Faculty Guidelines for Accommodating Student Religious Observances


In 2000, Indiana University’s Faculty Council adopted the following policy: Indiana University respects the right of all students to observe their religious holidays. Accordingly, course directors are to make reasonable accommodation, upon request, for such observances. It is the responsibility of the students involved to notify their course directors in a timely manner concerning their need for such accommodation. The detailed procedures for the implementation of this policy are to be determined by the faculty governing body on each campus.

Applying the Policy

When planning courses, departmental programs, and other activities for the academic year, it is useful to remember the rich mixture of religious and ethnic groups that comprise our student population. The Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty & Academic Affairs at Indiana University Bloomington makes available a list of religious holy days, civic holidays and festivals that occur during the academic year, variously observed by certain religious and ethnic communities. This list is not exhaustive, nor does the observance of all the holy days or holidays require absence from class.

The IU Southeast Religious Observances policy attempts to strike a reasonable balance between accommodating religious observances of students and meeting academic needs and standards. This policy requires instructors to make a reasonable accommodation when a student must miss an exam or other academic exercise because of a required religious observance. The policy also outlines a procedure that students should follow in requesting an accommodation.

Using the Accommodation Form

The Request for Accommodation for Religious Observances is available on the IU Southeast Diversity Web site.

Some Illustrations

  • Faculty do not have to consider accommodations for the purpose of allowing students to travel away from IU Southeast for a religious observance.
  • Any student who is unable to attend classes or participate in any examination, study, or work requirement on some particular day(s) because of his/her religious beliefs must be given the opportunity to make up the work which was missed, provided that the makeup work does not create an unreasonable burden upon Indiana University. Upon request and timely notice, students shall be provided reasonable accommodation.
  • The University will not levy fees or charges of any kind when allowing the student to make up missed work. In addition, no adverse or prejudicial effects should result to students because they have made use of these provisions.
  • Attendance policies allowing for a specific number of dates to be missed without impact on a student’s grade should not count absences for religious observance within that number.
  • Making accommodations requires faculty and students to find suitable accommodation to cover the material from the course and complete all required work, including exams. It is not an appropriate accommodation to permit a student to not complete a portion of material from the course, or to miss an exam, and simply reduce that student’s grade.
  • Students are not required to prove attendance at religious services or events in order to obtain an accommodation for religious observance under IU policy. The students are required to give notice early in the semester. Please include this reminder in your syllabus.
  • Chairs and supervisors of adjunct Instructors and all other instructional personnel have a responsibility to ensure compliance with this policy.
  • Students seeking accommodations should submit the accommodation form to the class instructor no later than the end of the second week of the semester in progress.

To assist instructors and students in their planning, the Academic Affairs Diversity Coordinator encourages instructors to do the following at the beginning of each semester:

  • Announce dates and times for examinations and other major obligations as early as possible.
  • Ask students to let the instructor know about conflicts by the end of the second week in the semester so that accommodations can be made.
  • Provide students with information about how to download the accommodation form from the IU Southeast Diversity website.

If, after discussion, the instructor and student cannot agree on a reasonable accommodation, either or both should seek the advice of the Academic Affairs Diversity Coordinator.

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Veronica E. Medina Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Sociology
Program Coordinator, Sociology
Program Manager, Social Sciences Degree in Four Merit Scholarship

Crestview Hall 003
Phone: (812) 941-2297

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