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Washington State University Compliance and Civil Rights

CCR Guidelines for Holiday Decorations

CCR understands that many departments display holiday decorations in WSU work areas, therefore, we offer this information as a guide for the appropriate use of such decorations to ensure that all of our students, employees, and visitors experience a welcoming and inclusive environment at WSU.

WSU is committed to inclusiveness and respect for a wide range of cultural customs. CCR 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.

Principles informing WSU’s Guidance for Holiday Decorations:

  1. WSU is a state agency, and may not advance or endorse religion, non‐religion, or one religion over another.
  2. WSU respects the rights of individuals to the free exercise of their beliefs.

WSU must ensure that both of these principals are met. Specifically:

  1. Employees may display religious symbols in private work areas, however they may not do so in public or shared work spaces. Such expressions must clearly be personal, private, and not appear to be public.
  2. Religious symbols should not be displayed in areas where they may reasonably be seen as expressions of the institution rather than an individual.
  3. WSU shall not sponsor nor provide direct financial support for the display of religious symbols.
  4. Please contact the Compliance and Civil Rights (509-335-8288) or ccr@wsu.edu with specific questions.

Inclusive Strategies

  1. Use a collaborative process for staff input into department decorating plans.
  2. Respect an individual’s decision to not participate.
  3. Focus decorations on the winter season by using images that are not associated with religious traditions. Remember that images that seem neutral to some may be experienced as religious by others with different traditions.
  4. Identify a specific period of time for the display of holiday decorations.
  5. Consider how efforts support and enhance the university’s values and goals with regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Note: All holiday decorations must conform to all fire and safety regulations (see WSU Safety Policies and Procedures Manual 8.70.1).