11 May 2009
TO: Concerned Students
FR: Donald R. Lehman, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
RE: Yom Kippur Break 2009
Thank you for your April 27 e-mail, in which you suggest that The George Washington University include in its annual calendar a one-day break for Yom Kippur, starting in the 2009-2010 academic year.
While I understand your perspective, GW has chosen instead to adopt a secular policy regarding all religious holidays. To ensure that all religious beliefs are respected, professors receive, twice a year, at the start of each semester, a memo from me outlining the university’s policy relative to the observation of religious holidays of any faith.
Briefly, the policy requires students to notify their professors at the start of each semester of any classes they will miss due to religious observances. In turn, professors are required to “…extend to these students the courtesy of absence without penalty on such occasions, including permission to make up examinations.”
I have attached a copy of the most recent memo sent to faculty concerning the University Policy Regarding Religious Holidays.
I wish you a successful exam period and a relaxing summer.
The memorandum reminds professors that "student members of all religious groups are entitled to courteous accommodation of religious holidays. The memorandum is distributed twice each year to assist faculty with planning for the fall and spring semesters." Included in the memorandum is a Religious Holiday Calendar, which included the holiday name, which day it is celebrated, and which religion observes the holiday.