Christmas is being deemed politically incorrect at a number of colleges, with the institutions taking efforts to ban things like mistletoe and Santa Claus for their seemingly offensive nature to some groups.
Christmas has been the center of controversy lately, with some stores and organizations moving away from overt displays celebrating the Christian holiday in recent years in favor of more general holiday greetings. There has been an equal blowback from those who see the issue and the criticism as overblown.
The news outlet Campus Reform — which frequently takes aim at so-called “politically correct” measures taken on colleges campuses — detailed a number of higher education institutions that are shifting their strategies for celebrating the holidays in an effort not to offend.
One of those is Cornell University, where the school has banned mistletoe as it supposedly did not create an “environment of inclusion.” The report also singles out the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, which sets strict guidelines for seasonal parties that require them to”build upon workplace relationships and team morale” and avoid any reference to religions or traditions.
“Holiday parties and celebrations should celebrate and build upon workplace relationships and team morale with no emphasis on religion or culture. Ensure your holiday party is not a Christmas party in disguise.”
The party plans came under fire from some Tennessee politicians. It even led state representatives Dolores Gresham and Mike Bell to write an email criticizing Chancellor Jimmy Cheek for the strict measures against Christmas celebrations.
“This is offensive to the vast majority of Tennesseans who help fund this university through their tax dollars,” Bell said in the email. “We have lost confidence in Chancellor Cheek’s ability to lead the state’s flagship university.”
Cheek responded by saying the university celebrates all traditions, and did not mean for the party rules to be divisive.
“We are in no way trying to dismiss this very important Christian holiday,” Cheek said. “As a diverse campus, we do promote ways to be inclusive of all cultures and religions. I am disappointed that our efforts to be inclusive have been totally misconstrued.”
Cornell University had similar rules but even took aim at one of the most iconic symbols of Christmas. The university approved decorations like snowflakes but cautioned against others like wreaths and bows and even Santa Claus. While Cornell did not ban the man in the big red suit, it did say Santa and other specific decorations should be a “basis of dialogue.”
The perceived attacks on Christmas symbols have extended beyond universities. This year Starbucks came under fire for altering its normal holiday season coffee cups, replacing them with plain red cups adorned with the company’s logo. This led many to speak out, including Arizona evangelist Joshua Feuerstein, who created an anti-Starbucks video that received tens of millions of hits.
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump also entered the fray, though in very anti-Donald fashion, he didn’t seem to have much to say about it.
“I have one of the most successful Starbucks in Trump Tower. Maybe we should boycott Starbucks? I don’t know,” Trump said (via People). “Seriously, I don’t care. That’s the end of that lease, but who cares?”
A mall in New York also came under fire for attempting to build a Santa Claus holiday display that would not offend any shoppers.
— kerry cox (@casey81073) November 7, 2015
— News12LI (@News12LI) November 7, 2015
But so many people ended up complaining about the politically correct, futuristic-looking display that the Roosevelt Field Mall ended up adding a Christmas tree.
[Picture by Theo Wargo/Getty Images]