Students share thoughts on library’s religious stained glass windows


Sandra Gomez-Aceves – Special to the Southern News 

On one of the first and sunniest days of spring, the rays of sun beamed down on Hilton C. Buley Library’s new bright tinted windows making them stand out even more than they have been since the libraries new addition opened.

“How great does this new addition look,” said Dr. Frances A. Viggiani, an SCSU Business School professor, as she walked in.

She thought the sunny day, was the perfect day to stop by and take a glimpse of the windows.

he three windows that have caught more than one person’s eye, not only for their color or brightness but because they all feature a Christian religious figure or phrase or both.

“Everyone is talking about these,” said Viggiani as she looked at them for the first time. “Aesthetically, they are really beautiful.”

Viggiani, a Connecticut native, said she has been to many universities not only in the United States but in Europe as well.

“Stained glass windows are popular in many universities,” she said mentioning her visits to Oxford, Cornell, and Harvard. “It’s an issue because we’re a state school but there are many people representing us that make decisions like this one.”

buley library-1 copyIf a complaint on this particular decision, was brought to Americans United for Separation of Church and State they would consider the religious windows a violation of law.

One of the examples of a violation on AU.org says that “…displays of a religious symbol or text on public property,” are a violation.

Since SCSU is a public state university is does make it inappropriate and gives students the right to question and even complain.

Students are the ones who are found in the library more frequently than anyone else for one reason or another and more than a couple have felt a negative emotion towards the religious windows.

“I was so shocked when I saw them,” said Heidi Duchaine, a junior majoring in Information and Library Science. “I knew it’d stir up controversy.”

Duchaine said that although they are beautiful, she doesn’t understand how religious stained glass windows became a part of the university’s academic library.

“They look out of place,” said Duchaine

No matter how out of place Duchaine thinks they look, she believes that they won’t cause enough controversy to be removed from their current location.

Despite comments on the “new” windows, the three windows have actually been at SCSU for years. They were previously in the library until part of it was closed in 1996 and then left in storage, according to Wendy Hardenburg, Buley Library’s reference desk librarian.

To her knowledge the difference was that they weren’t in a location where natural light was able to hit them and make them as bright and therefore as noticeable as they are now.

Hardenburg also mentioned a bit of what the three window’s history actually is.

“Many local churches were being displaced and the windows were preserved and given to the university as donations,” said Hardenburg.

Revealing that they were donations, Hardenburg cleared up the issue with government funding or tuition dollars going towards the religious windows.

Hardenburg said that the windows are of great significance and value because all three windows are Tiffany windows, designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

A quick search on Google showed that the value of a Tiffany Window ranges past the $35,000 mark for one similar in size to the ones in the library, and even then, not many pieces are for sale because of the originality.

While most Tiffany windows lay in museums and fancy churches, SCSU has them on display for all students to see.

Although that may be a treat for some like Viggiani, it is overwhelming for people like Duchaine and that is what should matter at SCSU.

The comfort of students in their learning and living community should always be top priority.

Photo Credit: Derek Torrellas

7 comments

  • “The comfort of students in their learning and living community should always be top priority.” Really? I thought a university’s top priority was educating and informing its students. Our religious history is a vital part of the fabric of our nation. Should we not talk about religion at all so we don’t make students uncomfortable?

  • e pluribus unum

    These students, or whoever was “offended” , remind one of the ISIS response to religious art in countries they overrun. They smash and destroy the art.
    When will college professors and students accept that the First amendment was meant to ALLOW religious speech in the public space and not suppress it? Religious suppression was the reason for the exodus from Europe to the Americas. For some reason (progressivism I imagine) it is being taught that any religious expression in public colleges is forbidden. Too bad we can’t exhume George Washington and his friends to set the record straight.
    For the record I went on a UCONN field trip in the early ’80’s where we also viewed some of Tiffany’s window art. It was beautiful and no one was offended. It was ART.

  • They’re really pretty just oddly out of place, maybe if there were books or an owl it would fit a little better. I don’t care if they’re religous, I’m not offended but again, it’s just odd. And you have a few typos in here.

  • Stain glass is art! If anyone claims they are uncomfortable and can’t study because the subject is religious, they are too immature to be going to college It’s just an excuse for poor study habits. Some of the most beautiful art pieces have a religious background. It would be a great disservice to the other students who appreciate the beauty and history of these windows.

  • I love looking at stained-glass windows. I know that they can display a lot of religious symbolism. I saw a lot of such things while touring 18th century cathedrals on the California coast. However, I am not too sure that the windows displayed in this university are religiously oriented. What about these windows displays a religious connection? http://www.buildersdoorandwindow.ca/products.html

  • The stain glass windows are really beautiful. Most artists create art from their subjective viewpoint and as such there’s always going to be something controversial over subject matter. Hopefully the students at SCSU (Buley Library) are mature enough to just appreciate the beauty of these windows.

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