State law mandates that any student with a conflict between an academic requirement and any religious observance must be given an alternative for meeting the academic requirement. The law also stipulates that students be given a mechanism by which they can conveniently and confidentially notify an instructor of the conflict. A student’s claim of a religious conflict, which may include travel time, should be accepted at face value. A great variety of valid claims exist for religious groups, and there is no practical, dignified, and legal means to assess the validity of individual claims.
The following three guidelines that have been developed to provide clarity for both students and instructors: (1) Announce early in the semester that your students must notify you within the first two weeks of class of the specific days or dates on which they request relief. Including this information on your course syllabus is encouraged, to make sure your students are informed of the policy. (2) Make‑ups may be scheduled before or after the regularly scheduled requirements. (3) It is understood that instructors may set reasonable limits on the total number of days claimed by any one student. Occasionally, students may not fully understand the necessity for prior notice, and under these circumstances we urge you to be as flexible as possible. Our policy seeks to be sensitive to the needs of individual students.
Some religions mark observances over multiple days, which may begin at sunset on the day preceding the posted date(s) of the holiday.
See interfaith-calendar.org for a listing, though not exhaustive, of religious holidays. Please refer to the calendar at secfac.wisc.edu/academic-calendar/ to compare with the UW-Madison academic calendar. Before the Spring, Summer, and Fall semesters, a religious observances memo will be updated on the academic calendar page with a number of major religious holidays that coincide with the dates of the semester. While we attempt to be inclusive with these lists, we recognize that it is beyond the scope of the memo to be exhaustive. Instructors should be accommodating of students’ claim to religious conflict whether or not a given observance is mentioned in these listings.