The winter’s tale

By Thomas Moore

Another week and a half and most of us will be shipping out in every direction to our homes. Some will hop on planes and endure sleepless, multi-lay overs, red-eye flights to more temperate climates. Others will cruise on down 91 a few miles to their shelters and hunker down for another New England winter. But, wherever you’re going, here’s a fun topic that I think we should all consider as we enter into this season: political correctness.

Now I know what you’re thinking, because I too would rather flip the page than hear some kid’s rant about how we all have a right to say what we want. But that’s not what I’m talking about. What is important is how a postmodern movement to preserve individuality is actually forcing us to make compromises that deconstruct what we once held as important beliefs.

A good friend of mine, who has been working as a resident assistant for a while, shared with me what he and the other RAs were told during a routine staff meeting last week. Because RAs are expected to represent the University of Massachusetts with honor and dignity, they are called to a level of respectfulness toward others with special emphasis on their residents. This means a strict and swift review of all misbehavior as determined by the contract that RA agree to uphold while they are employed by the University. Simply put, RAs can’t get hammered, pee in the elevator, and drop a flaming couch from their 15th floor lounge in John Quincy Adams  and expect to collect their stipend and stay in their free dorm for much longer.

More than just refraining from arson, RAs are expected to refrain from using profane or otherwise derogatory language as well. Political correctness, as it seems, is the reason (among others) why your resident assistant doesn’t refer to you with ethnic slurs or use religious slurs to get you to hold the door for them. Which is great, don’t get me wrong.

But here’s where it cross the line. The RA who I was speaking of earlier told me that they were all advised by their superiors to not refer to this upcoming season as the “holiday season,” since that would exclude people who do not participate in holidays. Never mind Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Al Hijra, Bodhi Day, Christmas, Ashura, Boxing Day, Maghi and World Religion Day. This season, as the school administration has seen fit, will be called purely: “The Winter Season.”

Now it’s easy for us as politically corrected Americans to take this new censorship lightly. It’s also easy to not tip the Wings delivery person or to rush out of the bathroom without washing our hands, but that doesn’t mean that we should. Let’s pretend to take this seriously for just a minute.

In making sure that we say “Winter Break” as opposed to “Holiday Break,” we are not actually allowing ourselves to be able to respect other cultures, but creating a new culture that says “we don’t care.” This new culture that comes out of political correctness will continue to edit us using a fear of offending others until we find ourselves sacrificing everything that we once held as important beliefs.

As a Christian, I would be doing a disservice my beliefs if I compromised my greetings from, “Happy Holidays,” to “Happy Winter.” Even though it’s such a small difference, it gives no credit where a lot of credit is due. When it comes down to it, this is the season that Christians put specific emphasis on, looking back at the sacrifice of Christ and to look forward to the hope in His coming. To the Christian community: this is not a time to soften the edges of your faith with Santa hats and presents but a time to remember the cost of your warm Christmas and to rejoice in the priceless gift of Grace.

To the RAs all over campus, I encourage you to completely disregard the new policy regarding this upcoming school break. When it comes down to it, your beliefs and passions should be of more importance that of an institution. I understand that there are those of us who don’t observe any type of religious or ethnic holiday, so by all means—feel free to adhere to the new suggestion of calling this vacation a winter break.

But let me start off this season with a little jab at the politically correct culture and an attempt at preserving what is extremely important to me. Without the intention of offense or the force feeding of my own beliefs to you as the reader, it is out of joy and love that I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday.

Thomas Moore is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]