PROCEDURE FOR REQUESTING RELIGIOUS ACCOMMODATION
This procedure outlines the process for seeking, evaluating, and granting requests for accommodations of religious beliefs and practices.
Missouri Western State University is committed to providing an academic and work environment that is respectful of the religious beliefs of its students, employees, visitors and community members. As part of this commitment, the University will make good faith efforts to accommodate a campus community member’s sincerely held religious practices or beliefs when in conflict with a University policy, procedure, or other academic or employment requirement unless such an accommodation would create an undue hardship or would fundamentally alter our work or otherwise interfere with the student’s ability to achieve relevant learning outcomes. Requests should be made as early as possible to allow sufficient time to engage in discussion with the individual seeking the accommodation and review of the request.
The University is not required to accept a requested preferred accommodation if there is more than one alternative that eliminates the religious conflict. When there is more than one alternative that eliminates the religious conflict, the University will offer the alternative which least disadvantages the individual. Moreover, these accommodations will not be required if any or all of them cause an undue hardship or fundamentally alter the nature of the program in question in a particular case.
A reasonable religious accommodation may include but is not limited to:
An on-campus housing adjustment;
Access to a private space for the purposes of observance or practice of religious beliefs;
Allowance for University approved absences from class;
Ability to reschedule academic work or deadlines;
Providing flexible work schedules to accommodate religious observance, including flexible arrival times, departure times, breaks, or floating holidays;
Permitting employees to make up time lost due to religious observance;
Allowing voluntary schedule, shift, or assignment substitutes or swaps; or
Permitting dress or grooming related to religious beliefs.
Essential Function: A fundamental job duty of an employment position for staff and faculty, or a fundamental academic element of a course or program of study for a student.
Religious Accommodation: A reasonable change in the work or academic environment that enables a student or employee to practice or otherwise observe a sincerely held religious practice or belief without undue hardship on the University. A religious accommodation may include, but is not limited to: time for prayer during a work day; the ability to attend religious events or observe a religious holiday; or any necessary modification to University policy, procedure or other requirement for a student’s or employee’s (or prospective employee’s) religious beliefs, observance or practice; provided such accommodation is reasonable and does not cause undue hardship.
Religious Practice or Belief: A sincerely held practice or observance that includes moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong, most commonly in the context of the cause, nature and purpose of the universe. Religion includes not only traditional, organized religions, but also religious beliefs that are new, uncommon, not part of a formal religious institution or sect, or only subscribed to by a small number of people. Social, political, or economic philosophies, as well as mere personal preferences, are not considered to be religious beliefs.
Undue Hardship: More than a minimal burden on the operation of the University. For example, an accommodation may be considered an undue hardship if it would interfere with the safe or efficient operation of the workplace or learning environment and/or would result in the inability of the employee or student to perform an essential function of the position or course of study. The determination of undue hardship is dependent on the facts of each individual situation, and will be made on a case-by-case basis.
For academic accommodations requests, students may first seek to make arrangements with the appropriate professors first at the earliest opportunity.The University’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion has communicated to the faculty via the Provost’s office a calendar of dates of major religious observances Religious Observance Calendar. Students are required to check their course syllabi at the beginning of the semester, make any conflicts with religious/cultural observances known to their professors, and discuss arrangements for missed classes or assignments. Requests for accommodation should be made at the earliest opportunity once a student has become aware that a conflict exists. Regardless of any accommodation that may be granted, Missouri Western students are responsible for satisfying all academic objectives, learning outcomes, and program requirements. Students may also initiate a request for religious accommodation by following the procedures outlined below.
A reasonable religious accommodation related to academics may involve a change in the academic course, program of study, or in the way tasks or responsibilities are customarily done that enables a student to participate in a religious belief or practice without undue hardship to the University’s legitimate academic purposes resulting from each available alternative of reasonable accommodation. Examples of reasonable accommodations may include a course assignment modification, an excused absence, rescheduling, flexibility in scheduling, or voluntary substitutions. Faculty need not modify a course assignment when such modification would compromise legitimate course objectives or educational goals.
