Some faculty and student employees at the University of Minnesota who attended a recent event to discuss religious diversity during the holiday season received a memo listing a number of items the school deems “not appropriate” for public gatherings or displays at the school, The College Fix reported.
The memo specifically pointed to items and colors that are associated with Christmas and Hanukkah, such as Christmas trees, wrapped gifts, and bows.
What’s the story?
The College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences passed out a memo with its “recommended” ideas at its event titled, “Dean’s Dialogues: Respecting Religious Diversity in CFANS and at the University.”
According to the event listing on the website, the students and faculty at the university represent more than 300 religious or spiritual belief systems.
“Our religious/spiritual beliefs and practices can play a key role in our identity but can be ‘off limits’ for discussion especially in public spaces,” the listing said.
The school and its leadership are “committed to an inclusive community,” according to the website.
University of Minnesota spokeswoman Emma Bauer told The College Fix that the memo was to be considered a “conversation piece to facilitate dialogue” at the inclusion event.
“It was not distributed broadly to [College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences] employees. It does not reflect current University of Minnesota, EOAA (Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action) or CFANS official guidance,” Bauer said.
The U of M (@UMNews) shared this letter with some faculty and student employees this week The colors red & green, blue & white/silver are verboten during the “winter celebration” period. Images of Santa, wrapped gifts, and bells are also deemed “religious iconography.” #BahHumbug pic.twitter.com/sxzqDXLLqY
— Jon Miltimore (@miltimore79) December 14, 2017
What else was on the list of ‘not appropriate’ items for gatherings and displays?
• Santa Claus
• Star of Bethlehem
• Dreidels (four-sided top played with during Hanukkah)
• Nativity scene
• Red and green or blue and white/silver decoration themes
Were there other recommendations?
• Consider neutral-themed parties such as “winter celebration.”
• Keep the theme of any invitations neutral and non-religious and not reflective of any one religious holiday.
• Decorations, music, and food should be general and not specific to any one religion. Also, be mindful of dietary restrictions and provide alternatives.
The memo said the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action would provide “additional support and problem solving” for those who reach out against “inappropriate religious celebrations.”
Complaints about violations can be made at the “Bias Incident Website,” the memo said.