Is it our job to teach students responsibility?

I may be a week behind (almost)… I blame login challenges. I think I’ve got it now.
I want to respond to the question about teaching students responsibility. I have been reading a lot of Aristotle lately for a philosophies of higher education course, and I feel like I’m seeing different sides to this concept–perhaps, different applications of ethics.
What is fresh in my mind is the idea that yes, we should be helping our students build character and prepare for “the real world” in as many ways as we possibly can. This means holding them accountable for things like turning in assignments, and getting them in on time. We should also hold students accountable for paying their tuition and fees and taking care of holds on their accounts, etc.
On the other hand, I feel like there are right and wrong applications of upholding this standard of accountability. At a recent day-long training session I attended, I heard from many different administrators from colleges all around our district about account holds, financial aid conditions and other related student finance issues. It seems that we have some policies in place that actually counteract or contradict our goals to increase student enrollment and better aide students in signing up for their class schedules. I understand we need students to figure out for themselves how to fund their education, but punishing them by dropping them from all their courses or not allowing them to add and plan a schedule for next semester based on some small library, lab or parking fine seems to me to be counter-intuitive to the greater goal, which is student success (whether that be defined as retention, completion, or the student’s individual, personal growth).
I’m neither an anarchist nor a lazy-student apologist, but I don’t want to be a hypocrite, either. I’m still not over the time when I was 17 years old and my math instructor at MCC dropped me from class on my 3rd absence,even though I was getting a B and had no missing assignments. I had paid for that class out of pocket, and getting dropped knocked me to less-than full-time enrollment and messed up my financial aid for the next semester. It was a hard and costly lesson to learn. I think of that moment every time I’m faced with issuing a W for non-attendance, and I try to reach out to the student before making that move.


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