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Student Requests for a Religious Accommodation

American University will make good faith efforts to provide reasonable religious accommodations to students whose sincerely held religious beliefs conflict with a university policy, procedure, or other academic requirement unless such an accommodation would create an undue hardship.

In all cases, students should seek to make arrangements with the appropriate University office first, contacting professors, residential life, or dining services. If that effort fails or if the particular University office has questions, students may then request a reasonable religious accommodation by making a written request to the University Chaplain. If you are a student and have a request for such a reasonable religious accommodation, please fill out the form below. It is recommended that the request be made as soon as the student is aware to allow sufficient time to engage in an interactive process to identify an appropriate accommodation.

Once a request for a reasonable religious accommodation is submitted, the University Chaplain will initiate an interactive process to determine if the request can be accommodated as requested and, if not, what, if any, alternative accommodations can be made. The University may request the student provide information to support the need for an accommodation based on the student's sincerely held religious belief. The University Chaplain will also consult with others related to the student's request.

Reasonable religious accommodation requests will be made on a case‐by‐case basis taking into account factors including but not limited to: nature of the accommodation requested; duration of the request; alternative accommodations; financial impact; academic impact; and other related factors.

Missing Class for Observance of Holy Days

The most common request for a reasonable religious accommodation concerns class attendance during the observance of major religious holy days and celebrations. For a complete list of these holy days and observances, see the list of Major Religious Holy Days.

A religious accommodation is made to allow students to practice their religion. What this means is that the University will make a good faith effort to accommodate the exercise of your religious beliefs, but it does not mean that your accommodation will be exactly as you requested it. For example, it is a reasonable accommodation to allow you to miss class for a religious service taking place at the same time. It does not necessarily mean the University will accommodate extended periods of time to travel home to celebrate with one's family or home congregation. Students must consider that if the opportunity to participate in a religious observance exists that is an alternative to the sought after accommodation, this may factor into any decision. One example might be that a student requesting an absence from class for Ash Wednesday services at noon may not get an accommodation if there are other Ash Wednesday services later in the day when class is not in session. The accommodation ensures that students will be able to practice their religion; it does not automatically guarantee anything beyond that.

That is why the first step in any accommodation is for students to reach out to their professors early in the semester. Once the syllabus and class schedule have been distributed, students should check the class schedule against the list of major religious holy days to determine if there are any conflicts between class time and religious observance. Students should make arrangements with their faculty members for excused absences on those days to make up any work missed. If the faculty member is not amenable, a student may seek the help of the University Chaplain's office in determining whether a religious accommodation is warranted. This, too, should come as early as possible after having already attempted resolution with the professor. Generally, with the exception of emergencies, requests should not come later than two (2) weeks before the holy day in question.

Symbols of Religious Communities

Major Religious Holy Days

For a complete list of major religious holy days, including those for which mandatory observance and/or abstinence from work are required, click the link below.

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