To synagogue or Saturday exams

When senior Ben Wolfson heads into his entrepreneurship exam, many others of his faith will be headed to synagogue. The administration’s decision to hold Saturday exams this semester has a caused a stir in the Jewish community, due to a conflict with the Sabbath. “It’s not fair,” Wolfson said. “It conflicts with me being Jewish and my faith. I’m sure they didn’t even consider having Sunday exams due to religious reasons.” The Faculty Senate voted to remove Saturday exams from future academic years, but this semester’s Dec. 11 exams will remain due to scheduling, according to the Burlington Free Press. “This has caused a lot of problems, and some have even gone so far as suggesting that having exams on Saturdays is indicative of an underlying suppression of Judaism, because the Jewish Sabbath is Saturday and it never crossed anybody’s mind to hold exams on Sunday,” Speaker of the SGA Senate Claire Chevrier said. Between 1,800 and 2,000 undergraduate students are Jewish, as well as 400 graduate and medical students, according to the UVM Jewish community Hillel’s website. “I think Saturday exams are unfair specifically because it’s always been a weekend day throughout growing up,” Wolfson said. “It’s always been five days a week of school, with Saturday and Sunday off.” This fall exam schedule will include exams Saturday, Dec. 11 through Friday, Dec. 17. “There are certain guidelines for how many days universities must have classes,” Chevrier said. “The Faculty Senate decided that there would be exams on Saturday.” Part of the reason UVM did not meet the required class quota is because students had a full week off for Thanksgiving, Chevrier said. Many students will have to accept the fact that they have a Saturday exam, but Jewish students can request rescheduling from their professors based on religious guidelines, according to UVM’s academic policy. Wolfson said that he is happy to hear that the administration will discontinue Saturday exams. “It’s unfortunate they decided to do this to begin with,” he said. “But it’s good to hear that they won’t make the mistake again.”