Montclair State University students rejoice as the semester is coming to an end on Dec. 21. As the semester winds down and finals are being wrapped up for the year, students are preparing to celebrate the holidays at home with their families once classes conclude.
Well, some students get to after classes conclude, but some of them have to celebrate while the semester is still occurring. Some students, who are of the Jewish faith, do not get the days off to rest and spend time with their families to celebrate Hanukkah.
For some context about the holiday, the Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah, “commemorates the successful rebellion of the Jewish people against the Syrians in the Maccabean War of 162 BCE, but the military associations of this festival are played down. What is really being celebrated is the survival of Judaism.”
While every night may not be as big of a celebration, the first and the last night are ones that hold great importance to the holiday.
This year, classes luckily won’t be held on the first day of Hanukkah, which is Sunday, Dec. 18. However, next fall semester, classes will be held on the first and last day of Hanukkah.
Why is our academic calendar solely based on Christian holidays while we are such a diverse and inclusive university?
According to Hillel International, 400 out of 15,993 (2.5%) undergraduate students are Jewish, as well as 100 out of 4,651 (2.2%) graduate students.
Some might say that this number is too small to cater to, however, we believe that no matter the population size, all students’ religions should be catered to for the holiday season.
The first and last nights of Hannukah may require one to travel for family, help set up the house for celebrations, help parents cook food, etc. This is all similar to what people do on Christmas and Christmas Eve.
It makes sense to have off on Christmas. A lot of the celebration is done in the morning such as opening gifts and Mass. However, what about Christmas Eve? We have always had off for Christmas Eve despite traditionally not celebrating it until the night if your family even decides to celebrate it.
Montclair State has already published a statement on this matter on its official website. “Montclair State University embraces the diversity of its Student Body, and the University endeavors to provide an environment that is inclusive and supportive for all the members of our community,” the Montclair State administration stated.
“Instructors have been requested to consider days of religious observance as they schedule key dates in their courses. However, given the diversity of our community, it may not be possible to accommodate the observances of all students within the schedule of a particular course,” the statement explained.
The administration says we can’t accommodate the holidays of our peers, but we can accommodate the official presidential investiture and cancel classes that day. How is an investiture more important than a religious holiday?
Who are we to decide which religious holiday is more important than the other? It shouldn’t matter the population size of each religion among students.
Montclair State, we ask that you find a way to accommodate religions other than Christian ones, do better.