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Editorial Cartoon: Alabama and IVF
Editorial Cartoon: Alabama and IVF
Published March 1, 2024

UMN students use academic accommodations for religious holidays

With holidays like Passover and Ramadan coming up, University of Minnesota allows students to take excused absences from classes.
Acreligiousabsence
Image by MARY ELLEN RITTER
Acreligiousabsence

For the past several years, the University of Minnesota has required that faculty work with graduate and undergraduate students to grant academic accommodations for observed religious holidays, like Passover and Ramadan.

According to the University webpage, University professors must give academic accommodations to students and not penalize them for celebrating religious observances. With a few major religious observances approaching, many students are making time to celebrate.

One of these religious observances is Passover, a Jewish holiday that celebrates when the Jewish people were freed from slavery in Egypt and is from April 15-23 this year. Fourth-year student Sophie Shapiro, student board president at the University’s Hillel, said she was going to miss one class because she is going home to celebrate Passover with family.

“I have felt like I’m missing out on things,” Shapiro said. “But I’m happy that I won’t be academically penalized for choosing to go home for Passover.”

Shapiro added that she emailed her professor and they replied saying she can do the makeup work for the class she is missing online.

This year, Hillel will host events for Jewish students who may be from out of state and are unable to go home.

“We want students to feel like a sense of home since they might not be able to have that,” Shapiro said. “Students should be able to celebrate this holiday while taking a break from school.”

Shapiro said she looks forward to being with her family on this special holiday after not being able to celebrate with extended family in the past couple of years due to COVID-19.

“Over the past couple of years, it’s been really difficult with COVID. Passover has been over Zoom, which has been really weird,” Shapiro said. “So I’m excited that we’re going to be able to do it in person. We’re going to be able to go back to tradition and celebrate as a large family.”

Ramadan is a Muslim holiday that is a month-long celebration and focuses on praying, fasting and reflection. The Muslim Students Association (MSA) has spent the past month preparing their students for Ramadan.

MSA advisor Faduma Warsame said she talked with students about how they can appreciate the month of Ramadan while still doing their academic work.

“It may feel difficult to handle school and the stress when people are fasting, but it is a matter of how you make the most of your fasting,” Warsame said. “We’re the ones who make everything perfect. Allah makes everything better for us.”

Warsame said she encourages students to make sure they spend this next month doing schoolwork while continuing to work to fulfill their religious obligations to fast and pray during the month.

“Allah wants this month to be special to us. He does not want to make things more difficult while we worship him this month,” Warsame said.

The University’s Minnesota Student Association (MSA) vice-president Samiat Ajibola, said that MSA is excited to work with student organizations that celebrate these religious holidays.

“All students should be able to celebrate their observed holidays without any academic barriers,” Ajibola said.

Ajibola added that MSA will provide specific meals for students who celebrate Passover and specific bi-weekly meals for students who fast during Ramadan.

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