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A Dean’s Excuse Primer
I. What the Dean’s Excuse Covers
The dean’s excuse can extend work such as essays, quizzes and tests during the regular term time. It does not cover attendance, participation, or other in-class work.
II. When You Might Request a Dean’s Excuse
1. DEATH IN THE FAMILY: If you must hand in an assignment late or miss an exam or quiz because of a death of a near relative, see me.
2. INCAPACITATING ILLNESS: If you are too ill to work, your first priority is to get immediate medical attention. Your health should be your main concern, not your schoolwork. Please inform me about your condition as soon as you are able (an email is fine), and then after you've seen your doctor or been released from the hospital, see me to reschedule the work you missed.
3. A COMPARABLE EMERGENCY: Use your judgment, and if you have any questions, please ask.
4. OFF-CAMPUS VARSITY COMPETITION: If you are a varsity athlete who must represent Yale at a competition and you have to miss a test or deadline because of it, see me to reschedule.
5. OBSERVANCE OF RELIGIOUS HOLY DAYS: If you have to take a test or hand in work on a religious holy day, see me to reschedule.
Since I can only issue dean’s excuses within a reasonable period of time after the emergency or conflict, it is crucial that you inform me right away. In any of the five cases above, then, let me know as soon as you are able (a quick email or call will do) so that I am aware of your situation and can help out if you're running into trouble. I can also help you contact your instructors.
III. When You Won’t Get a Dean’s Excuse
If you have an annoying, drippy nose, or if you are exhausted after staying up all night playing “Lego Batman,” or if you’re a 49ers fan who can’t get the phrase “No-call! No-call!” out of your head, your circumstances won’t fall under the five categories listed above. But if you have any questions about whether your situation does fit those criteria, please talk with me.
IV. What To Do When You Can’t Get a Dean’s Excuse
TALK TO YOUR INSTRUCTOR. Dean’s excuses reschedule coursework deadlines, or test dates, but only in certain circumstances (see below). Dean’s excuses do not cover absences of any kind. This is particularly important to remember in courses where attendance counts, such as foreign language classes. In those cases, you need to work directly with your instructor to determine how your absence may affect your grade, and what you can do to ensure you cover the material you missed. If the only issue is attendance, there is no role for a dean's excuse. If your instructor has questions about this policy, you should refer him or her to me. (Remember that most courses that require attendance also have a certain number of allowed absences. Guard these jealously so that you can cash them in when necessary.)
PLAN AHEAD. Like a blizzard on the horizon, you can see the dark storm cloud of work ahead, and it blows in on the same week when everything else is due. These overloads are especially common if you're taking a heavy load of classes or engaged in numerous extracurricular activities. You're going to get swamped with work, especially during midterms and the end of the semester, and you may even have to take a number of midterms together in one clump. Again, there's no role for a dean's excuse here. It pays to map out your workload ahead of time and spot conflicts and crunch times early. And remember that although I can't write a dean's excuse in these situations, your professors can grant you an extension during term time (not past the end of reading period) if they choose. If you need help making a work plan or thinking about how to talk to your instructors, please let me know. I can help you strategize and prioritize. If things get cataclysmic, you always have a way out of a jam: you can drop a course until the last day of classes (before reading period begins). If you drop the course before midterm, nothing appears on your transcript. But prepare for the storm now.
STRIVE FOR BALANCE. Did you manage to land a role in a play? Are you performing in a singing group? Going to a med school or job interview? These are all great things. So much of the Yale experience occurs outside of the classroom, and the opportunities here seem limitless. But remember that such opportunities may come at a cost. Extracurricular activities may cause you to miss class or run out of time to do your work. You may ask your instructor for an extension for late work--generally the sooner you ask the better--but you must do it sans the dean's excuse.
WHEN IN DOUBT, SEE ME. Some students are under the mistaken assumption that dean’s excuses are like dining hall swipes and that each student only has a certain number. Not true. Dean’s excuses are issued as needed according to the guidelines above. You are not limited in the number of dean’s excuses you can get at Yale, nor are you guaranteed one just because you have never had one. It all operates on the guidelines set forth above.
And how do you get the actual piece of paper? Come by the office and Sandi will give you a Dean’s Excuse Request Form. Fill it out so that I have all of the information about the work that you have missed, then set up an appointment. Once we meet and I review your Request, I can issue the actual dean’s excuse if appropriate. I will not approve any extensions via email.
One last but vital bit of information. Instructors can grant extensions any time during the term on their own authority, but everything changes at the END of the term. Extensions that go beyond the Reading Period – that is, beyond Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - for any outstanding work or for make-up examinations can be issued ONLY by me. This is to protect the final exam period and to allow you to focus on your exams. Without written permission from me to extend work past these deadlines, you risk receiving a failing grade for the course. So please be careful.
I hope that your term goes smoothly and that you have no need for a dean's excuse, but if you do, now you know how they work. As always, if you have any questions dean’s excuses or anything else, please see me. To make an appointment, call 203-432-0397 or just stop by the office and talk with Sandi.
My very best wishes for a healthy and happy semester!