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Florida university bans Christmas decor

FORT MYERS, Fla., Nov. 26 (UPI) -- A Florida university has annoyed many of its employees and students by ordering a complete ban on Christmas decorations in public areas.

That means Florida Gulf Coast University is not holding its greeting card contest this year, the Fort Myers News-Press reported. The giving tree in one building will be a "giving garden."

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"Public institutions, including FGCU, often struggle with how best to observe the season in ways that honor and respect all traditions," President Wilson Bradshaw wrote in a memo last week. "This is a challenging issue each year at FGCU, and 2008 is no exception. While it may appear at times that a vocal majority of opinion is the only view that is held, this is not always the case."

The Staff Advisory Council said it has received 44 comments -- all of them in favor of Christmas decorations. Students from various faiths also disagree with Bradshaw.

"I think they're pretty," Marilyn Lerner, a junior who is Jewish, said of the Christmas trees that graced the Student Union in earlier years. "It's just a Christmas tree. I don't mind."

Stephanie Tirado, a junior who practices Wicca, argued that the very commercialization of Christmas means it is not just a religious holiday. She said that the university could have added a menorah.

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