Op-Ed: A Letter to Janet Napolitano in the Name of Religious Tolerance


Hi Janet,

          I saw the recent schedule change the UC system adopted in order to accommodate the Jewish holidays and was overjoyed. I’m not Jewish, so I’m not excited for that reason. But I am excited for the fact that the UC now makes exemptions and special accommodations for religious and special groups. I would like to request that we change the schedule to better accommodate the following holidays.
         Ramadan – My Muslim friends always complain about the rigorous schedule during Ramadan, and that UC expectations make it hard to fast during this holy period. I would like to request that the UC move to take this entire month off to better support our students.
          Easter – This one sometimes falls during Spring Break and sometimes not. This is an important Christian holiday, and I had to spend it last year traveling in order to make it back to class in time. Due to this I was unable to attend church. I would like the UC to move spring break to fully encompass the Easter Holiday.
           Orthodox Christmas – Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7th because they use the Gregorian calendar, just like the Jewish faith uses a lunar calendar. I’d like to move winter break so that I don’t feel pressured to return too soon after this holiday.
            The Prophet’s Birthday – January 14th is the birthday of Mohammed (peace be upon him). I’d like to make sure the UC always has this day off so that we can observe and celebrate it properly.
             Orthodox New Year – Orthodox Christians following the Gregorian calendar celebrate New Years on this day. I’d like to exempt this day so that they may properly celebrate.
             Robert E. Lee’s Birthday – January 20th. This day is a state holiday in Alabama and two other states. I would hate for our students from those states to feel pressured to work on a day they traditionally have off, so we should have this day off as well.
              Chinese New Year – It falls on January 31st this year. As we have a large presence of Chinese international students, I think it’s important that we all receive this day off.
               St. David’s Day – Students of Welsh origin traditionally celebrate this day on March 1st with church services, feasts, and parties. I would hate for them to feel pressured to work or attend class on these days.
               Ash Wednesday – A traditional Christian holiday. It would be a shame for church services to be interrupted by classes on this day. It falls on March 5th this year.
               There’s dozens of other holidays, faiths, and groups that would love to be catered to in the same way that the UC system has for the Jewish community in this instance. Now I realize that this may be a strain on the schedule, but it’s important to make sure that all groups on our campus are happy. So rather than leave these groups out in the cold, I believe we can take days from the summer. It should be pretty easy to reduce summer vacation by a month to accommodate Ramadan, and take days and weeks for each holiday as needed.
                 Thank you for considering this,

Dylan BolfPhoto by Mark Brocher, Staff Photographer