On November 9th, President Rothman approved revisions to SYS 165, The Academic Calendar.
See below for a brief summary of the approved revisions.
Revisions to this policy are effective upon approval.
Summary of Policy and Policy Revisions
- This policy defines the academic year and the UW System’s definition of the credit hour to award credit. Revisions to the policy include:
- In section 6, updated the numbering scheme to align with the current SYS policies template.
- Added section 6.C, Religious Holidays, to address how institutions should consult with available religious calendars and attempt to minimize, whenever reasonably practicable, conflicts with major religious holidays.
- UW System Administration will provide multiyear information on major religious observances so universities can be aware of religious observances at least five (5) years in the future.
- Institutions should make resource materials available to students and employees to inform them of applicable policies and procedures to address accommodations and should designate an administrator or adopt a policy or policies designating other individuals to help students and employees in scheduling these accommodations.
- In Section 7, added references to Wis. Stat. § 36.43 and Chapter UWS 22, Wisconsin Administrative Code.
Institution Comments and Concerns
- Based on conversations that President Rothman had with the UW university chancellors, the following changes were made to the draft version put out for comment:
- Incorporated references to Chapter UWS 22, Wisconsin Administrative Code;
- Incorporated the word “major” in reference to religious holidays;
- Added the language “…minimize, whenever reasonably practicable, scheduling conflicts with major religious holidays…” in place of “…minimize to the fullest extent practicable, conflicts with religious holidays…”;
- Allowed institutions to designate an administrator “or adopt a policy or policies designating other individuals” responsible for helping students and employees with scheduling accommodations for religious observances; and
- Removed the final sentence from the draft Section 6.C, referring to UWSA identifying training and educational resources. (Although UWSA intends to follow through on doing so, some Chancellors noted that this language seemed out of place in this particular policy.)
- One comment addressed the third paragraph of section 6.C and requested that it be deleted as trainings are coordinated at the campus level.
- This paragraph has been removed from the policy, though UWSA intends to follow through on identifying the resources.
- An additional comment expressed concerns about potential broad interpretation of the policy and recommended instead that UWSA require institutions to have a clearly articulated religious accommodations policy that allows students to receive religious accommodations as necessary.
- While campuses still maintain responsibility for and autonomy over their academic calendars, UWSA feels it is important to include this section on religious holidays in the systemwide policy on calendaring practices. Attempts have been made to minimize the burden on campuses by including the language “whenever reasonably practicable” to acknowledge that at times it may not be possible for campuses to avoid conflicts, by incorporating the word “major” with reference to religious holidays, and by UWSA committing to providing the multiyear information on religious holidays for campus reference.
- The requirement that institutions make resource materials available and designate an administrator to help in scheduling accommodations is intended to ensure that all UW institutions continue to provide these resources to their campus communities across the system. Attempts have been made to acknowledge existing campus religious accommodation policies and current practices by acknowledging that campuses may also “adopt a policy or policies designating other individuals” to help with accommodations scheduling, as already exist at many institutions.
- For examples of religious calendars, see the following resources:
- University of Louisville: University Policy on Work-Restricted Religious Holy Days
- University of Missouri Inclusion, Diversity & Equity:Dates, Practices & Accommodations
- Missouri State University Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Cultural and Religious Observances
- Chabad.org: Jewish Holidays
- North Carolina for Community and Justice: Interfaith Calendar