Academia, Campus, News

Holy tapes

The university will provide video recordings of classes for Boston University students who miss class for religious holidays as part of a new Office of the Provost initiative.
Video recordings for last Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s classes were available for classes held in the School of Management Auditorium, SMG room 208, the Jacob Sleeper Auditorium and College of Communication room 101, according to an email sent to the BU Hillel community. The Office of the Provost did not respond as of press time.
Associate biology Chairman Ulla Hansen recorded one of her classes last Monday in observance of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. The recording is not yet available to her students, but Hansen said it will be posted online soon.
College of Communication sophomore Rachel Udwin said none of her professors provided recordings, but she wished they had.
‘I think it would have definitely helped,’ Udwin said. ‘All I have now are someone else’s’ notes.’
Udwin said she missed her classes last Tuesday and Wednesday because she spent both days – 11 hours – in prayer at Morse Auditorium.
Udwin has been able to catch up, but she said she thinks borrowed notes are still inferior to hearing the actual lecture. Although she gave her professors advanced notice of her absence, they told her it was her responsibility to get the notes.
College of Arts and Sciences junior Ahmed Abdelmeguid said recorded classes are asking too much of professors and may encourage students to simply skip class without fear of falling behind.
‘It would require a lot from a professor, who’s probably doing research, to provide every lecture for classes that a student has missed,’ Abdelmeguid said. ‘I have never heard of teachers doing this before, nor do I think that it should be required of them.’
Abdelmeguid said he missed three classes on Wednesday to celebrate the Islamic holiday Eid ul-Fitr, a festival marking the end of the month-long fast Ramadan. Like Udwin, Abdelmeguid also borrowed notes from a classmate, but added that even if the notes were not enough, he could easily seek firsthand instruction by attending office hours.
Massachusetts law protects students who miss class for religious holidays, stating that students ‘shall be excused from any such examination or study or work requirement, and shall be provided with an opportunity to make up such examination, study or work requirement.’
Not all professors adhere to that policy, however, according to Kip Lombardo, BU Hillel House’s’ Student Activities director.
‘We have had to work with Marsh Chapel to remind faculty and staff about that,’ Lombardo, who is also a writing lecturer, said.
Balancing academics and religion also falls upon the student, who should plan ahead to avoid conflicts, Lombardo said. On Yom Kippur, for instance, participants are not supposed to eat, drink or work for 26 hours.
‘If you have a test of Friday, you can’t tell your professor you can’t take it because Yom Kippur was on Thursday,’ Lombardo said. ‘You’d better have studied the weekend before.’

One Comment

  1. Victor Coelho, Assoc Provost for Undergraduate Education

    Concerning the comment ” The Office of the Provost did not respond as of press time,” I gave a 20-minute phone interview to one of your reporters a week ago (not the one that wrote this article) about our podcasting initiative and specifically spoke in detail about Rabbi Heller’s project. But I was not contacted by this reporter prior to the publication of today’s article.