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"Snowflakes are questionable," said O'Houlihan in a clarifying email. "They remind people of winter and winter reminds people of Christmas."

To: All the staff I supervise
From: Heather O’Houlihan, Associate Dean of Administrative Services
Re: Prohibited
Christmas holiday time-of-year activities

I just wanted to send my gentle annual reminder of banned behavior during this “special” time of year. Some people celebrate certain “things” or “events” in their private lives, but we must all remember to be the models of sensitivity and refrain from behaviors that might show a preference for our religion beliefs.

As usual, throughout November, December and January, you must abide by the following sensitivity rules:

  • No holiday signs or symbols
  • No trees
  • No red clothing
  • No gifts or “Secret Santa” exchanges
  • No green clothing or sneaky “I’m Going Green” paraphernalia. If you drive a hybrid, I can’t ban it, but I expect you to be discrete about it.
  • No clothing or jewelry that shows stars. Kurt, that includes your ACPA Rising Star in Student Affairs trophy that you like to show off so prominently on your desk.
  • Nothing shiny, colorful or in any way festive.
  • After last year’s lawsuit, it was determined that pictures of snowmen are fine since they’re not technically related to a holiday, but in the spirit of inclusion, I request that you call then snowpeople.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but I will trust you to use your common sense. If we strive to be as inclusive and sensitive as possible, we should be just fine.

p.s. Rather than calling these things “banned,” I would prefer that we call the prohibited acts “alternatively preferenced.” It sounds so much nicer, doesn’t it?