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Letter: Students can balance religious and academic obligations

To the Editor:

Ethan Tobias' opinion column ("Not just a day off," Sept. 25) proposes the need for the University to adjust the calendar to accommodate High Holidays for Brown's beloved Jewish community and prompts my reply.

Herald readers know well that the breadth of identity gathered within the University's gates does cause a collision of calendars between the University's schedule and sacred seasons observed by many members of the Brown community. Our range of identity and practice require unusual sensitivity and responsibility by individuals and University policy. The balancing of these variables is always being accomplished, institutionally and individually.
In the past and going forward, adjustments to the University calendar are very occasionally made. But routinely, each student is asked proactively to anticipate these conflicts and to make arrangements to reschedule academic obligations when religious observance will prevent participation in the usual timing. Attentive Brunonians will observe this juggling being done on a daily basis by many throughout the academic year — a marvelous confirmation that a respectful and functional community can be created and kept amid a broad diversity of belief and practice.

Should any student need counsel or support in making these arrangements, the Chaplains and Brown's deans are ready to be of help.

While students may not be able to continue to observe sacred seasons at home, services and celebrations on campus become the sweet proof of the oft-asserted phrase that within Brunonia's halls we become "family." May this new season of Brown's religious diversity be a joy. We are well underway — Eid Mubarak! Shana Tova! and....

The Reverend Janet M. Cooper-Nelson
University Chaplain
Sept. 25


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