Wendy Kalman
There are many ways to see and understand

UGA did it again

In 2016, UGA’s homecoming concert was on Yom Kippur. It was the only day the stadium was available. Not considerate, but not the end of the world. In 2017, the school held its Fall Career Day on Rosh Hashana. This is more of an issue because of how important this fair can be. (Believe me, I know. One of my sons went to his school’s fall career day in his senior year, and the conversation he had with a team leader – not a recruiter – led to another phone conversation and then a hard offer and a great job waiting for him months later after graduation with that man’s team.)

As I understand from a post getting traction on Facebook, administration was made aware last year and said it wouldn’t happen again. And yet…

Here it is 2018 and UGA’s Fall Career Fair is now scheduled on Yom Kippur.

According to the event page, “The Career Center is committed to providing access for all people.” But according to its scheduling, that apparently doesn’t include Jewish students who observe their religion’s holiest day on the calendar.

According to that same Facebook post, conversations with a number of people affiliated with the university essentially indicated that under the current administration, the school might verbally promise but won’t put anything into writing.

What I see is that even verbal promises mean nothing.

I might also note that Georgia Tech’s Career fair is also on September 20…but since it is a two-day fair and takes place on September 19 as well, Jewish students need not feel torn between fasting, praying and doing no work on the one hand and attending the college fair to help them set up their future on the other.

What I also see is something I’ve seen elsewhere and even wrote about in my blog about inclusion and diversity efforts. Organizations make special efforts to recruit from different groups, among them women, people of color, LGBT, handicapped, etc., but never among religious groups. My explanation is that if it is a federal protected class that you cannot refuse to hire, then employers won’t be thinking about targeting them in any way. Regardless of the reason, when organizations move to be inclusive and focus on the same groups they targeted to hire, they overlook religion. And so, whether the administrators, executives, HR personnel, etc. realize it or not, their organizations are being exclusionary.

And that’s why I find it both particularly ironic and infuriating that UGA’s Diversity and Inclusions Recruiting Event is running simultaneously to the school’s main Career Event. On Yom Kippur.

As I pointed out in my blog, it is not difficult to import an Outlook or Google calendar for Jewish holidays or for Muslim holidays. And I am sure they exist for Hindu or others as well.  But in the meantime, let me make it easy for public school teachers who schedule major tests, colleges that schedule career fairs, employers that schedule company town halls – here are the dates for the next few years. Please note that on the Jewish calendar, each holiday begins at sundown the evening before the first day listed and ends at sundown as well.

Rosh Hashana falls on September 20 and October 1 in 2019 and September 19 and 20 again in 2020.  Yom Kippur falls ten days later, on October 9, 2019 and on September 28, 2020.

Please mark it in your calendars.

Today.

Update: As the post about this spread on Facebook, someone got Hillel involved and someone wrote to the Career Center. Its reply, on Facebook:

UGA Career Center’s response:

“We sincerely regret this mistake and have reached out through UGA student leaders and HillelUGA and offered to personally meet with any students who are impacted by this conflict, collecting resumes to hand deliver to their employers of choice, and offering to provide individual career assistance. Please know that we have already scheduled our future career fairs with the Classic Center through 2023 and there will be no other conflicts with the Jewish High Holy Days in those years. As we look toward future fairs beyond 2023, we will make sure that this does not happen again.”

In two years’ time the holidays fall around the same days. Let’s hope there really is no conflict. And that potential employers weigh these resumes with the same consideration they give to those from students they speak to at the fair. For my son, the conversation he had in person and in a subsequent phone call made all the difference. ­

About the Author
Born in Brooklyn, raised on Lawn Guyland, Wendy lived in Jerusalem for over a decade submerged in Israeli culture, and has been soaked in Southern life in metro Atlanta since returning to the U.S. in 2003. An Ashkenazi mom of three Mizrahi sons, 26, 23 and 18, Wendy splits her time between corporate America, veejaying, blogging, enjoying the arts and spending time with her wonderful fiancé.
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