Editorial, Opinion

STAFF EDIT: Conflicting commitments

Boston University prides itself on having a diverse campus: students with different demographic, ethnic and religious backgrounds. Therefore, it is not unusual for many of those students to celebrate various religious holidays, and there are 18 holidays ‘-‘- ethnic and civil ‘-‘- in October alone. But students have to find a balance between class and attending religious services. Video recorded lectures, made available to students online who missed class because they attended services, is a good way for BU to help its students.
The Office of the Provost started a new initiative to make video recordings of lectures available to students who missed a lecture because they attended religious services. While only four classrooms are currently equipped for such a measure, the university took a step in the right direction. Vacations tend to center around Christian holidays ‘-‘- Easter and Christmas ‘-‘- but Jewish and Muslim students, for example, are not necessarily given days off that fall on their important holidays. There are high populations of Jewish and Muslim students at this university, and BU should definitely recognize their numbers by being conscious of their needs. However, the university cannot afford to have so many days off, thus, the tapes are useful.
Some students could even be discouraged from attending religious services for fear of missing lectures and exams or not getting an extension for a paper. The initiative, while a good one, needs to be expanded and carefully balanced. The university should not pick and choose between who they cancel classes for and spend money on for taped lectures. Taped lectures need to be an option in more classrooms, so more students who need to take advantage of the offer, can do it. There is a Massachusetts statute that protects students who miss class because of religious holidays, and states that students will be given the opportunity to make up any missed exam, study or work requirement. Professors need to adhere to it.
Recording lectures, though, would cost money, but not a significant amount of money. The university has an audio-visual department that regularly goes to classrooms to set up overhead projectors, lecture slides and microphones for professors if they are properly notified ahead of time. It is definitely feasible for professors to put in a request to have recording equipment set up in their class ahead of time, so absent students can catch up on missed material.
BU cannot possibly afford ‘-‘- literally and figuratively ‘-‘- to give days off of class for every religious holiday. However the university should be sensitive to every religious holiday, whether it is Rosh Hashanah, Ramadan or Easter. When used correctly, recorded lectures can definitely be an asset to students.

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