Business freshman Eliana Schuller successfully petitioned to reschedule the Class of 2021 photo to promote inclusivity and respect of Yom Kippur.
The 2021 photo was originally scheduled during Horns Up Night but was canceled to accommodate students affected by Hurricane Harvey. The photo was rescheduled for Friday, the first day of Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday that usually consists of a large meal followed by a 25-hour fast beginning at sundown. Schuller said two days after her petition went live, the University announced the photo would be rescheduled again.
Schuller said Yom Kippur is regarded as the holiest day of the year for the Jewish community.
“Having the photo at 5:45 p.m. (today) would’ve conflicted with that,” Schuller said. “There obviously would’ve been some students that are a part of the Jewish community who would’ve preferred to go to the picture over observing the holiday, but I just felt like it was wrong for the school to make people choose.”
Some Jewish students like Schuller and undeclared freshman Anna Epstein will return home to spend the holiday with their families.
“I was really happy to see that the date got changed,” Epstein said. “Although the Jewish population at UT isn’t the majority, there’s a chunk of us here and it’s really nice and inclusive that they moved the picture, because I know there’s a bunch of people that really wanted to be in it and if they were home for Yom Kippur or getting ready for services, they definitely couldn’t have participated.”
Social work and communication studies senior Natalie Engel, who is a Student Government representative for the School of Social Work, said she noticed the petition on Facebook and contacted student body president Alejandrina Guzman, who worked with UT Athletics and administration to get the date changed.
“This is something that (could) easily be changed and honestly probably was just a mistake in the first place,” Engel said. “Someone just didn’t realize that they had scheduled it inappropriately.”
The petition now has more than 1,200 signatures. Schuller said this experience taught her the best way to effect change on campus is to collaborate with other students.
“It’s really common to think that the best way to make change is to go to the top,” Schuller said. “But in reality, on this campus at least, the easiest way to make a change is to rally the support of all the students around you, which is really empowering.”