14 Accommodations for Religious Observances

PDAD&C #14, 2005-06

MEMORANDUM

To:               Principals, Deans, Academic Directors and Chairs
From:     Vivek Goel, Vice-President and Provost
Date:        September 15, 2005
Re:        Accommodations for Religious Observances


_______________________________________________________________________________________

I am writing to alert you to the University’s commitment and policy concerning the scheduling of classes and examinations and other accommodations for religious observances, and to ask you to communicate broadly what is expected of faculty and students in this respect.

On June 29, 2005, the Governing Council approved the Policy on Scheduling of Classes and Examinations and Other Accommodations for Religious Observances. The policy is available on the Provost’s web site at http://www.provost.utoronto.ca/English/Other-University-Policies.html.

As noted in the Policy, the University welcomes and includes students, staff and faculty from a wide range of backgrounds, cultural traditions and spiritual beliefs. The Policy includes the following provisions:

It is the policy of the University of Toronto to arrange reasonable accommodation of the needs of students who observe religious holy days other than those already accommodated by ordinary scheduling and statutory holidays.

Students have a responsibility to alert members of the teaching staff in a timely fashion to upcoming religious observances and anticipated absences. Instructors will make every reasonable effort to avoid scheduling tests, examinations or other compulsory activities at these times. If compulsory activities are unavoidable, every reasonable opportunity should be given to these students to make up work that they miss, particularly in courses involving laboratory work. When the scheduling of tests or examinations cannot be avoided, students should be informed of the procedure to be followed to arrange to write at an alternate time.

It is most important that no student be seriously disadvantaged because of her or his religious observances. However, in the scheduling of academic and other activities, it is also important to ensure that the accommodation of one group does not seriously disadvantage other groups within the University community.

The following are examples of requests that students may make to be excused from classes or examinations; Holy Days; on Friday at 1:00 p.m. for Muslim community prayers; or on the Jewish Sabbath (one-and a-half hours before sunset Friday to one-and a-half hours after sunset Saturday).

Many of the relevant dates for this academic year (2005-06) and the next academic year (2006-07) are outlined in the table below. Please note that most of the dates for this academic year were initially circulated in February 2005 (see PDAD&C #50, 2004-05 - http://www.provost.utoronto.ca/English/50---Accommodations-for-Religious-Observances.html).

These dates are provided to assist instructors and those planning academic activities to anticipate when students might choose to seek accommodations for religious observances. It is also important to note that there are many holy days associated with various faiths and that the absence of such dates on this list should not be interpreted to mean that there should be no accommodation for students who observe those holy days.  Finally, some observances are based on an interpretation of the lunar calendar, and thus may vary by one or two days depending upon the interpretation relevant to a student’s faith tradition.

Some Dates of Potential Relevance for the U of T Community – 2005-06


September 2005 to June 2006
Rosh Hashanah From about one-and-a-half hours before sunset on Monday October 3, 2005 to about one-and-a-half hours after sunset on Wednesday October 5, 2005.
Ramadan* Tuesday October 4, 2005 or Wednesday October 5, 2005 to Thursday November 3, 2005 or Friday November 4, 2005. Muslims may fast from dawn to dusk, abstaining from food and drink. Examinations scheduled in the evening may pose a special burden.
Yom Kippur From about one-and-a-half hours before sunset on Wednesday October 12, 2005 to about one-and-a-half hours after sunset on Thursday October 13, 2005.
Sukkot From about one-and-a-half hours before sunset on Monday October 17, 2005 to about one-and-a-half hours after sunset on Wednesday October 19, 2005.
Diwali (Deepavali) Tuesday November 1, 2005.
Eid-al-Fitr Thursday November 3, and Friday November 4, 2005.
Hanukkah Monday December 26, 2005 to Monday January 2, 2006.
Feast of the Nativity Saturday January 7, 2006.
Eid-al-Adha Tuesday January 10, and Wednesday January 11, 2006.
Lunar New Year Sunday January 29, 2006.
First two days of Passover From about one-and-a-half hours before sunset on Wednesday April 12 to about one-and-a-half hours after sunset on Friday April 14, 2006.
Last two days of Passover From about one-and-a-half hours before sunset on Tuesday April 18 to about one-and-a-half hours after sunset on Thursday April 20, 2006.
Holy Friday (Orthodox) Friday April 21, 2006.
Easter (Orthodox) Sunday April 23, 2006.
Shavuot From about one-and-a-half hours before sunset on Thursday June 1, 2006 to about one-and-a-half hours after sunset on Saturday June 3, 2006.

September 2005/Office of Student Affairs
*Some observances are based on the lunar calendar, and thus may vary by one or two days.



 Some Dates of Potential Relevance for the U of T Community – 2006-07


September 2006 to June 2007

Rosh Hashanah

From about one-and-a-half hours before sunset on Thursday September 21, 2006 to about one-and-a-half hours after sunset on Saturday September 23, 2006.

Ramadan* Saturday September 23 or Sunday September 24, 2006 to Sunday October 22 or Monday October 23, 2006. Muslims may fast from dawn to dusk, abstaining from food and drink. Examinations scheduled in the evening may pose a special burden.
Yom Kippur From about one-and-a-half hours before sunset on Sunday October 1, 2006 to about one-and-a-half hours after sunset on Monday October 2, 2006.
Sukkot From about one-and-a-half hours before sunset on Friday October 6, 2006 to about one-and-a-half hours after sunset on Sunday October 8, 2006.
Diwali (Deepavali) Saturday October 21, 2006.
Eid-al-Fitr Monday October 23, 2006 and Tuesday October 24, 2006.
Hanukkah Saturday December 16, 2006 to Saturday December 23, 2006.
Eid-al-Adha Friday December 29, 2006 to Sunday December 31, 2006.
Feast of the Nativity Sunday January 7, 2007.
Lunar New Year Sunday February 18, 2007.
First two days of Passover From about one-and-a-half hours before sunset on Monday April 2, 2007 to about one-and-a-half hours after sunset on Wednesday April 4, 2007.
Last two days of Passover From about one-and-a-half hours before sunset on Sunday April 8, 2007 to about one-and-a-half hours after sunset on Tuesday April 10, 2007.
Holy Friday (Orthodox) Friday, April 6, 2007.
Easter (Orthodox) Sunday, April 8, 2007.
Shavuot From about one-and-a-half hours before sunset on Tuesday May 22, 2007 to about one-and-a-half hours after sunset on Thursday May 24, 2007.
September 2005/Office of Student Affairs
*Some observances are based on the lunar calendar, and thus may vary by one or two days.


For more information regarding religious observances and Holy Days or for assistance with devising reasonable accommodation, please contact the Office of Student Affairs at 978-5536. If your department or division has existing procedures concerning the accommodation of religious observances, it may be advisable to consult with the Office of Student Affairs in order to ensure the procedures are consistent with the Policy.

The dates in the above table can be downloaded into UTORschedule CorporateTime personal calendars. This facility could help to avoid the scheduling of meetings for those who may be unavailable because of religious observances. The instructions for adding the dates to a personal calendar are available at http://www.utoronto.ca/ns/utorschedule/observances.html.

If you have any questions about downloading into CorporateTime, please contact Computing & Network Services at 978-4357 [978-HELP].