Culture, Science & Faith

All I Want for Christmas Is Christmas

The University of Tennessee has some "guidelines" for parties.

Arnold Ahlert · Dec. 7, 2015

The cancer of political correctness eating away at the foundation of the American university system has reached a new low. At the University of Tennessee, the Office for Diversity and Inclusion has released a list of “suggestions” emphasizing the need to avoid Christmas parties, because those expressing cultural and/or religious preferences run afoul of UT’s commitment to inclusion and diversity. They advise, “Ensure your holiday party is not a Christmas party in disguise.”

“The university does not have an official policy regarding religious and cultural décor and celebration in the workplace,” states an online document entitled “Best Practices for Inclusive Holiday Celebrations in the Workplace.” “However, we are fully committed to a diverse, welcoming, and inclusive environment.” Thus UT bureaucrats have compiled a series of bullet points outlining the “best practices for inclusive holiday celebrations.”

It includes such “insightful” ideas as building upon “workplace relationships and team morale with no emphasis on religion or culture,” giving New Year’s parties that have “décor and food from multiple religions and cultures,” pot-luck parties that “encourage employees to bring food items that reflect their personal religions, cultures, and celebrations,” and serving refreshments “not specific to any religion or culture.”

It gets worse. Supervisors and managers “should not endorse, or be perceived as endorsing, religion generally or a specific religion,” all holiday cards should be “nondenominational” expressions of one’s gratitude, and all religious holidays should only be celebrated “in ways that are respectful and inclusive of our students, your colleagues, and our university.”

Note that even a general endorsement of religion is frowned upon, courtesy of radical leftist ideologues as cultish and demanding as any primitive gaggle of howling moon-worshippers could ever be.

Even games are anathema to these spirit-sapping down-heads. “Holiday parties and celebrations should not play games with religious and cultural themes — for example, ‘Dreidel’ or ‘Secret Santa.’” So, the document advises, “If you want to exchange gifts, then refer to it in a general way, such as a practical joke gift exchange or secret gift exchange.”

As least some people get it. U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan (R-TN) blasted the policy as “extremist,” “ridiculously overboard” and an example of political correctness gone wild. State Rep. Martin Daniel (R-Knoxville), sent UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek a letter supporting diversity in general, noting that higher education would be boring if “all of the student or faculty were of one type or one color.” Yet he rightly noted the university’s diversity efforts go far beyond such basic understandings “and seem to be an unnecessarily aggressive indoctrination of our students with a general liberal ideology. This part of the diversity effort does not seem to be counterbalanced with conservative or moderate opinion.”

That’s because it isn’t, courtesy of the same university that engendered controversy back in August when the director of the UTK Pride Center posted a piece on the Office for Diversity’s website encouraging UT students and professors to use gender-neutral pronouns such as “ze” and “xyr.” That post was ultimately pulled, with UT President Joe DiPietro and Chancellor Cheek stating they would approve future campus-wide practices or policies prior to their publication.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville). “Chancellor Cheek made a commitment to our Higher Education Subcommittee to personally approve future posts by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. I took him to be a man of his word and I am dismayed by these recent developments,” he said.

Rep. Duncan added, “They didn’t seem to learn much from that experience.” Both called for Cheek’s resignation.

UT vice chancellor Rickey Hall thought the whole controversy was “ridiculous.” He insisted most other universities had similar practices and “UT is just catching up” in order to prevent the several complaints he purportedly hears each year from Jews or Muslims about holiday workplace parties that actually are Christmas parties. Chancellor Cheek was equally feckless, saying in a statement, “I am disappointed that our efforts to be inclusive have been totally misconstrued.”

Nothing has been “misconstrued.” One either embraces the position of the perpetual grievance-mongers and their brainless collectivism, or one is a trouble-maker.

Yet the real elephant in the room is being ignored: Why in the world should any university have an Office for Diversity and Inclusion? Moreover, why should it be the business of college bureaucrats how students, faculty and university employees celebrate parties? This is nothing more than the continuing attempt to infantilize a college environment that should be the complete antithesis of such puerile nonsense. Parents, students and alumni donors might ask themselves what portion of UT’s annual attendance costs of $27,962 for in-state students, and a whopping $46,152 for out-of-state students, is used to underwrite a radical leftist bureaucracy determined to micromanage every aspect of university behavior.

And not just at Tennessee. As Bloomberg reported in 2012, “At universities nationwide, employment of administrators jumped 60 percent from 1993 to 2009, 10 times the growth rate for tenured faculty.”

Writing about the “diversity ideology” that infests the campuses of the University of California, policy analyst Heather MacDonald notes the consequences of such an explosion. “It’s impossible to overstate the extent to which the diversity ideology has encroached upon UC’s collective psyche and mission,” she writes. “No administrator, no regent, no academic dean or chair can open his mouth for long without professing fealty to diversity.”

That would be diversity as defined by George Orwell. Last week, Americans endured the ultimate example of those wishing to take Christmas out of a Christmas party when two Islamic terrorists killed 14 and wounded 21 in San Bernardino, California. If like-minded people had their way, Christmas itself would be completely eliminated — out of “respect” for their sensibilities. Perhaps some clueless college bureaucrats might ponder the rather curious alignment between those who brook no challenge to Islamist orthodoxy, and those who brook no challenge to progressive orthodoxy.

In the meantime, the moment has come to cut the bureaucratic umbilical cord that turns college campuses into indoctrination camps for political correctness, in all its alternative viewpoint-suppressing glory. No doubt that will be a trauma-inducing development for some delicate flower students and faculty who might be forced to cope with the avalanche of “microaggressions” better known as the free and open exchange of competing ideas. Who knows, they might ultimately learn to enjoy being challenged, or how to enjoy Christmas — just for Christmas’ sake.

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