The University Record, September 10, 1996

New policy covers religious/academic conflicts

By Jared Blank 

A new policy for students on religious-academic conflicts has been implemented by the University.

Written by LS&A senior Anthony Scaglione, the policy outlines for the first time the expectations of students and faculty should a conflict arise regarding religious observances.

"As a Jewish student, I have experienced conflicts between academic responsibility and religious holiday observance," Scaglione says. "In the past, professors have scheduled tests on religious holidays, and I've had to go through red tape to resolve the problem."

In past years, the provost has sent a memo to faculty recommending that "every reasonable effort should be made to help students avoid negative academic consequences when their religious obligations conflict with their academic requirements." However, students did not receive notice from the administration outlining these expectations.

Under the new guidelines, professors and graduate student instructors are expected to offer a "reasonable alternative" to make up missed class work. In turn, students are expected to give reasonable notice that they will be absent from class because of a religious conflict. "Professional responsibility and student responsibility to professors works both ways," Scaglione says.

Students will receive a mailing of the policy in the next few weeks, and it will appear in future Class Time Schedules.

Information for Students Regarding Religious-Academic Conflicts

It is the policy of the University of Michigan to make every reasonable effort to allow members of the University community to observe their religious holidays without academic penalty. Absence from classes or examinations for religious reasons does not relieve students from responsibility for any part of the course work required during the period of absence. Students who expect to miss classes, examinations, or other assignments as a consequence of their religious observance shall be provided with a reasonable alternative opportunity to complete such academic responsibilities. It is the obligation of students to provide faculty with reasonable notice of the dates of religious holidays on which they will be absent. Students who are absent on days of examinations or class assignments shall be offered an opportunity to make up the work, without penalty, unless it can be demonstrated that a makeup opportunity would constitute an unreasonable burden on the faculty. Should disagreement arise over what constitutes an unreasonable burden or any aspect of this policy, parties involved should contact the department chair, the dean of the school, or the Ombudsperson.