To the Editor:
A Sept. 8 column by Theodore Gross ’24 raises important questions. What are the University’s obligations to change calendars, itineraries, and whole programs to make every student feel welcome and able to participate? How can programs become as accommodating as possible? What are individual students’ responsibilities in regard to requesting accommodations?
The Office of Religious Life has sponsored domestic and international trips for decades, finding them to be uniquely impactful opportunities to learn — about oneself, about other individuals and societies, other religious traditions, and about the creative partnerships that communities devise in order to live justly and well together. We send trips to every part of the world, regardless of the religious makeup of the population, in order to responsibly educate ourselves about realities that may be far from our own. And we accommodate every student’s religious needs, for example sending kosher food in advance to our destination, making individual travel itineraries for students, and coordinating with local religious groups to include our students in their services and rituals during our visit. All these accommodations would of course apply to our Fall Break trip to Senegal upon request from a potential participant.
I warmly welcome Mr. Gross and any other reader to reach out to me or my ORL colleagues on these or any matters. The Office of Religious Life, like every University entity, takes with the utmost seriousness any assertion of unfairness or disregard. Those who speak with us will find that the statement that the ORL is “not for Jews” — or any religious community — is absolutely contrary to the truth.
Alison Boden is the Dean of Religious Life and the Chapel.