A request for a religious accommodation for housing must be made before housing is requested. For incoming students, a request must be made at the earliest possible opportunity after admission. A request for a religious accommodation for housing must document:
a description of the accommodation you are requesting;
the reason you need an accommodation; and
how the accommodation will help resolve the conflict between your religious beliefs or practices and a university policy, procedure, or other requirement.
As with housing and dining accommodations, medical accommodations should be made at the earliest possible opportunity after admission or employment.
Students with disabilities seeking academic adjustments or auxiliary aids should contact the Accessibility Resource Center for assistance.
Upon approval of a request for a religious or medical exemption to immunization, individuals may be required to submit to additional requirements (such as on-going testing or other mitigation strategies) and may also be restricted from activities (e.g., living in on campus housing, restrictions regarding classes, inability to participate in sports or extracurricular activities), particularly in the event of an outbreak.
Missouri Revised Statute 174.335 went into effect on August 28, 2014:
174.335.1Beginning with the 2004-05 school year and for each school year thereafter, every public institution of higher education in this state shall require all students who reside in on-campus housing to have received the meningococcal vaccine not more than five years prior to enrollment and in accordance with the latest recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unless a signed statement of medical or religious exemption is on file with the institution’s administration. A student shall be exempted from the immunization requirement of this section upon signed certification by a physician licensed under chapter 334 indicating that either the immunization would seriously endanger the student’s health or life or the student has documentation of the disease or laboratory evidence of immunity to the disease. A student shall be exempted from the immunization requirement of this section if he or she objects in writing to the institution’s administration that immunization violates his or her religious beliefs.
Influenza, COVID-19, or other Vaccination(s) Required by Outside Entity
MWSU health programs, social work programs, education programs and other MWSU programs include field experience and/or a clinical practicum at host sites and/or outside facilities. Those facilities generally require all persons engaged in patient care or client interaction to provide documentation of immunization or demonstrate immunity to communicable diseases as stated in the contracts or as otherwise required by the outside entity. If you are unimmunized, not immune to communicable diseases, or do not meet the health requirements as required by the outside clinical or host site, these facilities reserve the right to consider you ineligible for placement. Missouri Western cannot guarantee clinical or internship placement for students seeking a religious exemption if the student does not meet the clinical or internship requirements as required by the outside entities/facilities. Please note that satisfactory completion of field experience and/or a clinical practicum is a necessary component of many MWSU degree programs; therefore, students who are deemed ineligible for these experiences are likely unable to meet course objectives and complete program degree requirements.
Requests for University accommodations orabsences related to a student’s internship, externship, field placement, or other practical learning experience outside the classroom will be assessed on an individual, case-by-case basis in consultation with the University placement supervisor and the field placement supervisor. Students should understand that if an accommodation is granted by the University, missing time from an internship, externship, field placement, or other practical learning experience may require the student to make‐up the missed time or work and/or could also result in additional time being needed for the student to complete the program. In cases where the student is unable to fulfill their requirements, the University will make every reasonable attempt to assist the student in finding alternative placement to complete the hours. Any University approved accommodations may not fundamentally alter the nature or the course or program in question. If this is not possible, the student may need to withdraw, retake the course if and when external sites change their requirements. Students will be responsible for all costs associated with any repeat courses.
Missouri Western respects the religious beliefs and practices of all employees and will make reasonable workplace accommodations to the work environment, to the way tasks or responsibilities are customarily done, or other changes to allow an employee to participate in observances that enable the employee to participate in his/her religious practice or belief without undue hardship in the conduct of the University’s business or operation.
This procedure applies to all faculty and staff and student-employees of the University
A reasonable religious accommodation may include, for example, providing a time to pray and/or providing the flexibility to wear religious attire.
It is the responsibility of the student to complete and submit a Religious Accommodation Request form to the Assistant Vice President & Dean of Students (AVP/DOS) each semester or term in which accommodation is sought. By the end of the second week of a course, students are expected to examine the course syllabus for potential class conflicts with religious beliefs or practices and submit the Religious Accommodation Request form to seek any requested absence(s) to the AVP/DOS.
