The Office of Academic Affairs is encouraging students to celebrate Halloween with respect at UMD, referencing goal two of UMD’s strategic plan. Goal two is to create a positive and inclusive campus climate for all by advancing equity, diversity and social justice. This applies to Halloween as students decide on what costumes to wear.
Students often strive to come up with creative and witty costumes. However, this sometimes leads to a costume that, intentionally or not, can make someone feel disrespected or stereotyped.
Still a week and a half away from Halloween, sophomore Nova Ettedgui has already had a discussion with her friends about offensive costumes.
“I was thinking of being Pocahontas,” Nova said, “and I said that in here the other day, and one of the guys in here was Native American, and he’s like ‘Oh, that’s offensive,’ and we were all talking and I can see what he means. But, at the same time, it’s like I’m not just dressing up as a Native American — because that would be offensive — but it’s a Disney princess.”
Senior Anthony Keenan has seen offensive costumes over the years and, in his opinion, it usually is because the costume wearer is unaware that they are being disrespectful.
“There (are) people that take it over the top and go a little too far, and it always happens every year,” Keenan said. “I would say the bigger problem is people aren’t really aware, and when they do things and they don’t think it’s a big deal other people can take it as (disrespectful).”
“Anything can be offensive to someone,” Nova added, explaining how difficult it can be to have a controversy-free costume.
“It’s Halloween, too; that’s the whole point,” Keenan said. “You dress up — you’re not who you are. That’s the fun of Halloween.”
Junior Kaysie Bergum said that usually people who dress up in offensive costumes on Halloween exhibit offensive behavior year round.
“They’re also the same people that do it through their daily lives,” Bergum said.
The message sent out by UMD is a good idea because it will hopefully make some kids think about their costume ideas.
“It’s not necessarily going to change their mind,” she said, “but at least you can think about, ‘Hey, I’m going to wear this, do you think someone is going to get pissed off, maybe? Okay, am I going to deal with that, or am I going to change what I’m doing?’”
BY SAM STROM News Editor