20 October 2007

University Recognizes Pagan Holydays

After several controversial requests, the university's policy regarding absences excused for religious reasons is under review, and the decision has been made to add Pagan holidays to the list of excusable holidays.

"Based on the research I've done, Paganism is practiced by a group of people large enough for it to be considered a major religion," Steve Hensley, dean of student affairs, said.

The Parthenon Online Student Newspaper

The above comes from Marshall University in West Virginia. I find the time and place of the decision somewhat interesting but I'm still impressed by Mr. Hensley. The timing is a little odd in that we're nearing Hallowe'en or Samhain and the fundies as well as some pagans are all up in arms about the Assault on Halloween and tasteless Halloween decorations but I bet Marshall's pagan students feel great. Good for them.

I was curious about other universities that excuse students for pagan holidays and I found a few. According to this 2002 Fox article the University of Arizona as well as Lehigh University in Pennsylvania also excuse students who honor the pagan holidays. Denison U in Ohio includes the pagan holidays on their sacred calendar as well. I found a few other references to pagan holidays being recognized by colleges and universities but several of them were older, timed out articles.

After that my goooogle search kinda petered out but it's still plain that the recognition of pagan holidays on school calendars might one day become commonplace and the recent Marshall University decision speaks to that. I think it's a good thing and a natural result of the growth of neopaganism within the typical college-age young adult crowd. I was in my early twenties when I was called to neopaganism as are many who spend their twenties searching for something meaningful to fulfill their lives. I look forward to learning of more universities and colleges reaching similar decisions in the future.

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