PLU Religious Inclusion & Accommodation Policy
A Statement related to Religious and Spiritual Identities and Practices
(for Students, Faculty, and Staff)
As a University rooted in the tradition of Lutheran Higher Education, enacting a mission of critical inquiry, service, leadership, and care, and committed to Diversity, Justice, and Sustainability, Pacific Lutheran University values the multiple religious and spiritual traditions and practices within our campus community and supports faculty, staff, and students in living them out. This also includes supporting community members in the process of exploration and asking critical questions with regard to faith and spirituality.
Additionally, the following policy seeks to put PLU in compliance with the Washington State law regarding religious accommodations, RCW 28B.137.010 Reasonable accommodation for religious holidays.
Resources to Support Religious & Spiritual Life at PLU
Multi-Faith Meditation & Prayer Space: All members of the PLU community have access to our Multi-Faith Meditation & Prayer Space, located on the main floor of the Anderson University Center, and are invited to use this space for their personal practice.
Interfaith Working Groups: Campus Ministry pulls together ad hoc groups of students, faculty, and staff to work on various interfaith projects, events, and policies.
Student Clubs: Several religious and secular student clubs are currently active. If you would like to start a religious student club, please consult the Associate Director for Campus Life.
Chapel Break: Chapel takes place during Chapel Break, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:30-11:00am. Consult the Chapel website for current semester offerings.
Calendar and Scheduling
Interfaith Calendar: Members of the campus community are asked to avoid scheduling meetings and events on widely-practiced religious holidays; calendars for consultation are linked below. We recognize that the variety of traditions and related observances present on campus cannot be represented in a list, and note that important dates may vary across traditions and countries, including through the use of lunar calendars. Our Interfaith Calendar of widely-practiced religious holidays is HERE, and a comprehensive Interfaith Calendar, with additional holidays, can be found HERE.
Meetings and Events: Students, faculty, and staff should make efforts to avoid scheduling meetings or events at times that would exclude faculty, staff, or students who are observing a religious holiday from participation.
Accommodations - Academics & Employment
The University values the religious and spiritual life of its students, faculty, and staff and seeks to provide reasonable support and accommodation for religious observances across campus as described below. Religious accommodation includes practices that affect both attendance and dress. All are encouraged to communicate with Campus Ministry as needed for support of religious and spiritual accommodations.
Students: PLU values the religious and spiritual life of its students and seeks to provide reasonable support and accommodation for religious observances. Students are responsible for reviewing their syllabi each semester and communicating with their course instructors about religious observances that are likely to create a significant hardship and/or conflict with academic coursework, assignments, and/or course attendance policies. There will be no costs or fees for seeking reasonable religious accommodations. As per state law, written notice should be provided by the student to the instructor within the first two weeks of the course “of the specific dates the student requests accommodations.” All are encouraged to communicate with PLU’s Dean of Inclusive Excellence Jen Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org or 535-7811) or University Pastor Jen Rude (email@example.com or 535-7465) as needed for support of religious and spiritual accommodations.
Faculty: Guidelines for supporting students’ religious observances can be found under “Students – Academics” above. Per RCW 28B.137.010 passed during the 2019 regular session, PLU’s policy “must require faculty to reasonably accommodate students who, due to the observance of religious holidays, expect to be absent or endure a significant hardship during certain days of the course or program. ‘Reasonably accommodate’ means coordinating with the student on scheduling examinations or other activities necessary for completion of the program and includes rescheduling examinations or activities or offering different times for examinations or activities.” Faculty are encouraged to consult with the Dean of Inclusive Excellence or Campus Ministry for support in providing accommodations.
*Required by law*: Faculty members must have a link to PLU’s Religious Inclusion & Accommodation Policy in their syllabus. Below is a suggested statement faculty can include on their syllabi that includes the required link:
Example Syllabus Statement for Religious Accommodations:
As a University rooted in the tradition of Lutheran Higher Education, enacting a mission of critical inquiry, service, leadership, and care, and committed to Diversity, Justice, and Sustainability, Pacific Lutheran University values the many religious and spiritual traditions and practices within our campus community and supports faculty, staff, and students in living them out. This also includes supporting community members in the process of exploration and asking critical questions with regard to faith and spirituality.
