Muslim students celebrated Eid al-Adha, one of the most significant holidays on the Islamic calendar, from Wednesday evening through Thursday evening last week. However, despite the fact that classes were canceled for Jewish holidays four weeks in a row, the university did not give students the day off. Rather, the Multifaith Chaplaincy sent out an email through the Department of Students and Enrollment giving basic background on the holiday.
To give a day off of school for Yom Kippur and other Jewish holidays, but not even publicize accommodations for Muslim students observing Eid al-Adha is unfair, especially after all the time and resources the university put into accommodating Jewish students celebrating the High Holidays.
“Students were welcome to approach their professors and academic advisors in regard to making accommodations for Eid festivities,” Interim Chaplain Maryam Sherreiff wrote in an email to The Brandeis Hoot. Still, Muslim students were not given any official accommodations by the university at large.
In a list of guidelines developed by the Committee for the Support of Teaching, the university states that “should a student need to miss class for religious reasons, the absence should be excused” from classes and coursework.
According to BrandeisNow, the university’s annual Break the Fast event hosted at the end of Yom Kippur required 5,000 bagels, nearly 2,000 deviled eggs and 200 pounds of kosher cheese. Sherman Dining Hall and other facilities were closed during this time, and the Yom Kippur Break the Fast coincided with a Muslim break-fast. This was not in any way publicized, but it is a fact that should have been acknowledged in the university’s email inviting students to the Break the Fast event.
While there is a large Jewish student population at Brandeis, we are also a diverse community that purports to dedicate itself to inclusivity and social justice. As it stands, Muslim holidays are being brushed aside. We acknowledge that the administration is not acting maliciously or seeking to exclude non-Jewish students, but as with many issues The Hoot has addressed, there is a simple solution Brandeis is not taking. To create a campus that truly matches both social progress and the university’s founding values, Brandeis must be bold in its steps. It must show that it is willing to go out of its way to make all students, regardless of faith, feel welcome, celebrated and nourished.
In past editorials, we have argued for Brandeis to take strides that may not be easy. This, however is an easy stride and one that should already have been taken.