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Some Houses Shun Holiday Decorations

Last Year's Controversy in Winthrop House Has Caused Institution of New Policies

By Ivy C. Pochoda

Last year's controversy in Winthrop House over the prominent display of a Christmas tree and lack of representation of other religious groups has caused some house committees to institute new policies regarding holiday decoration.

"The house committee is not organizing decorations this year," Winthrop House Committee Chair Lisa M. Castaneda '96 said. "If the committee were to organize decoration we would renew conflicts and exclude members of the house. But if anyone wants to put up decoration, they are free to and will be reimbursed."

Both Lowell House and Adams House have instigated the same policy.

Although both house committees have provided their dining halls with trees, students of any religious denomination are welcome to install their own decorations.

"We put up a Christmas tree traditionally every year. For any group who wants to put up their own holiday display, like a pagan altar, we provide matching funds," said Olivier A. Manuel '96, co-chair of the Adams House Committee.

As for the Christmas tree currently standing in the Gold Room of the house, Manuel said that "most people like it."

Matt L. Ware '97, co-chair of the Lowell House Committee, said his committee worked together with the Lowell House Music Society on the decoration of the dining hall.

"We have an agreement because the music society puts on the winter formal, we provide the Christmas tree, and the music society does the rest."

Ware said the house committee is open to holiday wishes from all religious groups.

"Last year the house committee paid for a Hannukah party," he said.

This year, however, no one has yet voiced the desire to install other decorations or to hold any type of holiday festivity, according to Ware.

"We welcome anyone to come forth with something like that. We support them," he said.

Some houses have yet to put up their decorations.

"Nothing has been decided yet. The white lights [which are in the dining hall now,] are not religious. They're just to brighten up the winter days," out-going Leverett House Committee Co-Chair Jeff A. Smagula '97 said.

Even though there are no rules governing decorations in the houses, most decorations still lean towards Christmas.

"[Decoration] goes by house rules," Assistant Dean of Students Sarah E. Flatley said. "There are so many religious groups on campus that it's important that they are able to have their own voice."

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