Reminder - Accommodation for Religious Observances

PDAD&C#50, 2009-10

MEMORANDUM

To: PDAD&C
From:       Jill Matus, Vice-Provost, Students
CC: Professional/Managerial Staff
Date: December 7, 2009
Re: Reminder - Accommodation for Religious Observances
  

I am writing to remind you of the University's commitment and policy concerning the scheduling of classes and examinations and other accommodation for religious observances. As first noted in PDAD&C #16 (2007-08), this office has published a regularly updated web page as a ready reference on issues related to this topic:
http://www.viceprovoststudents.utoronto.ca/publicationsandpolicies/guidelines/religiousobservances.htm. The page provides some example dates of relevance for the current and upcoming academic year, links to the University's Policy on Scheduling of Classes and Examinations and Other Accommodations for Religious Observances, and other advice concerning specific accommodation issues.

Please note that the obligation not to discriminate on the basis of religion ("creed") is a statutory duty arising from the Ontario Human Rights Code. It carries with it the obligation to accommodate religious requirements where doing so does not cause "undue hardship." For example, accommodation normally requires that scheduled graded term work or tests conflicting with religious requirements be adjusted by providing similar evaluation on alternate dates.

The dates listed on the web site are provided to assist instructors and those planning academic activities to anticipate when some students might choose to seek accommodations for religious observances. It is 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. Also, some holy days are already captured by statutory holidays. 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.

For those using a UTORexchange calendar, the dates outlined in the table on the 'Accommodations for Religious Observances' web page have been automatically populated in your calendar in the same way as U of T holiday dates (statutory holidays, Presidential holidays, December/January closure). For other Microsoft Exchange users, please contact your network administrator if you wish to arrange to have these dates added to your calendar.

For assistance in interpreting the Policy and for support in the development of divisional or departmental procedures which are consistent with the Policy, please contact Jim Delaney, Director, Office of the Vice-Provost, Students at 416-978-4027 or jim.delaney@utoronto.ca.

For assistance in devising reasonable accommodations for religious observances and Holy Days, please contact Richard Chambers, Director, Multifaith Centre at 416-946-3144 or richard.chambers@utoronto.ca or Isfahan Merali, Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Officer at 416-978-1259 or isfahan.merali@utoronto.ca.