PLU Religious Inclusion & Accommodation Statement

(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 various 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 puts PLU in compliance with the Washington State law regarding religious accommodations, SB 5166: Providing religious accommodations for postsecondary students.

Resources to Support Religious Practice

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 Group: PLU has an Interfaith Working Group consisting of students, faculty, and staff engaged in promoting and supporting our diverse religious and spiritual identities. Sponsored events/activities include: Interfaith Scholars, Interfaith Games, Passover Seder, etc.

Student Clubs: Several religious and secular student clubs are currently active. If you would like to start a religious student club, please consult the Student Engagement Coordinator in Campus Life.

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.

Chapel Break: Opportunities for Chapel on Campus including Monday WORD (a service rooted in Black Christian church traditions), Wednesday Chapel (a service rooted in Lutheran traditions), and Friday Prayers for the World – an interfaith gathering. 10:30-11:00am in Karen Hille Phillips Center.

Accommodation

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

Academics: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 conflict with academic coursework, assignments, and/or course attendance policies. 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 (jennifer.smith@plu.edu or 535-7811) or University Pastor Jen Rude (rudejl@plu.edu or 535-7465) or as needed for support of religious and spiritual accommodations.

Student Employment: 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 Employment Manual [*coming soon*].

Student Life: Student Life is committed to cultivating a learning, living, and social environment where community members are able to engage their whole selves; experience a sense of belonging and mattering; and are able to participate in the expression of religious and spiritual identity and religious and spiritual practices that are most important to them.  We also recognize that the dynamics of community may change over time and invite community members to partner with Campus Ministry and the Vice President for Student Life or Dean of Students regarding responding to challenges in experiencing these priorities for religious and spiritual life at PLU.

Residential Life is committed to care and inclusion.

Incoming students with particular needs or requests related to religious or spiritual identity or practice are encouraged to reach out to the Office of Residential Life (rlif@plu.edu, 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 holiday, requesting a single-gender wing or residence hall, etc.

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 Student Disability Services 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.

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 Laurie Turner, Director of Athletics and Recreation, and Jennifer Thomas, Senior Associate Athletics Director, to request accommodations or to have further conversation.

Meetings and Events: Students 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.

Faculty

Class Meetings: 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’ Observances: Guidelines for supporting students’ religious observances can be found under “Students – Academics” above. Per WA SB 5166 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.

Meetings and Events: Faculty 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.

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.

Meetings and Events: Supervisors 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.

Grievance Procedure

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

Campus Ministry

Dean of Inclusive Excellence

Associate VP of Diversity, Justice and Sustainability

Diversity Center

Religion Department

Human Resources

Provost Office

Student Life

Dean of Students Office (including Disability Support Services)

Student Employment

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Interfaith Youth Core (variety of resources relating to interfaith on campus)

ELCA’s Interreligious Relations Website and DRAFT Policy Statement.

 

Revised 8/12/19.  For edits and revisions, please contact Campus Ministry, cmin@plu.edu.