Religious Holidays and Fall 2019 Exams

September 3, 2019

Dear faculty and students, 

We write to communicate the importance of faculty not scheduling midterm and final exams, or other important academic activities on key religious holidays. Most immediately for the Fall semester, this applies to Rosh Hashana (September 30 and October 1) and Yom Kippur, which begins the evening of October 8 and lasts through October 9. 

The Academic Senate policies that outline the responsibilities of both faculty and students with respect to course conflicts and religious accommodations of all types are listed below and are also included at the end of this message. Please refer to the recent CALmessage Important Reminders - Campus Policies and Guidelines for these and other campus policies.  

Faculty and students may refer to the Checklist for Scheduling Conflicts with Academic Requirements for guidelines in handling conflicts and accommodations. We encourage faculty and students to work together constructively to find the best feasible solution in each instance.  

Students should note that it is their responsibility to inform faculty of their needs for accommodation. Because this reminder is coming in the second week, we ask that students request accommodations no later than Friday, September 13, 2019. 

Faculty should note that the policy of the Academic Senate’s Committee on Courses of Instruction (COCI) specifies that accommodations in final exam scheduling for religious reasons do not require COCI approval (as specified in COCI’s Petition for Final Exam Group Change). Information about Final Exam Guide and Schedules is available on the Office of the Registrar website.

Best regards,

Paul Alivisatos
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

Oliver O’Reilly
Chair, Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate



In compliance with Education code, Section 92640(a), it is the official policy of the University of California at Berkeley to permit any student to undergo a test or examination, without penalty, at a time when that activity would not violate the student's religious creed, unless administering the examination at an alternate time would impose an undue hardship which could not reasonably have been avoided. Requests to accommodate a student's religious creed by scheduling tests or examinations at alternative times should be submitted directly to the faculty member responsible for administering the examination.

Reasonable common sense, judgment and the pursuit of mutual goodwill should result in the positive resolution of scheduling conflicts. The regular campus appeals process applies if a mutually satisfactory arrangement cannot be achieved.

The link to this policy is available in the Religious Creed section of the Academic Calendar webpage.

Religious Holidays Calendar

2019-20 Religious Holidays Calendar has been compiled and is now posted on the Center for Teaching and Learning’s website. This calendar will be updated on an annual basis to assist faculty and staff in course and activity planning and to reference in the accommodation process. To facilitate communication between students, instructors and staff, the following form may be useful:

Student Request Form for Religious Accommodation


The Academic Senate has established Guidelines Concerning Scheduling Conflicts with Academic Requirements to address the issue of conflicts that arise between extracurricular activities and academic requirements. These policies specifically concern the schedules of student athletes, student musicians, those with out-of-town interviews, and other students with activities (e.g., classes missed as the result of religious holy days) that compete with academic obligations.

These policies were updated in Spring 2014 to include the following statement:

-The pedagogical needs of the class are the key criteria when deciding whether a proposed accommodation is appropriate. Faculty must clearly articulate the specific pedagogical reasons that prevent accepting a proposed accommodation. Absent such a reason, the presumption should be that accommodations are to be made.

The guidelines assign responsibilities as follows:

-It is the instructor’s responsibility to give students a schedule, available on the syllabus in the first week of instruction, of all class sessions, exams, tests, project deadlines, field trips, and any other required class activities.

-It is the student’s responsibility to notify the instructor(s) in writing by the second week of the semester of any potential conflict(s) and to recommend a solution, with the understanding that an earlier deadline or date of examination may be the most practicable solution.

-It is the student’s responsibility to inform him/herself about material missed because of an absence, whether or not he/she has been formally excused.

The complete guidelines are available on the Academic Senate website. Additionally, a checklist to help instructors and students comply with the guidelines is available on the Center for Teaching and Learning website.

**Please note: Simultaneous proctored administration of a remote exam is an appropriate solution to exam security concerns. Berkeley faculty, faculty at the destination institution and the normal proctoring services here and remotely are presumed to be suitable sources of independent proctoring. Care should be taken that conflict of interest or the appearance of conflict of interest be avoided in undertaking proxy proctorships. It is not a significant increase in faculty workload to have a suitable proctor pick up exam copy(s) several days in advance, followed by returning the completed exams with several days after administration.