Orientation Events and Religious Accommodations

July 9, 2013

To:       Orientation Co-ordinators

From:   Richard Chambers, Director, U of T Multi-Faith Centre

Re:      Religious Accommodation

In order to support your important role as orientation co-ordinators in September please find below a checklist that may assist with religious accommodation for upcoming orientation planning:

  • Students of any faith looking for prayer spaces and services across campus, or any student looking for a place to chill, can consult the Multi-Faith Centre web site for a listing of spaces at www.multifaith.utoronto.ca Each college or faculty doesn’t have to have designated prayer space, or even remember where existing sites are on campus, students can simply be pointed to the web site.
  • Some faiths do not usually include physical contact between the sexes, therefore mixed games of something as simply as touch tag are going to exclude some students.
  • Most Jewish students will not be on campus on Wed Sept 4, 5 or 6. Jewish students will be observing Rosh Hashanah on beginning at sunset on Wed Sept 4 and through until the end of the day on Fri Sept 6.
  • Normally Kosher suppers are available for Jewish students at the Wolfond Centre, the Jewish student life centre at 36 Harbord St (just west of Robarts Library), however the Centre will be closed for Rosh Hashanah. For complete details of services offered call the Centre at 416-913-2424. Most other food outlets on campus offer Halal food options for Muslim students and vegetarian options for Hindu and other students.
  • Muslim students are welcome to attend Friday afternoon Jumu’ah Prayers, the weekly congregational prayer time for Muslims, on Fri Sept 6, 2013 at:
    • Hart House: 1:20pm
      Multi Faith Centre: 1:20pm
      Hart House: 2:20pm
  • Informal orientation events held in a venue that serves alcohol i.e. holding a planning meeting in a pub, may exclude a number of faith traditions including: Baha’a, Buddhists, Muslims, Mennonites, Salvation Army, and some other Christian students.

Finally, if an orientation co-ordinator or any group leader isn’t sure how to proceed in any given situation there is no shame in asking for advice and input, even from the immediate group they are facilitating. No one could be expected to know all the nuances of the cultures and faiths that make-up Canada’s rich diversity – so check-in with the individual/group – it becomes a learning situation – part of the raison d’etre why we are all here at the University.

Inclusion is not bringing people into what already exists: it is making a new space, a better space for everyone.

                                                                                                George Dei, 2006