University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

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Religious, Spiritual, and Secular Inclusion at Illinois

Diwali, Indiian Festival of Lights on University of Illinois Quad. The paths are lined with candles. The dome of Foellinger is lit.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has a rich history of religious and interfaith engagement and is home to the first Wesley Methodist Center (1913), first Hillel Center for Jewish Life (1923), first Muslim Students’ Association (1963) and the largest Newman Catholic Center in the United States. As a public land grant institution, the University of Illinois supports and celebrates the many religious and spiritual faith traditions of our students, faculty, and staff.

There are numerous campus-wide and community resources in place to support the religious, spiritual, and secular identities of members of the University of Illinois community. Below are some key resources for individuals navigating religious life on campus.

Supporting Religious Inclusion

Religious Observances in Course and Event Planning

When planning course and campus events, such as assignments, exams, and programs, the University of Illinois encourages faculty and staff, as well as student organizations to be aware of religious observances that may prevent U of I students, faculty, and staff from fully participating.

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion maintains a Religious Observances Calendar to aid with planning as well as to build awareness of the range of religious and cultural observances celebrated by members of the University of Illinois. This calendar is not all-inclusive and is not intended to exclude any religion, sacred time, or days of religious observance.

Students, faculty, and staff observing religious traditions may also have specific dietary needs that may also require some individuals to fast or adjust their diet. In addition to providing for the specific dietary needs of individuals, it is important to consider how these needs may affect plans for programs and services on campus.

Academic and Workplace Accommodations

Illinois law requires the University to reasonably accommodate its students’ religious beliefs, observances, and practices in regard to admissions, class attendance, and the scheduling of examinations and work requirements. Students, faculty, and staff have the right to request accommodations, which may range from excused absences to adjusted examination schedules and workplace requirements based on religious or spiritual practices.

The Office of the Dean of Students and the Office for Access & Equity are the campus units responsible for reviewing these accommodation requests. General information about religious accommodations can be found on the Office of Access and Equity website and the Student Code.

Students – Request an Academic Accommodation (Class Attendance, Test Scheduling)

Employees – Request a Workplace Accommodation (Faculty, Staff, Student Employees)

Have you received an accommodation that has not been honored? Find out how you can report a concern.

Campus Resources

Dietary Needs

University Housing – Dining Services

For students living on campus in University Housing, Dining Services offers Halal, Kosher, vegan, and vegetarian options for residents, and includes a meal tracker so students can quickly identify dining options that meet their needs. They also maintain information also includes information for residents observing Passover and Ramadan.

In Champaign-Urbana, several student and local organizations also maintain resources for members of the campus community who observe religious dietary practices. Please contact these organizations for additional information.

Illini Chabad Kosher Meal Plan

Illini Chabad works with a number of campus units to help provide a range of different Kosher dining options. Beginning Fall 2021, Illni Chabad will offer an on-site Kosher Meal Plan for both their residents and non-residents.

Illini Hillel Kosher Food on Campus

Illini Hillel operates Café Sababa, which provides a number of Kosher catering and walk-up ordering options. Additionally, Hillel provides free Kosher meals during Shabbat and Jewish holidays and Kosher for Passover meals for sale during Passover.

Muslim Students Association Information for Incoming Students

The UIUC Muslim Students’ Association maintains resources for incoming students, including a list of local restaurants and markets that sell Zabiha food.

Prayer and Reflection Spaces

There are several designated public reflection rooms for prayer, meditation, or contemplation. These rooms are first come, first served, and individuals are asked to limit their usage to 15 minutes. Access to the spaces is dependent on each building’s hours of operation.

  • Illini Union, Room 254  (Within the Student Org Complex)
  • Grainger Library, Room 051  (Lower Level next to the East stairwell. If locked, check out a key from the library front desk.)
  • Undergraduate Library, Rooms 163 & 165
  • Illinois Street Residence Hall, Room 66  (Residents may check out a key to the reflection room from the ISR Front Desk. A foot washing station is located in the gender-inclusive restroom across from the reflection room.)
  • Activities & Recreation Center, Reflection Room (Concourse Level next to Auditorium entrance)

Religious, Spiritual and Secular Student Organizations

The University of Illinois hosts over 1,000 registered student organizations (RSO), and many religious, spiritual, secular, and cultural organizations. To learn more about current RSOs, visit the Involved @ Illinois portal hosted by the Office of Student Success and Engagement. You can find religious organizations both in the “Cultural” as well as “Faith, Religion & Spirituality” categories. This portal represents only current registered student organizations. To learn how to start your own organization, visit the Student Organization Development & Administration page.

Religious Organizations in the Community

Religious Workers’ Association

RWA is an association of religious leaders serving the campus community. Their website includes a directory of campus-facing religious organizations.

Interfaith Alliance of Champaign County

A coalition of faith communities united to support the common good in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.

Ministerial Alliance of Champaign-Urbana & Vicinity

A coalition of ministers that direct historically African-American Christian Churches in the area.

Interfaith and Inter-religious Engagement

Illinois Interfaith Planning Initiative

Since 2011, the Illinois Interfaith Planning Initiative has worked to create programs designed to invite interfaith engagement, understanding, and cooperation for the University of Illinois community. Regular events include a collaborative interfaith planning group hosts regular interfaith series of programs, including a monthly “First Tuesday” interfaith dialogue and an annual conference on college student interfaith engagement. Partners in this effort include the Office of Volunteer Programs, University Housing, Diversity & Social Justice Education, Hillel Center for Jewish Life, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and the Muslim Students’ Association. For more information on current events, follow the Illinois Interfaith Facebook page.

Certificate in Interfaith Studies

The Department of Religion offers a Certificate in Interfaith Studies, a 9-credit hour requirement that provides undergraduate students with both practical and theoretical understanding of interfaith work.

How to Report a Concern

If you have received a religious accommodation that is not honored by an instructor, you may appeal that decision to the dean of the academic unit offering the course. Before taking action, the dean or director should request that the instructor explain their decision in writing.

Employees who have received a religious accommodation, and believe their accommodation is not being honored by their supervisor or unit, should contact the Office for Access & Equity.

If you have other concerns about anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or other forms of religious intolerance or negative behavior that affects campus community belonging, you can submit your concern to the Campus Belonging Resources staff in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at go.illinois.edu/campusbelonging.