University of Maine has a change of heart over Christmas trees and candy canes


The University of Maine is reportedly reversing its decision to keep Christmas trees and candy canes out of public areas on campus because they were could be interpreted as "religious items".

The university called the prohibition a "misunderstanding" in an emailed letter after students complained about the ban, the Daily Mail reports.

Allegedly, it was also a student's complaint that led to the ban in the first place.

One student allegedly complained about Christmas decorations in common areas on campus, when the school did not put up decorations for other religions' holidays.

Auxiliary Services Executive Director Daniel Stirrup responded by sending an email to campus employees banning any "decoration that could be perceived as religious," including "xmas trees, wreaths, xmas presents, candy canes, etc."

Stirrup encouraged employees to have a more stripped-down approach to decorating.

"What is allowed are winter themes, plain trees without presents underneath, decorative lights, but not on trees, snow flakes [sic], etc.," he continued. "If you are unsure, best to not use or ask me for clarification."

When word spread on campus about the ban, students were outraged. A Facebook community group, "Bring Back the Cheer to Maine," was formed to protest the university's stance, and has received over 1,100 likes.

"How can we celebrate diversity if we can't even see it? #‎bringbackthecheer," one post read.

After local news media picked up the story, Dean of Students Robert Dana retracted the decorations ban.

"We are not the Grinches of Maine," he told Fox News. "It was a big misunderstanding. The e-mail was in response to an issue a student had raised. His intent was to be inclusive," he added, referring to Stirrup. "It doesn't feel good, it doesn't look good, and it doesn't reflect us.

"The University of Maine is a place where we welcome every faith tradition, and we welcome displays of those faith traditions."

Dana insisted that no Christmas decorations were removed from campus.

"We welcome displays of religious symbols in public spaces and residence hall rooms," he continued. "We don't advocate one religion over another."