By Rob Shimshock
American Indian, opposite gender, Mexicans, and members of a certain religion are among the costumes some colleges do not want you to dress up as this Halloween.
Administrators or students at The College of New Jersey, Millersville University in Pennsylvania, and other institutions have issued warnings ahead of Halloween regarding the costumes people should wear.
“Although the intention may be innocent, the impact can often be damaging,” said Baldween Casseus, the student government vice president of diversity and inclusion at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), in an email sent to the college community and obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Some costumes perpetuate negative stereotypes on specific cultures, races, classes, genders, sexualities, and religions. As a community, we are continuously striving to create a more welcoming environment valuing inclusiveness, integrity, and self-reflection.”
David Muha, a spokesman for TCNJ, told TheDCNF that the university supported the message, saying that “being mindful of others is something the college actively promotes as part of trying to foster an inclusive community.”
Another vice president, this time a Millersville University administrator, chimed in with his own unsolicited precautions.
“Although these celebrations provide opportunities to socialize and positively impact those around us, Halloween is also a time when thoughtfulness and sensitivity can be forgotten, especially when selecting a costume,” said Brian Hazlett, the school’s student affairs and enrollment management vice president, to the school community. “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.”
Hazlett gave examples of war paint, turbans, feathered headdresses, and skin tone modifiers.
Maya Bingaman, a communications and marketing assistant at the University of Pittsburgh, Bradford, took a slightly more strident approach.
“Whether fall is the best season or not is debatable, but one debate that needs to be ended right now is whether certain Halloween costumes are culturally offensive or not,” said the assistant in a blog post on the school’s site.
Bingaman described a Mexican costume in which one would wear a sombrero, fake mustache, poncho, and tequila bottle. (RELATED: Colleges Gear Up For Halloween With Warnings And ‘Cultural Appropriation’ Workshops)
“Not only is that disgustingly feeding into a stereotype, but it will most likely be offensive to people who are of Mexican descent,” she said. “For anyone who doesn’t know, it’s also called cultural appropriation.”
Bingaman declared not only black face, but also brown face as off-limits, saying people “don’t need to paint your skin brown to be Moana for Halloween as this can offend Pacific Islanders/Asians.”
The editorial board of Penn State University’s The Daily Collegian posted a condemnation of stereotyping a group of people with a Halloween costume.
“Halloween is not a time to unleash inner racism and prejudice — and it’s definitely not a time to marginalize or alienate a certain group of people,” wrote the editors. “Not only is it not funny or clever, it’s flat out offensive and wrong.”
“We cannot allow ourselves to be this unaware and uninformed anymore.”
Colorado State University published an infographic in which it suggested students avoid wearing costumes that “trivialize human suffering, such as homelessness or mental illness.”
TheDCNF reached out to The College of New Jersey, Millersville University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Colorado State University but received no comment in time for press.