At a faculty-wide meeting last Thursday, those present voted in favor of a new policy on Academic Accommodations for Reasons of Faith and Conscience. The policy, which will go into effect Fall 2017, allows students to use two days per academic year for events of personal significance that are not necessarily observed by the entire school. This could include religious holidays, cultural celebrations or events such as protests, according to Chief Diversity Officer Rhonda Brown.
“These are personal concerns — students need to have the ability to express their faith and conscience as they see fit,” Brown said via email. “They should not have to choose between being a good student and being true to themselves.”
Sara Packer (junior) and Sumner Schwartz (junior), who have advocated for this policy for the past two years, were instrumental in bringing it to fruition, Brown said.
Students are required to inform Susan Young, director of the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life (ORSL), or Brown in order to keep a record of how many days they have used. Students also need to contact their professors who will then make academic accommodations for them.
Initially, students were required to identify the dates they would need accommodation for in the first two weeks of the semester. But faculty thought this limited its potential; now, students will be able to use the policy at any time.
There was no apparent faculty opposition to the policy, Brown said. Deferring its implementation until the fall will give faculty adequate time to include a mention of the policy in their syllabi.