What is the UW-Madison policy regarding accommodating religious observances and making up exams and/or assignments?

The following section concerns accommodating religious observances and academic requirements.

In accordance with regent and faculty policy, instructors should not schedule mandatory exercises on days when religious observances may cause substantial numbers of students to be absent from the university.  UWS 22 states that "students' sincerely held religious beliefs shall be reasonably accommodated with respect to scheduling all examinations and other academic requirements."   Exams and requirements include any course requirement made by the instructor that will be considered in the course.   See "Religious Observances" under the Academic Calendar for more details.

Students must notify the course instructor within the first two (2) weeks of the semester/term of the specific dates conflicting with an exam or assignment.   Instructors are also strongly encouraged to make students aware of this policy within the first week of the semester/term.

Some religions mark observances over multiple days, which may begin at sunset on the day preceding the posted date(s) of the holiday.  Conflicts may occur for religious observances other than those identified in the calendar.  A listing, though not exhaustive, of religious holidays is available at http://www.interfaithcalendar.org.   Any student with a conflict between an academic requirement and any religious observance must be given an alternative means of meeting the academic requirement.  A student's claim of religious conflict, which may include travel time, should be accepted at face value.    A copy of this listing can also be obtained from the Secretary of the Faculty's Office, 133 Bascom.

The Offices of the Provost, Secretary of the Faculty, and Dean of Students request that instructors adhere to the following three guidelines that have been developed to provide clarity for both students and instructors:
  1. Announce early in the semester/term that your students must notify you within the first two (2) weeks of class of the specific days or dates on which they request relief.   Including this information on your course syllabus is another appropriate method to make sure your students are informed of the policy. 
  2. Make ups may be scheduled before or after the regularly scheduled requirements.
  3. It is understood that instructors may set reasonable limits on the total number of days claimed by any one student.  Occasionally, students may not fully understand the necessity for prior notice, and under these circumstances we urge you to be as flexible as possible.  The UW-Madison policy seeks to be sensitive to the needs of individual students.
Detailed information on religious observances policy is located at Academic Calendar under Religious Observances.  

The Offices of the Provost, Secretary of the Faculty, and Dean of Students also urge fairness, compassion, and sensitivity of instructors or their Teaching Assistants (TAs) when they are approached by a student requesting class time off due to a family emergency.  Demonstration of your understanding in such a circumstance may be important to the student in getting through the crisis.  Please note that University Health Services (UHS) offers counseling for students on a 24/7 basis.  You can find UHS contact information at how to contact UHS.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact:

Steve K. Smith, Office of the Secretary of the Faculty, 608/265-4562, sof@secfac.wisc.edu
Steve Cramer, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, 608/262-5246, steven.cramer@wisc.edu
Lori Berquam, Division of Student Life, 608/263-5700, dean@studentlife.wisc.edu 

Keywords:religious observance, religious beliefs, accommodation of religious beliefs in making up exams   Doc ID:21698
Owner:Tori R.Group:College of Letters & Science
Created:2011-12-12 18:22 CDTUpdated:2016-05-02 15:58 CDT
Sites:College of Letters & Science
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