University Policies Relating to Religious Observance, Harassment and Discrimination
Certain policies of the University of Massachusett Amherst are particularly relevant to the religious observance and religious expression of our students, staff, and faculty. Here are the most important such policies:
Class Absence for Religious Observance
Some major religious holidays (Rosh Hashanah, Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr) fell during the first week of classes in Fall 2010. For more information about the University's policy, and the steps we took to accommodate our Jewish and Muslim students, click here.
Residential Candle Policy
Holiday Fire Safety Guidelines (Environmental Health & Safety)
Guidelines for Classroom Civility and Respect
Code of Student Conduct
Housing and Residential Life policies
Online and phone surveys of UMass Amherst students are conducted by the Student Assessment, Research, and Evaluation Office (SAREO). These surveys help the administration measure student satisfaction and identify problems that need to be addressed. Here are some of the surveys relating to religion and spirituality.
According to the most recent Spirituality Survey (Spring 2002), 6.2 percent of under-graduates at UMass Amherst identified their "religious or spiritual orientation" as Jewish. However, it should be noted that the precise number of "cultural" or "secular" Jews who do not identify themselves as Jewish in religious or spiritual terms is unknown.
Spirituality Survey (2002)
Spirituality Survey (1995)
Survey of Campus Climate for Jewish Students (Anti-Semitism)
This survey was formerly titled "Anti-Semitism"; but we changed the name in 2008 to reflect a broader range of questions and a different environment.
These periodic surveys assess the extracurricular, residential, and classroom experiences of Jewish students. The questions have remained fairly consistent since the survey's inception in 1991, although in 2004 some questions were added to explore Jewish students' perceptions of criticism of Israel by professors, other students, and columnists in the student newspaper. (It turns out that 30-40 percent of Jewish students consider any criticism of Israel to be inherently anti-Semitic.) In 2008 we added several questions regarding religious observance.
2008 Campus Climate for Jewish Students (details)
2004 Anti-Semitism (summary)
2004 Anti-Semitism (details)
2000 Anti-Semitism (summary)
2000 Anti-Semitism (details)
1997 Anti-Semitism (details)
The 1991 and 1994 anti-Semitism surveys are not currently available online.
Please contact us if you would like copies of those surveys.
Jewish Life Survey
This one-time survey of Jewish students was sponsored by Hillel and the Office of Jewish Affairs (referred to in the survey by its initial working title, "Program for Issues of Jewish Awareness and Anti-Semitism").
Jewish Life Survey (1996)
Religion among the Millenials
Less religiously active than older Americans, but fairly traditional in other ways
A fascinating article about the changing religious demographics of the so-called "Millenial" generation those born after 1980 who came of age around the year 2000.
(The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 2/17/10)
U.S. Religious Landscape Survey
This comprehensive survey "explores the shifts taking place in the U.S. religious landscape. Based on interviews with more than 35,000 Americans age 18 and older, the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey finds that religious affiliation in the U.S. is both very diverse and extremely fluid" (from Report 1: Religious Affiliation), and that "most Americans have a non-dogmatic approach to faith" (from Report 2: Religious Beliefs and Practices).
(The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, August 2007)
Increasing percentage of Americans claim no religious identity
"78% of Americans identify with some form of Christian religion, a proportion that has been declining in recent decades. The major reason for this decline has been an increase in the percentage of Americans claiming no religious identity, now at 13% of all adults..."
(Gallup poll 12/24/09)
Changing Faiths: Latinos and the Transformation of American Religion
"Hispanics are transforming the nation's religious landscape, especially the Catholic Church, not only because of their growing numbers but also because they are practicing a distinctive form of Christianity. Religious expressions associated with the pentecostal and charismatic movements are a key attribute of worship for Hispanics in all the major religious traditions far more so than among non-Latinos. Moreover, the growth of the Hispanic population is leading to the emergence of Latino-oriented churches across the country."
(The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 4/25/07)