With Christmas approaching, several colleges have issued recommendations advising students or faculty to avoid “Secret Santa,” wrapped gifts, and even the colors red and green.
“Consider neutral-themed parties such as a ‘winter celebration,'” said guidelines from the University of Minnesota. “Individuals may display expressions of their religious faith in their own personal space if it does not have a meaningful public function and, not in public areas.”
The guidelines urged readers to avoid Christmas trees, angels, Santa Claus, the colors red and green, and wrapped gifts. But they did not target only Christmas; the college also cautioned readers against Jewish holiday decorations such as dreidels, the Star of Bethlehem, and the colors white/silver and blue.
The university’s food, agricultural, and natural resource sciences college said that the guidelines circulated among the school’s faculty, stating that they were “not for distribution” and “not policy.”
In a holiday expenditure guide, Ohio University informed students that they could not use university funds to purchase decorations, which “should be secular in nature” if exhibited in public.
“Ensure that office celebrations are not indirectly celebrating religious holidays,” suggested guidelines from the University of California, Irvine. “Focus on celebrating a special occasion, instead of a specific holiday.”
“Consider a grab bag instead of a ‘Secret Santa’ gift exchange,” said the State University of New York, Brockport. “Create a winter theme with lights and color rather than religious icons, or include decorations from all the cultural traditions represented in your department.”
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