While we’re all talking about the culture war taking place in Olympia, Washington, another battle is taking place in North Carolina.
And Christianity isn’t winning. (Neither are atheists, but I think you’ll be pleased with the decision anyway.)
Christmas trees will not be displayed in the two main libraries at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill this year, library staff decided.
In previous years, a Christmas tree stood in the lobby of both the Wilson and Davis libraries, but Sarah Michalak, associate provost of University Libraries, decided against putting them up this year.
Michalak said she eliminated the displays after getting questions and complaints from employees and library users about the Christian display. She said that it didn’t seem right to celebrate one set of customs when libraries offer information about all belief systems around the world without judgment.
She made the right decision.
We’ve seen what happens when the door is opened for everyone to display their beliefs in public. It’s best for our taxpayer-funded institutions to rise above that and not take a side.
The chancellor of the school, Holden Thorp, doesn’t sound very enthusiastic about the move, stating that the administration of the school doesn’t get involved in these types of decisions — adding that Christmas is still celebrated all over the place:
… The façade of Memorial Hall, our major performing venue, is fully decorated for the holiday, and The Nutcracker is its major December attraction. Student Stores is like any retailer this time of year. They have a tree decorated with Carolina ornaments in the window and, in the store, there is a mantle decorated with Carolina stockings. The Student Activities Fund Office has a Christmas tree in its window. There’s a big Christmas wreath with a Carolina-blue ribbon on it in the Student Union. Our own Carolina Inn is again featuring its Twelve Days of Christmas displays throughout the hotel. And just as we have for the last 59 years, our Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is featuring The Star of Bethlehem.
So Christmas is recognized on this campus.
It’s fine if individuals and student organizations want to celebrate the season as they wish. The school as a whole, including its academic departments, should not.
At least the library realizes there are non-Christian students also attending the university who may not have the same “reason for the season” as the Christians. The library staff members are choosing to be welcome to everybody instead of just a specific group of students.
I didn’t want to publish their emails, but you can find librarian Sarah Michalak, Vice Chancellor and Provost Bernadette Gray-Little (her boss), and Chancellor Holden Thorp on the campus directory.
I sent Sarah a thank-you letter CC’ed to the other two.
You may want to do the same.
(Thanks to Kate for the link!)