By Elyssa Morris
According to the University of Maryland academic schedule, exams and reading day occasionally occur during Shabbat. This year, reading day, Saturday Dec. 14, specifically is on the Saturday of Shabbat. Observant students, who by religious practices, cannot write or do work on Shabbat.
Sara Schankerman, a junior kinesiology major, observes Shabbat and is unhappy with the university’s ability to schedule, “I think having exams on Shabbat is really inconsiderate, especially when we have such a significant Jewish population on campus. I have had numerous with finals being on Shabbat and most of my teachers have been really nice about it but some have not been accommodating at all.”
This semester is not the only instance this has happened. In addition to exams being over Shabbat, last semester it was over other Jewish holidays that follow similar religious obligations as Shabbat.
Schankerman explained, “Last year finals was on Shavuot and Shabbat so three out of the five days of finals week were a Jewish holiday. I ended up having to reschedule most of my tests which was super stressful. I also just think it’s unfair because they would never have finals on Sunday, but it’s okay to do it on Saturday when Jewish observance does not allow people to write.”
Although the university cannot necessarily avoid these conflicts, it does have policies in place for teachers to follow in order to accommodate for their students.
“I don’t have any conflicts thankfully this year, but in the past when I have had conflicts, teachers have definitely been very accommodating and have given me alternative dates for assignments or tests,” said Riva Bergel, a junior communications major.
Other than the policies for religious obligations already outlined, the university has not made other accommodations for students with these religious observances. It is up to the professor to make accommodations on their own time as well as the students.