SGA conflicts with Jewish New Year

Controversy mounted after SGA President Seth Bowden and Vice President Ajay Schmidt’s scheduled the annual SGA fall retreat during the weekend of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah. Five out of 40 SGA senators had plans to celebrate this holiday. Some were angered about the retreat decision and believed that all religious dates should have been considered when planning Senate activities. “I was surprised and disappointed that the SGA chose to have a retreat on the most important holiday of the Jewish faith. It’s a family day and there is no way the retreat would have been scheduled over Easter weekend,” Senator Sam Maron said.The Jewish population at UVM has a large presence on campus, totaling over 1,000 students. At the Sept 12. Senate meeting president Seth Bowden made a formal apology for the scheduling of the retreat and announced that the retreat will now be held on the weekend of Oct 30. “The calendar we used for scheduling does not have anything that isn’t a UVM holiday on it. Rosh Hashanah wasn’t on the calendar and we set the dates for the retreat back in May. I guess we should have checked another calendar,” Bowden said. The UVM calendar only contains dates for administrative holidays: days when the University administrative offices are closed for business. Except for Christmas, cultural holidays do not appear on the calendar. “Everybody at the University needs to be sensitive to religious and cultural issues. The University is closed during Christmas because it is a traditional day off, but maybe the name should be changed to a University holiday,” vice president of student and campus life Tom Gustafson, said.For faculty, the University allows three excused days off for cultural holidays, one of which is paid. Some students felt that they have not received enough consideration during the times of their cultural holidays. “I had a mid-term scheduled during Yom Kippur. I was fasting and very tired. The only time I was allowed to retake it was a Friday afternoon and I had to study during the Jewish holiday. It was ironic considering it was a class on the Middle East. “You’d think with such a large Jewish population, UVM would try to make concessions around the holidays,” Jewish Hillel club member and second year student Kayla Needleman said.