Christmas

Cornell's Insane Christmas Decoration Rules: No Santa Claus, Holly, or Trees with Bows

Delicate snowflakes

|

Christmas
Dreamstime

At Cornell University, students and staff can celebrate the holidays by putting up snowflake decorations and trees. They can even put the snowflakes on the trees. But they can't do anything else—if they decorate said trees with bows, garland, or lights, for instance, they will be in violation of Cornell's Guidelines for Inclusive Seasonal Displays.

The guidelines, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, were actually issued by the university's Department of Environmental Health and Safety—meaning that the university implicitly endorses the notion that emotional safety is just as important as physical safety. In other words, politically-incorrect holiday displays aren't just offensive—they are considered a fire hazard.

Of course, we're stretching the definition of "politically-incorrect" pretty thin here if Santa Claus counts. Check out the full list of forbidden decorations:

GUIDELINES FOR INCLUSIVE SEASONAL DISPLAYS

Winter Holiday Displays/Decorations that are Consistent with Cornell's Commitment to Diversity and the University Assembly Guidelines:  

  • Snowflakes  
  • Trees (in accordance with Fire Safety Guidelines) decorated with snowflakes and other non-religious symbols

Winter Holiday Displays/Decorations that are Consistent with University Assembly Guidelines But Should be Basis of Dialogue Within Unit or Living Area  

  • Trees decorated with bows, garland and lights (in accordance with Fire Safety Guidelines)  
  • Wreaths with bows (in accordance with Fire Safety Guidelines)  
  • Combination of snowflakes, (in accordance with Fire Safety Guidelines), Santa Claus figure, and dreidel  
  • Holly

Winter Holiday Displays/Decorations that are NOT Consistent with Either University Assembly Guidelines or the University's Commitment to Diversity and Inclusiveness

  • Nativity scene  
  • Menorah  
  • Angels  
  • Mistletoe  
  • Stars at the top of trees  
  • Crosses  
  • Star of David

As FIRE's Catherine Sevcenko wrote: "You can put up anything you want as long as it's a snowflake."

Cornell is a private university, and isn't obligated to extend free speech rights to students and faculty. If administrators really want to purge religious iconography from campus, arguably, they can.

But I fail to see the point of doing so. Surely the goal of "inclusivity" is not well-served by telling students of a certain religious group that they can't celebrate Christmas according to their own customs. Cornell administrators should really do the opposite of what they're doing: they should encourage members of campus to participate in the holidays as much or as little as they want. The more displays, the better. This might even give students the opportunity to interact with tradition and belief systems that are different from their own, which is the ultimate goal of a college education.

Related: GWU Ordered a Student to Remove the Palestinian Flag from His Dorm Window

NEXT: Ho! Ho! Ho! Get Your Ass in That Body Scanner, Santa!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. How is this not a violation of 1st Amendment. Cornell is part private and state school

    1. and it is very hard to see where the private ends and the public begins, at least in terms of daily life on campus.

  2. How the fuck does enforcing a uniform code of what holiday celebrations are acceptable promote diversity? I would think that allowing and encouraging everyone to decorate and celebrate as they will would be the way to promote diversity. I hope there are a lot of Cornell students completely ignoring this bullshit.

    1. I hope there are campus goon squads roaming the hallways and removing offending decorations. The kids might actually learn a valuable lesson.

    2. They are inclusive by excluding diversity in everything besides skin color. It’s not complicated stuff.

      1. It’s not complicated stuff.

        Indeed. It’s simple to the point of retardation.

  3. Inclusiveness means excluding anything that might possibly offend someone.

    1. And diversity means everyone must be the same.

      1. Diversity means you must have a range of different skin colors and races. That is a good thing, and if you disagree then you are an intolerant racist. Diversity in ideas is a bad thing, and if you disagree then you are an intolerant ideologue.

    2. Oh no

      Only *some* offended people count.

  4. From Cornell Website
    Identity Public and private Cornell is the federal land-grant institution of New York State, a private endowed university, a member of the Ivy League/Ancient Eight, and a partner of the State University of New York.
    https://www.cornell.edu/about/facts.cfm

    Some of Cornell’s schools are public and this violates 1st Amendment

    1. Not to mention that nearly every “private” school in the country is partially funded by public dollars. Do kids who get Pell grants or subsidized loans also have to drop their First Amendment rights at the door?

  5. if they decorate said trees with bows, garland, or lights, for instance, they will be in violation of Cornell’s Guidelines for Inclusive Seasonal Displays.

    Doesn’t the quoted text say that bows, garlands and lights are OK?

