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Equal Opportunity and Access (EOA) offers the following recommendations to guide departments as they plan for the use of holiday decorations in their units. We understand that having a festive environment, especially during the winter holiday season is important to many of our students, employees, and stakeholders. We also believe this can and should be accomplished in ways that are inclusive and respectful of a range of cultural traditions.
Two constitutional protections inform the university’s guidelines about holiday decorations:
As you consider whether or how to display holiday decorations, please ensure that both these constitutional obligations are met. To clarify, this means that individuals do have the right to display religious symbols privately in their work areas, but such expressions must clearly be personal, private, and not appear to be public. Religious symbols should not be displayed in areas such that they seem to be expressions of the institution rather than an individual. The distinction between private and public spaces and private and public expressions should be determined using best judgment about how decorations will appear to the reasonable observer.
In addition to these legal parameters, Oregon State University is committed to inclusiveness and respect for a wide range of cultural customs. EOA encourages individuals and departments to be thoughtful and respectful of the beliefs, traditions, and comfort level of others with regard to holiday decorations. The visibility of decorations to others and their resulting impact upon the workplace should be considered by employees who place them in the workplace.
The following suggestions are meant as a starting point for conversations and planning within your department. Please note that holiday decorations must conform to all fire and safety regulations.
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