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Policy Consultation – Proposed Repeal of Policy #65 (Religious Holidays)

The UBC community is invited to comment on the proposed repeal of Policy #65 (Religious Holidays).

Policy #65 (Religious Holidays) was created in 1994 to articulate the basis on which students and members of faculty and staff could observe the holy days of their religion, and has never been amended.

UBC’s legal responsibility to accommodate observance of religious holidays by students, faculty and staff arises from UBC’s obligation under the Human Rights Code not to discriminate on the basis of protected grounds, including religion.

Subsequent to the establishment of Policy #65, UBC created Policy #3 (Discrimination and Harassment), which sets out UBC’s commitment to maintain and respect human rights and prevent discrimination on all of the grounds prohibited by the Human Rights Code, including religion, rendering significant parts of Policy #65 somewhat redundant.

In addition to Policy #3, UBC’s commitment and obligation to accommodate observance of religious holidays is also addressed in collective agreements, through the Senate Policy on Academic Concessions in both the UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan Calendars, and information available on the website of the Equity & Inclusion Office. UBC’s measures to accommodate students are appropriately addressed by the Senate, given its jurisdiction for academic governance, and the Senate is in the process of developing a new Senate Policy governing students’ observance of religious holidays (and potentially broader religious observances).

Policy #3 (which through its current review process has incorporated language adapted from Policy #65 as to relevant factors to be taken into consideration in accommodation requests) and the new Senate policy will be supported by further information providing administrative details and guidance for accommodations for students, faculty and staff on the websites of Human Resources and the Equity & Inclusion Office as well as other communication channels, bringing awareness to and allowing for flexible ways of educating those involved in making and responding to religious accommodation requests.

The committee recommends the repeal of Policy #65 as it is substantively contained within the various overlapping documents and measures above, will avoid the risk of either the Board or Senates acting in areas beyond their jurisdiction, and will reduce any conflict, confusion or redundancy between documents with no lessening of UBC’s commitment and obligations as to religious holidays.

Proposed repeal of Policy #65 is now being published and all members of the UBC community are encouraged to provide their comments. Please submit feedback to the Office of the University Counsel at university.counsel@ubc.ca by May 4, 2019.

For further information about this policy proposal, please see the information package that was provided to the Board of Governors at https://bog3.sites.olt.ubc.ca/files/2019/03/3_2019.04_Policy-65.pdf.

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