The Hourglass

Winter Holidays

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Originally featured in the December 2017 Edition

The Baldwin School advertises itself as a diverse institution that represents people of many identities. The faculty, staff, and student body are indeed composed of people with varying ethnicities, sexual orientations, socioeconomic statuses, and religions, among other demographics. However the Hourglass Editorial Board feels there is not enough representation when it comes to holidays of various religions, specifically those celebrated in the winter. If, statistically, our student body represents so many religions, these students should feel equally represented by Baldwin in the celebration of their traditions.

Here are a few of our recommendations regarding the Winter Assembly, recognizing and celebrating overlooked holidays, and facilitating an inclusive and supportive environment for all members of the Baldwin community.

 

 

  • Extending education on traditions outside the annual Winter Assembly: The Winter Assembly has made great strides towards inclusion in recent years. However, the assembly can come across as attempting to squeeze as many holidays into this celebration as possible, without doing the same during other times in the school year. Diwali, for instance, is often mentioned during the Winter Assembly, despite the fact that the holiday occurs around early October. It would be more practical if an Upper School assembly during October was dedicated to the celebration, rather than one or two months after. The same education should be provided for other religious events.

 

 

 

  • Days off or work sensitivity if a large percentage of the student population celebrates a holiday: We get a winter break for holidays in late December, but these are not the only celebrations occurring in the Winter months. Lunar (sometimes referred to as Chinese) New Year, this year in February, is celebrated by a large number of Baldwin students. If possible, a break for those who celebrate would be a big step towards inclusion. If not possible, then teachers should be aware of the celebrations, and extensions for students that celebrate such holidays would be greatly appreciated. While this year, Lunar New Year takes place during an in-service day and Presidents’ day weekend, other years this is not the case.

 

 

 

  • Being cautious about decorations and spirit days: Last year, there was a winter spirit day, the theme of which was “winter/holiday/ugly holiday sweater/festive clothing – basically anything that is joyful and spreads cheer!” Almost no students found offense in this, since the description was vague and non-denominational. Sensitivity about certain outfits and decorations is necessary to promote an inclusive environment, and we support continuing this sentiment.

 

 

 

  • Asking the students and faculty what holidays they feel should be celebrated more or recognized at Baldwin: We’ll never know who feels excluded if we don’t ask. This holiday season, listen to the comments of the students. The winter months are a time for cheer, and we should ensure that every student feels happy and supported.

 

 

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t blast some Mariah in the lounge or wear your light-up menorah sweater. Just remember that there are people who don’t celebrate those holidays, and we should make sure that everyone is having as much fun this winter season as those of us who celebrate popular holidays.

We urge the Baldwin administration to follow our suggestions, so we can move towards a more inclusive environment for Baldwin’s many diverse students.

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Winter Holidays