Division News & Statements

Message from Vice President Bernal: Religious Inclusion at GVSU

August 30, 2017

Dear GVSU Community,

As a reminder, Grand Valley maintains a Religious Inclusion Policy that commits the university to accommodate religious and faith observances and holidays for students, faculty and staff members.

The 2015 climate survey reminds us that campus community members hold a wide variety of beliefs and practice many faiths (see sample data here). While the majority of campus identifies as Christian, spiritual or non-religious, significant numbers of faculty, staff, and students are adherents of other faiths, with the largest minority religious communities being Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist. The regular academic calendar already accommodates most Christian religious observances; the following are religious observances you should be aware of when scheduling activities. We encourage you to check course and event calendars soon to make alternative arrangements, if needed. The multifaith calendar also provides information on these observances, and others, and how they might be practiced (fasting, not working, not traveling, etc.).

Jewish Observances (usually non-working days and scheduling events should be avoided)

  • Rosh Hashanah: Begins at sunset on September 20 through September 22
  • Yom Kippur: Begins at sunset on September 29 through September 30
  • First Night of Passover: Begins at sunset March 30, 2018 (usually a non-working day)
  • (Note: the last day of Passover is April 7, 2018, but only the first day usually requires accommodation)

Muslim Observances (usually non-working days and scheduling events should be avoided)

  • Eid al Adha: Begins at sunset on August 31 through September 1
  • Muharram: September 21 through October 19 (celebrations of any kind are avoided)
  • Ashura: Begins at sunset on September 29 through September 30 (usually a non-work day)
  • Eid al Fitr (marks the end of Ramadan): Approximately June 15, 2018 (dependent on the Islamic lunar calendar so be sure to check the multifaith calendar)
  • (Note: Ramadan is May 16 through June 14, 2018, but only the end of Ramadan – Eid al Fitr – usually requires accommodation)

Hindu Observances (usually working days and scheduling events are acceptable)

  • Navratri: September 20-30
  • Dussehra: September 30
  • Diwali: October 18-19
  • Holi: Begins at sunset on March 1 through March 2, 2018

Buddhist Observances (usually working days and scheduling events are acceptable)
(Dates included in the original 8/30/17 email were incorrect. Please note correct dates below.)

  • Buddha’s Enlightenment Day: December 8, 2017
  • Buddha’s Birthday: May 29, 2018 (may vary dependent on individual observance)

The Religious Inclusion Policy encourages faculty members to avoid scheduling exams or assigning work that would be due on religious holidays; or to provide individual alternative arrangements for those requesting accommodations.

University-wide events should be planned after reviewing the major religious observances and holidays listed above. Note this is not an exhaustive list, only observances/holidays that impact a majority of our faith-identified communities not already accommodated by general scheduling.

Upon request, all religious observances should be accommodated per university policy. Students should refer to the Religious Inclusion Policy and complete an online accommodation request at http://www.gvsu.edu/inclusion/religious-request.htm within the first two weeks of each semester; faculty and staff members should coordinate with supervisors well in advance of accommodation needs.

Additional resources are available at http://www.gvsu.edu/campusinterfaith/.

If you have any questions, contact at inclusion@gvsu.edu or 616-331-3296.

Very sincerely,

Jesse M. Bernal, Ph.D.
Vice President for Inclusion and Equity

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Page last modified August 30, 2017