Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

Spiritual Life



The following policies are in place in an effort to create an affirming environment for persons of faith at Southwestern.  If you have any questions about these policies, please contact us.

Policies on Religious Holiday Absences

Please note that this policy is a separate policy from the “University Policies Related To Religious Observance Days and University Events” that is also included in this memo. Students may select days of religious observance absence according to their own preference and need.


The following is the Religious Holidays Policy, as stated in the Student Handbook and Faculty Handbook:

Religious Holidays Absence:  Southwestern University recognizes that it has students from a variety of religious and cultural traditions that have special days of observance or celebration that may take students out of their regular activities on certain days during the school year. Since the academic calendar does not always coincide with these days, the following policy is to be followed in order to facilitate student absences due to cultural and religious observances.

Students’ classroom responsibilities:

As far in advance as possible, the student is expected to notify the professor(s) or instructor(s) of the class(es) to be missed

The student is expected to learn what assignments or exams are due or will be assigned on those dates and negotiate with the professor(s) or instructor(s) alternate times for fulfilling those requirements. Students should be prepared to fulfill the requirements prior to the class(es) to be missed.


As found in the Staff Handbook under Employee Benefits - Holidays:

The University will make reasonable accommodations to employees who wish to observe religious holidays that do not fall on one of the “traditional” holidays by allowing the employee to take such a day off. This time off may be without pay or employees may use accrued vacation time. In addition, the President may designate certain religious holidays that may be substituted for other holidays.

In working with student employees, the practice may also include a change in work hours, in a given pay period, to accommodate absences due to religious observances.


Faculty Absence from Classes and Substitutes Policy, as stated in the Faculty Handbook:

Faculty members are expected to meet all classes for which they are scheduled. Necessary absences should be reported in advance to the department chair. Department chairs should report their own absences to the Provost. In cases of extended absences, the department chair should notify the Provost of the Dean of the School of Fine Arts, when applicable, about the use of substitute teachers.

Policies on Scheduling Special Events and Priority Events

(From the Faculty Handbook) 


All academic scheduling (classes, labs, etc.) is handled by the Registrar’s Office and takes precedence in event scheduling and facilities usage. The Academic Calendar is approved a year in advance by the Academic Affairs Council and the Faculty. No events involving students are to be scheduled during the periods designated as “study days” and “final examinations” at the end of each semester. Meetings involving faculty may be scheduled during the period from the beginning of final examinations through the deadline for semester grades only if there is urgent semester-end business to be transacted. Exceptions to these restrictions must be approved in advance by the Provost.


The following priority events have been identified as events which students, faculty, and staff should not be denied the opportunity to attend because of a conflicting meeting or event:

  • All Chapel Services (see dates and times below)
  • All Homecoming activities
  • Brown Symposium
  • Commencement and other special convocations (e.g., Matriculation and Honors Convocations)
  • Parent Orientation events
  • Registration
  • Shilling Lecture Series
  • Student Forums
  • Student Works Symposium
  • Study days and final examinations
  • Writer’s Voice

Chapel Services

  • Thursday Chapel services, 11:25am-12:15pm
  • Orientation worship service, Sunday, August 14, 2016, 11:00am-12:00pm
  • Homecoming worship service, Sunday, November 6, 2016, 10:30am-11:30am
  • Candlelight worship services, Thursday, December 1, 2016, 6:00pm & 8:00pm
  • Ash Wednesday worship service, Wednesday, March 1, 2017, 12:30pm-1:00pm
  • Baccalaureate worship service, Friday, May 5, 2017, 7:00pm-8:00pm

Religious Holidays

In addition to the above priority events and Chapel Services, the University recognizes the following traditional religious holidays in respect of the diverse faith traditions of our campus community and in an effort to allow as many people as possible to attend commonly observed religious holidays. University events should not be scheduled during the following holidays; these are events which either (1) require attendance, (2) may not be mandatory, but those not attending would miss an important opportunity to be included in a campus event, and/or (3) are one-time opportunities for participants to receive the services offered. Please note that these are the North American dates and the Islamic holidays are tentative and subject to change, based on the best visibility estimates of the lunar crescent.

  • Eid al-Fitr, July 7, 2016 (begins at sundown on July 6)
  • Eid al-Adha, September 13, 2016 (begins at sundown on September 12)
  • Rosh Hashanah, October 3-4, 2016 (begins at sundown on October 2)
  • Yom Kippur, October 12, 2016 (begins at sundown on October 11)
  • Christmas Day, December 25, 2016
  • Pesach, April 11-12, 2017 (first two days, begins at sundown on April 10)
  • Good Friday, April 14, 2017
  • Easter, April 16, 2017

The following events should not be scheduled on the religious holidays noted above:

  • Board of Trustees Meetings
  • Board of Visitors Meetings
  • Brown Symposium
  • Career Fairs
  • Commencement and other special convocations
  • Family Days
  • Final Examinations
  • Housing sign-ups
  • Homecoming
  • Mall Ball
  • Matriculation Convocation
  • Prospective Student Visit Programs
  • Scholarship Interview Days
  • Shilling Lecture
  • Student Orientation/Parent Orientation
  • Student Forums
  • Writer’s Voice

Religious Absences

Because the religious holidays listed above reflect some, but not all, of the most commonly observed holidays, the University policies also permit any student to miss class in order to observe any religious or cultural holidays that are part of their tradition, including holidays that are not listed above. Students are expected to negotiate these absences with their professors as far in advance as possible and fulfill missed assignments prior to the absence.

Additionally, University policies permit faculty and staff, including student employees, to miss work in order to observe religious and cultural holidays that are part of their tradition, including holidays that are not listed above. This time off may be without pay or taken as accrued vacation time, and in the case of student employees, it can include a change in work hours within a pay period to accommodate the absence. The University policy notes that faculty members are still expected to meet their class schedules and should work with their Department chair or the Provost to arrange these absences.