Happy culturally sensitive Halloween!
My IWF sister-blogger Patrice Onwuka reported the other day that her alma mater, Tufts University, plans to sic the campus cops on any student who, say, dons a serape and sombero while lacking a certifiably Latino last name.
And now, Inside Higher Education reports on planned crackdowns at colleges around the country on Halloween getups that some snowflake or other deems "offensive":
Colleges brace themselves for such controversies every year, and this Halloween is no different, with several institutions proactively encouraging students to avoid offensive and culturally insensitive costumes. At a time of frequent college protests over racism, the pre-emptive approach has the support of many multicultural groups and centers on campuses.
Let's see what the colleges are doing. Here's one: peer-bullying sessions at the University of Wisconsin:
Earlier this month, the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse organized a seminar called “Is Your Costume Racist?” and invited students to attend.
Next, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Scream-o-Meter:
At the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, several signs around campus instruct students to avoid cultural appropriation when planning their Halloween costumes. The signs were posted in residence halls as part of an initiative led by the university’s diversity office, its Center for Women and Community, and its Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success.
One poster features a meter similar to the terrorism alert meter used by the federal government. Called the Simple Costume Racism Evaluation and Assessment Meter (or SCREAM), the poster displays five threat levels, all assigned a different color. It asks students first if their costume is a person, thing or idea. If the costume is of a person, it then asks if the costume represents a person of the student’s own race. If the answer is yes, the threat level is considered “low.” If the answer is no, the student is directed farther up the meter and asked if the costume requires heavy makeup. If the answer is no, then the threat level is described as “guarded.”
If the answer is yes, the student continues farther up the meter, where the threat levels increase to “elevated,” “high” and “severe,” depending on how much makeup the student plans on wearing or, if the costume is an attempt at humor, whom the joke is targeting. “Cultural appropriation is an act of privilege and leads to offensive, inaccurate and stereotypical portrayals of other people’s culture,” another sign reads.
Lesson: No makeup for Halloween at the University of Massachusetts-
Then we have:
Earlier this month, the University of Florida also warned students against wearing offensive costumes. The university has twice dealt with students posting photographs of themselves in blackface on social media in recent years.
“Think about your choices of costumes and themes,” the university said in a blog post. “Some Halloween costumes reinforce stereotypes of particular races, genders, cultures or religions. Regardless of intent, these costumes can perpetuate negative stereotypes, causing harm and offense to groups of people. Also, keep in mind that social media posts can have a long-term impact on your personal and professional reputation.”
The post also reminded students that if they are troubled by an incident, they can submit a report with the university’s bias incident response team or seek counseling with the campus health center’s 24-7 counselor.
As might be expected, the idea that delicate freshman flowers might require the 24-7 ministrations of a psychological professional after viewing a classmate clad in a sexy senorita costume has attracted much social-media mockery. A Twitterer calling herself "American Mom" tweeted:
University of Florida, funded by taxpayers, is now offering TRAUMA COUNSELING for students "offended" by Halloween costumes
So, let's see–what to wear for Halloween that won't offend anybody? How about dressing as a witch–since the Salem trials involved strictly white cis-people?
Not so fast! You might offend a Wiccan. Pagan cleric Sam Webster told the Huffington Post that it's OK to wear a witch costume if you're actually a witch–but if you're not, you could be perpetuating a harmful stereotype:
“It highly depends on who’s doing it,” Webster told HuffPost. “If it’s a pagan or a witch, they’re usually doing it with a bunch of self-referential irony.”
My advice to college students on Halloween this year: Just stay in your dorm room and study.