Massachusetts College Alters Policy Banning Face Coverings

January 8, 2010

Author: Cassie Spodak, Jamie Guzzardo and Yvonne Kalawur

Source: CNN

A Massachusetts college has modified a controversial security policy after criticism it infringed on the religious rights of students, a school official said Friday.

The policy originally banned any head covering that obscured the student's face while engaged in student activities.

The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences e-mailed students about the initial changes this week, saying, "Any head covering that obscures a student's face may not be worn, either on campus or at clinical sites, except when required for medical reasons."

School officials said the policy was intended to ensure that all students would be identifiable "for reasons of safety and security."

But on Thursday, the policy was changed to include an exception "for medical and/or religious reasons."

The original policy had prompted questions and concerns among Muslim students and organizations, particularly because it meant Muslim women at the college could no longer wear the niqab, or face veil.