Reminders and resources for the new academic year

From the Provost — August 18, 2023

Reminders and resources for the new academic year

Dear Colleagues,
 
What a pleasure it is to welcome new students to The Ohio State University. With the fall semester fast approaching, I’m sharing a variety of reminders and resources for all instructors.
 
Religious accommodations
Ohio State has had a longstanding practice of making reasonable academic accommodations for students’ religious beliefs and practices in accordance with applicable law. This year, we have slightly updated our practice to align with state legislation enacted this spring. Under this new provision, students must be in early communication with their instructors regarding any known accommodation requests for religious beliefs and practices, providing notice of specific dates for which they request alternative accommodations within 14 days after the first instructional day of the course. Instructors in turn shall not question the sincerity of a student’s religious or spiritual belief system in reviewing such requests and shall keep requests for accommodations confidential. 

Further, each course syllabus must include the following statement:

It is Ohio State’s policy to reasonably accommodate the sincerely held religious beliefs and practices of all students. The policy permits a student to be absent for up to three days each academic semester for reasons of faith or religious or spiritual belief.
 
Students planning to use religious beliefs or practices accommodations for course requirements must inform the instructor in writing no later than 14 days after the course begins. The instructor is then responsible for scheduling an alternative time and date for the course requirement, which may be before or after the original time and date of the course requirement. These alternative accommodations will remain confidential. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all course assignments are completed.   

    

Campus Free Speech policy
Our Shared Values include a commitment to diversity and innovation. Pursuant to these values, the university promotes a culture of welcoming differences, making connections among people and ideas, and encouraging open-minded exploration, risk-taking, and freedom of expression. As a land-grant institution, the university takes seriously its role in promoting and supporting public discourse. To that end, Ohio State is steadfastly committed to protecting the First Amendment right to free speech and academic freedom on its campuses, and to upholding the university’s academic motto — “Education for Citizenship.” The Campus Free Speech policy adopted in May supports this commitment.
 
Weather or other short-term closing
Following Policy 6.15  (Weather or Other Short-Term Closing), instructors are to notify students of alternative teaching methods when in-person classes are canceled. Alternative teaching methods can include virtual synchronous class meetings or asynchronous activities, including but not limited to videos, podcasts, supplemental readings, or discussion posts. It is at the discretion of the instructor as to which alternative method of teaching will occur when in-person classes have been canceled under the Weather or Other Short-Term Closing Policy. Instructors teaching multiple sections of the same course are to consult with their TIU head to ensure consistency with the course continuity plan. Instructors are to discuss their continuity plan with students and include language in their syllabus. Examples could include the following:

Should in-person classes be canceled, we will meet virtually via CarmenZoom during our regularly scheduled time. I will share any updates via [CarmenCanvas, email or other mode of communication].

 OR

Should in-person classes be canceled, I will notify you as to which alternative methods of teaching will be offered to ensure continuity of instruction for this class. Communication will be via [CarmenCanvas, email or other mode of communication].

For faculty teaching online, you are encouraged to include the following: “Unless otherwise announced by the university, online or distance-learning classes will occur as scheduled.”
 
Thank you for your dedication to our university. I look forward to the new academic year.
 
Sincerely,

Melissa L. Gilliam
Executive Vice President and Provost