Under the current policy, professors are required to excuse such students from class, but there is no provision outlining a procedure for helping the students make up missed material. Sometimes, professors will reach out to the absent students, particularly if the professor will be observing the holiday as well. Others voluntarily choose to reschedule classes when a major religious holiday coincides with a class session, though this option is only appropriate for courses where a significant number of students will be absent. However, in many cases there is no communication between the faculty and the students about how to make up for an absence.
There are many different ways professors and students can handle absences due to religious holidays. The aforementioned ways are not the only options, and they are not necessarily the best ones for all courses. Other possible options include scheduling a secondary lecture or individualized meetings with observant students. Though currently students can reach out to their professors and arrange ways to make up the work, not all professors are as willing or accommodating. Furthermore, the burden should not rest solely on the student. Observant students should be able to celebrate their religious holidays without worrying about how it will affect their grades. In order to institutionalize a procedure, it would be necessary for the registrar to have a role in the process. The registrar would coordinate with the major religious institutions on campus to ensure professors are informed of upcoming holidays and that students know their options.
If the University codifies a procedure for addressing these situations, the options listed above could be included as possible resolutions, but professors and students should still have a voice in the process and the freedom to choose which procedures work best for them and their class. What the procedure is does not matter as much as the fact that there is a procedure set in place that the students know about.
The University’s class schedule will invariably come into conflict with the religious observances of its students at certain points. These observances should not become detrimental to students’ academic success by putting them at a disadvantage compared to their nonobservant peers. In order to achieve this goal, the University should establish a set procedure that allows any student of any religion to celebrate and honor his or her religious commitment without compromising his or her academic performance.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/09/17/31117/