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Courtesy of Princeton Alumni Weekly.

During finals period this year, the University is offering accommodations in the form of rescheduled final examinations for Muslim students observing Ramadan. The Office of the Registrar explained that it has long accommodated religious observance by rescheduling exams, in accordance with its official final examination policy. This is the first time in recent years that the policy will be applied to the Muslim holiday.

The holy month of Ramadan, based on the lunar calendar, is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and involves obligatory fasting from sunrise until sunset. The start of Ramadan on Wednesday, May 16, will coincide with the first day of final exams.

“It has been a long-standing policy at the university to make reasonable accommodations for religious observances when possible,” said Sohaib Sultan, chaplain and Muslim Life Program coordinator at the Office of Religious Life. Sultan worked closely with University officials and notified them that the beginning of Ramadan this year would intersect with spring semester final exams. 

Although such a coincidence is rare, Sultan explained, “There is an increasing number of Muslim students on campus and [there must be a greater] awareness of the needs of Muslim students who are ritually observant.”

Over a hundred students stand to benefit from this change, and those who choose to take advantage of this will need to inform their professors or residential college deans of studies beforehand. 

“I’ll probably be taking advantage of it for my exams that are in the evening, since the ones that are later on in the day will be around when the fatigue usually arises,” said Sirad Hassan ’20, the president of the Muslim Students Association.

Hassan is a former news contributor to The Daily Princetonian.

As a result, the University agreed to allow observing students to reschedule any nighttime finals to the following morning. This policy allows students to break their fasts after sundown and commit themselves to devotional prayers and the recitation of the Qur’an.

“The policy is further proof that Princeton University is a global university that respects the freedom of religion and the practice of religious traditions,” said Sultan. The last day to reschedule exams with the Registrar is May 4.

In the past, when Ramadan fell during the school year, the dining halls have given students the option to come in during normal hours to create to-go dinners and breakfasts to consume post-sundown and pre-sunrise, respectively.

“Muslim life on campus has definitely been improving, with the introduction of halal food to most of the dining halls on campus,” said Hassan. However, she said that the main thing she would like to see improved is the introduction of more interfaith prayer rooms.

“There needs to continue to be momentum to have the University administration listen to the requests of the Muslim community, especially regarding more prayer spaces and the implementation of a halal co-op for independent Muslim students,” Hassan said.

“We are in the middle of working with the Office of Religious Life and students from MSA to brainstorm and identify the best possible options during Ramadan,” said Chris Lentz, associate director of marketing and community engagement at Campus Dining. 

“As of right now, there are no specific plans to alter dining hall hours; we are in still in conversations with them to figure out possibilities," Lentz said. 

Currently, there are no definitive changes to food service hours or the implementation of accommodations outside of the dining halls, but Campus Dining plans to release additional details by the end of the month.

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