Therefore, I will make every effort to provide reasonable accommodations for any of you who, because of religious observances, have conflicts with scheduled exams, assignments, or attendance in our class. To help me in doing this, please review the course schedule at the beginning of the semester to see if there are any dates when you would need accommodation. If you could let me know at least three weeks before the date, that would be ideal. While I am happy to provide such accommodations, I understand that approaching a faculty member within this context may be intimidating; if that’s the case, you can contact PLU’s University Pastor Jen Rude (firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-535-7465) for support in making an accommodations request. You can also find more information about resources and other religious accommodations you can request related to employment, athletics, etc. here.
Faculty: When faculty miss scheduled class time due to a religious observance, appropriate alternative arrangements should be made and communicated with students, with the goal of minimizing impact on student learning. For additional information, see “Class Attendance–Faculty” in the Faculty Handbook.
Students: The University encourages students to schedule time off and to request accommodations as needed to observe religious holidays and practices. Supervisors are encouraged to support student workers in fulfilling religious observances and practices. For more information, see Student Workers Handbook.
Staff: Policies regarding vacation and paid time off are outlined in the Personnel Manual. The University encourages staff to schedule time off and to request accommodations as needed to observe religious holidays and practices. Supervisors are encouraged to support staff in fulfilling religious observances and practices. Supervisors of student workers may consult the Student Employment Supervisor Handbook or reach out to Student Employment staff (email@example.com).
Living and Eating on Campus
Residence Halls: Campus Life is committed to care and inclusion. Incoming students with particular needs or requests related to religious or spiritual identity or practice while living on campus are encouraged to reach out to the Office of Campus Life (firstname.lastname@example.org, 253-535-7200) when applying for housing.
In Residence Halls, students may decorate or display items related to their faith tradition or spirituality within their rooms (in consultation with their roommate) and on their door.
Current residents seeking support or accommodation should consult with their Community Director. Examples of accommodations might include limited permission for candle lighting in a residence hall for a specific religious holiday, *ceremonial smudging, and requesting a single-gender wing or residence hall, etc.
*PLU is committed to honoring the cultural and religious practices of students, including Smudging for our Native American and Indigenous students. During the Fall 2022 semester, University representatives will engage students in the development of a formal policy outlining the steps for Smudging, to align with cultural and religious practice and University safety and community requirements. Until a formal policy is published, interested students should contact one of the following to arrange their approach: Tom Huelsbeck, AVP Campus Life, Nicole Juliano, Director Center for Diversity, Justice & Sustainability, Jen Rude, University Pastor.
Hospitality Services & Campus Restaurants: If you have special dietary requirements or preferences – for health, medical, allergy, religious, ethical, or lifestyle reasons – we are dedicated to assisting you to the best of our ability. Campus Restaurants staff members work closely with PLU’s Office of Accessibility and Accommodation to provide appropriate menus for students with dietary restrictions. To help you make healthy food choices at PLU, The Commons marks menu items with the 9 major allergens, as well as vegan or vegetarian. Pork and alcohol are clearly marked when contained in a dish. For additional assistance in finding food to fit into dietary requirements, please fill out a form to meet with a Sous Chef or an administrator. The Commons offers halal beef patties at both lunch and dinner when burgers are served. During Ramadan, The Commons will extend dinner hours an extra half hour to help accommodate fasting.
Athletics: Student-athletes are encouraged to look ahead in the season and talk with their coaches about any religious accommodations or needs they anticipate, including missing practice or missing a game due to a religious holiday or observance. Students may also contact Mike Snyder , Director of Athletics and Recreation (email@example.com) , to request accommodations or to have further conversation.
If students, faculty, or staff feel as though their request for accommodations is not being met, they may seek support from PLU’s University Dispute Resolution Committee. “The University Dispute Resolution Committee (UDRC) is charged with reducing conflicts and helping members of the community resolve disputes appropriately, expediently and fairly. The committee does so by educating the community about campus policies and dispute resolution options; coordinating dispute resolution services; investigating grievances when appropriate and advocating for review of university policies and procedures when necessary.”
Further resources for consultation or support
Dean of Students Office (including Office of Accessibility and Accommodation)
Interfaith America (variety of resources relating to interfaith on campus)
For edits and revisions, please contact Campus Ministry, firstname.lastname@example.org.