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UW Bothell professor offers extra exam to accommodate fasting Muslim students

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BOTHELL, Wash. — A local professor is receiving praise for holding an extra finals exam session at night, giving his Muslim students a chance to eat following Ramadan fasting.

Dr. Bryan White, a biology professor at the University of Washington Bothell, is holding two exam times, allowing students to take their final exams after sundown so they’ll be well-nourished.

The extra exam session is scheduled for June 8 from 10 p.m. to midnight. Students can choose that exam, or the one scheduled for regular class time, which is 8:45-10:45 a.m.

Both exam times are open to all students.

Local groups such as “MAPS – Many Cultures, One Community” have praised White.

White told Q13 News the idea of an extra exam time came after talking to some of his Muslim students last year. Some of his Muslim students, White said, performed worse on the final exam than he expected they would. When he asked why, at least one student told him she had trouble concentrating because she was so hungry.

“She was finding it hard to concentrate and study because of fasting in observance of Ramadan,” White said.

Ramadan is observed by Muslims worldwide and lasts 29 days. Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, and refrain from consuming any food or drink.

When White learned Ramadan would occur during finals week this year, he decided to schedule an extra test time as a “simple gesture” for his Muslim students. He wanted everyone to be firing on all cylinders when they take the test, which he said is crucial for continuing in the field of biology.

White said as a biologist, he’s ever-aware of the relationship between food and mental functioning. He often provides food during his tests, he said, and knows he responds better with a full stomach.

“I do my best when I have sugar in my system,” White said.

Other professors at UW Bothell applauded White’s decision. Two other biology professors will hold a night time test in conjunction with White’s.

“I’ve heard no opposition from anyone,” White said. “Mostly, it’s just students being very supportive and saying how cool it is.”

White said about 10 percent of his students have chosen to take the late test. In the end, he said, it’s about wanting his students to perform their best.

“If they didn’t eat and are struggling with concentration, I just want them to perform as well as the can,” White said.

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