News and Information

Inclusive Holiday Celebration Reminder

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

By Kimberly D. Hewitt, Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action 

As we enter the holiday season, our community remains committed to balancing individual rights to express and observe religion with the University's obligation, as a public institution, not to promote any particular religion or faith. We encourage units to recognize holidays in ways that are respectful of the diversity of our University community, and recommend the following for your consideration. These are recommendations only and are not intended to infringe upon any individual's free exercise of religion.

  • Consider neutral-themed parties such as a "winter celebration."
  • Keep the theme of any invitations neutral and non-religious and not reflective of any one religious holiday.
  • Decorations, music, and food should be general and not specific to any one religion. Also, be mindful of dietary restrictions and provide alternatives.
  • Individuals may display expressions of their religious faith in their own personal space, but not in public areas (e.g., reception areas, kitchens, etc.).
  • Encourage individuals to express their concerns and provide them with information about the various reporting options available (e.g., EOAA, Bias Incident Website, the EOAA Liaison in their unit, the Office for Conflict Resolution, EthicsPoint, etc.).

If you do not know if you need to approach someone in your department about the expression of their faith, if you are concerned that there are inappropriate religious celebrations in your work or learning environment, or if you or anyone in your unit has a concern about religious expression or accommodation, please contact us for additional support and problem solving:

Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA)
274 McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455


"Perspectives" stories are the views and opinions of their authors and do not necessarily reflect any official position of the University of Minnesota.