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Shorter winter break has some UC students fuming

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POSTED February 3, 2014 9:40 p.m.

DAVIS (AP) — A change to the academic calendar at some University of California campuses to accommodate religious holidays is not sitting well with some students.

An online petition against the change posted by a University of California, Davis student last month has garnered more than 27,000 signatures, according to newspaper reports.

At issue is a UC policy requiring that no move-in day — when students can move into residence halls — conflict with a major religious holiday. The Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah falls at the end of September this year. As a result, UC campuses on the quarter system have delayed the start of the fall quarter until Sept. 29.

That, however, means students will have a shorter winter break — two weeks instead of three weeks.

Petition supporters say they need three weeks to recover from the previous quarter. The extra time also allows them to get a seasonal job and earn money, they say.

Petitioners also have voiced concerns about the university’s policy about religious holidays, saying a public school should not show preference to any religion. The policy, which has been in place since 2007, was last invoked in 2009, when the move-in dates for the two UC schools on a semester system were adjusted to accommodate students observing Ramadan, the Sacramento Bee reported Monday.

The petition seeks an additional week of winter break at the eight UC campuses on the quarter system.

But Brooke Converse, a spokeswoman for the University of California Office of the President, said that’s not possible.

“What it comes down to is, we understand the students have concerns, but it is not viable to change the calendar at this point,” she said.

Adding a week to the winter break for the 2014-15 academic year would push back the start date for the following fall. Changing the dates also would affect events and conferences with contractual obligations, officials said.

UC Davis student Naftali Moed, who is Jewish, said he was bothered by the petition. Moed, who is from San Francisco, usually spends Rosh Hashanah with his family at his hometown synagogue.

He told the Bee he wants to be able to move in like a “normal person.”

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