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Office of Institutional Equity

Religious Accommodations

As part of our commitment to diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination, the University makes good faith efforts to reconcile potential conflicts between an individual’s strongly held religious, spiritual or philosophical beliefs and university work or academic requirements.

What is a religious accommodation?

A reasonable religious academic/workplace accommodation is a change in the academic/work environment or in the way academics, tasks or responsibilities are customarily done that enables a student or faculty/staff[1] to participate in their religious practice or belief without undue hardship on the conduct of the University's business or operation. 

COVID-19

If you wish to submit proof of your COVID-19 vaccination or request a religious exception for the COVID-19 vaccine requirement, please do so via the University’s Vaccine Management System (VMS) that will launch on July 1, 2021. The VMS will be accessible via the myJH portal when it goes live on July 1. 

After you complete your submission, you will receive automated responses and updates from the system as your documents or exception requests are processed by the John Hopkins Exception Review Team.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact oie@jhu.edu.

Submitting a religious accommodation request

To have your request for a religious academic/workplace accommodation considered, please review the following process:

1. Recognizing a Religious Accommodation Request

The Office of Institutional Equity ("OIE") receives and reviews all religious accommodation requests, including but not limited to vaccine exception requests. The interactive process starts when a student or employee submits a religious accommodation request. Whenever possible, such requests should be submitted no less than 30 days in advance of the desired accommodation.[2] It is important for student affairs representatives, faculty, human resources, and supervisors to recognize a request and to refer the student or employee to OIE to initiate the interactive process. 

2. Gathering Information

OIE asks students and employees to complete the religious accommodation request form. This form asks for information on the specific religious belief or conviction - whether religious, spiritual, or philosophical - that is the basis of the request, as well as the requested accommodation or modification to policy, practice, or schedule. OIE will then gather the necessary information to consider the request. In some cases, OIE may need to obtain additional information and/or documentation about the student or employee's religious or spiritual practice(s) or belief(s). OIE may need to discuss the nature of the religious belief(s, practice(s), and accommodation(s) with a student or employee's spiritual leader (if applicable) or religious or philosophy scholars to address the request for an exception.

3. Exploring Religious Accommodation Options

OIE will consider reasonable religious accommodation requests on a case?by?case basis and consider factors, including but not limited to the:

  • Nature of the accommodation requested;
  • Fundamental requirements of the applicable academic program and/or related technical standards;
  • Essential functions of an individual's job;
  • Duties of others in the department or job group;
  • Requirements of the department or major; 
  • Duration of the request;
  • Availability of alternative accommodations;
  • Financial impact;
  • Academic impact;
  • Any undue hardship resulting from the requested accommodation; and
  • Other related factors.

OIE will endeavor to protect the requesting student or employee’s privacy in evaluating and processing the accommodation to the greatest extent possible. However, following receipt of the request, OIE will speak with a student’s faculty and/or student affairs representative, or an employee’s supervisor and/or department in order to further evaluate and/or implement the religious accommodation. The University may suggest an alternative accommodation it deems reasonable to accommodate a request. If there is more than one option, the student affairs representative or employer will balance a student or employee’s expressed preference with operational or academic considerations.

Religious accommodations can take many forms. Some examples include:

  • Permitting a student or employee to take a particular day or time period off for a religious holiday;
  • Permitting flexible scheduling; and
  • Providing a student or employee with a time and place to pray.

4. Implementing the Religious Accommodation

To communicate the final accommodation, OIE will issue in writing a religious accommodation approval letter to the employee or student, and copy those relevant individuals (i.e. student affairs representatives, faculty, managers, and/or supervisors) who participated in the interactive process.

5. Monitoring the Religious Accommodation

Because changes occur, student affairs representatives and employers may need to periodically check on the ongoing effectiveness of religious accommodations. The most effective way to monitor religious accommodations is to encourage ongoing communication.

Religious accommodations remain in effect through the date included on the approval letter unless the student or employee is notified by the University of a change. Students and employees must generally submit religious accommodation requests annually.

