Backlash as University Swaps Religious Names Like Easter for Spring Term

An English University has come under fire online for its decision to rename semesters to cut out religious terminology.

In a decision that has been called "pathetic" online, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has changed how its terms and breaks are referred to internally.

LSE announced this week that: "The academic session names Michaelmas Term, Lent Term and Summer Term will be amended to Autumn Term, Winter Term and Spring Term respectively."

Additionally, the Christmas break has been changed to winter break, while Easter break will be Spring break.

Stock Photo of Students
A file photo of students on campus. The LSE has renamed its semesters and breaks. iStock / Getty Images

An LSE spokesperson told Newsweek: "Following discussions and consultations which took place last term, the School Management Committee (SMC) has made the decision to introduce changes to academic term names which will come into effect from the 2023/24 academic year. These new names use more accessible and widely recognized terminology, and better reflect the international nature of our community and our broader global engagement."

But in removing the references to Christian holidays in its term system, the LSE has been slammed, with some critics likening the decision to an example of the "war on Christmas."

An expression that has been used to discuss the Christmas-related controversy since the early 2000s, the idea of the "war on Christmas" often becomes a topic of conversation around the holidays. For example, when it is suggested that "Happy Holidays" may be a more politically correct and inclusive term than "Merry Christmas."

In 2015, President Donald Trump weighed into the conversation when he promised: "If I become president, we're going to be saying 'Merry Christmas' at every store." Following his victory in 2016, Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said: "You can say again, 'Merry Christmas,' because Donald Trump is now the president."

In 2013, the Pew Research Center asked Americans if they prefer stores to greet customers by saying "Merry Christmas" or would rather see "less religious terms" such as "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings."

The results found that people didn't seem to mind that much, with 46 percent saying that it doesn't matter. Meanwhile 42 percent said that they prefer "Merry Christmas" and 12 percent opted for the less religious term.

'Just Pathetic'

After receiving the notification of the change to term and break names at LSE, Clergyman in the Church of England in the Diocese of London Fr Marcus Walker tweeted on January 28 that the decision was: "Just pathetic."

With over 180,000 views, the tweet captured attention as others agreed that it was a bad idea to rename the terms.

A reply from @Jackalanch said: "LSE removing history, culture, and Christianity... just another example of the war on Christianity in U.K. institutions."

Walker told Newsweek: "[This change] does not speak well of the LSE at all. Where is the opportunity for students to learn about the historic marking of time in England (these names are used well beyond academia – in law, in tax for example)? Why have they picked Christianity to excise from their seasons—they somehow survive remembering Saturn on Saturday, Woden on Wednesday and Janus in January; the way we mark time is a wonderful compilation of historic accidents. The LSE's decision betrays its status as a world leading university and is both embarrassing and pathetic."

Not everyone agreed that the change was bad, as they shared their own reactions to the LSE's decision. Twitter user @shulwineaunt sarcastically said: "Oh no, LSE are renaming the terms to the same ones that the vast majority of universities use."

One Twitter user simply wrote: "Imagine giving a s*** about this," and another agreed: "Imagine being the kind of person who gets offended by the word 'summer'."