Administrators and easily-offended groups at several public universities are requesting that students eschew all but the most politically-correct costumes this Halloween.
At the University of Colorado–Boulder, students have been specifically warned against donning cultural garb for Halloween.
Cowboys and Indians? Forget about it. Japanese geishas? Nope. Sombreros and panchos? Discouraged, of course. (RELATED: Latino student group says eating tacos is offensive to Mexicans)
“As a CU Buff, making the choice to dress up as someone from another culture, either with the intention of being humorous or without the intention of being disrespectful, can lead to inaccurate and hurtful portrayals of other peoples’ cultures in the CU community,” wrote Christina Gonzales, CU dean of students, in a statement to the campus.
Gonzales also called for tame Halloween parties that would offend no one.
“Some students have also hosted offensively-themed parties that reinforce negative representations of cultures as being associated with poverty,” she wrote. “While everyone has the freedom to be expressive, we also encourage you to celebrate that you are a part of a vibrant, diverse CU community that strives toward respecting others.”
She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The University of Minnesota–Twin Cities took a similarly hostile stance toward ethnic Halloween costumes in a statement to students.
“In particular, please keep in mind that certain Halloween costumes inappropriately perpetuate racial, cultural, and gender stereotypes,” wrote UM administrators Katrice Albert and Danita M. Brown Young. “Although it may not be the intent, these costumes, and choosing to wear them, can depict identities in ways that are offensive or hurtful to others.”
Unlike CU, UM thinks cowboy costumes are okay, at least. But not Indians.
“Cowboys, for instance — totally fine,” said Mike Schmit, UM student government president, in a statement to the Star-Tribune. “Indians — not totally fine.”