Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What Does it Take for UMd. Officials to Crawl Into their Shell?

A student at Maryland sent this along to me. For the heck of it this student filed a facetious complaint about an innocuous holiday greeting available at the umd.edu website. This student permitted me to include the correspondence, but with the student's name excised. I've also censored the private office line for Mr. Candelaria, the official who replied to my fellow Terrapin.

Thank you for your email. As you know the university is governed by state and federal laws and regulations as well as by the policies and procedures adopted by the Board of Regents. The university adheres to its Human Relations Code, a copy of which can be accessed through my office's website.

We are sorry that you felt offended by the communication or attachment sent last week. I will take your concern under advisement at this time. If you wish to follow up with any sort of formal action, I would be happy to meet with you to explain the various options. My personal line is 301-4**-****. I expect to be out of the office for some vacation after this Wednesday.

Thank you.

Roger Candelaria

-----Original Message-----

From: *********

Sent: Thursday, December 15, 2005 *****

To: dmote@umd.edu

Cc: rcandel@umd.edu; cblack@umd.edu

Subject: Re: Holiday Greeting

President Mote,


I wanted to let you know that I was deeply offended by your recent mass e-mail regarding Holiday Greetings.

You noted that this season is a time "when we gather with family and friends to relax, take stock, and count our blessings." I feel that using the term "blessings" implies the existence of an omnipotent being that influences our lives. This implication can be very offensive to the atheist population at this university. It also borders on a violation of the First Amendment because it implies state sponsorship of a God-centered religion.

I was also offended by the online animation wishing us to be inspired. I noticed that in the bottom corners of the animation, there sit holly leaves and berries. Those symbols reek of Christmas to me and it certainly implies an endorsement of that holiday over th! e many other holidays celebrated during this season. Where is the menorah, or the harvest basket? Why must you use a clearly Christian symbol when addressing a very diverse group of people.

I hope that you will seriously consider retracting your "happy holiday" wishes, apologize for the offensive nature of your e-mail, and ensure that the animation is removed from the university's web site before more people are offended.

Thank you,

**********

Student