Academic Accommodation for Students’ Religious Observances (Policy, Guidelines and Procedures)

Legislative History:

Approved by Senate 2018/01/25; effective 2018/07/01

Approval Authority: Senate

Signature: Maureen Armstrong


York University is a secular institution, committed to sustaining an inclusive, equitable community in which all members are treated with respect and dignity.

I. Policy

  1. The University is committed to respecting the religious beliefs and practices of all members of the community, and making reasonable and appropriate accommodations to adherents for observances of days of religious significance.
  2. No student should be materially disadvantaged / penalized because of religious observance.
  3. Efforts are made by the University to avoid scheduling formal or in-class examinations on days of religious significance which require an absence from the University or prohibit or require certain activities that would make participation in course activities unfeasible.
  4. Students seeking accommodations have an obligation to inform instructors in a timely fashion of a conflict between a date of religious significance and a course examination, test or deadline.
  5. The terms of this policy and the related guidelines and procedures for requesting and arranging accommodations shall be publicized and accessible.
  6. All members of the University community bear responsibility for implementing this policy, and should make themselves familiar with it and the resources available to them. Accommodations are collaborative in nature and shall be based on mutual understanding.

II. Guidelines/Principles

  1. All students are expected to satisfy the essential learning outcomes of courses. Accommodations shall be consistent with, support and preserve the academic integrity of the curriculum and the academic standards of courses and programs.
  2. The University provides reasonable and appropriate accommodation for students whose religion requires them to be absent from the University for observance of recognized religious days of significance.
  3. A list of Commonly Observed Dates of Religious Significance shall be compiled concurrently with the establishment of the Sessional Dates for the following academic year, and disseminated to assist instructors in course planning.
  4. Normally the form of accommodation will be alternative dates for final examinations, and adjustment of dates for term work, mid-term examinations or other course components.
  5. The Registrar’s Office takes into consideration the dates of religious significance in its establishment of the final examination schedule.
  6. Documentation from faith leaders is not required to support requests for accommodation.

III. Procedures

a.  Annual Dissemination of Dates of Religious Significance

The Office of the Vice-Provost Students shall compile the list of Commonly Observed Dates of Religious Significance annually. There are many holy days associated with various faiths, and the absence of such dates on this list should not be interpreted to mean that accommodation will not be provided to students who observe those days.  The Commonly Observed Dates of Religious Significance[1] shall be transmitted to the Office of the University Registrar by September each year for reference in its scheduling of the December and April examination periods for that academic year, and in the establishment of the Sessional Dates for the following academic year. Upon confirmation of the Sessional Dates by the Senate Academic Standards, Curriculum and Pedagogy Committee and Senate in the autumn, the Commonly Observed Dates of Religious Significance shall be posted on the Registrar’s Office site and disseminated by the Office of the Vice-Provost Academic to assist instructors in planning their courses for the following academic year.

b.  Final Examinations

Students who have a conflict between a religious commitment and the scheduled date of an examination in either of the December or April formal examination periods must request an alternative date to write the final exam. Using the Religious Accommodation Agreement students contact the course director no later than 21 days prior to the start of the examination period to arrange an alternate examination date. Failure to meet the deadline may result in a denial of the request. The instructor will process requests expeditiously to avoid an academic disadvantage to the student. Completed Agreement forms are submitted to the department offering the course.

In cases where an arrangement between the student and course instructor cannot be made, or if the student is uncomfortable approaching the instructor to request a religious accommodation, the student should contact the Associate Dean of the Faculty in which the course is offered. Students are required to contact the Associate Dean not less than 14 days prior to the start of the examination period. Failure to meet the deadline may result in a denial of the request.

Guided by the student’s particular circumstance, the forms of accommodations provided by the Associate Dean may include:

  1. Treating the request as a conflict and accommodating it within the examination period, or
  2. Scheduling a deferred examination as close to the original examination date as possible.

c. Term Work/Course Components other than Final Examinations

Students seeking accommodations under the terms of this policy may do so in in order to reschedule the date of:

  • a test
  • submission of an assignment
  • any other other required form of course evaluation (such as labs or presentations)

Students are responsible for making a formal request (in person or in writing) to their instructor(s) for accommodation within 14 days of the date for which accommodation is sought. If the day of religious significance occurs within 14 days of the start of a term, the student shall contact the course director at the earliest opportunity to request accommodation.

Normally the forms of accommodation provided by the course instructor will be to:

  1. re-schedule the evaluation to an alternative date
  2. provide an alternative evaluation for satisfying the course requirement (including a common date for the class for all deferred tests / mid-term examinations)
  3. provide an alternative assignment for satisfying the course requirement

In exceptional circumstances, re-calculating the evaluation scheme in a course to eliminate the component that has been missed may be determined to be the most appropriate accommodation for individual students. Consistent with the Guideline that the essential learning outcomes of a course must be satisfied (Section II a), no component worth more than 20% may be re-weighted within the grading scheme.

If a course instructor and a student are unable to agree on the form of accommodation, the request will be referred to the Associate Dean to determine the form of accommodation consistent with these Guidelines / Principles and Procedures.

[1] Does not include days of religious observance that are also statutory holidays