The University of Indianapolis has a religiously diverse population. Given such a diverse group of people, and with the holidays right around the corner, UIndy should host more events that celebrate the different religions and their holiday traditions.
Although the holidays are considered a time to spend with family, some students are hundreds of miles from home and feeling included during a time of celebration can be difficult for them. Feeling excluded or sometimes misunderstood may be hard for students to talk about, so simple events to educate others about different religious and holiday traditions could help students understand other cultures. Such events also could bring together people of similar religions so they have a sense of inclusion in their home-away-from-home during the holiday season. Some events also could offer Lecture/Performance credit.
One could argue that Christmas is celebrated by most students here, and other students can wait to celebrate until they head home for the holidays, if they go home at all. I live 10 hours away from school, so before I head back for the holidays, I celebrate here. Some students may not celebrate Christmas at all. Christmas, or the holidays in general, are supposed to be a time of holiday cheer, but I assume feeling included is difficult if you don’t celebrate Christmas and all the customs that go with it when that culture surrounds you.
As of Reflector press time, the events on the MyUIndy events site that are related to any religious celebration are the Christmas Celebration, which is a concert associated with Christmas music, and the Home for the Holidays event, which can be seen as advertised as a Christmas celebration through its poster designs and gingerbread building contest at the event.
As a Methodist university that is inclusive and welcoming to people from various backgrounds, UIndy needs to do more to help those who follow different religions feel comfortable around the holiday time. Doing so would not only make the students happier, but also the outside communities that see we are inclusive to all religions. Also, the students of different religions who are looking at perspective universities could feel more comfortable submitting their applications to UIndy if they heard about the inclusive events the holiday season holds.
Having the Christmas-specific events to celebrate the holiday is still important, don’t get me wrong. Listening to Mariah Carey sing Christmas songs and seeing trees lit up are staples of the holiday season, and such things tend to bring people together.
But some holiday events, or decor of other religions in prominent places would be a nice effort by the school and its organizations to show how inclusive we are.
This would give students a chance to try something new and give other students a taste of the holidays back home. It would be nice to be more inclusive of all students and what they celebrate or recognize.
Creating an even more inclusive environment and promoting the celebration of all holidays during this will continue to increase the diversity at UIndy. The lights, wreaths and Christmas tunes should remain at the forefront, but recognizing and including other religions’ and cultures’ celebrations will bring the UIndy community even closer together.