March 25, 2012
State University of New York at Stony Brook has decided to no longer cancel classes for major Christian and Jewish holidays in an effort to ensure that some religions are not given special treatment and to "afford equal support and equal respect to students and faculty from all faiths."
Jewish students would be impacted on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover and Holy Week. Christian students would be impacted on Good Friday. The Christmas holiday is protected under a union contract and occurs when classes are traditionally not in session.
The university had considered allowing faculty to schedule exams on Saturday and Sunday -- a time when many students attend worship services. However, that decision was tabled after reaching a compromise with students.
"As a secular university, as a state-funded university our priority must be to maximize instructional opportunities for our students," said Charles Robbins, vice provost for undergraduate education. "First and foremost, it's important to note that while I respect everyone's concerns, the reality is it's a relatively small number of people who are upset."
Robbins told FOX News Radio the university's decision to stop canceling classes for Christian and Jewish holidays offers "equal protection under the regulations to everybody and no one is getting quote, unquote, special treatment."