Several universities across the country have issued guidelines for students regarding what is acceptable to wear at Halloween, particularly directing students to avoid “cultural appropriation.”
Campus Reform reported that Princeton University in New Jersey put out a multipoint checklist for students to consider when choosing their costume.
“Are you altering your skin color, facial/body features to make it darker or indicative of a particular race, ethnicity, or cultural group?” one question reads.
“Is your costume ‘funny’ because you’re dressing up as someone from a particular race, gender, ethnicity, or culture?” another asks.
Akhil Rajasekar, a Princeton sophomore and founder of the school’s chapter of the conservative Federalist Society, told Campus Reform, “People really should stop looking for things by which to be offended. Not everything is offensive and, even if it is, one must learn to shrug it off.”
He added: “The ability to remain unaffected by external circumstances only serves to make one stronger. Yet, our culture today is perpetually one verbal or social misstep away from being tragically offended or ‘invalidated,’ whatever that means.”
Michigan State University posted a flow chart in dorms on campus to help students decide if their custom is racist, according to Campus Reform.
The first question in the chart asks whether the costume involves the use of “blackface.” Later it asks if there is a swastika or if the name of the costume contains the name of a minority group.
MSU Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives Director Paulette Russell told CR, “A space that is so diverse, tensions arise when certain things happen through costumes.”
She further explained, “(The) poster is to help students in residence halls to understand why certain depictions might be offensive … and if someone takes offense they have a reason.”
If a student, after going through the intricate decision tree and answering “no” to all the questions posed, still wonders if the costume might be racist, the guidance offered is not to wear it.
The Oklahoma University College Republicans expressed concern via Facebook that the school is violating students’ freedom of expression rights.
After the Office of University Community sent a memo reminding students to wear respectful Halloween costumes, the OU College Republicans wrote in a Facebook post that the university is "dangerously close" to violating students' freedom of expression: https://t.co/s4GTbRZKL3
— OU Daily (@OUDaily) October 30, 2018
OU Daily reported that an email from the university read, “Please select your costumes and depictions in a way that does not demean, dehumanize or diminish anyone’s identity or culture.”
The memo offered three resources for students to consult when choosing what they
They include an article titled, “What is cultural appropriation?,” a Vox article called, “Don’t get what’s wrong with black face? Here’s why it’s so offensive” and another article titled, “When free expression becomes microaggression,” according to OU Daily.
The OU College Republicans argued in its Facebook post, “It is not the university’s prerogative to monitor people’s Halloween costumes.”
“It may have good intentions, but sending an email like this one is getting dangerously close to violating faculty and students’ First Amendment right to freedom of expression,” the OU College Republicans post says. “OU should be a place where students and faculty are free to express themselves. To clarify, we are NOT — under ANY circumstances — advocating for blackface or racism. However, students should be able to choose their Halloween costumes independently of ‘cultural appropriation’ warnings from liberal OU, especially if they are conducting themselves in a respectful manner.”
NBC host Megyn Kelly lost her job at the network after stating during a panel discussion about political correctness at Halloween that she thought wearing blackface could be OK, depending on the context.
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