DYSTOPIA–In response to “a variety of complaints and concerns” from the college community, Dystopia College will be “rebranding” some of its holidays and activities, according to President Overly Payeed-Admyn.
Columbus Day has always been a problem, but attempts to “re-envision it” as a celebration of Native American cultures has also misfired. Dystopia has decided to deal with this issue by simply ignoring it, Payeed said.
“Typical,” said freshman Paul O. Standingwater, who is Native American. “If you don’t talk about imperialist oppression, it didn’t really happen, right? It’s just like the Holocaust-deniers, except that nobody respects native Americans enough to make the connection.” Standingwater said he has become so accustomed to this problem that he doesn’t pay it much attention most of the time, but that he does have a recurring dream in which he is a champion archer armed with with an endless supply of poisoned arrows confronting “white people with guns that have all jammed.”
Halloween “periodically causes trouble,” Payeed said, because while most people just think of it as an opportunity to “dress stupidly and gorge themselves on candy until they vomit,”
some students are “more thoughtful about its origins.” The student organization Dystopians for Jesus, for example, has expressed concern that it promotes pagan rituals and is anti-Christian. Fifth-semester Freshman Trig Ryder, president of the organization, said that the holiday just doesn’t seem “appropriate for true Christians.” He said he doesn’t think Jesus “would want to play dress-up,” thoughhe acknowledge that “he might eat the candy to, like, show he loves everybody and stuff.”
Sophomore Adbullah Ibrahim Mohammed Hakim Badr-Asim “Bad-Ass” Al-Abad, who facilities the student group (“we’re not exactly organized”) Society for Peaceful Contemplation, which is vaguely Buddhist, said that he fears that “just debating whether the holiday is Christian or pagan, sets up, whether intentionally or not, a false dichotomy between Christian and non-Christian, that perpetuates the privileging of Christianity in Western thought to the detriment of other religious practices of at least equal value.” As a result, he generally “declines to participate in the nonsense,” but admits that having not yet fully overcome his attachment to M&Ms, is willing to consume them whenever the opportunity arises, even if it is in connection with Halloween.
Not everyone agrees with the objections to Halloween, however.
“Well, shit,” said Samantha Sabrina Eastwick, coven leader for African Lesbian Satanic Witches for Peace and an ardent advocate of celebrating Halloween, but in its “original, pre-commercialization form.” Eastwick said Halloween “is our one big event, and everybody wants to take it away from us. We don’t protest their ridiculous holidays, and if we can eat Christmas cookies and those damn Peeps at Easter and dodge dragon kites at Chinese New Year, I don’t see why they can’t deal with a little festive sorcery at Halloween. If they don’t like it, well they can borrow my broomstick and go fuck themselves with it!”
Halloween is not, of course, an official holiday at Dystopia, Payeed said, but many students and some faculty and staff like to dress in costumes, share candy, etc. He said he has appointed a committee with student, faculty, and staff participants, to make recommendations about whether the college should allow should activities to continue.
This year, for the first time, the President said, he has begun receiving complaints about Thanksgiving. He said atheist and agnostic students and faculty, as well as practitioners of Islam and other religions, object that it is essentially a Christian holiday, whereas some Christian students, especially Latino/a students, see it as a holiday that excludes their cultures’ contributions to the American “melting pot.” He said Millennial students, who typically aren’t particularly religious, are resistant to terms like “thanks” and “giving” because such terms imply that the world does not revolve around them and that they should express some kind of artificial gratitude for the entitlement they take for granted.
Since Thanksgiving is a holiday for which the college is closed, Payeed said, simply ignoring it is not practical, so the break will be retained, but it will be referred to simply as “Break,” without a qualifier.
The same will be true for the vacation period that occurs in late December and early January. This vacation was once referred to as “Christmas Break,” but Jewish and Muslim students complained, so it was changed to “Winter Break,” but now other students have objected that “Winter” suggests “Winter Solstice,” which has pagan connotations. Now it too will just be break. He said that campus personnel will be “discouraged” from displaying any Christmas-related decorations, but that the college is planning an installation of “culture trees” and will invite every member of the campus community to contribute a decorative item that represents elements of his, her, their, or its religion, culture, tribe, etc.
Since it might occasionally be necessary to distinguish between breaks, the breaks will also be assigned numbers, beginning with the start of the academic year in July. The assigned numbers are as follows, with both the old and the new designations given:
Independence Day–Break 1
Labor Day–Break 2
Winter Break–Break 4
MLK Day–Break 5
Spring Break–Break 6
Summer Vacation–Break 7
Payed added that the term “holiday” is to be avoided because it is derived from “holy day,” and some secular students object to the idea that some days are more special than others on the basis of “some fabricated mythology.”
T. Allen Culpepper