An Iowa National Guard soldier has filed a grievance with the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls over a makeup test for an exam he missed. Specialist James Roethler says he missed the test last weekend because he had to attend a four-day drill.

He was told by his professor that he wouldn’t be able to make up the exam. “We are serving our country and we can’t get out of that obligation without going AWOL,” Roethler said. University policy reads “Students must adhere to each faculty member’s policies regarding attendance and makeup work.”

That left Roethler with one option, to file a formal grievance. At a hearing, he’ll have to explain why he missed class and a university panel will decide if he should be awarded a makeup test. Roethler believes a policy change is in order.

“If you get sent to active duty status, then they have to make certain allowances. But, there isn’t one regarding drill status or reserve status and I think there should be one implemented,” Roethler said. A university spokesperson noted Roethler’s military service grievance is the school’s first and that the university “wants to look at the policy again with the policy committee this year.”

Specialist Roethler was one of the nearly 3,000 Iowa National Guard soldiers deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. He enrolled at UNI upon his return home, but still has mandatory military obligations.

By Nadia Crow, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids

UNI President Benjamin Allen issued this statement today regarding the decision of a UNI faculty member not to allow a student to take an exam missed because of National Guard duty:

As university president and a veteran, I strongly disagree with the decision made by the professor in this case. We have been working with the student involved from the beginning, and continue to work with him to help ensure he won’t be penalized for serving his country. UNI has a long and proud history of supporting military and veteran students. We currently have more than 250 military and veteran students on campus and we are proud to serve them every day. The Faculty Senate leadership has agreed to review the policies in question as soon as possible.