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Opinion: Christian holidays receive privilege, other religious holidays neglected

Campus community must be more inclusive, consider other religious holidays in schedules

On campus, Christian holidays have privileges that other religious holidays are denied. It’s important to be aware of this privilege when creating course layouts and offering activities on campus.

One could make the argument that Christmas has become a societal holiday rather than a religious one, simply because that’s what capitalism has made it out to be. Stores decorate entire sections for Christmas and leave one shelf to hold decorations for the outcast— Hanukkah. 

The whole world stops for weeks in honor of Christmas, while the Jewish community might happen to luck out every few years if Hanukkah lands on the same week. 

The year 2020 had no such luck; Hanukkah occurred during finals week. A time for the Jewish community to celebrate with family turned into a week full of stressful exams and moving off campus. 

Why do Christian holidays get such preferential treatment on campus compared to other religious holidays?

I went through the religious observances calendar Rollins provides and compared it to the school calendar. None of the religious holidays were given days off, except for the most celebrated Christian ones. From Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, to Diwali, and finally to Ramadan, these holidays occur on school days when students are expected to be on top of their game, focusing all of their mental energy on coursework.

I must mention that, while my family and I celebrate Christmas, I am agnostic and do not believe in one set of religions over any others, and I’ve had no previous bad experience with any religion. This makes me about as unbiased as possible. 

Although Rollins requires teachers to add a statement offering free absences to students celebrating any given religious holidays, it is a simple fact that Christian holidays are interpreted as a given day off while a religion celebrated by ten percent of the Rollins population, Judaism, isn’t provided with that same treatment.

Hanukkah is the only holiday that ever comes close to receiving the treatment that is provided to Christian holidays, but it isn’t even one of the most spiritually important Jewish holidays. It’s only gained its prominent position because it occurs around Christmas time.

I am not saying that we should take away Christian holidays on campus; rather, I am explaining that it is important to be aware of the privilege Christian holidays receive compared to the many other religions practiced on the Rollins campus. Once the Rollins community is aware, we can actively make an effort to be more inclusive in multiple ways. Staff and faculty can acknowledge the occurrences of other holidays and plan them into their schedule, and students can plan activities around these holidays to make sure other students are not left out. After all, the mission of a Rollins student is to aspire to be a global citizen.

 The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of The Sandspur or Rollins College.

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