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Campus feedback sought on proposed calendar revision

By SUE WUETCHER

Published April 17, 2013

UB wants members of the campus community to weigh in on 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.

Among the arguments for the proposal is that this revision, which would impact the academic calendar for UB’s undergraduate and graduate programs, would ensure greater continuity in the academic schedule.

Faculty, staff, students and the broader community will be able to offer their questions, concerns, comments and observations on the FSEC’s recent recommendation. Comments can be posted to the UB Reporter, The Spectrum and the UB homepage from April 18 through April 25.

After the comment period, a summary of the feedback, with commentary from campus calendar officials, will be posted for campus review.

The UB administration is seeking further feedback on the FSEC’s recommendation before making a decision on the proposal.

Administrators also plan to meet with leaders of the Faculty and Professional Staff senates, student governments and the Campus Ministries Association.

The FSEC—acting for the full Faculty Senate, which was unable to field a quorum for a vote at its March 5 meeting—on April 3 voted in support of a resolution to hold classes on the Jewish holy days. It also voted against a separate proposal to hold classes on Labor Day. On April 4, the Professional Staff Senate Executive Committee voted as the FSEC did on both motions.

In an effort to fully examine the issues, the Faculty Senate held open an debate on the both proposals at its March 5 meeting, and senate Chair Ezra Zubrow invited numerous stakeholders to the April 3 FSEC meeting to further discuss the proposals before the final vote.

Among the arguments for holding class on the Jewish holy days:

  • Partial weeks of instruction are disruptive to academic instruction, particularly for recitations, studios, laboratory classes and lectures that are scheduled only once a week.
  • Other colleges and universities—including many SUNY campuses—do not cancel classes on the Jewish holy days.
  • As a public institution with increasing religious and ethnic diversity, UB must be careful not to favor one religion over another.
  • New York State law requires that students, staff and faculty who are absent to observe religious holy days can do so with no negative consequences. UB recognizes and values the significant role of religion and faith in the lives of students, faculty and staff, and will ensure that no members of the university community are compelled to work, teach or attend classes in a way that impacts their ability to practice their faith.

Arguments for maintaining no classes on these holy days include:

  • UB has a sizable population of Jews, most of whom celebrate Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Many Jewish students from New York City travel home to observe the holy days. It would pose a hardship for them to eliminate observance of those days.
  • UB has a long history of including these Jewish holy days in its academic calendars and should continue the practice.
  • There will be instructors who do not provide for holy day observances as the law directs and this abuse will not be able to be prevented.

A final decision on the calendar is expected to be made by President Satish K. Tripathi, in consultation with Provost Charles F. Zukoski, by the end of classes this spring.

Any change to the calendar would apply only to the undergraduate and graduate calendars; the law, medical and dental schools follow their own approved calendars.

Comments

The UB administration is seeking feedback from the university community on the proposal that UB begin holding classes on the Jewish holy days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Please use the form below to share your thoughts on this calendar issue.

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