Annual Christmas tree displays at the University of North Carolina's two main libraries will not be up this year, in an effort appease those who have complained about them in the past.
The holiday trees are usually set up in the the lobby of the Wilson and Davis libraries on the UNC campus. But Sarah Michalak, associate provost for the university libraries, requested to have the trees kept in storage this year, the Charlotte Observer reported Monday.
Michalak said her decision was based on years of complaints from employees and patrons bothered by the Christian display.
"We strive in our collection to have a wide variety of ideas," Michalak said. "It doesn't seem right to celebrate one particular set of customs."
Michalak said that banishing the Christmas displays was not an easy decision. She said she asked several library colleagues at Duke University, N.C. State and elsewhere and found that no one there set up Christmas tree displays.
The UNC Chapel Hill library is a public facility, Michalak noted. But according to her, libraries are places where information from all corners of the world and all belief systems are offered without judgment.
Displaying one particular religion's symbols is antithetical to that philosophy, she explained.
Derek Belcher, president of UNC's College Republicans, complained that Michalak's decision was based on political correctness.
"We have Christmas as a federal holiday, he said. "If we're going to remove the Christmas tree, do we have to remove that holiday?"
In an e-mailed statement, UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp wrote that the administration doesn't get involved in making those decisions. Instead, they are left up to the department staffs.
Thorp also pointed out that several Christmas displays can be found elsewhere on campus.
Sources: Winston-Salem Journal, Charlotte Observer, Fox News