Students at UW–Madison come from a very diverse group of religious communities, and it is important to respect their practices. Because of of this, the College of Letters & Sciences outlines the following policies regrading religious observances.
Faculty policy is 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. Some religions mark observances over multiple days, which may begin at sunset on the day preceding the posted date(s) of the holiday, such as the Jewish holidays Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and the Islamic holiday Eid al-Adha. In addition, given our university's multicultural community, there are bound to be conflicts between mandatory academic requirements and other religious observances. Please visit Major Holidays Calendar for a listing, though not exhaustive, of religious holidays. You also may obtain a copy of the listing from the Office of the Secretary of the Faculty, 262-3958, 130 Bascom Hall.
Please refer to the academic calendar 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:
- 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.
- Make-ups may be scheduled before or after the regularly scheduled requirements.
- 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.
Source: Religious Observances Memo