CUNY Breaks Ground: Designates Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, as Official Holidays

Along With New York Public Schools, CUNY Colleges Will Not Be in Session in Observance of the Holidays Starting in Spring 2025

By Mohammad Imran Hossain (Ansary)
Published Mon, Feb 19, 2024 11:28 PM

In a groundbreaking move aimed at fostering diversity and inclusion, the City University of New York (CUNY) has become one of the first universities in the nation to designate Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Lunar New Year, and Diwali as official holidays on its academic calendar. This decision comes following a vote by the CUNY Board of Trustees, announced today by CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez.

Starting from the Spring 2025 semester, CUNY will observe these significant cultural and religious holidays. Classes will be suspended on January 29, 2025, in honor of Lunar New Year, March 31, 2025, for Eid al-Fitr, June 5, 2025, for Eid al-Adha, and October 20, 2025, for Diwali.

“This historic decision aligns CUNY with the rich tapestry of cultures and faiths that make up our vibrant city,” remarked William C. Thompson Jr., Chairperson of the CUNY Board of Trustees. “It underscores our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, ensuring that all members of our community have the freedom to observe their traditions without hindrance.”

Chancellor Matos Rodríguez emphasized the importance of representing and respecting the diverse religious and cultural backgrounds of CUNY's student body. He stated, “Students who observe these holidays will now have the assurance that they can honor their traditions without the concern of academic responsibilities. This is a significant step forward for inclusivity at CUNY.”

The decision has been met with widespread acclaim, particularly from student leaders who have long advocated for greater recognition of religious diversity on campus. Salimatou Doumbouya, chairperson of the CUNY University Student Senate, expressed pride in the university’s commitment to equity, calling it a "historic win" for all students.

Reflecting on the significance of the decision, Khandakr Sheuly Akter, a Muslim student at CUNY, shared her appreciation, stating, " Democracy need diversity inclusion , other universities should follow this path ."

Similarly, Joynal Abedin, President of the Bangladeshi American Advocacy Group, hailed the decision as a victory after years of advocacy. Abedin expressed optimism that other universities across the nation would follow suit in recognizing the importance of Eid holidays.

CUNY’s decision brings it in line with New York State law and New York City Public Schools, which also observe these holidays. Additionally, CUNY already recognizes widely observed federal holidays like Christmas and Juneteenth and suspends classes during Passover, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur.

Furthermore, CUNY reaffirmed its commitment to accommodating religious observances through existing protocols. Students, faculty, and staff have the right to request religious accommodations under New York State Education Law 224-A and CUNY policy. A recent promotional campaign launched by CUNY aims to raise awareness about these accommodations across the university.

With this landmark decision, CUNY sets a precedent for universities nationwide, demonstrating its dedication to fostering an inclusive environment where all members of its diverse community feel valued and respected.