University Center needs more diverse holiday representation


Dauntae Green

Trees in the UC

S-A Welch, Professor

As I walked through the University Center, I couldn’t help but notice the very large fully decorated Christmas tree. Interestingly, I also noticed all of the flags that represent students attending the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater who are from different countries.

Trees in the UC (Dauntae Green)

Seeing both of these simultaneously in the common area of the university is a visual paradox and one that subtly separates our students. Our Christian students probably feel right at home with a Christmas tree and even wax sentimental about their own families’ Christmas traditions. However, our non-Christian and international students, probably walk through the common area on campus and sense a difference, a separation from other students.

Our university stresses inclusivity to the point that it is one of the university’s strategic goals. And, in many ways, at different times throughout the year, we succeed at helping all of our students have a sense of belonging. This sense of belonging is slow to foster and easily broken. The break in our sense of belonging can happen with harsh words, attention to our differences vs. our commonalities, and even how we celebrate holidays.

Rather than having one religion’s iconic image of this holiday season be the focal point in the university center, perhaps we can have ceremonies where students of other religions and cultures erect their culture’s iconic images for this holiday season in an equally prominent location.

Trees in the UC (Dauntae Green)

Using this holiday season to help students identify rather than compare (and judge) could go a long way to building unity in our buildings and among our students.