“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?
George Orwell, 1984
The Abbeville Institute was founded over a decade ago to preserve and defend the South… her traditions, literature, history, arts, and faiths. Recently we came across the memorandum below from a student affairs office at a major Southern university. The officers who wrote it assume that the elements of culture we defend are inimical to community and destructive of human fellowship. They say that they champion “diversity” and “inclusivity” but this is a poorly disguised lie. For without heritage, culture, religion and tradition we are a monochrome society, the opposite of a diverse people. Without true culture we will become what they admit inadvertently in the memorandum to be their real true goal—a people of functioning “workplace relationships.” And don’t be fooled by the invitation to bring ethnic “food items.” Exotic meals and all other externalities of international culture are fine with these people so long as all of us are the exact same underneath it all. For who are you if you have left your metaphysics at the door? Calling the memorandum “suggestions” is another lie. Their do-s and do-nots are commands…they are commands to happy and mindless workers. If they have no teeth now they will soon. What is to stop them if the people have no faith, no heritage, or convictions?
The university does not have an official policy regarding religious and cultural décor and celebration in the workplace. However, we are fully committed to a diverse, welcoming, and inclusive environment.
In addition to consulting our cultural and religious holidays calendar when selecting a date for your event, we encourage you to implement the following best practices for inclusive holiday celebrations.
- Holiday parties and celebrations should celebrate and build upon workplace relationships and team morale with no emphasis on religion or culture. Ensure your holiday party is not a Christmas party in disguise.
- Consider having a New Year’s party and include décor and food from multiple religions and cultures. Use it as an opportunity to reinvigorate individuals for the new year’s goals and priorities.
- Supervisors and managers should not endorse, or be perceived as endorsing, religion generally or a specific religion.
- If an individual chooses not to participate in a holiday party or celebration, do not pressure the person to participate. Participation should be voluntary.
- If a potluck-style party or celebration is planned, encourage employees to bring food items that reflect their personal religions, cultures, and celebrations. Use this as an opportunity for individuals to share what they brought and why it is meaningful to them.
- If sending holiday cards to campus and community partners, send a non-denominational card or token of your gratitude.
- Holiday parties and celebrations should not play games with religious and cultural themes–for example, “Dreidel” or “Secret Santa.” 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.
- Décor selection should be general, not specific to any religion or culture. Identify specific dates when décor can be put up and when it must come down.
- Refreshment selection should be general, not specific to any religion or culture.
- Most importantly, celebrate your religious and cultural holidays in ways that are respectful and inclusive of our students, your colleagues, and our university.