COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A new Ohio law will provide college students with more flexibility when it comes to observing religious holidays.
House Bill 353, known as the Testing Your Faith Act, requires higher education institutions to give students a minimum of three days every semester and also provide accommodations in order to observe religious holidays.
The bipartisan-backed bill was signed by Gov. Mike DeWine Tuesday.
Amina Barhumi, executive director of The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio) said HB 353 keeps the religious exemption decisions from professors or universities uniform across the board.
“What this legislation should be doing is ensuring that there are clear policies, so students understand that this is their right,” Barhumi said. “They have the ability to take those days off without repercussions.”
Barhumi said the organization hears from students every year looking for support navigating the process of requesting religious exemptions.
“As a civil rights and advocacy organization, a lot of our work has to do with accommodations,” she said. “Often times issues and dilemma when there are Muslims who want to be able to practice their faith but are attempting to navigate a system of bureaucracy.”
Barhumi says the new law is a win for students of all faiths.
The new law provides a timeline in which students must notify a professor of their religious exemption requests. The law states the student must provide the instructor with written notice of specific dates no later than 14 days after the first day of instruction in a particular course.