Published May 23, 2013
President Satish K. Tripathi has promulgated a proposed academic calendar revision recommended by the Faculty Senate Executive Committee that would include the Jewish holy days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur as recognized class days.
The calendar revision will take effect in the 2014-15 academic year.
“This calendar revision reflects the Faculty Senate Executive Committee’s recommendation that no religious holidays shall be designated as no-class days,” Tripathi said in an email sent today to vice presidents, deans and other campus leaders. “Further, these modifications of the fall calendar are intended to ensure greater continuity in the academic schedule and minimize course disruptions for students. The changes are consistent with practice at many of UB’s fellow public institutions, including many SUNY campuses.
“It is important to note,” he added, “that under both university policy and New York State law, reasonable accommodation must be made for any student who is unable to attend a regularly scheduled class or exam because of religious observance, as well as for all employees in the workplace.”
Tripathi said that the 2014-15 academic calendars posted on the Office of the Registrar’s website will be updated this summer to reflect these changes. Moreover, the Office of the Provost will send to the academic units later this summer more detailed information regarding the campus community’s obligation to honor religious accommodation laws and policies.
Does President Tripathi think that we are stupid? The UB academic calendar is not "religiously neutral" because it purposely has no classes on Sundays, Christmas and Easter. These are religious days recognized by Christianity, a religion, and not by Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and other world religions. The reason UB has not had classes on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur has nothing directly to do with religion, but rather with the disruption -- missed classes, makeup exams -- having classes on these two Jewish religious holidays will cause for the 3,000 Jewish students and faculty at UB. By eliminating these holidays from the UB academic calendar, President Tripathi is causing great difficulty for registered students and faculty, and discouraging Jewish students from applying to UB when they can attend SUNY Binghamton, which continues to recognizes Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as non-class days. If UB had thousands of Muslim students it would make perfect sense to accommodate the religious restrictions of such students, just as it makes sense not to have classes on Sundays, Christmas and Easter -- not because they are religious holidays, but because of the disruption this would cause many Christian students and faculty. President Tripathi's decision represents a great setback for UB. The State of New York has by far the largest Jewish population of any state in the United States. Not only will it cause great disruption, it is insulting to Jewish students and faculty to pretend that the UB calender is "religiously neutral." Actually, it is insulting to all students, faculty and alumni. I can only hope that President Tripathi will come to his senses. The executive committee of the Faculty Senate only makes recommendations to the president; the decision is his and his alone. A very sad decision for UB.