 

Student Vaccine Exception Requests:

Whenever possible, students should submit vaccine exception requests to OIE at least 30 days in advance of Pre-Entrance Health Requirement Deadlines and OIE will do its best to respond in a timely manner.  It is difficult to say with certainty how long it can take to process requests, as many factors could impact timing (i.e., volume, complexity and availability of the student for follow up questions and/or their ability to timely provide supporting documentation).  Once OIE has all supporting documentation, it will strive for a 5 business day turnaround.

Employee Flu Vaccine Exception Requests

Whenever possible, employees should submit vaccine exception requests to OIE at least 30 days in advance of Johns Hopkins Medicine Compliance Deadlines and OIE will do its best to respond in a timely manner. It is difficult to say with certainty how long it can take to process requests, as many factors could impact timing (i.e., volume, complexity and availability of the student for follow up questions and/or their ability to timely provide supporting documentation). Once OIE has all supporting documentation, it will strive for a 5 business day turnaround.

 

Homewood Housing Requests:

The university recognizes that student observance of their faith may require special consideration for housing assignments. In an effort to meet individual students’ needs, Housing Operations will work directly with the Office of Institutional Equity and the Office of Religious & Spiritual Life for assigning students who are approved for religion-based housing accommodations.

To request a religious-based housing accommodation, students should submit the Homewood Campus: University Housing Religious Accommodation Request Form to the Office of Institutional Equity by the following deadlines based on their class. Please note that accommodation requests received past the deadline will not be considered until after housing assignments are determined. 

  • Rising sophomores (Class of 2025): Thursday, March 3, 2022
  • Incoming students (Class of 2026 and transfer sophomores): TBD

Questions regarding applying for housing should be directed to Housing Operations at (410) 516-7960 or housing@jhu.edu.

 

Homewood Student Dining Options

Kosher Meal Plans: The university offers several Kosher meal plan options that can be used at the The Taam Tov section of the Fresh Food Cafe. The Orthodox Union certifies the Kosher program and offers lunch and dinner Sundays through Thursdays and lunch on Fridays. There are also Kosher retail items available for purchase at the Charles Street Market (Char Mar).

First-Year Residential Students Living on Campus: You can sign up for a kosher meal plan while registering for housing the summer before you arrive on campus.

Second-Year Resident Students Living in McCoy or Charles Commons: You can sign up for a kosher meal plan while registering for housing the spring of your first year.

Second-year Residential Students Living in Homewood Apartments, Bradford, or Rogers’s House: You can sign up for a kosher meal plan while registering for housing the spring of your first year or by signing up for meal plans on the Housing Portal.

Upperclassmen and Off-Campus Students: Please e-mail Dining@jhu.edu to request a Kosher meal plan.

Please contact dining@jhu.edu or consult the Hopkins dining webpage if you have additional questions.

Ramadan Meal Options: Hopkins Dining is happy to add additional services and holiday specific menu items for students during Ramadan. After feedback from the Muslim Student Association and students around campus, Dining Services made adjustments to meal plan accesses to allow for students to retrieve an additional meal, from either the Fresh Food Cafe or Nolan’s, during dinner service, for the following morning. Charles St. Market will have retail items available daily that students have identified as staples during the Ramadan holiday; i.e. yogurt, dates, fruit juices, dried fruits, cuisine inspired entrees as well as some desserts often enjoyed during Ramadan. Leading up to the holiday, Dining Services will continue to refine their planning and will distribute full details to students prior to the beginning of Ramadan. In the meantime, they welcome feedback or questions from students who can reach them at dining@jhu.edu.

 

 [1] Faculty/staff are hereafter referred to as “employee(s).”

 [2] Students who cannot take a quiz, test, or final exam on a scheduled date due to a religious observance must inform OIE of any conflicts before the semester’s add/drop deadline, or as soon as possible after a particular assignment or examination date is announced.