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Michigan State U Says It Cannot Change Opening Date of Semester on Day of Yom Kippur

Michigan State University officials have expressed regret that they cannot change the opening date of the new semester, which coincides with Yom Kippur, but have given assurances that students will not be penalized for being absent that day. The problem was raised by Rabbi William Rudolph, MSU Hillel director. University officials replied with a statement declaring that because school calendars are set up well in advance, the date could not be changed.

The statement said the university administration had not been aware of the problem when the 1974-75 calendar was arranged, the faculty had been alerted to the situation and that attendance on the first day was not mandatory; “serious attempts” would be made in the future to avoid such conflicts, and arrangements had been made to prevent any coincidence of registration dates and the Jewish High Holy Days until at least 1980.

Rabbi Rudolph said the situation was “indicative of a general insensitivity of the administration to Jewish needs” and that “regardless of whether the administration did not know that Yom Kippur falls on Sept. 26 or whether it knew but chose to ignore the fact, the matter is most unfortunate.” He added that parents who want to avoid a recurrence of the situation should make their feelings known to the MSU president, Clifton Wharton, Jr.

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