Religious Observance at Wellesley College
Our community’s principles of equity and inclusion undergird the college’s policy (see section below) on religious holidays, ensuring that students do not have to choose between important religious observances and academic, athletic, or extracurricular commitments.
Students may use the Religious Observance Notification Form to select from a number of common religious and spiritual holy days for the current semester. When students use the form, their instructors will receive automatic notifications of anticipated absences and/or work or food restrictions. This form does not take the place of students following up with their instructors to discuss and make arrangements for any work they may miss during their observance.
Students who intend to observe any religious holy day in a manner that necessitates missing class or work assignments should inform their instructors within the first two weeks of each semester, within the drop/add period, of their intent (even when the exact date of the day will not be known until later) so that alternative arrangements convenient to both students and faculty can be made at the earliest opportunity.
The College recognizes/observes the following national holidays: Martin Luther King Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and the day after, and New Year’s Day.
The College recognizes that, in addition to these secular holidays, there are religious days of observance that are important to individuals and groups on campus as well and for which students, faculty and staff may have observance requirements or unavoidable burdens of travel. Some religious days of observance affect the ability of College community members to participate in work, classes, and activities because of specific work and food restrictions associated with those days. Accommodations should be made accordingly for members of our community who practice faiths with restrictions on their daily life and work at the College.
For a list of commonly observed holy days, see the Religious Calendar. You can also add religious calendars by tradition to your Wellesley College Google calendar.
In consideration of their significance for many of our students, we ask that faculty take these days and restrictions into account, whenever possible, in preparing their syllabi. Students who observe these religious holy days should be given sufficient advance notice on the syllabus to make alternate arrangements and be afforded an opportunity to make up missed work in both laboratories and lecture courses. If an examination is given on the first class day after one of these days, faculty should take care that students absent at a particular day of observance should not be disadvantaged by being tested on material that was presented in their absence.
Students and faculty each have responsibilities to the other in negotiating the sometimes conflicting demands of religious observance and academic study. Students who intend to observe any religious holy day in a manner that necessitates missing class or work assignments should inform their instructors within the first two weeks, the drop/add period, of each semester of their intent (even when the exact date of the day will not be known until later) so that alternative arrangements convenient to both students and faculty can be made at the earliest opportunity.
Students who make such arrangements should not be required to attend classes or take examinations on the designated days, and faculty should make every effort to provide reasonable opportunities for such students to make up missed work and examinations. For this reason it is recommended that faculty, whenever possible, inform students of examination dates at the start of each semester. Although it is the students’ responsibility to identify needs for accommodation in regards to religious practice, we ask all faculty members to create an atmosphere where such a request is welcome.
Contact: Office of Religious and Spiritual Life | Billings 2nd floor | ORSL@wellesley.edu | 781.283.2685