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In response to criticism last spring of the University's handling of religious holidays, Provost Michael Aiken last week released an updated policy on holidays that would give students more latitude for notifying professors of events which conflict with exams. The changes in the University's Policy on Secular and Religious Holidays, which took effect January 1, will be published in today's issue of Almanac. The revision mandates that students observing religious holidays that may conflict with exams or assigned work warn professors within two weeks of the beginning of the semester of the impending holiday, even if the dates are not yet known. The policy change stems from an incident last spring, when then-College freshman Reshma Memon was denied permission to reschedule a final because it conflicted with the Muslim celebration Ad-al-fitr. Memon did not warn her professor of the conflict within the first two weeks of the semester, as University guidelines required, because the holiday's exact date is not determined until approximately a month before it occurs. Memon, whose plight attracted both campus and nationwide attention, was eventually given permission to reschedule the exam. Memon, now a College sophomore, could not be reached for comment last night. Undergraduate Assembly Chairperson Duchess Harris said that she is happy with the changes, adding that it addresses student concerns. "I'm very pleased that the Provost revised the policy for holidays because he was very cooperative and he revised it quickly," Harris said. The Faculty Senate did not vote on the revision in their December meeting, but called for a year-long investigation of the University's academic calendar. According to Faculty Senate Chair Almarin Philips, the move was not a disapproval of the revision, but was due rather to a faculty perception that available class days are being "eroded" away by various pressures on the calendar. "It did not focus on any particular day, any particular time off," said Philips. "It simply said 'Let's study the calendar.' "

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