SGA looks to excuse religious holidays

Photo by Michael James

The Student Government Association (SGA) Student Regulations Committee aims to make religious holidays a more full experience for practicing students on Tech’s campus.

A new bill, authored  by SGA’s  vice president of Academic Affairs Adam Greenstein, aims to remove academic penalties for observing religious holidays otherwise not covered by days where classes are not in session.

“Georgia Tech is a diverse campus, and we aspire to be an Institute that embraces and leverages diversity in all its forms,” Greenstein said when asked about this proposed resolution. “With this diversity comes commitment to a variety of religious institutions, which occasionally requires activity that conflicts with academic responsibilities.”

The policy is described as a means of adding a safeguard for both students and instructors in regards to religious holidays.

To students, it would mean being able to be excused from class on holidays. To instructors, it would ensure that excused days are justified and would prevent unreasonable disturbances or expectations as a result of this change. Furthermore, the policy was drafted to be flexible in regards to which holidays can be taken off.

“Because of the wide variety of religious holidays and levels of observance, we did not feel that it was appropriate to list which holidays would be excused,” Greenstein said.

Greenstein also explained that this policy does not go above the honor code, and that attempts to abuse this new freedom would be treated as a honor code violation.

Should a dispute arise, the Student Academic and Financial Affairs Committee would arbitrate.

“This will help provide equal academic opportunity to all students, regardless of religion … and will help to reduce confusion due to the current policy,”
Greenstein said. “But the biggest challenge is going to be creating a communication plan so that students and faculty are informed of the new policy, if it is approved. The policy has been approved by Student Regulations and SAFAC and will need to be approved by the faculty senate and GT Legal.”

The resolution, Bill 16J172, was voted on by the Undergraduate House of Representatives on Feb. 10 and received unanimous acceptance.

The bill will next be voted on in the Graduate Student Senate.