Religion and Religious Festivals

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Religion

Things to consider

  • Consider religious festivals and celebrations when planning deadlines and events. It may not always be possible to avoid deadlines falling at these times, but helpful if this can be a consideration.
  • It is good and inclusive practice to be aware of religious festivals and cultural celebrations and to acknowledge them. For example; at the start of a lecture you may say Eid Mubarak or Happy Hannukah.
  • It is important to not make assumptions about students’ cultural and religious beliefs and rituals.
  • Be aware that students and colleagues may have spiritual beliefs that do not align themselves to religious traditions, such as paganisms or other new religious movements.
  • There is a variety of identities and expression among all religious traditions: a view held by one person may not be shared with another identifying with the same group.
  • Not all expressions of religious or spiritual identities are visible or marked by way of appearance or dress.
  • Some religious festivals may fall during term time, and reasonable accommodations may need to be made.

Religion

Religion impacts upon everyone’s lives. It is part of society, culture and politics, and it plays a role in shaping events nationally and globally. Irrespective of whether an individual is religious or not, the ability to engage with religious individuals or matters of religion needs to be taken seriously by everyone in a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Student feedback indicated that students would like to see greater diversity in the celebration of religious festivals and events, and catering.

We need to recognise other religious festivals beyond Christmas! (EHU student)

We have included calendar of different religious celebrations and festivals and some considerations for both students and staff when planning deadlines for academic work, catering menus and events.

In this video, EHU students talk about what they want staff to know in order to better support Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic students at university.

Religious Expression

Religious expression refers to the different ways that people choose to express their religion to others. People choose to express their faith outwardly in many ways. This can be done through wearing certain clothes or displaying symbols. For example, Christians may wear a crucifix as an item of jewellery.

Religious and spiritual expressions are rich in the use of symbols. It is through actions, words and objects that religious believers express their religious identity. Religious traditions are sometimes also associated with certain types of dress. However, this is not always the case, and how someone dresses can be a matter of personal taste or fashion.

In many religions, people are required to dress modestly. This is often rooted in sacred texts or traditional practices. For example, many Muslim women wear a hijab or veil to protect their modesty. Jewish men may wear a kippah or a black hat to cover their heads.

Not all religious people choose to do this and in the UK one has the right to choose. Religious clothing and expression are always a matter of personal choice.

Religious Festivals Calendar

The religious and cultural festivals calendar is available for staff to use when planning.

2021 religious festivals – Resources – The Inter Faith Network (IFN)

Things to consider when planning are:

  • Consider that staff and students may wish to have time with family to celebrate significant religious events in the calendar.
  • Times that some staff and students may be Fasting such as Ramadan and Lent. Consider deadlines for assignments, or late classes and how this may affect students and staff who may be Fasting where possible.
  • If organising events, ensure staff and students who may be fasting are catered for during the time with food and drink they are permitted to have.

Supporting the Journey

The Multi-Cultural Society

In the video below, EHU students Mez, Nuku and Robert discuss the benefits of joining The Multi-Cultural Society at Edge Hill.

Multi-Cultural Society (MCS) is a home away from home for anyone who is feeling homesick, wanting to make new friends, or is looking for something to do on a weekly basis. There is no commitment to MCS, you can go as often or as little as you want but each time, you will be welcomed with a smile by the committee and members. MCS aim to encourage students to participate in games nights, discussions, debates and much more. MCS promotes friendships beyond the University, participation in new and exciting activities and for students to learn more about each other and themselves.

You don’t need to have a culture, religion, or belief to join the Multi-Cultural Society – everyone is welcome, no matter what. If students would like to get involved, they can follow them on Instagram (@ehumcs) and send them a message to join the WhatsApp group which is their first form of contact. Meetings are currently happening every Tuesday at 6.00pm via Zoom, however they hope to continue with in-person sessions once restrictions are lifted when they will also be going on big group trips to paintballing, the cinema, mini-golf, bowling, escape rooms and much more!

Accommodation

Same sex halls

Edge Hill University offers this option to applicants who want to request living with the same sex in their flat, for example, female only should the student need to live in a flat with same sex for religious and cultural reasons. Whilst the majority of applicants prefer a mixed flat, offering a same sex option provides an inclusive option for students who require this type of living environment. The same sex option only applies to the residents who occupy a bed-space within the flat and does not prevent male students, visitors or staff from entering the flat.

Quiet halls

Edge Hill University offers quiet hall options to applicants who want to request a quieter living environment. Whilst there is an expectation across campus regarding noise levels within all halls of residence, the quiet hall option tends to match students together who are like-minded.

Faith and Community Service

The Faith and Community Service at Edge Hill seeks to serve both staff and students, of all faiths and none, helping to create a welcoming community on campus. The service offers faith advice and support for those that want it, however we do have a strict non-proselytising policy. There is also a listening ear service and students often access the Faith and Community Service for pastoral support and simply to chat to somebody who is caring and supportive in a non-judgemental environment.  We can signpost to external organisations if accessing support within a particular faith or denomination is required that is not covered by the team and as part of Student Services we can signpost to wellbeing support or other services if relevant.

The Faith and Community Service is staffed by a team of volunteers and the current team exists of three Christian Chaplains; a Reverend from the Methodist church and two church leaders from non-denominational churches in Southport and Ormskirk, and a Jewish Rabbi. Further recruitment is ongoing and we hope to add to the team to support the entire demographic at the University in the near future. Find out more information about Faith and Community Service online.

There is a Faith and Reflection Room on campus in the Magnolia Building at Forest Court Halls.  It is used for prayer, reflection and quiet time and is a comfortable space with tea and coffee making facilities. Wash facilities are also available for ablution. Individuals can drop in but it can also be booked by individuals and groups for matters of faith and spirituality. It is accessible 24 hours a day; by Unicard swipe between 6.00am and 9.00pm and via Campus Support outside of these times.  If a swipe card isn’t working to access the building then Campus Support can add access to your card from the SCIC.

Current bookings in the Faith and Reflection Room are for Christian prayer and Bible study, guided meditation and Muslim prayer. Further information can be found on the Faith and Community webpages and to give feedback, make enquires or bookings please contact [email protected].

The service is always seeking to evolve to meet the need of the staff and student body and would be very responsive to feedback and suggestions. If you need any further information about the service please email the Faith and Community Service Co-ordinator at [email protected].

What you should do

  • Be aware of religious festivals and cultural celebrations and to acknowledge them. For example; at the start of a lecture you may say Eid Mubarak or Happy Hannukah.
  • Consider religious festivals and celebrations when planning deadlines and events. It may not always be possible to avoid deadlines falling at these times, but helpful if this can be a consideration.
  • Discuss the range of ways students can socialise on campus and how they could meet other students from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups via the Students’ Union societies, if they are feeling isolated.

Resources

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