The Michigan Daily recently published an editorial in which it argued that, for the reason of religious accommodation, the University should avoid scheduling future fall terms to end as close to Christmas as the Fall 2015 term, which ends on Dec. 23. In so doing, the Daily uncritically and unjustly upholds the hegemony Christianity exercises over the University’s schedule.

Our entire calendar is already designed to cater to Christian holidays. We will never have classes or exams on Christmas or Easter, and we have an entire break that is de facto designed to facilitate the celebration of the former. This level of accommodation is not available to other religious groups. For example, Hanukkah overlapped with final exams last term, and yet there were no widespread petitions or editorials demanding that we reschedule the Fall 2014 term to avoid this conflict. Given the diversity of holidays celebrated by members of the University community, there are undoubtedly many more holidays that regularly conflict with our academic calendar. The reason is simple: the University’s calendar, like most calendars in America, is planned around the Christian calendar, and other religious groups are given little, if any, consideration. Requesting religious accommodation for Christmas beyond that which is already granted is a blatant display of Christian privilege, and completely overlooks the unequal consideration the University already gives towards Christianity in scheduling.

The Daily asserts that Provost Martha Pollack’s request to reschedule the end of Winter 2016 classes by two days to accommodate Passover constitutes a “glaring inconsistenc[y]” in scheduling policy. However, this point is clearly unfounded: the proposed one-day gap between the beginning of Passover and the end of classes in that policy is exactly equal to the one-day gap between the end of exams and Christmas already in place. Additionally, the proposed changes still had examinations overlapping with some of Passover, whereas Christmas does not, and will never, overlap with finals. Finally, the Daily ignored that Pollack’s requests also sought to accommodate a Christian holiday: Greek Orthodox Easter. The Daily’s request to accommodate Christmas with an even larger gap than that which was requested for Passover therefore constitutes a “glaring inconsistency,” not Pollack’s actions.

I am highly sensitive to the increased cost of travel around Christmas, and for this reason I do not disagree with the proposed changes. But to assert that the celebration of Christmas deserves increased religious accommodation when it already receives more accommodation than any other holiday is both insensitive to the ways our University and nation privilege Christianity, and unfair to the non-Christians whose religious calendars receive nowhere near the same level of consideration automatically granted to Christians, if any at all.

Cullen O’Keefe is an LSA junior.

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