Everyone knows that Mills strives to be a place where equality, diversity and the enjoyment of variety are taken seriously. So it pains me when Mills makes a blatant oversight that could negatively, and embarrassingly, affect students.
Mills must know that it has a Jewish student population; students have a yearly Seder at the chapel and a Jewish Student Union was tentatively formed. So it makes me wonder why Mills would schedule finals for Saturday, the day of the Jewish Sabbath. Orthodox or otherwise observant Jews would be entirely unable to come to Mills to take an exam on what they consider to be a day of rest-to the most observant, starting a car or otherwise traveling more than a few miles on Shabbat is impossible. Seventh Day Adventists hold similar values on the principles of rest and worship on Saturdays, running in to much of the same problems.
Even as a Reform Jew, something about Mills’ decision to have finals on a Saturday did not sit well with me. Even if Jewish students got dispensation from their professors to take the exam another day, no Christian student has to go through the same trouble: there are no finals on Sunday.
In addition, the Jewish student would either be delayed in taking their final exam, which would potentially interfere with their other finals or give them more time to study (which would be unfair to the other students), or would have to take the exam earlier, giving them less time to study than their peers.
The clear issue here is that Mills is obviously ignoring a part of their population, and the only people that lose in the equation are the Jewish students and the professors who must accommodate them due to the College’s oversight. And no student wants to inconvenience their teachers, or be singled out as different.
I understand the College copes with only having so many hours in the week to schedule multiple finals for hundreds of students. But I am also well aware of the fact that Mills is populated with intensely clever, creative people who could surely remedy this problem.
I hope the College recognizes that by ignoring their Jewish population, they unwittingly disparage their image as a place where diversity is carefully and thoughtfully considered. In scheduling finals on Saturday, Mills becomes no better than an empty purveyor of the status quo.