This year students at Syracuse University will have a full week off for Thanksgiving break. Unlike last year, there will be no awkward lectures given by a professor at which only three dorks (myself included) attend the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. However, this extended break means that the university had to find days in the calendar to make up. Thus, they decided to schedule classes during the Muslim holiday of Eid Ul-Fitr and the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Last year, classes were not held on Eid and Yom Kippur, which allowed many students to make arrangements to observe the high holidays at home or attend a religious gathering on or near campus, such as at Hillel, without missing classes. The university encourages students to not attend class if they need to observe the holidays.
During the first week of the academic year many professors in my classes explained that they understood if students could not attend class because of religious obligations. One professor joked, “Although, you cannot belong to multiple religions.” Another professor emailed our class to inform students that they were under no pressure to attend class if they were observing Rosh Hashanah.
It seems that the university has gone out of its way to ensure that students do not feel that they are forced to miss class because of their religious commitments. But many feel that they are faced with the decision of whether not to attend class or observe a religious holiday. One Jewish student who was going home a few weeks ago to observe Rosh Hashanah exclaimed, “My professors said that it was okay not to attend. But that still is one class that I’d be missing.”
What do you think about SU’s calendar and policy changes?