Carnegie Mellon University

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It's an Epidemic!

By Jeffrey Swoger

Throughout the history of our organization, there have been a few members who have signed up for a course and never shown up. For the most part, their numbers have been relatively small. Suddenly, this Fall, the number of no-shows has suddenly reached epidemic proportions, sometimes equaling half of the enrollees or more. Like any epidemic, it is both unwelcome and potentially dangerous to the health of our organization.

Speaking as an instructor, this is both mysterious and quite disheartening. I am hard-pressed to decipher how a member would signup for a course and never attend. All of the VOLUNTEER instructors I know spend countless hours creating their courses and deserve more respect that to have members sign up and not attend.

In courses where there is a waiting list, this action deprives students who are anxious to take the course a chance to do so, since few are willing to enter a course in the second or third week.

The number and variety of courses we offer here at CMU are the hallmarks of our program. We depend on volunteer instructors to make this happen. These instructors are the life-blood of our organization. If the current trend of no-shows continues or escalates even further, it might well discourage volunteers from offering courses, which would be a severe blow to the future of our program.

Membership in Osher is a privilege that carries certain responsibilities. One of them is to respect fellow members. Another is to participate in furthering our mission of providing high-value learning opportunities to our members. Attending courses that you have registered for is a concrete way to meet both of those responsibilities.

Finally, Osher is currently working closely with CMU to obtain new and bigger quarters for our programs - it is our number one priority as an organization. Attendance issues like the one that has become an epidemic this term are decidedly unhelpful to this effort. We can do better and we need to do better.