EDITORIAL: U. should try to accommodate for all

Attendance policy regarding holidays could be improved


It does not matter how much you love your classes, friends and activities at Rutgers — when it comes down to it, everyone has a calendar marking down the days until the next University break. You get to spend time with family, “home” friends and, in the case of winter break, enjoy the holidays without worrying about homework, exams or anything else remotely related to school. That is, of course, if the holidays you celebrate do align with the breaks that the University offers.

Rutgers offers students and staff breaks (more than one day off) four times a year: Thanksgiving break, winter break, spring break and summer break. Aside from that, there are a few select holidays that the University observes, such as Memorial Day and Independence Day. It may seem that this is the best decision, as people might assume that the major holidays fall within these days. But, does this really accommodate for all holidays? Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur fell within the month of September this year, both of which are considered the most important Jewish holidays. Diwali, which is observed by those of the Hindu faith, is in October. Eid, celebrated by Muslims, changes dates every year. There are also other holidays celebrated by those of other faiths that are not observed by the University.

In an interview with The Daily Targum, Dory Delvin, the director of University News and Media Relations stated “Rutgers does not schedule days off for any religious holidays. Christmas falls within the scheduled winter break. It is up to each student to decide which days to take off for religious reasons, to discuss upcoming absences with professors and to work with professors to determine make-up schedules for work missed.” Although this seems as though it accommodates for the fact that some of the holiday's students celebrate are not recognized or observed by the University, in reality, it can be a little tricky. 

When students celebrate a holiday that falls on a day when school is in session, it is true that professors are more than likely to be understanding of their absence. But, at the end of the day, these students are still missing class. And an hour and a half class in college can be something difficult to catch up on considering students take an average of four to six classes that they would also have to keep track of. 

It is understandable that it would take a lot of time and work to mandate a policy that would accommodate for all holidays, but this does not mean that the University cannot try. A possible solution would be for University officials to conduct a survey of important holidays that require observance. After this, they can compile a list of holidays and move from there. This does not have to be done for every holiday, but rather focus on major ones where students might want to be around family or at a place of worship, without fear of missing out on a lecture or making up an exam.

Rutgers University prides itself on its diversity, and diversity should lead to action, not just pride. Rutgers should continue to keep the breaks in the dates that they have already assigned, but it would be helpful to a large population of students if the University were more accommodating to other holidays as well. If students see that their university is making efforts to include holidays that are important to them within its list of days off, they will definitely feel that their concerns are being handled and that they are cared about.

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