General Policies for Students in Freshman Writing Courses | Department of English

General Policies for Students in Freshman Writing Courses

Departmental Absence Policy

The departmental absence policy for English must be maintained in all Freshman Writing classes. The policy is as follows:

Regular and punctual class attendance is required of all students, and poor attendance may prevent students from earning a passing grade in the course for the semester. The maximum number of permissible absences before a student automatically earns an "F" or "WF" in the course is determined by the schedule of the course:

  • M-W-F (a class that meets three times a week): 7 absences

  • T-TH (or M-W; a class that meets two times a week): 5 absences

  • M (or any class that meets only once a week): 3 absences

(Note : Even though the departmental absence policy states unequivocally that instructors "will" drop students who accumulate more than the allowed number of absences with a WF or an F, instructors are the final judges of whether rare extenuating circumstances have occurred which legitimize exception to rule. It is the students' responsibility to keep track of their absences so that they don't go over the allowed number permitted for the course.)

Excused absences for university activities

In accordance with university policy, the only authorized absences are those due to participation in university-sponsored activities. Authorized absences must be approved in advance by department chairs and academic deans, and within three days after the absence, students must obtain an authorized absence card from the Dean of Students and present this card in person to their instructors. Students with authorized absences may make up the work missed or be given special allowance so that they are not penalized for the absence. All assignments and scheduled work must be turned in before or on the date of the excused absence.

Excused absences for religious holidays

A student should notify a faculty member of anticipated absence to observe religious holy days as early in the semester as possible. A student will be allowed to take an examination or complete an assignment from which the student is excused within a reasonable period after the absence. The faculty member may take appropriate action if a student fails to satisfactorily complete an assignment or examination within a reasonable time.

If a student and faculty member disagree about whether the absence is due to observance of a religious holy day or whether the student has been given reasonable time to complete any missed assignment or examination, they may appeal the decision using the process outlined in UNT Policy 18.1.13, Student Complaint Policy or UNT Policy 06.040 , Grade Appeals.

Unexcused absences

Absences due to other causes, such as illness, emergency, death in the family, car trouble, etc., are not authorized by the Department of English as excusable absences, and instructors in the Freshman Writing Program are therefore not authorized to excuse students for such absences (even with "official" notes from medical professionals, etc.). Please note that absences for reasons other than official university business or religious holidays will count against students' permitted absences for the semester and may also result in missed grades for quizzes, assignments, exams, or writing deadlines.

The following actions may also result in a student being counted as officially absent:

  • Coming to class without an adequate draft on a day when a draft is due (for peer response or for an assignment)

  • Showing up to class more than 10 minutes late

  • Failing to attend a mandatory scheduled conference with the instructor

Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty:

The UNT Policy Manual defines plagiarism as: "(a) the knowing or negligent use by paraphrase or direct quotation of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgement and (b) the knowing or negligent unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or by an agency engaged in the selling of term papers or other academic materials." (18.1.11). Students in all Freshman Writing courses need to be aware of the strict policies against plagiarism and academic honesty enforced by UNT and by instructors in the Department of English. All writing in Freshman English courses must be original, and all uses of other writer's material (i.e., for the purposes of research based argumentation) must be acknowledged and clearly cited in any writing submitted for a grade.

The consequences for plagiarism at UNT are severe, and may include failure for the course, loss of scholarships, and in some cases dismissal from the university. Please talk with your instructor if you are unsure about whether or not something you are doing in your writing might be identified as plagiarism. If your instructor believes that something you have written has been plagiarized, you will be notified of the allegations in writing and asked to meet with your instructor and respond to your instructor's arguments. After hearing your response, your instructor will decide on a course of action and notify you in writing of any penalties or other consequences. In most cases, your instructor will also send a copy of the allegations and sanctions to the Academic Affairs office. Please note that instructors in the English Department are authorized to fail students for an assignment or for the course if they judge that an assignment is knowingly or negligently plagiarized. Students have the option of appealing the decision of their instructor in writing to the Assistant Chair of the Department of English within 5 days of the instructor's decision.

Accommodating Students with Disabilities

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, all instructors in the English Department will work with the Office of Disability Accommodations (ODA) to make reasonable accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. If you have such a disability, please inform your instructor within the first week of the semester and provide your instructor with a Special Accommodation Request Form (available from the ODA). Students needing assistance must be registered with the ODA; if you need to register with the ODA or otherwise contact that office, the ODA phone number is (940) 565-4323, and the office is located in the Union, suite 321.

Class Behavior and Disruptions

According to the UNT Student Code of Conduct (sect. V), the following actions are considered acts of misconduct and may subject a student to university discipline:

  • Obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures or other University activities, including public service functions or other authorized activities on or off University premises. Includes interrupting, hindering or preventing classroom instruction or other official educational activities from occurring intentionally through noise, acts of incivility, or other means.

  • Physical Abuse, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion; and/or other conduct which threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person. Speech protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution is not a violation of this provision, although fighting words and statements, which reasonably threaten or endanger the health and safety of any person are not protected speech. Each allegation of a violation under this provision shall be reviewed in consideration of these factors.

  • Disruptive activities as defined by Section 37.123 and 51.935 of the Texas Education Code, such as intentionally obstructing, restraining, preventing or attempting to prevent passage of individuals on campus or into/out of campus buildings by force, by violence or by the threat of same; seizing control of a building/portion of a building to interfere with an administrative, educational, research or other authorized activity; preventing participation in or the holding of a lawful assembly or attempting to prevent same by force/violence, by threat or by causing reasonable fear of force/violence; or disrupting an assembly in progress by one or more such means.

Course schedules and drops in the first two weeks

Students need to monitor their course schedule every day for the first two weeks of class in order to make sure that they have not been dropped from their courses by the registrar's office. Students who are dropped from classes for nonpayment of financial aid or other reasons will not be readmitted to the course; it is the students responsibility to make sure that all of their financial records are in order so that they are not dropped.