromise a solution.

Paul Burrows
Paul Burrows

It's not silly at all. Is she attending college to earn a degree or just play Volleyball? Class attendance trumps sports.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@Angela Andrews Foldi , Skype is not a good means for seeing all what is happening. You have tunnel vision. Also, it would prove to be a distraction for the professor to see if the laptop had a question or could answer one. Let's leave the new technology for those with special needs, not those wanting special privileges.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@Chrysta Lynn , losing tuition money? Really? Do you know the meaning of a scholarship? And since when does a lowly administrator have more power over the classroom and grades than the teacher? No, in colleges and universities, the professor rules within their classroom. Always has been that way.

Doopadoop
Doopadoop

@Paul Burrows You are an irrelevant dinosaur.

dammitwheeler.com
dammitwheeler.com

@Paul Burrows  she is a student athlete and is afforded different ways to get the same class work done. 

Doopadoop
Doopadoop

@Paul Burrows The professor is flouting College policy by not accepting official excuses for absences.

picco1414
picco1414

@Tonyasue That's the point though, all students are not equals. You can't allow student-athletes who are going to miss classes representing the school to be saddled with these sorts of negative consequences. In actuality, the professor is not following policy (e.g., not honoring "official excuses") which makes allowances for the special cases of these students, who have legitimate reasons for missing classes.

dcat463
dcat463

@Tonyasue According to the article, the attendance policy was not mentioned until she had missed 3 lectures due to her athletic commitments and that things would have been done differently if it had. Whether it was published in a syllabus is unknown. Having every student accountable for the same rules and expectations is only right and fair, but those rules need to be established early on so that they can be followed and appropriately planned for.

jasonallen19
jasonallen19

@Paul Burrows An honor student on a scholarship she got to play volleyball. So your logic does not apply since it's far too generalized for the context of this situation. 

It makes the school look petty and unorganized. If I took an athletic scholarship and was told I couldn't do the athletics in order to keep my scholarship, I would literally laugh at the Dean, pack up my stuff, and apply to another school. I wouldn't want a degree from a place like that. 

This is very embarrassing for the school. 

Doopadoop
Doopadoop

@Paul Burrows No, class PERFORMANCE trumps sports. Attendance is incidental. She's doing fine in the class, and one lecture is not a huge deal. This is a freaking national tournament, she's not cutting class to get high. This is college, not elementary school. She's an adult and can prioritize her own life. And you think depriving her of the opportunity to compete on a national stage is warranted. This is a huge educational experience. Get your head checked.

momnem
momnem

@Paul Burrows She is an honor student. Also by playing in the volleyball games she is fulfilling her pe credit. Today ECC had a banquet  and invited everyone who provided scholarships to meet the students they were awarded to. Dr. Parvee wouldn't  excuse Hannah for this either. This is a hard life-lesson Hannah is learning. And the whole thing is ridiculous on the teacher's part.

JDR0926
JDR0926

@dcat463 @Tonyasue It would have been in the syllabus, I go to the school and it is a campus wide policy.  The point is this young woman has worked very hard with her team and should be allowed to participate in this once in a lifetime event. 
In my opinion the teacher is being unreasonable.   The other accommodations I believe they were referring to is that the team could have waited the extra 20 minutes to leave if the professor was going to count her absent for missing the last part of class. 

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