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Rutgers Professor Tells Muslim Student to ‘Prove’ No Class on Eid

Rutgers Professor Tells Muslim Student to ‘Prove’ No Class on Eid

I spent 35 minutes staring at the email I had typed up to my boss to request off for Eid, which started with: “Because we follow the moon…” 

I was only asking for a half day. Just enough time to make it to the mosque for morning prayer, and then get on with my workload in the office. “Just hit ‘send,’ Jenan.” I hit send.

“Don’t be silly! Take as long as you need – happy holiday!” #win. My boss is a saint. But why was I nervous? Maybe, because I was dreading the possibility of a response like the one below.


This is apparently what happens when a Rutgers University student informs her professor that she’ll be taking a day off from class for a religious holiday. You know, a religious accommodation to which she’s entitled. Mind you, she was being respectful, because she could have just not showed up.

Dude started arguing the jurisprudence of math.

Since when do we need “proof” that attending class on a religious holiday is “prohibited?” We don’t take off from work or school simply because it’s our holiday. We ask to be given an excused absence so that we can — for once — observe our religious faith properly and dedicate an entire day to the duties that are expected of us. You know, kind of like how the entire country is off to go to church on Christmas? Or how most public schools are closed for Yom Kippur to help ease the fasting?

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When was the last time you heard a teacher tell a student, “Listen, I know it’s Christmas and all, but can you get a note from your priest proving that you should be excused from class because of Jesus’s birthday? After all, Jesus turned water into wine, so, really, you’re worshipping him indirectly by coming to chemistry class.”


Any imams out there want to write this poor girl a note?

View Comments (19)
  • This professor sounds like an extreme dickhead who enjoys lording power over anyone with whom he has a relationship of authority. I would not be surprised if prejudice toward Muslims is a subtext of the motive behind the response, either.

    • I don’t know. I had a professor who gave a very similar response when some of my Jewish friends asked him to be excused for Yom Kippur (the university doesn’t close for it). I think this may have even been the same guy. If it is, he’s just an ass in general. I doubt it’s racism. It’s just him being a control freak like you said.

  • Rutgers does not follow any religious holidays, period. Nobody gets the Jewish holidays off, or the christian ones. I am sure the professor sends the same email to Jewish students who ask for the day off during their holidays.

    Bu-but Christmas! Yes, Christmas falls during the winter holiday period – just barely. Rutgers employees who celebrate Christmas Eve (as is common in Latin America) do not get the 24th off by default. Rutgers does not give Easter Monday or Ash Wednesday.


      “Faculty notified of authenticated absences should make reasonable accommodations to allow students to make up work that counts toward their semester grade…Absences due to religious observance, participation in university-sponsored events or activities such as intercollegiate athletics, or documented chronic illness are treated as authenticated absences”

    • Stop attempting to justify bigotry because I know he did not have the Jewish students bring a note so please spare me the non-holiday observances that Rutgers does not follow. There is no such thing as “Easter Monday”. and ASh wednesday has never been a day off observance usually practiced before lunch and after work. Please provide proof of your contention that Jewish Holidays are not observed by Jewish students faculty and university employees.

      • There is no such thing as easter monday and ash wednesday? LOL. Look up any Catholic university academic calendar – those are holidays. In fact, RWJ used to give Easter Monday off until the merger – now because Rutgers is in charge they dont.

        I never said jewish holidays are not observed – I said the university does not give time off. If a student wants to take the time, he has to request it, and with this professor, provide proof.

        And Im waiting for proof that he does not send the same email to jewish, hindi students etc who request various holidays off

    • So it must be only a coincidence that Christmas falls during the “winter break” for Rutgers only then, right? Because ever since elementary school all winter breaks ( or as some like to call christmas break) have included Christmas. Or maybe if you think for a second more, the winter break is created to include Christmas off. Why not then just start winter break at the end of December right before New Years and have the whole month of January off instead of mid December (to include Christmas) and come back to school mid January? But that’s not the case. Btw, so does that mean Easter coincidentally falls during spring break too?

      • Easter does not fall during Spring break, at all. Spring break does tend to overlap with St Patricks day, which is done for drinking reasons rather than religious ones

        • St. Patricks Day is a religious holiday. Just because non-Catholics celebrate it with drinking excessively and indulging Irish stereotypes doesn’t mean Catholics don’t hold mass for St. Patrick’s.

          • Right but Im saying Spring Break tends to cover St patricks day because colleges do not want to deal with the alcohol issues, its not so students can go to mass

    • you’re wrong. just because rutgers isn’t officially closed, you are allowed religious accommodation if you choose to take off, as per policy stated in University Regulation on Attendance, Book 2, 2.47B, “it is University policy to excuse without penalty students who are absent from class because of religious observance, and to allow the make-up of work missed because of such absence. Examinations and special required out-of-class activities shall ordinarily not be scheduled on those days when religiously observant students refrain from participating in secular activities. Absences for reasons of religious obligation shall not be counted for purposes of reporting.” i’m an atheist who attends rutgers, and i’m aware of this. educate yourself.

  • Regardless of what he said afterwards, there shouldn’t be a problem to provide documentation. He didn’t deny the absence, he said provide documentation– he even said he will accept it as a valid excuse for the absent. That is to avoid any people who claim that they are celebrating a holiday but aren’t to use the excuse. This is standard among many classes and is stated in their syllabi. I am TA for a class of 1200 students. Any student can say that they are celebrating a religious holiday, and who am I to deny them that? But I also am not going to assume that you are XYZ religion because of your name or how you dress and that you are a practicing and devout person that will be celebrating. Therefore, I need documentation that you actually are going to be celebrating that holiday, and not skipping class to sleep in, using the holiday as an excuse. I think the professor was stupid and probably bored to write the rest of the e-mail, but very fair for asking for documentation.

    • how he asked for documentation is the problem, not the fact that he asked for it. he could have asked without being so condescending.

  • I don’t understand the policy of accommodating religious observance. Why should religious folks have one attendance policy, and non-religious students a different policy?

    Grown-ups should weigh the consequences of non-attendance and let the chips fall. If Zeus commands me to skip morning classes to honor Hera, should I still get the chance to “make up” my absences?

    One policy for all. Show up, get credit. Don’t, don’t.

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