Last word on the SWOSU "Christmas" ban?

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Brian Ervin has the story in this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly about the attempt to ban Southwestern Oklahoma State University employees from using the word "Christmas":

While there wasn't an outright "ban" on the holiday or its mention, [SWOSU spokesman Brian] Adler said university employees were told to refrain from including "Merry Christmas" in e-mail tag lines, which are only to include an employee's name, title and contact information.

Adler insisted that whatever "ban" SWOSU imposed on Christmas was confined to e-mail signatures, but not from e-mails themselves, nor from any other means of expression.

He said the policy was implemented for the purpose of ensuring that the "Merry Christmas" greeting wasn't mistaken by recipients as a sentiment officially expressed by the university, rather than from the individual sender, to the exclusion of other holidays or of well-wishing for students and university affiliates of other faiths.

That story doesn't match what Matt Staver of Liberty Counsel was told:

As Staver explained, it all started on the Wednesday before Christmas when Liberty Counsel received a call from Weatherford City Councilor Warren Goldman, who told them of SWOSU banning Christmas on Edmondson's advice.

The Liberty Counsel front man told UTW that he's never had any direct information about the AG office's responsibility for the policy, but said he spoke with the SWOSU Provost, Dr. Blake Sonove, who confirmed to him that the policy was in place and that it was implemented upon advice from Edmondson.

He also said Admissions Coordinator Connie Phillips, Human Resources Director David Misak and Vice President of Finance Tom Fagen each confirmed the same.

Edmondson's involvement may have been a misunderstanding on Councilor Goldman's part, although, if Staver's accounts of his conversations with SWOSU staffers is correct, it was a widespread misunderstanding.

"In my conversation with Dr. Sonove, I told him, 'Your attorney isn't the one who's going to foot the bill for these lawsuits,'" Goldman explained.

"I don't remember exactly how the conversation went," he continued, explaining that when Sonove mentioned something about the state Attorney General ultimately being responsible to defend against potential litigation against the state university, Goldman left with the impression that Edmondson had been the source of the bum legal advice.

"That was a misperception on my part," said Goldman.

Taking the new information from Ervin's story with the earlier statements by university officials, I'm still persuaded that some official at SWOSU tried to pull a fast one and got caught.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on January 6, 2008 2:12 PM.

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