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Respecting Worldview and Religious Differences within Our Community

As we commemorate the beginning of fall and the start the festive time of year we often refer to as the “holiday season,” we must pause to remember that members of the Wolfpack represent many different faiths and worldviews.

We are very fortunate to live in a country that was founded partly on the principle of freedom of religion, which comprises one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Many who immigrated from other parts of the world to make their homes here did so because of this freedom.

Yet, as is often the case when we see, hear and share one group’s experience more prevalently than others, we sometimes forget that our fellow community members may belong to other faiths. According to the Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study, about 70% of Americans identify as Christian and 30% identify as another faith or worldview or are unaffiliated.

For example, today we are in an important time of the year for our Jewish members of the Wolfpack, with last night being the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. This holiday continues today and ends Tuesday evening at sundown. Next week brings the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, a solemn holiday that will begin at sundown on Tuesday, October 8 and last until sundown on October 9. These holidays are the High Holy Days of the Jewish faith.

All faculty, staff, and students are protected from religious discrimination in our programs and workplace. NC State’s Regulation 02.20.03 – Attendance Regulations permits students a minimum of two excused absences per academic year for religious observances as verified by the Division of Academic and Student Affairs. Employees may request a modified schedule or annual leave for religious observances. As a best practice, workgroups should avoid scheduling meetings and events during major religious holidays. A great resource, the “Major Religious and Cultural Holidays” calendar, can be found on NC State’s Google Calendar — I highly recommend subscribing to it to stay connected and informed.

Beyond these guidelines, I encourage all of our community members to seek to learn more about worldviews that may differ from your own. With learning comes understanding, and only with understanding can we live and work together with mutual respect, peace, safety and well-being.

To read more about the Jewish holidays, please see today’s article in the Diversity Digest, Jewish Holidays Remind Us to Be Mindful and see also Interfaith Prayer and Meditation Spaces Promote Well-Being for another example of how NC State supports a variety of faith practices.

I wish everyone a happy fall and Shanah Tovah to our Jewish community!

Sheri L. Schwab, J.D., M.Ed., ‘97
Interim Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity
Title IX and ADA Coordinator
NC State University