The University of Mississippi has decided it will no longer hold the “A Grand Ole Christmas” event that has been held on campus for the last six years because the name of the event is “too Christian.”
In a statement to News Watch 99, Kayp Maye, the co-director of special events for the Student Activities Association, said the former name of the event “connoted too much Christianity on campus and so we wanted to have a more inclusive environment for the holidays this year.”
Maye further reported that the new name for the event is “Hotty Toddy Holidays.”
The event will also ban traditional Christmas colors, replacing them with red, blue, and silver in order to “attract a more mature audience” with a Winter Wonderland as opposed to a Christmas theme.
But after news of the change broke, school officials hastened to release a statement claiming that the whole situation was “taken out of context.”
The university’s vice chancellor of student affairs, Brandi Hephner LaBanc, was told by a student that his quote to the news media about the event, “Hotty Toddy Holiday,” was taken out of context and that he had insufficient time to give a thoughtful answer. He said the quote does not accurately express his Christian faith or the reason for the name given to the event.
“This is a 21-year-old student who wanted to make all students feel welcome and come to this annual event,” the vice chancellor said. “He is very sincere in his wish that he had expressed himself better. It is unfortunate that these reports, including repetition of incomplete information on social media, have misrepresented the nature of the event and his intent as a Christian to welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds.
“This student organization led a celebration that continued to honor Christmas traditions while welcoming all students to a holiday gathering.”
The change at Ole Miss comes on the heels of an administrator at University of Tennessee at Knoxville warning student organizations and staff members to eliminate all religious themes as well as cultural allusions like Santa Claus from all future holiday events.
UT Knoxville was also enmeshed in controversy earlier this year over the issuance of speech codes telling students that they were no longer allowed to use the words “he” or “she” in conversations with other students.
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