The last week of classes at the University of Georgia coincides this year with Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights that is observed over eight days. The holiday can fall anywhere from late November to mid-December, sometimes allowing students to celebrate during breaks, but the exact dates change every year.
This year, Hanukkah starts Nov. 28 — the day before classes resume following the Thanksgiving Break – and ends on Dec. 6, which is the day before classes end for the fall semester.Why it’s Newsworthy: Hanukkah falls on Nov. 28-Dec. 6 this year, which coincides with the last days of classes at the University of Georgia. The timing presents a challenge for students and faculty of the Jewish faith, and some students say accommodations should be made for exams and project deadlines.
UGA’s Academic Affairs Policy Manual notes that the first day of class and registration periods are prohibited from being scheduled on a religious holiday. It also asks faculty members to be cognizant and understanding of religious holidays and to allow students to make up work that is missed or give an alternate assignment. It notes, “It is the responsibility of the instructor and student to determine the conditions under which work will be made up when a student misses class or other academic obligations because of a religious holiday.”
Some students said UGA’s schedule should be more inclusive to non-Christian religions and that faculty should allow Jewish students to have flexibility on deadlines and exam dates.
Lexi Alexander, freshman psychology major
“They could give a few more days off. It’s kind of more important to me, like, the stuff that I celebrate because obviously like, it’s part of my culture, it’s part of my religion.”
Hayden Swank, junior marketing major
“Some, a good bit of my friends here, with their beliefs and their religious practices, you know, it just (UGA’s holiday schedule) doesn’t line up. They’ll be counting their absences throughout the semester just trying to make sure that they, you know, have the days off to take off. That’s definitely really frustrating. It’s just really an inconvenience for those students.”
Ashley Whitley, junior exercise and sports science major
“If you claim to be as diverse as you are, you would give that space for people of all different kind of religions (on the UGA holiday schedule).”
Priscilla Jackson, sophomore film studies and theater major
“I’m not religious myself, but I do have Jewish friends. They don’t go here, but the same applies to the school they go to, and they’ve expressed their, like, frustrations with that because obviously that doesn’t happen for Christmas or New Years or anything.”
Patrick Connolly, fourth-year biology major
“I think the professors should be aware that there are students most likely who fall into that category, and they should make it an option.”
Kaylee York, first-year psychology and art major
“That would be pretty frustrating. Especially because it feels like they’re putting so much emphasis on Christian holidays … like students who have to go to class during Diwali … I feel like they should just have labeled it winter holidays because they are once again kind of overshadowing other religious holidays by using Christianity as a cover.”
Ryan Collins, freshman undecided major
“Well, I think you should have the same sort of rules for every religion and every holiday celebrated by each religion. (If) you’re going to make special accommodations for say, Christmas, you should for Hanukkah too … I would definitely be more stressed during the holidays if I had finals the week coming back (from Hanukkah).”
Alicia Mata, freshman criminal justice major
“I don’t think it’s fair. I feel like every student no matter what they celebrate or what their religion is, they should be treated the same.”
Jetta Hattaway, third year international affairs major with a certificate in sustainability
“I would say that (not having my faith’s holiday acknowledged) would probably be like a subconscious level of unworthiness.”
Mac Escalante, fifth year film and comparative literature major
“I think it’s also great because when you’re on a campus, you need to respect all religions, and having another holiday for Jewish students for Hanukkah would be great. I know that there are some other people that celebrate different holidays, you know, with Kwanzaa and then Ramadan for Muslims … I think when you have all of those other things on the calendar it would also have their religion recognized.”
Michelle Nguyen, sophomore undecided major
“I personally know someone that is Jewish. (It’s) important to them and their family, so, like, if they’re too busy meeting deadlines, they can’t really participate in that event. It’s not like losing your religion, but it’s like missing an important part that is like something that you should participate in.”
Photos and interviews by students in the religion reporting special topics course at the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia: Lindsey Allison, Ally Brewton, Mikaela Cohen, Haley Chambers, Maddie Daniel, Simone Eames, Carlie Gambino, Kate Hoffman, Jameson Keasler, Caroline McCraney, Cameron Noble, Caroline Odom, Brooklyn Reese and Riley Roberts.
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