University of Tennessee (UT) Chancellor Jimmy Cheek in under fire because the university's website is encouraging school employees to make sure their holiday party "is not a Christmas party in disguise."
The UT website notes, "The university does not have an official policy regarding religious and cultural decor and celebration in the workplace."
The site later adds:"Holiday parties and celebrations should celebrate and build upon workplace relationships and team morale with no emphasis on religion or culture. Ensure your holiday party is not a Christmas party in disguise."
Further down the web page, UT states, "Holiday parties and celebrations should not play games with religious and cultural themes–for example, 'Dreidel' or 'Secret Santa.'"
In response, Republican State Senators Mike Bell and Dolores Gresham called for Cheek's resignation, notes The Tennessean.
Bell told the newspaper via email: “This is offensive to the vast majority of Tennesseans who help fund this university through their tax dollars. We have lost confidence in Chancellor Cheek’s ability to lead the state’s flagship university.”
However, Cheek said that the school honors Christmas "as one of the celebrations of the season."
"We are in no way trying to dismiss this very important Christian holiday," Cheek added. "As a diverse campus, we do promote ways to be inclusive of all cultures and religions. I am disappointed that our efforts to be inclusive have been totally misconstrued."
Republicans Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and state Rep. Sheila Butt slammed the the school on Facebook, and U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan of Tennessee told Fox News, “Well, I'm very disappointed that my school from which I graduated, as you mentioned, has put out a directive or a guidance such as this. I can tell you people all over the country are sick and tired of all this political correctness."
However, UT spokeswoman Karen Simsen told The Tennessean in an email: "This is ridiculous. We celebrate Christmas on our campus along with many other holidays. The suggestions are just that, suggestions for being inclusive and recognizing that not everyone worships in the same way or celebrates the same holiday."