Members of the JMU community gather in front of Wilson Hall to illuminate the inclusive Unity Tree

The Quad Lighting has been a JMU tradition for 37 years. In the late nineties, under President Rose, the Student Government Association and the President’s Office partnered to make the lighting of the quad a holiday event to remember. In years past, this event was known for gathering around the tree with a cup of hot chocolate along with holiday performances from various acapella groups.

Emphasizing inclusion, it has been called the “unity tree,” with the intent to bring together all JMU communities. as it is intentionally not decorated with any religious markings nor are religious songs played during the ceremony. The SGA has sought solutions for inclusion for years. Legal advisors of the university informed former SGA advisor, Dave Barnes, that the tree displayed on the Quad is not a religious symbol, but a cultural one. That ruling was made at the state level.

Although the lighting this year was not a public event due to COVID restrictions, the JMU University Communications and Marketing team released the virtual ceremony online. You can see the shining purple and gold right from your home. The full ceremony can be viewed on James Madison University’s Facebook.