Faculty Guidelines

Guidelines for Faculty: Accommodating Religious Observance

As a non-sectarian institution, Allegheny College affirms the variety of religions represented within our community and supports individual and group ritual practice. We urge flexibility and consideration of religious practice in both curricular and co-curricular planning.

College policy includes religious holidays as legitimate reasons to miss class, and students should contact professors in advance. Faculty are encouraged to include a note in course syllabi, such as the following: “If you need to miss class due to a religious observance, please speak to me in advance to make arrangements to cover material from that day.”

The dates for religious holy days that members of our community may be observing are listed below, with descriptions and suggested accommodations related to coursework, dietary restrictions, and ritual practice. Please contact the Spiritual and Religious Life Office for additional information, or with suggestions of other steps that can help foster respect for religious diversity in our community.

Religious Calendar for 2019-2020

Jewish holidays begin on sundown of the first day listed.
Islamic holidays may vary a day or two; dates will be finalized shortly before the holidays occur.

Major Holy Days

Please avoid scheduling exams, field trips, or other activities that would be difficult for students to make up, and accommodate students who miss class on these days. Faculty meetings and important campus-wide events are also discouraged on these dates.

Aug. 10-11 Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice; Islamic three-day celebration at the end of the Hajj)
Sep. 29-Oct. 1 Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)
Oct. 8-9 Yom Kippur (Jewish Day of Atonement)
Dec. 25 Christmas (Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus)
Apr. 8-9 First two days of Passover (Jewish week-long observance of the Exodus from Egypt)
Apr. 12 Easter (Christian celebration of Christ’s resurrection)
Apr 23-May 23 Ramadan (Islamic month of fasting; most Muslims will continue daily activity, but suggested accommodations based on dietary restrictions are below)
May 23-24 Eid al-Fitr (Islamic celebration at the end of Ramadan)

Religious Rituals

Participation in these rituals may affect attendance at classes or other campus events.

Nov. 1 All Saints Day (Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics) Required Mass,
12:15-1:00 pm
Dec. 8 Immaculate Conception (Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics) Required Mass,
6:30 pm
Feb. 26 Ash Wednesday (Christian first day of Lent) Campus service,
4:30-5:30 pm
Apr. 10 Good Friday (Christian observance of Jesus’ death and burial) Campus service,
12:15-1:00 pm

Dietary Accommodations

  • Jews do not eat pork and do not eat meat and dairy in the same meal. Muslims also refrain from pork, as well as alcohol, and some require meat that is halal. Parkhurst is familiar with these dietary requirements and can accommodate them at catered events, given advance notice.
  • The following holy days involve dietary restrictions that have implications for events at which food is served. During times of fasting, you may also consider offering take-home exams or other alternatives that would allow students to engage in coursework during times of peak efficiency. 
Oct. 8-9 Yom Kippur: Jews fast from sundown Oct. 8 until sundown Oct. 9
Feb. 26-Apr. 9 Lent: Christians may fast from meat on Fridays or engage in other forms of fasting
Mar. 2-20 Month of Fasting: Baha’is do not eat or drink between sunup and sundown
Apr. 8-16 Passover: Jews eat no leavened bread and may observe other dietary restrictions. (Note: Please include Kosher for Passover options at any catered events this week.)
Apr. 24 -May 23 Ramadan: Muslims fast daily from food and drink from sunrise until sunset


Additional Holy Days

  • Members of our community may be celebrating these holidays. Specific campus services and customs are noted.
  • In addition to minor holidays in religions that are well-represented on campus, we have also included major ritual days in under-represented religions. Please note that these holidays are as important for those involved as Yom Kippur is for Jews or Easter is for Christians. Those students should be accommodated if they need to miss class.

