Religious observances and related academic policies

Dear Twin Cities faculty and instructors,

I am writing, as we do each semester, to remind you about the potential need to provide accommodations for students observing religious holidays, per the Makeup Work for Legitimate Absences policy.

When planning due dates for major assignments and scheduling exams, please consult the University’s Calendar of Holidays and Religious Observances, which provides an overview of major holidays and religious observances. While not an exhaustive list, I note several that occur this semester, including:

  • Maha Shivaratri: March 1, 2022
  • Purim: evening of March 16–evening of March 17, 2022
  • Ramadan: evening of April 1, 2022–evening of April 30, 2022
  • Good Friday: April 15, 2022
  • Passover: evening of April 15–evening of April 23, 2022
  • Orthodox Good Friday: April 22, 2022

These dates serve as a guiding framework and the list is not comprehensive or exclusive. For example, a student may be absent from class on March 2 following Maha Shivarati as some religious observances occur outside the dates noted on published calendars.

Additionally, not all students will need to miss class for religious observances, and observances may require accommodation beyond excusing a missed class period. For example, students who are fasting during Ramadan might benefit from scheduling flexibility that allows any exams to be taken at a time of day determined by the student. Similarly, students observing Passover are prohibited from studying during the first and last two days of the holiday, and therefore may need extra time to complete assignments or prepare for exams.

It is important to remember that students, staff, and faculty within the same faith or culture may nevertheless have different traditions and observances, and I therefore ask you to consult individually with any student who requests an accommodation rather than make general assumptions.

The University is committed to ensuring that all students can practice their faith without negatively affecting their education. Please convey this commitment to your students, both in your syllabus and in class, and encourage students to contact you individually if accommodations are needed. If you have specific questions about how to provide accommodations, please review these Frequently Asked Questions or contact the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action office at 612-624-9547 or [email protected].

Thank you for your work to create an inclusive learning environment for our students.

Sincerely yours,

Rachel T.A. Croson
Executive Vice President and Provost

email sent February 24, 2022 to all Twin Cities faculty and instructors scheduled to teach spring semester 2022