Easter is a great day of celebration for all Christians across the world. It is a day of rejoicing and a day of rest. It is a day that is the focal point of the Christian religion, and yet it is virtually unrecognized by Stanford.
Why is this a problem? For one thing, many students had trouble completing assignments on account of the festivities. Midterms took place the next day, papers were due, readings were assigned. Christian students were torn between celebrating the holiest day of the year or preparing for their midterms.
But one could argue that this is not the fault of the university; Stanford is not a Christian university. Instead, Stanford allows for the safe practice of all varieties of religion. Unfortunately, this idea of safety does not seem to be conducive to the flourishing of religion.
Many other schools, both public and private, get at least Easter Monday off from school, so why doesn’t Stanford? Shouldn’t the university, which boasts of promoting diversity of all kinds acknowledge not only Easter but other religious holidays as well? Surely this would be a great way to celebrate diversity and allow for the flourishing and exploration of religion and religious studies.
Religious groups on campus would be able to interact and realize their faith. For many students, religion is the most important aspect of their lives. Without an environment that encourages religion, these students cannot fully share their diverse wisdom and cultural knowledge to the betterment of the Stanford community.
Stanford University currently takes the stance of not singling out religious holidays for the sake of avoiding what could be taken as bias or discrimination against various other groups on campus. This is understandable. It is of the utmost importance that the university maintains its image of a safe place for all kinds of people.
And yet, are there not competing groups on campus as we speak? Are there not groups which are incompatible, and even directly opposing one another? More importantly, is this not what the university is all about?
Stanford makes a point of bringing together people from every background and culture to create a diverse environment for the enrichment of all. It seems that the celebration of Easter and other religious holidays would only help to fulfill that goal. Moreover, religious studies, together with cultural and social studies, would benefit tremendously from a more religion-conscious Stanford.
Jane Stanford had Memorial Church built with the intention of making it “the centerpiece of the university complex” as a place that promotes “open-minded ecumenicalists.” It seems that Stanford’s founders intended for religion, both in its practice and in its exploration, to be fully expressed.
Students would be able to view Stanford as a place where they can live their lives to their fullest potential instead of looking for ways around the system to make things work. Stanford, too, would reap the rich harvest of religious diversity that can only make the university a more fruitful place of study. It is a win-win for everyone.