Halloween enjoyment should be inclusive and sensitive to other cultures
October 29, 2015
As you all know, this Saturday is Halloween. For many adults, that may not be that big of deal. Some people love Halloween, while other people just tolerate it. But on a college campus, Halloween is kind of a big deal. College students love Halloween, and maybe it’s because it’s just a fun way to blow off some steam and escape from the stresses of college. Students plan and pick out their costumes, usually topical or skimpy, and they go out and play pretend for a night. College is the last stepping stone from childhood to being a fully functioning adult, so why not partake in some Halloween nonsense before all the responsibilities kick in?
When you’re picking out your Halloween costume this year, however, it might be time to re-evaluate what costumes can be funny, and what can be offensive. It seems like every year, costumes rely more and more on stereotypes and things that tend to offend in order to get a laugh. Costumes that seem to be popular this year include Middle Eastern terrorists and something called “Anna Rexia”. You can guess what that is making fun of. Older kinds of harmful Halloween costumes include wearing blackface.
In 2013, a poster campaign was started with the message, “We’re a culture. Not a costume.” The subjects of the posters varied across all stigmas and stereotypes, with messages including “This is not who I am, and this is not okay” and “You wear the costume for one night. I wear the stigma for life.” This helped open people’s eyes when it came to how a funny costume to someone can be hurtful to someone else, and yet every year we still see people absent-mindedly throw on turbans and sombreros. Chances are that they don’t mean to offend, but that doesn’t mean that those costumes don’t hurt others.
This year, the university has dedicated the year to further teaching students about the country of Mexico, naming it the Year of Mexico. This includes many events, such as a Day of the Dead celebration that is planned for early November. The UW-River Falls Student Senate has also dedicated this year to four initiatives, one of which includes increasing inclusivity on campus and making everyone feel welcome.
If our university can make efforts to decreasing stereotypes through education and making everyone feel accepted and comfortable, should we as students do the same? Halloween can be so much fun, but it’s important to remember that although you might not mean any harm, your costume may have a negative effect on someone who is different than you are. So when you’re picking out your costume for Saturday night, remember how much fun it is when everyone feels comfortable being themselves. And stay safe!