    Winter Holiday Displays/Decorations that are Consistent with Cornell’s Commitment to Diversity and the University Assembly Guidelines:

    Snowflakes
    Trees (in accordance with Fire Safety Guidelines) decorated with snowflakes and other non-religious symbols

    Winter Holiday Displays/Decorations that are Consistent with University Assembly Guidelines But Should be Basis of Dialogue Within Unit or Living Area

    Trees decorated with bows, garland and lights (in accordance with Fire Safety Guidelines)

    1. Yup, something got lost in that quote or the description of it.

    2. Winter Holiday Displays/Decorations that are Consistent with University Assembly Guidelines But Should be Basis of Dialogue Within Unit or Living Area…

      Let’s talk about those bows, garland and lights.

      1. It’s a good basis for a dialog about how idiotic the policies are.

  6. Wasn’t mistletoe used as a sign of truce, thus, kissing under the mistletoe?

    Or is the problem that it was sacred to the druids, and in “fairness” to the big three mid-eastern monotheistic religions, we have to kick the druids in the balls too?

    1. The historical Jesus was supposedly born in the summer months. The Christian missionaries to Britain co-opted the indigenous yule celebration and re-branded it as Christ’s birthday. Pretty much everything we know about germanic paganism and british druids comes from Roman accounts, so take with a grain of salt. I know that some modern (neo-)pagans claim to have authentic oral traditions dating back to Roman times, but given that those traditions are oral and secret, and that it only takes one person to inject/remove something from that tradition before passing it on…

      1. This shit drives me nuts from the “Druids” and my fellow Germanic neo-pagans. We know essentially next to nothing about Druids, and very little about pre-Christian Celtic religion. We have some Christian accounts about Germanic religion. Obviously biased to some extent. The only other things we have are the Elder (Poetic) Edda, which is a collection of poetic tales of the Gods (and the Havamal, a pretty good collection of wisdom) with no definitive author; and the Younger (Prose) Edda which was written by Snori Sturlson (a Christian) based partially on the stories in the Poetic Edda and partially his own ideas on the historicity of the Aesir and Vanir.

  7. And what religious holiday is more inclusive (and easier to celebrate in a completely secular way) than Christmas?

    1. Doesn’t matter. Christians are intolerant, so their holiday must be taken away in the name of social justice.

    2. It’s those people not celebrating it as purely secular holiday that is perceived as the problem here.

      However, remember that “war on Christmas” is entirely paranoia.

      1. No, it’s just mostly paranoia. Christmas is the most popular holiday by far in the US and large parts of the rest of the world. It’s still absurd to suggest that people celebrating Christmas however they damn well feel is under any kind of threat, outside of a few ridiculous places like Cornell.

        1. Incrementalism starts in ridiculous places before becoming mainstream. That’s how it works.

          1. I just don’t think it has a remote chance of working in this case.

            1. Wait until a generation of kids are indoctrinated in public schools and universities that Christmas is bad because Christians are intolerant, and then get back to me about the war on Christmas. Incrementalism.

              1. Wait until that doesn’t happen and get back to me about it.

                Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. I will remain optimistic because why the fuck not?

                I just find the notion that religion is under attack in this country ludicrous.

                1. I mean go out in public anywhere today. Everyone everywhere is celebrating Christmas and no one gives a shit if they see a tree with a star or a cross or the baby Jesus. These college assembly resolutions are emerging from a complete fantasy world.

                  1. Remember that those students are out next crop of politicians and government bureaucrats.

                    1. I agree with you sarcasto; incrementalism by definition starts small, and then over time grows into a hideous monster of intolerance that Al Capp would have been challenged to parody.

                      A little here, some more there, on into next year, decade…they don’t call it “progressivism” for nothing.

                    2. I agree with you sarcasto; incrementalism by definition starts small, and then over time grows into a hideous monster of intolerance that Al Capp would have been challenged to parody.

                      A little here, some more there, on into next year, decade…they don’t call it “progressivism” for nothing.

                  2. It’s fucking ludicrous, Zeb. Next sarc will have us believe that progs will make up special new pronouns for crazy people and force everyone to use them upon pain of having their asses sued off. Take your pills, sarc, only a handful of easily-ignored idiots buy into that SJW nonsense.

        2. It is hyperbole, but not without a grain of truth. And Cornell’s object is not to get rid of it but to completely sanitize it of any hint of religious trappings.

  8. These kind of things actually make people who talk about the “war on Christmas” look correct

    1. Until you look everywhere else.

  9. NEW TP POOL REGULATIONS

    I’ve been asked to distribute the new regulations regarding office pool displays. The enclosed memo is a new subchapter of the EBGOC Procedure Manual, replacing the old subchapter entitled PHYSICAL PLANT/CALIFORNIA/ LOS ANGELES/BUILDINGS/OFFICE AREAS/PHYSICAL LAYOUT REGULATIONS/EMPLOYEE INPUT/ GROUP ACTIVITIES.

    The old subchapter was a flat prohibition on the use of office space or time for “pool” activities of any kind, whether permanent (e.g., coffee pool) or one-time (e.g., birthday parties).

