Holiday Decorations Guidelines

Op11.09 Holiday Decorations Guidelines

The following guidelines apply to decorating University buildings for holidays. They are based on decisions of the United States Supreme Court and other federal courts interpreting the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution in the context of decorating public buildings:

  1. Common Space - defined as areas in the building that a reasonable person would believe is open for all to use.
    1. The senior building administrator or designee is responsible for determining the selection and placement of holiday decorations in common areas of University buildings.
    2. Holiday decorations may not be placed in such a way as to inhibit access to, or egress from the building. Holiday decorations shall be made of materials and placed in locations such that they do not violate applicable life and fire safety codes or create a hazard.
    3. Decorating using religious symbols is not appropriate in common areas of University buildings unless the decorations are part of a display celebrating religious diversity, religious freedom, or similar subject.
    4. Examples of religious items which would generally be inappropriate for use in holiday decorations in common areas of University buildings include:
      1. The Nativity Scene
      2. A Cross or Crucifixion
      3. A Menorah
      4. The Star of David
      5. The Star and Crescent
      6. Drawings of Jesus or Mohammed
      7. The Bible or Quran
    5. Examples of decorations which are appropriate for use in common areas of University buildings because they are not religious symbols include:
      1. Flowers
      2. Greenery
      3. Wreaths
      4. Christmas Trees
      5. Bells
      6. Snowmen
      7. Winter Scenes
      8. Santa Claus
      9. Animals
      10. Ribbon
      11. Flags
      12. Pilgrims
  2. Personal Space
    1. Faculty and staff may place holiday material (secular or sacred) within their personal space and personal offices.
  3. Student Decorations
    1. Student organizations may place holiday material (secular or sacred) only on bulletin boards or reserved contact tables in Plaster Student Union as provided by the Advertising and Solicitation Policy. Students may decorate their residence hall rooms for the holidays as limited by the Guide to Residence Hall Living.