Editorial: Political correctness withers holiday spirit for employees

First, schools began discouraging teachers from saying “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hannukah,” “Happy Kwanzaa” and the like, in favor of wishing students a vague — and arguably less offensive — “Happy holidays.”

Then, some stopped putting up pictures of Santa or reindeer in favor of generic images of snowmen and snowflakes to celebrate the season instead of singling out a specific holiday.

In the interest of making all students feel accepted in their classrooms, these moves made sense.

However, the quest for holiday-season political correctness has been taken to an unhealthy extreme, as Florida Gulf Coast University banned all holiday decorations from common areas on campus, including the doors of FGCU employees.

The ban restricts holiday decorations to individual employees’ workspaces as well as restricting other miscellaneous forms of celebration. It did away with the previously established contest of crafting a greeting card and renamed the university’s Christmas tree a giving tree. Also, the ban canceled the FGCU employees’ “end-of-the-year” parties, which catered to no specific holiday or belief but merely celebrated the festive season.

FGCU President Wilson Bradshaw wrote in a memo to the university that the ban’s intention was to honor all traditions.

It seems that FGCU has done the exact opposite, though, by restricting rather than encouraging their employees’ displays of decorations from their respective holidays.

The idea of being politically correct around the holidays is to allow everyone to celebrate his or her religious or traditional holidays without prioritizing a particular practice, not to inhibit all celebration.

Students who attend FGCU and do not observe the Christmas holiday voiced their neutrality on holiday decorations before the ban.

Marilyn Lerner, a Jewish FGCU student, said she misses the Christmas tree that was once in the Student Union. Another student, Brad Duffy, said he felt the university was taking political correctness a step too far.

Bradshaw said a struggle presents itself in public institutions when it comes to determining the best possible way of respecting all holiday traditions.

But there should be no struggle if it is left up to each individual to express him or herself freely. FGCU is taking it upon itself to fix a nonexistant problem. As long as the university doesn’t sanction any particular faith or creed, allowing holiday celebrations shouldn’t be an issue.

FGCU’s attempt at political correctness only stifles employees’ right to express themselves, and should be abandoned.