When Classwork and Religious Observances Conflict
Letter from the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Secretary of the Faculty, and Vice Provost for Student Life and dean of Students, regarding faculty policies and guidelines for religious observances conflicting with academic requirements.
TO: Deans, Directors, Faculty, and Instructional Academic Staff
CC: Facilities and Administrative Unit Directors, Teaching Assistants
FROM: Sarah Mangelsdorf, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Steven K. Smith, Secretary of the Faculty
Lori Berquam, Vice Provost for Student Life and Dean of Students
RE: When Classwork and Religious Observances Conflict
We would like to remind you of the faculty policy that mandatory academic requirements should not be scheduled on days when religious observances may cause substantial numbers of students to be absent from the university. Please visit interfaithcalendar.org for a listing, though not exhaustive, of religious holidays. Please refer to the calendar below for additional information and mark the noted holidays on your calendar now so that you do not schedule mandatory exercises on any of these dates.
A student’s claim of a religious conflict, which may include travel time, should be accepted at face value. A great variety of valid claims exist for religious groups, and there is no practical, dignified, and legal means to assess the validity of individual claims. State law mandates that any student with a conflict between an academic requirement and any religious observance must be given an alternative for meeting the academic requirement. The law also stipulates that students be given a mechanism by which they can conveniently and confidentially notify an instructor of the conflict.
Please adhere to the following three guidelines that have been developed to provide clarity for both students and instructors: (1) Announce early in the semester that your students must notify you within the first two 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. Our policy seeks to be sensitive to the needs of individual students.
Please advise your teaching assistants of this policy.
Finally, on a different but somewhat
parallel topic, we urge fairness, compassion, and sensitivity when you or your
TAs 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.wisc.edu) offers counseling for students on a
24/7 basis. For other resources related to workplace challenges, please visit
the Office of the Secretary of the Faculty webpage (secfac.wisc.edu/workplace-conflict.htm).
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us:
Steven K. Smith, Office of the Secretary of the Faculty, 608-265-4562, email@example.com
Steven M. Cramer, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, 608-262-5246, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lori Berquam, Division of Student Life, 608-263-5700, email@example.com
CALENDAR FOR SPRING SEMESTER 2017
Last day to cancel enrollment without transcript record 16 January (M)
Martin Luther King Jr Day 16 January (M)
Instruction begins 17 January (T)
Last day to drop courses or withdraw without notation on transcript 25 January (W)
Last day to add courses or enroll without department/dean permission 27 January (F)
Last day for 100% tuition adjustment on dropped classes 27 January (F)
Last day for 50% tuition adjustment on dropped classes 10 February (F)
Last day to apply for pass/fail or convert from credit to audit (undergrad) 10 February (F)
Last day to drop courses 17 March (F)
Last day to apply for pass/fail or convert from credit to audit (grad) 17 March (F)
Spring recess 18-26 March (S-N)
Classes resume 27 March (M)
Apply to graduate deadline 31 March (F)
Last day to withdraw without academic penalty (undergrad, prof., special) 7 April (F)
Passover* 11-18 April (T-T)**
Good Friday* 14 April (F)
Last day to withdraw without academic penalty (grad) 4 May (R)
Last class day 4 May (R)
Study day 5 May (F)
Exam (summary) period 6-12 May (S-F)
Commencement ceremony: doctoral and MFA candidates 12 May (F)***
Commencement ceremony: undergraduate and master’s degree candidates 13 May (S)***
Start of Ramadan 26 May (F)
Faculty contract year ends 28 May (N)
* In accordance with regent and faculty policy, faculty are asked not to schedule mandatory exercises on days when religious observances may cause substantial numbers of students to be absent from the university.
** Observances of Jewish holidays begin at sunset on the day preceding that which is listed as the holiday.
*** The official date of degree conferral on the diploma will be 13 May 2017.
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF THE FACULTY
133 Bascom Hall