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Negotiating for Religious Accommodations Doesn’t Come Easily on Campus

Qur'an (Image by Pexels from Pixabay)

On some campuses, religious accommodations don’t come easily to students.

Prayer facilities, religious accommodations and student clubs are factors students must consider when choosing a university, according to U.S. News.

Ramadan
Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

But while many colleges provide these resources, students are feeling pressured to take matters into their own hands. 

Madi Kelley, a Colorado State University student, requested the month of April off of work for Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and prayer. However, when requesting the month off for religious observation, she found herself having to negotiate.

“I did have a moment where it felt like I was having to figure out when I could come in during Ramadan instead of them trying to figure anything out,” Kelley said. 

It’s been more than two years since Kelley converted to Islam. While she didn’t notice other religious holidays until converting and coming to college, she realized how much students had to go out of their way to receive accommodations.

Ronald Kwon and Kevin McCaffree’s study found: “In countries that have instituted greater religious accommodations, Muslim respondents generally report higher levels of religiosity.”

OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM

Even outside the educational environment, those in need of religious accommodations often find themselves having to negotiate for them.

Shay Jennings, Kelley’s roommate and fellow Muslim, works in Fort Collins, Colo., U.S.A. In the past, she’s had to put the most effort into negotiating even two days off for religious observations.

In the past, Jennings said, “I was the one that had to figure stuff out instead of my boss trying to figure something out.”

The secularization of Western Europe, combined with the historical legacy of Christianity, potentially present little in the way of public space for religiously active Muslims.

Kwon and McCaffree

CURRENT CONDITIONS

That is not to say universities are failing their students completely. Kelley found that many professors were genuine in their efforts to accommodate her needs. On the part of the administration, however, it seems to be only half measures. 

Qur'an (Image via Pixabay)
Image by Joko Narimo from Pixabay

“They have a form, there’s been an error page every time I’ve looked. But they have a form that you’re supposed to be able to fill out or you just have to go out of your way to email teachers and get permission for those days off,” Kelley said.  

Instead, Kelley and others would often email their professors individually to fulfill their accommodations.

“I don’t think there’s as much work that’s put in particularly on behalf of the administration to make some of these resources clear to students or make it a little bit easier on the side of the students in getting these accommodations,” she said.

Many like Kelley and Jennings have similar stories of their own regarding the shortcomings of religious accommodations worldwide. It’s an example that while schools can preach inclusivity, it’s all about actually practicing what they preach. 

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