Sunday, November 04, 2007

Pagan students can take time off to observe religious holidays

I don't think it's a smart idea to give students another excuse for cutting class.

At Marshall University, pagan students are now allowed to miss classes to observe religious holidays or festivals.

A new policy makes the university in Huntington, W.Va., with an enrollment of about 14,000, possibly the only college in the country to protect pagans formally from being penalized for missing classes, although many institutions have policies intended to protect students of every faith.

One Marshall student, George Fain, took advantage of the policy on Thursday, missing class in observance of Samhain, a pagan and Wiccan holiday honoring the dead.

“I think we may have opened a door,” Ms. Fain said of the policy. “Now that we know we can be protected, that the government will stand behind us and we feel safe, it’s going to be more prevalent.”

The decision to allow pagan students to make up missed work is an extension of existing policy toward members of other religious groups, said Steve Hensley, the dean of student affairs at Marshall.