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Extra Credit That’s Just Too Extra

Madie Fujimoto, Editor

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What would you do for extra credit? Pres girls will go to extreme efforts to receive extra credit ranging from getting to school at 6 a.m. for Mole Day to staying until 8:30 p.m in order to go to the math and science colloquiums — that’s over 14 straight hours on campus!

Because students are so willing to do just about anything to boost their grades, teachers need to be careful about some of the activities they offer as extra credit. In particular, teachers need to re-evaluate extra credit for buying tissue boxes and turning in unused bathroom passes.

Some teachers at Pres offer extra credit if students bring in tissue boxes, which is especially popular during the Pres Plague season. Certainly, teachers shouldn’t have to spend their own money just so that we can wipe our runny noses, but asking students to pay to bring in tissue boxes isn’t the answer either.

This pay-for-points system favors students who have extra funds, which is unfair for those who can not afford to spend money to boost their grade.

Yes, tissue boxes are only a few dollars, so it’s not going to bankrupt anyone, but that’s really not the point. If you really think about it, students are buying their extra credit. It’s unethical for any teacher to connect grades to a student’s financial contribution, no matter how small it may be.

So how do we keep students from wiping their noses on their sweatshirts? Well, we go to a school with an annual tuition of around $20,000 — it seems that maybe Pres could provide  tissue boxes for students and faculty to use.

The second problematic extra credit issue has to do with a different bodily function. Some teachers at Pres offer extra credit in exchange for bathroom passes that students have not used by the end of the semester. Teachers use the bathroom passes to discourage students from leaving class because, they argue, it causes them to miss important information and potentially disrupt the class.

Knowing that Pres students are extra credit-obsessed, we can assume that when offered the opportunity for extra credit they will take it, even if it means avoiding using the bathroom for hours as they go from one class to another. However, how healthy can this be?

The Mayo Clinic states that avoiding using the bathroom can increase the risk of getting a urinary tract infection which can then lead to other serious infections. Being able to use the bathroom when nature calls is necessary to have a healthy body and contributes to the wellness of a healthy mind.

In addition, students may avoid drinking water in the first place as to not have to use the bathroom during class. This leads to dehydration, which can be extremely dangerous.

Discouraging students from using the bathroom affects both their body and how susceptible they are to learning. Have you ever been in class when you really have to use the bathroom, but realize you can’t? All you can do is try to focus and think, “Don’t pee, don’t pee, don’t pee.” But you can’t pee, and you can’t focus on the lesson being given either.

What happens if a student is sick or has a sports game later that day and consequently is frequently hydrating themselves? Or if they have a medical issue? Or if they are just taking good care of their body and drinking water regularly? When is it acceptable to use the bathroom?

It should be whenever a student needs to. Enticing students so that they don’t use the bathroom should not be used as an incentive for Pres students to stay in class. We shouldn’t be penalized for something we can’t control.

Teachers understandably get frustrated when students leave in the middle of class, but they also need to let students make decisions about what their body needs. We know that leaving class may affect our learning or reflect on our overall grade in the class.

Teachers who have this policy may argue that it’s perfectly fair because students clearly aren’t forbidden from using the bathroom–they can go anytime they need to. If they give themselves a UTI for a few extra points, that’s on them.

But at a school like Pres, where students track the rise and fall of their GPA down to the tenth of a point, teachers should know that offering extra credit not to pee is tantamount to a ban on peeing — grade-obsessed students will never see it any differently. After all, it’s the teachers’ job to save students from their own worst impulses.  

How can teachers keep students in class but also allow them to use the bathroom? One of the best ways is offer a two minute break in the middle of class to enable students to use the bathroom, get water, or just stretch and hang out. The benefit of having 90-minute periods is that we can learn a lot, but we also have time to slow down a bit.

Our ability to refrain from using the bathroom and to buy tissues boxes shouldn’t be something we are rewarded for. Aren’t there better ways to earn extra credit than in activities such as bathroom passes and anything that requires students to buy something?


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