Religious diversity up at MU

Faculty Council plans to vote on changes to the religious observance policy.
Thursday, March 10, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:13 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Next year, MU students may be able to request excused absences for religious obligations.

Now, it is up to the teacher.

In today’s MU Faculty Council meeting, council members are expected to vote on a policy for religious observances.

“This comes up routinely, and it’s very difficult to deal with because the world has so many religions and religions have many holidays,” said Interim Provost Lori Franz at the last council meeting.

The policy includes three parts:

A change to the 2007-08 academic calendar encouraging faculty to accommodate students who have a conflict with a class, test or activity because of religious obligations.

A policy addition to the faculty handbook also encouraging the cooperation of faculty and providing the Web page for an interfaith calendar.

A request to the provost for the inclusion of a statement on all class syllabi asking students to request an excused absence and ask for makeup information as soon as the students realize a religious obligation might conflict with a class, test or activity.

This policy for religious observance was developed partly because of the increase in religious observances as the campus becomes more diverse.

The council will also look at diversity reports of two task forces being presented by council member Eileen Porter.

“One task force is to see if there are things to be done by the council on behalf of the campus (for diversity),” Faculty Council Chairman Gordon Christensen said. “The second is to see if we need to improve diversity on the council itself. There have been some concerns that there are not enough people of ethnic diversity on the executive committee.”

In other business, the council will also vote on the approval of campus guidelines for incentive compensation programs. These guidelines provide transparency in developing incentive procedures for a program. Charles Sampson, chairman of the council’s Fiscal Affairs Committee, has encouraged the council to approve these guidelines.

Finally, the council will continue discussion, which began about one month ago, concerning changing the language in the Faculty Handbook to allow faculty greater flexibility of whether to use the plus/minus grading system.

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