College Costume Crackdown Ramps up as Halloween Draws Near

Anthony Gockowski, Campus Reform, October 27, 2017

As another Halloween season approaches, an ever-growing universities are cracking down on offensive costumes, even hosting panel discussions to instruct students on what to avoid.

Humboldt State University, for instance, plans to host a discussion Monday on how “cultures are disregarded, mocked, or simply dehumanized” by Halloween costumes, encouraging students to avoid “cultural appropriation” in their costume selections.

Several other schools, such as Oregon State UniversityMichigan State University, and the University of Colorado-Boulder, will host similar discussions on the meaning of “cultural appropriation” in the context of a “critical examination of Halloween costumes.”

Princeton University, meanwhile, recently offered a “conversation circle” to students to help them “engage in a dialogue about the impact of cultural appropriation, Halloween, and why culture is not a costume.”

At still other schools, administrators have chosen to get involved in the discussion directly.

Millersville University Vice President of Student Affairs Brian Hazlett, for example, sent out a recent campus-wide message to remind students that Halloween is a “time when thoughtfulness and sensitivity can be forgotten, especially when selecting a costume.”

“It’s important to be mindful that making/buying/wearing a costume based on a culture different from our own has the potential to negatively impact the inclusive community we as an institution strive to maintain,” he wrote, listing several examples of potentially offensive costumes, like “feathered headdresses, turbans, ‘war paint,’ or other skin tone modifications.”

“Costumes that disrespect, alienate, or ridicule segments of our community based on race, nationality, religious beliefs, or gender expression disrupt our community’s sense of inclusivity and unity and should be avoided,” he declared.

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Meanwhile, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln simply published a short list of “guidelines for choosing fun, non-offensive” costumes, such as avoiding “cultural-based costumes” because they “perpetuate stereotypes” and not “changing your natural skin tone to mimic another person’s skin tone” since doing so is “NOT ok.”

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