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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Nov. 21, 2008

'Tis the season . . . for respect

Early winter is the time of year when employees and students alike most frequently raise questions about traditions and events that celebrate religious and other cultural events, including national holidays.

Last January, the Government of the Student Body's senate presented a resolution to the Faculty Senate, Graduate and Professional Student Senate and the offices of equal opportunity and diversity (EOD) and dean of students. It asked that the university's absences and religious observances policy be modified to include specific language for students and faculty on accommodating religious observances. The resolution was approved, and finalized by the provost, EOD and university legal counsel. The modified statement is on the EOD web site.

Executive vice president and provost Elizabeth Hoffman and associate vice president for human resource services Carla Espinoza share this reminder with the university community:

"In a diverse environment where we encourage people to celebrate their cultural differences, which include expressions of faith, it is sometimes difficult to balance everyone's interests and priorities, so good judgment and common sense must prevail. Every effort must be made to minimize intrusion and conflict, and harassment in any form will not be tolerated.

"Although decorating offices and other public places seems to enhance festivities and set a celebratory mood, please be sensitive to others. If supervisors or office managers authorize decorations, please respond sensitively to objections and to those who express different points of view. Where possible, be inclusive instead of exclusive."


The modified religious accommodation statement is online.