Opinion

Staff editorial 10/3: Separation of church, school

Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are Judaism’s High Holy Days, representing the Jewish new year and the time when Jews frequently attend religious services, abstain from certain forms of pleasure and fast. But instead of focusing on atoning for sins and beginning the year with a clean slate, Jewish students must continue to worry about academics; some even have essay deadlines to meet and exams to take or study for during the holidays.

Many students are up in arms that the University of Miami doesn’t cancel class on these holidays, as shown by the petition being circulated by Chabad. However, the university does have a policy requiring faculty members to be sensitive to students’ religious obligations. The 2011-2012 faculty handbook states that “no major test, major class event, or major University activity will be scheduled on a major religious holy day. Faculty members and University administrators shall in no way penalize students who are absent from academic or social activities because of religious observances.”

Some professors disregard this policy by scheduling exams and assignments on religious holidays, but do allow students to make them up on a later date.

Anger about this ambiguity is certainly understandable, especially since we don’t have school on Christmas, a major Christian holiday. But we need to take a look at the role religion actually plays in these days off. Christmas, for instance, falls during winter break, which is a vacation period lasting until January and is typical for any university.

In fact, UM doesn’t give one day off for any religious holidays in its efforts to stay secular. The only holidays during which the university does not hold classes are on national holidays: Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Having class on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar may seem unfair, but if we get those days off, it would be only fair to equally recognize other major religious holidays as well, like those of the Islamic faith.

Where is the line drawn? How many religions does the university have to take into account to be considered fair?

As an academic and secular institution, UM has no obligation to grant days off to students for any religious holiday and should maintain its current policy of asking professors to acknowledge and empathize with students’ religious observances.

 

 

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.


October 2, 2011

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

It’s one thing for a player who’s projected to go in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft to turn p ...

Miami coach Jim Larranaga and his staff spent recent practices pushing his players to whip the ball ...

The University of Miami confirmed in a written release Sunday that starting cornerback Malek Young s ...

In 2016, the Miami Hurricanes had tight end David Njoku, who went in the first round of the 2017 NFL ...

Four days had passed since his University of Miami basketball team squandered a 13-point second half ...

Presidents at three higher education institutions in Miami "lend our unified voices” to the cal ...

Thirty high school English teachers from Brazil are spending six weeks at UM in a new skill-building ...

Global and local efforts needed to respond to biological threats, UM President Julio Frenk warned at ...

As artificial Intelligence takes hold, tech visionary David Kenny stresses keeping human values in t ...

UM’s First Black Graduates Project committee visits an iconic D.C. museum for inspiration to create ...

The No. 25/23 Miami men's basketball team shot a sizzling 57.6 percent from the field in pullin ...

The University of Miami women's basketball team picked up its third straight win in eight days ...

The University of Miami men's tennis team (1-2) closed out its opening weekend with a 5-2 loss ...

With the help of dominating victories and dramatic comebacks, the No. 19 Miami women's tennis t ...

The University of Miami men's tennis team (1-1) returns to action on Sunday, as it travels to N ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.