General notes:

  • Work is suspended on the Baha’i holidays listed below.
  • Society of Buddhist and Hindu Students (SBHS) and/or South Asian Club may host celebrations of Hindu holy days.
  • Earth Spiritualities club may hold rituals on or around Pagan festivals.
Jul. 9 Martyrdom of the Bab (Death of the herald of the Baha’i faith)*
Aug. 1 Lughnassad, or Lammas (Pagan celebration of the beginning of harvest)
Aug. 23 Krishna Janmashtami (Hindu festival celebrating birth of Krishna)
Sep. 10 Ashura (Shi‘ite holy day commemorating the martyrdom of Husayn b. ‘Ali)
Sep. 22 Harvest, or Mabon (Pagan ritual of thanksgiving for fruits of the earth)
Sep. 29-Oct. 8 Navaratri (Hindu festival honoring the goddess Durga)
Oct. 8 Dussehra, or Dasara (Hindu celebration of victories by several gods and goddesses)
Oct. 13-20 Sukkot (Jewish week-long Festival of Booths)
Hillel builds and decorates outdoor booth, or sukkah, and holds blessing and meals inside
Oct. 20 Birth of the Bab (Herald of Baha’i faith)*
Oct. 27 Diwali (Hindu Festival of Lights)
Nov. 1 Samhain (Pagan festival honoring those who have died)
Nov. 10 Mawlid al-Nabi (Observance of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday)
Dec. 1-24 Advent (Christian season of preparation for Christmas)
Candlelight Christmas Service in Ford Chapel, Dec. 9, at 7:00 pm
Dec. 21 Yule, or Winter Solstice (Pagan observance of the winter solstice)
Dec. 22-30 Hanukkah (Jewish eight-day Festival of Lights)
Dec. 26-Jan. 1 Kwanzaa (African American cultural festival)
Jan. 6 Epiphany (Christian celebration of Jesus’ manifestation to Gentiles)
Jan. 28-29 Tu B’Shvat (Jewish Arbor Day)
Jan. 30 Saraswati Puja, or Vasant Panchami (Hindu springtime festival)
Feb. 2 Imbolc (Pagan celebration of the beginning of spring)
Feb. 15 Nirvana Day (Buddhists mark death of Buddha’s physical body, achieving full Nirvana)
Feb. 22 Maha Shivratri (Hindu festival of the god Shiva)
Feb. 25 Shrove Tuesday (Day before season of Lent begins, a.k.a. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday)
Pancake Supper, 5 pm, in Schultz Banquet Hall
Mar. 10-11 Purim (Jewish Feast of Lots)
Hillel may hold Purim party or carnival
Mar. 10-11 Holi (Hindu Festival of Colors)
Mar. 20 Ostara (Pagan festival at the vernal equinox)
Mar. 21 Naw-Rúz (First day of Baha’i calendar)
Apr. 5 Palm Sunday (Christian observance of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem)
Observed at Catholic Mass at 6:30 pm, in Ford Chapel, and area churches
Apr. 9 Maundy Thursday (Christian observance of Jesus’ last supper)
Apr. 17 Holy Friday (Eastern Orthodox)
Apr. 19 Easter (Eastern Orthodox)
Apr. 20-21 Yom Hashoah (Jewish day of Holocaust remembrance)
Hillel may hold vigil or other ritual 
Apr. 21-May 2 Festival of Ridvan (Baha’i commemoration of Baha’u’llah’s proclamation)**
May 2 Beltane (Pagan celebration related to May Day, fertility)
May 19 Laylat al-Qadr (Islamic night of prayer during Ramadam; date varies based on different legal opinions)
May 28-30 Shavuot (Jewish commemoration of God’s gift of Torah at Sinai)
May 29 Ascension of Baha’u’llah (Anniversary of Baha’is founder’s death)*
May 31 Pentecost (Christian celebration of Holy Spirit and birth of the church)
Jun. 21 Midsummer, or Litha (Pagan holiday around the summer solstice, the longest day)

*Baha’i observances on which work is suspended
**Work suspended on Apr. 21, Apr. 29, and May 2