Menorahs, mangers and other religious imagery were the subject of heated debate last Tuesday, after the City Council’s Holiday Task Force proposed their removal from city buildings for future holiday seasons.
Two additional proposals were made, one suggesting that the city keep their remaining policies, allowing decorations with holiday connotations. The other acted as a compromise of the first two.
Council shot down the first two proposals made by the task force, and instead decided on the compromise in a 6-1 vote. With this proposal, holiday-related decorations will still be permitted, some neutral decorations — such as white lights — will be displayed, and a multi-cultural display will be featured at the Fort Collins Museum.
Although this proposal puts Fort Collins in the national spotlight, it doesn’t affect CSU policy.
In fact, there is no university policy on holiday decorations, and some departments decorate using displays that have religious connotations, said Brian Chase the director of Facilities Management.
He said there have not been any complaints about the decorations in the years he has worked here. He only suggests that people water their trees if they choose to put them up, so they don’t become a fire hazard.
Several religious students supported the council’s decision.
“It would be cool to see less promoting of just Christmas and more promoting of all holidays, but I’m used to it,” said Dan Yolles, a freshman music education major.
Yolles, a practicing Jewish student, said a lot of people grew up only saying Merry Christmas, but it is important to include all religions to increase awareness.
The Holiday Task Force worked to satisfy similar wishes, as they received suggestions from citizen groups on how to make holiday decorations more inclusive, said Fort Collins Mayor Doug Hutchinson. He said the museum display had been a great idea.
“I think it’s really a success story . it’s the first of a giant step to make displays more inclusive,” Hutchinson said.
The one dissenting council member thinks differently.
Wade Troxell, the District 4 representative, said he doesn’t think the proposal will make holiday decorations more inclusive.
He said the implemented proposal is a form of government speech, as city employees will be putting up the new decorations next year, instead of letting prominent members of religious groups be involved.
“It borders on absurd, having the city dictate what people’s religious beliefs are,” Troxell said.
Hutchinson said that the Council is considering having Town Square open to decorations from any resident, but Troxell insists that this idea was discussed after the vote had taken place. He added that because this hadn’t been considered in the implemented proposal, he had to vote against it.
“That was part of the irony, because (the city) doesn’t choose to be inclusive,” Troxell said.
Senior Reporter Cece Wildeman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.