University Policy on Absences

University policy grants students excused absences from class for observance of religious holy days. Faculty are asked to be responsive to requests when students contact them IN ADVANCE to request such an excused absence. The student should be given an opportunity to make up missed work because of religious observance.

The Deans of Religious Life recommend that faculty not schedule an exam on a major holy day or plan something that cannot be made up afterwards. They are also asked to keep in mind that some holy days require additional time for preparation or travel before and/or after the actual observance.

Students are advised to scan their syllabi at the beginning of each course to detect potential conflicts with their religious observances. Please note that this applies only to the sort of holy day that necessitates absence from class and/or whose religious requirements clearly conflict with aspects of academic performance.

The holy days calendar represents most, not necessarily all, holidays, with Jewish holy days most likely to conflict.  Observant Jewish students will need accommodation for tests scheduled on Saturday, the Sabbath.  Please contact the Office of Religious Life at 213-740-6110 or orsl@usc.edu when doubtful cases arise, if you have questions, or if you have suggestions for next year’s calendar. You can also write directly to Varun Soni, Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life.

We recommend that faculty allow Jewish students to observe Passover on April 9th and 10th, 2020.  Please also be aware that many of our Muslim students will be observing Ramadan for a month starting April 24, 2020, fasting from sunrise to sundown.

For Students:

The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life stands ready to assist you with religious accommodation.  We strongly recommend that you contact your instructors/professors at the very beginning of the semester in order to inform them of your needed accommodations.  If you are unable to work out a plan for needed accommodation with your instructor, contact us at orsl@usc.edu or 213-740-6110 as soon as possible so that we can assist you.

For Faculty:

Please be responsive to requests by enabling students who contact you in advance to make up work missed because of religious observance.  See our list of holy days HERE.  We recommend that, at the beginning of your course, you announce that students who will need religious accommodation come to you right away to work out a plan.  We recommend that you avoid scheduling an exam on a major holy day or planning something that cannot be made up afterwards.

In the case of Jewish holy days, the observance begins the evening (sundown) before the listed dates.

Exam dates that fall on Saturdays will present a conflict for observant Jewish and Seventh Day Adventist students who keep the Sabbath from Friday evening to Saturday evening.

For many years to come, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, with fasting from dawn to dusk, will fall within the academic calendar.  Please be sensitive to the needs of our Muslim students who may need to break the fast during evening classes and exams.

For Parents:

The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life stands ready to support your students should they need assistance in getting the religious accommodation they deserve.  Encourage them to become familiar with our University policy and suggest that they contact their professors at the very beginning of the semester in order to work out a plan for accommodation.  Feel free to contact us with questions or concerns: orsl@usc.edu or 213-740-6110 .