The following case study could accompany any readings or discussion on religion, culture or rights. For example, it could be used with Jen’nan Ghazal’s “Muslims in America,” which is available through Contexts online.
Lisa is a new professor at a large public university. Her class just finished a unit on gender, and her students are taking an essay test. Lisa sits near the front of the room and keeps a watchful eye over her students. The classroom is completely silent except for their pencils scribbling furiously.
Suddenly, one of her students stands up and faces a corner. He starts to bow, and Lisa realizes that he is praying. Many of the students look up and start watching him instead of continuing their exam. Lisa can tell they are distracted, but she also believes that the student has religious freedom. Thus, she decides to pretend that nothing is happening.
After class, a few students approach Lisa and complain about the student who was praying. They say that they were seriously distracted during the exam and would like 10 more minutes to work on it.
- What should Lisa do?
- Did Lisa make the right choice to ignore the student instead of asking him to stop?
- Should a student be allowed to observe her or his religious rituals during class? Should this differ around the world? By the type of school?