Religious Accommodation Guidance
Guidance and supplemental resources for religious inclusion.
The Religious Accommodation Guidance helps ensure that students are not unduly prevented from observing their religious practices; it does not necessarily guarantee the observance of that practice at a particular time or in a particular location. VCU will make good faith efforts to provide reasonable religious accommodations to students who have sincerely held religious beliefs that impact their ability to comply with a university policy, procedure, or other academic requirement (unless such an accommodation would create an undue hardship). Please see VCU’s Preventing and Responding to Discrimination policy (Protected Identity & 4.4.C.) for specific information on reasonable accommodations.
To receive a religious accommodation, the religious observance must be one required by one's religious tradition. The mere intersection of religion with the desired activity (e.g. weddings, baccalaureate services, etc.) does not guarantee that a religious accommodation will be granted. Further, accommodations for religious observance may not be granted if the observance could be done at a time other than class time or at a location other than the preferred location (e.g. if there are additional services at other times, or services offered on campus versus at a home congregation).
For religion-specific support or questions, contact the Interfaith Campus Ministries Association (ICMA).
Academic and Attendance Accommodations
It is the policy of VCU to afford students, on an individual basis, the opportunity to observe their traditional religious holidays. Students wishing to observe a religious holiday of special importance must provide advance written notification to each instructor by the end of the second week of classes. On these dates, instructors are encouraged to avoid scheduling one-time-only activities that cannot be replicated. Faculty members are expected to make reasonable academic accommodations for students who are absent because of religious observance through such strategies as providing alternative assignments or examinations, granting permission for audio or video recordings or the use of the Internet. Students are responsible for making up any missed work as soon as possible and through mutual agreement with the instructor. Please see the University Bulletin for specific information on attendance regulations and the Academic Calendar for more information about advance notification date requirements.
If students are Sabbath-observant, they must make this fact known to their professors for any course in which Sabbath work is required. Some religious traditions adhere to Sabbath observance beginning at sundown the previous evening. This can impact a student’s ability to participate in certain coursework, particularly during the winter months when sundown occurs much earlier in the evening. Further, work prohibitions on the Sabbath can vary substantially between religious traditions, and students should clarify with their professors how strictly their religion adheres to Sabbath work prohibitions.
Religious Holy Days
VCU students, faculty, and staff represent a variety of religious backgrounds and faiths, including those who subscribe to no religion or are non-observant. There are many widely observed religious holidays (some of which may be more familiar to faculty than others). To create and maintain an inclusive and respectful space, regardless of religious belief or non-belief, faculty and staff should keep the following guidelines and best practices in mind whenever possible. The most common request for a reasonable religious accommodation concerns class attendance during the observance of major religious holy days and celebrations (see the chart below).
These calendars are a comprehensive but not exhaustive list of many major holy days of those traditions listed; religious holy days from traditions not listed may also require accommodation. If you see an error or would like to request adding additional holy day(s), please email email@example.com.
Contact the appropriate department below for further guidance related to religious accommodations.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information about religious accommodations for meal plans at the earliest possible opportunity after admission.
Contact email@example.com for information about religious accommodations for housing at the earliest possible opportunity after admission; ideally, this should be done before housing is requested.
Medical and Immunization Accommodations
As with housing and dining accommodations, medical accommodations should be made at the earliest possible opportunity after admission. For questions related to immunizations, contact 804-827-8047. Requirements differ depending on the degree; please contact University Student Health Services for more information.