November is here, which means we’re finally entering full swing of the second half of the semester. You all have probably noticed something different about Hofstra this semester; you’re probably accustomed to having a few days off at the beginning of the semester for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but not this year. Hofstra has adopted a secular calendar, meaning there will no longer be days off for religious holidays. This isn’t, however, to slight religion by any means. Students who wish to take time off for holidays are more than welcome to do so, as long as they notify faculty members and complete all assignments. However, this was a practice that I’ve grown accustomed to over a decade and a half of schooling.
I grew up in a Hindu household in Valley Stream, New York – a predominantly white neighborhood. As a kid, I was ecstatic whenever I had a day off from school, regardless of why. Most kids would be. However, as I got older, I began to notice that we would get days off for Jewish and Christian holidays, but not for holidays such as Diwali or Navratri. These were also widely celebrated holidays, albeit by a different demographic, so why omit them? I was never particularly offended by the snub, as Hinduism wasn’t the only religion to not receive days off for their holidays, but I was very confused. Buddhists, Jains and Muslims were in the same boat as me.
So now that Hofstra has implemented its secular calendar, there may be some mixed feelings. Some people may feel that their religion is no longer getting its fair share, while other people may just be upset about the lack of days off. I, for one, think it’s actually a step in the right direction. Our society is undergoing a transformation in which we seek equal rights for every demographic – black, white, gay, transgender, etc.
Hofstra recognizes that its student body is bustling with diversity, so instead of appealing to one sector of the population, every religion gets a fair share under the secular calendar. Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Muslims and every other religious follower all have the freedom to take off whenever they want without feeling marginalized for not having “official” days off.
The secular calendar allows Hofstra to take a neutral stance as to not alienate or promote one group of people over another. Such a drastic change demonstrates Hofstra’s ability to keep up with ever-changing social norms while catering to every demographic. It is in this position of neutrality that we really see Hofstra’s true progressive nature and their willingness to provide a zone of acceptance for everyone on campus.
The secular calendar acts as a double-edged sword. It represents every religion as one, but also places emphasis on education as well. In essence, I am an advocate for Hofstra’s new secular calendar, as I feel it represents the next step in religious tolerance for all.
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