    This prohibition still applies, but a single, one-time exception has now been made for any office that wishes to pursue a joint bathroom-tissue strategy.

    By way of introduction, let me just make a few general comments on this subject. The problem of distributing bathroom tissue to workers presents inherent challenges for any office management system due to the inherent unpredictability of usage?not every facility usage transaction necessitates the use of bathroom tissue, and when it is used, the amount needed (number of squares) may vary quite widely from person to person and, for a given person, from one transaction to the next. This does not even take into account the occasional use of bathroom tissue for unpredictable/creative purposes such as applying/removing cosmetics, beverage-spill management, etc.

    1. Venezuelan Department of the Interior?

    2. It’s darkly amusing watching this book slowly coming true over the years.

  10. Santa Claus = Saint Nicholas, people. Not everyone is Catholic. Plus, they only want the government to be known for giving you free stuff.

    I don’t see the problem with Christmas tree lights though.

  11. Hey,if even one person is offended……….

    1. What if someone who likes Christmas is offended? Oh yeah, they’re intolerant so it doesn’t matter.

      1. What if a black, lesbian midget atheist who hates Christmas is offended by the policy?

        1. Then I guess they should listen to the Dead Milkmen.

  12. When did “Inclusive” come to mean, “banning forms of expression”?

    1. Oh…a fair spell back.

      *spits chaw out, resumes whittling*

    2. Whenever leftists use words like “inclusive” or “tolerant” or “equality” you can be assured that they mean the exact opposite.

  13. Apparently, hanging snowflakes is OK.

    Hmmmm…

  14. I went to Cornell and so did a lot of my family, so I sent the PDF around when FIRE posted about it. As my brother-in-law said, mistletoe is a plant. It’s entirely secular.

    Also, when I was there there was a kick-ass ice-sculpture menorah complete with candles on one of the plazas. (I’m not Jewish, but it was seriously cool.) I guess that’s not there now.

  15. Two points:

    1. Cornell University is not entirely a “private school.” Several of its colleges are land-grant public institutions. Let the FIRE lawyers have fun with that bramble bush,

    2. Cornell’s “University Assembly” is a figurehead, “Model UN” sort of body comprised of undergraduates, graduate/professional students, and non-faculty staff. It has no authority over anything (not even student activity fees), and simply passes “pretty please” resolutions that are sent to the University President, who can (and usually does) veto anything that actually implies that the UA has power.

    1. That’s a good bit of information. So these aren’t actually University rules. Just unenforceable guidelines.

  16. What about the dreaded “snow angel”? Is that an expulsion offense?

  17. So, I don’t see the Muslim crescent on the list of banned items.

    What if a Muslim students puts one up? Do the administrators draw straws to see who gets to confront the student?

  18. So, exactly which holiday are they celebrating? They seem to have eliminated damn near every one.

    1. CONFORM-MAS

  19. Can they have a Festivus pole?

    1. Too phallic, therefore PATRIARCHY!!1!

  20. delicate snowflakes
    I see what you did there, and now I need a safe space.

  21. Why not put up a sprig of mistletoe with a label, “this Mistletoe is placed here to honor all the brave trans persons of color oppressed by our racist, homophobic, cisnormative society.”

    They wouldn’t *dare* take it down!

    1. Frigga (Odin’s wife) had a vision that their son Baldr, whom everyone loved, was going to die. So Frigga went around and convinced pretty much everything to promise not to hurt Baldr. Mistletoe was the only thing that Odins wife didn’t ask to not harm Baldr, because it is was so insignificant. So all the Aesir were having a ball trying to hurt Baldr, but nothing could touch him.
      Except Loki fooled Baldr’s blind and ugly brother Hodr to fire a mistletoe arrow at Baldr, thus killing him.

      That is the story of mistletoe.

  22. Checking Intersectionality-Matrix.

    whoo-hoo! I’m a bigger victim that you bitch!
    Guess what I’m hanging on my wall space?
    HAM!

  23. Robby, you majorly borked the formatting of the guidelines.

    1. “Borked”

      he put a chinstrap beard on it?

      I think he schlonged it all up, rather.

  24. So the snowflakes can only hang snowflakes?

    Cornell’s saying they can all go hang themselves! This is a serious microaggression which requires the human sacrifice of an appropriately ranked administrator, probably Assistant Dean or higher!

    Seriously, Robby, thank you for exposing this. Cornell has set the victim’s histrionics movement back 100 years!!

  25. Seriously these over educated dick licking ass snorting cum stains have way too much time on their hands.
    Tell me again why college is so expensive.

    1. Insufficient federal funding and oversight?

  26. These protectors are slipping, allowing snowflakes pshaw. Snowflakes occur only in northern climates meaning WHITE climates not in southern areas where BROWN people live. Damn oppressors.

  27. It feels like Fri. already, & as I started to read this I thought it was going to be a contest to submit compliant artwork.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.