Academic Accommodations for Religious Observances and Fall 2021 Semester

The University of Minnesota fully supports the religious observances of all students throughout the academic year. To that end, we offer accommodations that allow all students to practice their faith without negatively affecting their education. 

The first two days of the fall 2021 semester fall on Rosh Hashanah. Although accommodations for all religious observances are provided to students through the Makeup Work for Legitimate Absences policy, and accommodations for Rosh Hashanah are explicitly available through the Mandatory Attendance at First Class Session and Consequences for Absence policy, we acknowledge that the first day of the semester is important to students, especially incoming freshmen or new transfer students. We are therefore providing these additional accommodations:

  • Consistent with our existing policy, the University will ensure that no student loses a seat in class because they are observing Rosh Hashanah.
  • In our regular message to instructors reminding them of the first-day policies and the explicit mention of Rosh Hashanah, we are encouraging them to record or otherwise make their first-day-of-class lectures and course materials for 9/7 and 9/8 available to students online for later viewing. We recognize that students will not be able to view lectures or complete assignments on the actual days of the holiday.
  • We are delaying the deadline for a 100% tuition refund to Tues, Sept. 14 at 11:59 pm, to ensure that all students can attend class before making a decision about withdrawal. 
  • While we recommend students contact instructors directly to alert them to anticipated absences, for those students who are uncomfortable doing so, we are providing an intermediary solution. Undergraduate and graduate students may send a note to [email protected]; a staff member will connect with the student to assist, and if needed can inform the instructor of the excused absence on the student’s behalf. 

Faculty and staff are also provided accommodations for religious holidays. Instructors may structure teaching plans or work schedules to allow for their own religious observances, and are encouraged to talk with their unit head if they have questions or need help with these arrangements.

In addition, the University plans to launch a task force to review the overall academic calendar structure for the Twin Cities and Rochester campuses (they share an academic calendar). The task force will include faculty, staff, and student membership, and include representation from the Senate Committee on Educational Policy, the Office of Human Resources, the Office of the Registrar, the Office of Diversity & Equity, the Office of the Provost, and the Office of the President. The task force will make recommendations to the Senate Committee on Educational Policy for new ways to meet the compliance requirements of the academic calendar while supporting the needs of our diverse university community, including a wide variety of faith traditions and religious holidays.

Finally, individuals who believe that they have not received reasonable accommodations for their religious beliefs or practices can bring these concerns to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA). More information can be found under the “Religious Observances” heading of the EOAA Resource Page