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Excuse Policy

Health Services does not provide medical excuses for missed classes or exams because the organization has a strong commitment to student privacy and lacks direct knowledge about illnesses or injuries you’ve effectively managed by self-care.

This policy resembles those of many other major universities, is consistent with the recommendations of the American College Health Association, and is supported by the Provost and the Vice President for Student Affairs (approved by the Boise State University Faculty Senate on September 12, 2006). An informational letter explaining this policy is available from Health Services. Some students find it useful in communicating the policy to faculty who are requesting medical excuses.

In addition, the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs offers the following suggestions for communicating with the instructors about absences from classes due to illness or other emergencies. Just as most employers do not require employees to submit letters from physicians to verify their illnesses or absences, most faculty members and teaching assistants accept your word that you have a legitimate reason for missing a class, an exam, or an assignment deadline. Written verification is generally not necessary.

In the event of an illness, accident, or an emergency, the best practice is for you to make direct contact, preferably before the class or exam takes place, with your professor or teaching assistant. You should talk with her/him in person, if possible, or through a telephone call or e-mail. If you cannot reach her/him through either of these means, you can leave a message in your instructor’s department mailbox, being sure to note your telephone number or e-mail address and when you can be reached. If you need to leave the city, state, or country, you can go directly to the departmental office and leave a note explaining your situation.

Neither the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs nor Health Services writes retroactive excuses for students, nor do they have the authority to excuse your absence. These matters need to be communicated and discussed with your instructors; all decisions about the impact of your absence on your grade, as well as any arrangements for making up work, are at the discretion of your instructors. Students who are seen at the Health Center as a patient for active illness may request proof of service or be given a letter of advice from the medical provider if concern for the student’s health needs to be communicated to academics, athletics, or employers, or if concerns for the health of others (for example, limiting the spread of contagious disease) exists.

Faculty and departmental phone numbers and addresses can be obtained at If you are unable to make direct contact with your instructor or leave word with the department, a member of the Vice President for Student Affairs staff will inform her/him of the circumstances by sending a brief note or making a phone call. You should be aware that this intervention does not change in any way the outcome of the faculty member or TA’s decision regarding your academic work and performance in the course. You will still need to make that personal contact as soon as you are able.

If you need assistance from the Vice President for Student Affairs, please provide the names, course numbers, and departments of the instructors needing notification. You may also want to use the VP’s office simply to discuss your circumstances and get some advice about how you should proceed. Remember that your academic dean’s office is also a valuable resource for advice in this matter.