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RISD embraces a diverse population of students, including those with religious affiliations and others who don’t practice any specific faith. The Religious Observance Policy communicates the college’s official policy and provides guidance to students on how to support requests for religious observances while maintaining RISD’s commitment to its academic mission.
on religious observance for RISD students:
Absence for Religious Holy Days
RISD respects the religious beliefs of all members of
the community, affirms their rights to observe significant religious holy days,
and will make reasonable accommodations, upon request, for such observances. If
one’s religious observance is in conflict with the academic experience, the
student is welcome to inform his/her instructor(s) of class or other
school-functions that will be affected.
It is the student’s responsibility to make the necessary arrangements
mutually agreed upon by the instructor(s).
Types of instances
/ absences that the policy supports:
- Class absence -
excused absence from a scheduled academic class / classes due to a religious
conflict that falls on the same day as the class itself. Missing a class due to travel associated with
a particular holiday does not constitute an excused absence and faculty do not
have to consider such requests for accommodations.
- Missed exam –
excused absence from an exam scheduled on a date / time in conflict with a
religious holy day. Reasonable accommodations can be made to take the exam
earlier or later than the date / time in conflict. If instructors require a
make up exam, they retain the right to determine the content of the exam, the
conditions of its administration, with considerations given to equitable
treatment. Missing an exam due to travel
associated with a particular holiday does not constitute an excused absence and
faculty do not have to consider such requests for accommodations.
- Deadline conflict
– reasonable accommodations for academic work that is due on a date / time in
conflict with a religious holy day. In
such cases work can be submitted earlier or later than the date in
conflict. Missing a deadline due to
travel associated with a particular holiday does not constitute an excused
absence and faculty do not have to consider such requests for accommodations.
Process and Expectations
requesting absence from class, excuse from an exam day, or accommodations with
an academic deadline, should notify the faculty member(s) as soon as the
conflict is identified. Out of respect
for the academic process, students should notify faculty no later than three
weeks into the academic term.
Steps / Tips for working with your
- Make contact with
your instructor(s) well in advance, ideally at the beginning of the academic
term. Review the course syllabus and
identify dates in potential conflict with your religious observance.
- Speak with your
instructor(s) about and submit in writing the dates(s) and time(s) you plan to
absent. This should be done no later than three weeks into the academic term
- Be prepared to
discuss the personal, social, or cultural relevance of your request to be
excused for religious observance.
- Discuss if,
realistically, you need to be absent for all or part of the class.
- Present potential
alternatives if you’re planning to be absent during a critical class session.
- Discuss how you
plan to obtain missed info or materials due to your absence. Absence from class does not necessarily
excuse you from any information shared during the missed class or other class
If a student feels
that a reasonable accommodation is being denied, she or he should discuss the
issue with the relevant department head.
If after speaking with the department head, the student feels that
reasonable accommodation is being denied, she or he should discuss the issue
with the Dean of that division who will serve as the final authority. Student can seek advice or guidance at any
point by speaking with the Assistant Dean for Campus Life, or the Office of