In the case of exams or assignments that are added to the syllabus or otherwise announced after the first two weeks of the course, students should submit the Religious Accommodation Request form as soon as possible and in advance of the requested absence(s).
The AVP/DOS will discuss the request with the student and review the Religious Accommodation Request form. The AVP/DOS may discuss the basis of the request with others if necessary to assist with verifying and/or accommodating the request, and may require the student to provide supporting documentation.
The AVP/DOS will determine whether or not reasonable accommodation should be granted, and will generate an Authorization of Religious Accommodation memorandum for the student to use in making requests of faculty members for reasonable accommodation.
It is the responsibility of the student to review the Authorization of Religious Accommodation memorandum with his/her/their faculty members within one week of receipt or no later than one week prior to the date of the first accommodation, whichever date comes first. The faculty member and the student should discuss what a reasonable accommodation should include in a given case.
If the instructor and student agree upon a reasonable accommodation, then the accommodation is implemented.
If there is no consensus on a reasonable accommodation, then the student, the faculty member, or both should seek the advice of the faculty member’s immediate supervisor (Program Coordinator, Department Chair, or Dean) and consult with the AVP/DOS.
It is the responsibility of the student to renew religious accommodations each semester according to the procedures and deadlines described herein. Accommodations do not automatically carry over from semester to semester or from one class to another.
Authorized and reasonable accommodations for religious observances do not relieve the student from responsibility for any part of the course work required during the period of absence. Students are responsible for fulfilling the course requirements, including obtaining the materials and information provided during any missed class(es), and for working with course instructors in advance on an appropriate timeline to submit any missed assignments, take any exams, or complete organized activities.
Once a religious accommodation request is granted, the instructor will provide the student the opportunity to make-up the missed assignments, take any exams, or complete organized activities. In providing this opportunity, the instructor should provide alternatives that are substantially equivalent to the original assignment, exam, or activity.
An employee whose sincerely held religious beliefs conflict with his or her job duties, work schedule, the University’s policy or practice on dress and appearance, or other aspects of their employment, may request a religious accommodation by submitting a request to the Office of Human Resources. Employees must use the Request for Religious Accommodation form to request a religious accommodation, which includes identifying the nature of the conflict as well as the desired accommodation. The Office of Human Resources will evaluate the request in consultation with the employee’s supervisor(s) and determine: (a) whether a conflict exists due to a sincerely held religious belief or practice; and, (b) whether the employee’s requested accommodation is reasonable and resolves the conflict without creating an undue hardship.
Employees seeking to observe their religious beliefs and practices have a responsibility to do their part to help resolve conflicts between job duties and religious needs. To this end, an employee must tell his or her employer about the religious commitment at the time the job is accepted or immediately upon becoming observant or aware of the need for an accommodation. Employees must also be clear when explaining why they need an accommodation. Vague objections such as saying that he or she cannot work on a particular day because of cultural tradition will not suffice; the employee must clearly state that he or she is required not to work because of religious beliefs.
The University will make determinations regarding the implementation of religious accommodations on a case‐by‐case basis. The University will consider a number of factors including but not limited to the: nature and extent of the accommodation requested; duration of the accommodation requested; availability of alternative accommodations; the impact on the employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of their position; and likelihood of an undue hardship on University operations and activities. The University may also suggest an alternative accommodation it deems reasonable to resolve the conflict.
The University prohibits retaliation against students and employees requesting a religious accommodation, participating in an approved accommodation, or otherwise engaging in protected conduct under this procedure. Retaliation includes, but is not limited to threats, intimidation, and/or adverse actions related to employment or student status. Any person who violates this provision may be subject to disciplinary and/or corrective action.
Individuals with questions about this procedure and/or its application or individuals who believe a supervisor, faculty member, or other University employee is not appropriately implementing the predetermined accommodations should report their concerns to the Human Resource Office at (816) 271-4587 or the Assistant Vice President & Dean of Students at (816) 271-5991.