According to a recent news story in
the Rocky Mountain News, a state audit released last year
barred the University of Colorado from holding Christmas parties; the
university has now notified all employees that a “holiday party is no
longer sole justification for an allowable university event.”
According to Bronson Hillard, spokesman for the university, “What
matters the most is the reason for the party.”There can be a staff
appreciation party, he said, “but the motivation cannot be the holiday
itself.” Hillard did not say what techniques the university possesses
to police motivation.
We were curious about this so we
decided to contact Sally Symanski, the state auditor. She referred us
to the State of Colorado Fiscal Rule 2-7 that says state monies can
only be spent for official functions. As we expected, there is
absolutely no mention of any Christmas or holiday party in 2-7. When
asked what statute or court decision the audit was leaning on to ban
Christmas parties, we were told to speak to Mary Catherine Gaisbauer
in the controller’s office of the university.
Gaisbauer told us that holiday
parties are no longer allowed, but holiday-themed parties were okay so
long as they met the criteria for an official function. We were still
perplexed: “goodwill functions” are explicitly recognized as
constituting an official function. Upon further questioning, she
directed us to Recommendation #15 of the state audit. But
Recommendation #15 says not a word about parties, Christmas or
otherwise; it deals with procurement practices.
words, there is no statute or court decision that mandates censoring
Christmas parties; the state audit is equally silent on this matter.
What we have is a clear case of bureaucratic overkill and political
correctness run amok. We hope that some department throws a Christmas
party and when asked what motivated the decision, they say goodwill.
Then let the campus cops try to prove otherwise in court.
William A Donahue is president of The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation’s largest
Catholic civil rights organization. It defends individual Catholics and the
institutional Church from defamation and discrimination.