Minnesota students struggle with religious holiday requests
Nov. 12, 2017
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Students at the University of Minnesota who request time off for religious holidays are looking to make the university's religious climate more sensitive to their needs.
Students can request time off for holidays not included on the school's academic calendar, which includes days off for some Christian observances, the Minnesota Daily reported.
University senior Imane Ait Daoud said the policy can make some students feel uncomfortable for having to draw attention to themselves.
"I think for many students it's really hard to ask for a holiday off," Daoud said. "Sometimes people just don't and skip."
Daoud received a $5,000 grant from the Interfaith Youth Core to address the campus's religious climate. She hopes to hold workshops to create more conversation about interfaith relations and create an interfaith office on campus.
Lauren Rheingans, the Wesley Foundation's United Methodist minister, said she believes Christians get a lot of privilege on campus.
"I have never had to make a decision between ... going to church on Christmas, and taking a final. That just doesn't happen," Rheingans said. "The reality is that a large population of the world is having to make those choices."
Having to seek out religious accommodations can negatively impact students' mental health, said Arjun Sharma, a junior at the university.
"Think about it being Christmas or Thanksgiving and you wake up on that day and nobody says anything about it ... it's just another day which has been a big part of your life, and now it's something you suddenly have to adjust and acclimate to," Sharma said.
The university's policies aim to make campus feel accepting for those of all religious beliefs, said Tina Marisam, director and Title IX coordinator at the University's Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.
Information from: The Minnesota Daily, http://www.mndaily.com/