Reports that the University of Maine had banned Christmas decorations sent a flood of angry alumni, parents, and internet perusers to the college’s website to offer their thoughts, often in the form of the words ‘Merry Christmas’ in all caps. Now the university has responded to those reports, but the facts don’t seem to have slowed the vitriol.
WABI reported on Wednesday that the school had taken down all Christmas decorations and forbidden staff and students to display any decoration that was religion-specific, rather than generic ‘winter holiday’ cheer. Some staff members say they received an email forbidding Christmas-themed decorations, and it’s true that a number of Christmas trees disappeared from campus recently.
However, the reason isn’t quite accurate, according to Dean of Students Robert Dana. Dana spoke in a videoed statement (shared below) on Thursday to correct misconceptions and clarify policies.
First, he explained, the disappearance of the trees wasn’t related to the email. The trees are decorated each year during certain fraternity philanthropic efforts, and are taken down at the conclusion. The trees were judged this past weekend, then taken down, as is done each year.
As for the email, he admits that it was overzealous, and says it wasn’t reflective of the University of Maine’s Christmas decoration policy. Instead, it was a well-intentioned response of one advisor who had received complaints about Christmas being more heavily represented on campus than other religious holidays from this season.
The advisor’s response was incorrect, Dana says. The university welcomes Christmas decorations, whether they are religious or secular in nature, and welcomes holiday decor representing other holidays and beliefs as well.
Still, the university’s Facebook page continues to receive an outpouring of anger, oddly juxtaposed with a lot of Christmas wishes:
I’m offended by the University of Maine. Merry Christmas everyone!
What an idiot, giving into the Muslims!!!!!
Merry Christmas! Ashamed of this University!
As an alum this is sad. UMaine to me was an escape of the judgement, the criticizing, the constant need to be approved by everyone. It’s the place where you could be who you are, no matter what, and be accepted. Apparently things have changed. Black Bears love Christmas Trees.
Merry Christmas everybody!!!
Dan Demeritt, a representative of the University, has promised that an email will be sent to all staff and students, making the University of Maine’s Christmas decoration policy clear.[photo credit: UMaineStudentLife]