Tulane properly accommodates students with religious holiday conflicts

Daniel Horowitz, Contributing Writer

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The following is an opinion article, and opinion articles do not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

Tulane has a reputation of being accommodating to different religions and cultures, but the community overlooks some religious holidays at the cost of preserving academics.

As students, we have the privilege of living with people from various cultures, all with their own customs and values. Teachers refusing to cancel class or excuse students for religious celebrations may seem disrespectful. Earlier this year, with the annual Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year and Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, Tulane did not cancel classes. Considering the nature of our community, it seems right to accommodate students of all religions, but the reality of doing this is inconvenient at best, and impossible at worst.

Though it would be nice to cancel class every time a new or different religious holiday occurred, this policy is not practical. If Tulane were to do this, they would have to cancel class on an unthinkable number of days. Using Judaism as an example, Tulane would have to cancel classes several days during the fall semester, when there are several Jewish holidays occurring one after another.

According to Brian Horowitz, chair of the Jewish studies department, the university has a policy that aids students who need to miss class for religious reasons. Professors must refrain from scheduling exams and making assignments due on these days. If there is no way to prevent either of these from happening, then they need to allow students more time to complete assignments or let them make up the exam.

Horowitz said Tulane cannot do much more than ensure professors enforce this policy, and that professors who need to be absent for religious holidays should also do their part and either find a substitute for that day or offer a makeup class. That way, the students are not put at a disadvantage either.

Jewish studies professor Yehuda Halper said he agreed with Horowitz that Tulane excels at accommodating students. Both agreed Tulane is better at being respectful of students’ religious beliefs than other universities.

Since Yom Kippur was made an official holiday several years ago, Horowitz said he is optimistic that the administration will consider canceling classes for at least the first day of Rosh Hashanah.

In theory, cancelling classes for religious beliefs to accommodate students’ different religious beliefs would be ideal. Unfortunately, for the sake of education, Tulane must forsake this ideal of accommodating all religious holidays.

For now, Tulane should keep enforcing its policy and making sure that all students have an equal chance of succeeding.

Daniel Horowitz is a freshman in the Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached for comment at [email protected]