When “Diversity and Inclusion” Become Exclusion

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville has sent out “best practices” guidelines for Christmas holiday end of year parties, and you have to read it not to believe it. Here’s the whole thing, but here are some highlowlights:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Nothing about Kwanzaa or wiccan celebrations that I could find.

UPDATE: Even before this post was ready to go live, reaction to this silliness was making news in Tennessee. State Rep. Martin Daniel has written a strong letter to the UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek, and other legislators are calling for Cheek’s resignation. About time our side takes a scalp. (Oops—I can’t use that phrase, can I?). At the very least cut the UT administrative budget so that they have to shrink or abolish this silly office.

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