Editorial: Student input should be made on new changes to the UC Calendar

ops.january-calendarThere is a time for passivity and a time for action.

The Highlander incorrectly included the following information in the article below:

The article incorrectly stated that a new policy was established to shift the academic calendar of the UCs to accommodate two religious holidays. The article should have read: “The policy will require appropriate adjustments be made to accommodate students with conflicts.” Additionally, the Highlander incorrectly stated that UCs in the semester system will not be included in the policy change. The article should have read: “The semester campuses will not be affected by the change.” The article also should have included that the policy was established in 2007. Lastly, the policy is not a regents’ policy as the Highlander made it appear. No regents were involved in the writing or implementation of the policy. The Highlander regrets the errors.

Recently, a new policy has been established to shift the academic calendar of UCs in the quarter system to accommodate those who celebrate the holidays Rosh Hashanah, a two-day Jewish festival, and Yom Kippur. Historically, these holidays have been interrupted by the move-in activities of zero week every few years because the holidays follow the lunar calendar. In order to prevent this, the UC system has created an adjustment so that Jewish residents are able to attend move-in days while still being able to attend to their religious holidays.

The policy calls for diversity throughout the UC system by shifting move-in day a week later and allowing new residents to celebrate their religious holidays while still attending to their zero week move-in days. The change only affects the calendar once every few years and adds a week to summer break and removes a week from winter break. But the simple change is actually creating uproar amongst the UC campuses.

However, the problem is not that the calendar is changing to adjust to religious holidays; rather it’s adjusting the calendar without talking to the students the change would primarily impact. If there was a poll taken to reflect the interests of our students and the majority approved this policy then this would be a good decision. The root of the issue lies in the fact that our UC regents are appointed by the governor and not elected by our students. It’s important to have student-elected regents to represent student interests rather than the regents’ personal agenda.

However, this is where the issue arises: Only 3 percent of the UC student population identifies as Jewish and not all of them observe religious Jewish holidays. What makes the situation even more interesting is that not all of the 3 percent will be moving into residential halls. Therefore, accommodation is being made for less than three percent of the student population, who are new residents moving into residential halls.

Currently students are having issues with this calendar adjustment, mainly because it is cutting into their winter break, which seems to be the priority at the moment. However, there is more reason to rethink this policy.

“I don’t like it. It’s not the religious justification for this but the fact that they (UC System) did this without student input,” states ASUCR Senator Shadi Matar. Matar further explains that if the UC System actually asked students for their reflection of the situation and based the policy off of that, it would have been fine.

It seems almost petty that students are revolting against this policy because their break is being limited because the matter is actually deeper than that. Students are having something taken away from them without any say on their part. But this situation isn’t a conflict between Jewish and non-Jewish students — it’s a situation between regents and students.

The fact that this policy was created by a committee of regents is the problem at hand. The policies that are being made are in the control of a few rather than a direct representation of the views of the students. Regents are not elected by the students but are appointed by the governor. And with this position, according to Article IX, Section 9 of the California Constitution, they have “full powers of organization and governance” subject to only specific areas of legislative control. This provides a small committee the power to enforce legislation like this that affects seven UC campuses without any encouragement for the majority of student feedback.

There is no problem in accommodating of Jewish religious holidays, but if the UC system is going to respect Jewish holidays then the discussion should be open to respecting all other holidays, including Muslim holidays as well, not just Ramadan.

What’s more confusing is what the Los Angeles Times revealed in an article, reporting that the semester system UCs will not be included in the policy. But in the semester system, the religious holidays still interfere with the academic classes instead of move-in days. This still leaves a conflict for students in the semester system who may choose to miss out on school in order to celebrate the holidays. Missing academic days, which should be more important than a date to place a comforter on top of a mattress, should be causing more alarm within the semester system; however, the entire calendar system is being moved so Jewish residents don’t miss out on their zero-week activities.

Although these Jewish students are a minority in the school system, that should not mean that their views should not be represented and respected. But accommodations should be made for Jewish students while maintaining the regular winter break. Rather than shortening the break with seven UC campuses, a possible solution can be keeping the length of the break the same by ending winter break a week later and pushing everything back as well. This would ultimately have a net zero gain or loss to our break and academic calendar. As some students may think, postponing summer break is like a drop in the bucket while removing an entire week of winter break is like draining a third of the cup.

Compromise needs to be made between the students and the Regents Board in order to create a fair campus setting — not just an ultimatum.


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