University Life Council
Minutes of Meeting
Empire Commons Meeting Room
Sumedha Tagare, Karen Brown,
Meeting commenced at
Ad hoc Benefits Committee –
Jennifer-Stromer Galley announced that an open forum for
faculty will be held on
Senate Report –
Final enrollment numbers for Spring 2005 were up since the Fall (with a high number of graduate student enrollment) but still short financially.
Suspension of Classes for Religious Holidays –
The bill proposing no suspension of classes will be referred to as “Proposal A” and the bill proposing classes be suspending in recognition of and respect for Muslim religious holidays will be referred to as “Proposal B”.
Added to Proposal A was an addendum regarding the policies
Committee members clarified that only one bill can be recommended (or not recommended) and also reviewed the approval process. Once a bill was voted on by the ULC, it would then go to the Educational Policy Council for review and if passed by the EPC, it would go on to the Senate and then President Hall for final approval.
After speaking with the Biology Department, Chair Moore explained that that particular department feels that no holidays would be better for their teaching.
Committee members briefly discussed a study done on New Yorkers and it was found that approximately 2 percent identified as Muslim and 5 percent identified as Jewish. Unofficially, UAlbany percentages are higher.
Karen Brown stated that both bills were well-written and
compelling and credits Dan Smith and the subcommittee for excellent work.
Lisa Thompson noted the high percentage of students who identified themselves with “no religious preference” in The Chronicle survey. Committee members discussed that this could make it more compelling to vote for no holidays.
Jennifer Stromer-Galley asked if Proposal A could include the survey information to help clarify certain points.
Committee members also felt that the wording in paragraph 1 on page 2 in Proposal B seemed to imply that students would opt to “neglect” their work as opposed to making up work and asked if the wording could be changed.
Bob Yagelski asked if there was any data on the SUNY population and Chair Moore referred to a 1993 UAlbany survey that provided some information.
Committee members discussed the “tradition” in place at the University and that it would be a significant change to go to “no holidays” if that bill passed. Karen Brown stated that in the downstate area only a few colleges recognize no holidays.
Committee members discussed who the ULC represents and the consensus was that it is the entire University and not any particular audience over another.
Other members asked if there was any conversation about how this would affect faculty and if there were statistics on who takes time off.
Committee members also discussed that by being in favor of not recognizing any holidays, the institution would be honoring all religious holidays and traditions and that the University may be at a point where it is changing and adapting. It was just recently that the New York State Education Law was passed (in 1992).
Bill Reese asked graduate student representative, Sumedha Tagare, if students were for or against either proposal and she indicated that although nobody seems to mind having the day off, there was not real push for either option.
The Committee also said it would be helpful if a five year academic calendar were put together and included all major religious holidays so that everyone was aware of the dates.
Also discussed was the fact that there were other Jewish holy days that were not recognized by the University and that Christian holidays were not really recognized either.
Lisa Thompson stated that by possibly eliminating the suspension of classes on religious holidays, the University could create a community, on campus, since less students would be going home. Bob Yagelski said that the point made earlier by Lisa regarding the high percentage of students who do not identify with a religion could also be indicative of the notion of respect extending to other ways of recognizing spirituality.
ULC members agreed that education and the teaching process are primary concerns and Proposal A seemed to address both that issue along with the issue of respect. However, a concern regarding Proposal A is the possible issue that Muslim students may feel that they are not be respected because they just recently received recognition or they may feel they are at fault for the institution deciding to no longer recognize any religious holidays.
A member asked if there were statistics on the number of students actually missing class. Chair
Motion to Vote –
Motion to move Proposal A to the Senate with the following friendly amendments:
Jennifer Stromer-Galley made the motion,
New Business –
No new Committee business.
Next meeting TBD.
Meeting was adjourned at