Temple University is forcing its Jewish students and faculty members to choose between their religious observance and Commencement ceremonies.
Their May 2013 Commencement ceremonies are scheduled for May 16, 2013, which is the second day of Shavuot (a holiday equal in importance to Passover).
The University, which prides itself on having a broadly diverse community, was made aware of this conflict in August 2012. Four months later, the school is still refusing to acknowledge and accommodate the diverse needs of its students.
This petition supports a minority group that needs an accommodation from the University. Diversity is not just about statistics; it's about inclusion. Temple needs to provide its students and faculty with a reasonable option to participate in May Commencement ceremonies without compromising their religious beliefs.
By ignoring the scheduling conflict, Temple is forcing the Jewish members of its community to choose which is more important: religious observance or the celebration of their achievements in higher education.
It is unacceptable for a diverse University like Temple to stand behind the mistake of scheduling Commencement on Shavuot, a Jewish holiday of equal importance as Passover. Diversity is not just about statistics; it's about inclusion. Change is necessary and needed immediately.
We understand that organizing Commencement is a large undertaking, and to that end have come up with options for a solution:
1) Change the date and/or time of Commencement so as not to conflict with Shavuot, or provide a reasonable alternative such as adding ceremonies on the following day (May 17).
If that is not possible, then
2) Change the date and/or time of the Schools' and Colleges' ceremonies so as not to conflict with Shavuot, or provide a reasonable alternative such as adding ceremonies on the following day (May 17).
If not even that is possible, then
3) Create departmental ceremonies for the following morning (May 17), or after 8:00 pm on May 16 when the holiday of Shavuot will be over.
I hope that Temple decides not to force their Jewish students and faculty members to choose between their religious observance and Commencement.