Division News & Statements

Statement on Religious Inclusion at GVSU

December 19, 2019

Dear GVSU Community, 

As a reminder, Grand Valley maintains a Religious Inclusion Policy that commits the university to accommodate religious and faith observances and holidays for students, faculty, and staff members. 

Preliminary results from the 2019 myGVSU Climate Survey continue to remind us that Lakers hold a wide variety of beliefs and practice many faiths. While the majority of campus identifies as Christian, spiritual or non-religious, significant numbers of faculty, staff and students are adherents of other faiths, with the largest minority religious communities being Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist. The regular academic calendar already accommodates most Christian religious observances; the following are religious observances you should be aware of when scheduling activities. We encourage you to check course and event calendars soon to make alternative arrangements, if needed. The 2020 multifaith calendar also provides information on these observances, and others, and how they might be practiced (fasting, not working, not traveling, etc.).

Jewish Observances (usually non-working days and scheduling events should be avoided)

  • First Night of Passover: Begins at sunset April 8 (usually a non-working day)
  • (Note: the last day of Passover is April 16 but only the first day usually requires accommodation)
  • Rosh Hashanah: Begins at sunset on September 18 through September 20
  • Yom Kippur: Begins at sunset on September 27 through September 28

Muslim Observances (usually non-working days and scheduling events should be avoided)

  • Eid al Fitr (marks the end of Ramadan): Approximately May 25 (dependent on the Islamic lunar calendar so be sure to check the multifaith calendar)
  • (Note: Ramadan is April 23 through May 23 but only the end of Ramadan – Eid al Fitr – usually requires accommodation)
  • Eid al Adha: Begins at sunset on July 30 through July 31
  • Muharram: August 20
  • Ashura: August 29

Hindu Observances (usually working days and scheduling events are acceptable)

  • Holi: Begins at sunset on March 9 through March 10
  • Navratri: October17 through October 24
  • Dussehra: October 25
  • Diwali: November 14

Buddhist Observances (usually working days and scheduling events are acceptable)

  • Vesak: May 7 (may vary dependent on individual observance)
  • Bodhi Day: December 8

The Religious Inclusion Policy encourages faculty members to avoid scheduling exams or assigning work that would be due on religious holidays; or to provide individual alternative arrangements for those requesting accommodations. 

Universitywide events should be planned after reviewing the major religious observances and holidays listed above. Note this is not an exhaustive list, only observances/holidays that impact a majority of our faith-identified communities not already accommodated by general scheduling. 

Upon request, all religious observances should be accommodated per university policy. Students should refer to the Religious Inclusion Policy and complete an online accommodation request within the first two weeks of each semester; faculty and staff members should coordinate with supervisors well in advance of accommodation needs. 

Additional resources are available at gvsu.edu/campusinterfaith. If you have any questions, contact cir@gvsu.edu or 616-331-3207.

Very Sincerely, 

Jesse M. Bernal, Ph.D.
Vice President for Inclusion and Equity
Grand Valley State University

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