While columns on offensive costumes are usually reserved for October, recent events on campus have forced examination of the issue with Halloween still months away.
Beer Olympic events and themed-parties in general have long been a tradition on college campuses, and surely aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. While students may believe some costumes are in harmless fun, dressing up as someone else’s culture is offensive and never acceptable.
The very idea of Beer Olympics itself encourages participants to do this. Players are broken up into teams and told to dress up as the country they are given. The costumes are often crude, stereotyped representations of the culture of each country. Perhaps out of a lack of awareness for the culture, but more likely out of an attempt for cheap laughs, students latch onto whatever broad, and often racist, representation of a culture they can find under the guise of “simply having fun.”
As expressed in the campaign by the Black Student Union, a person’s culture is not a costume. There are well-documented historical issues with dressing up as someone’s culture. It degrades and stereotypes an entire group of people. Students may argue it is all a joke and they’re not considering the historical implications, but people with the education level to attend a university should know better.
There’s a very simple solution to avoid offending people in these situations: do not dress as another race or culture. Ever.
Want to dress up as Bill Cosby? You can do this without darkening your skin and embrace all the other characteristics that made you want to dress up as him in the first place.
There are plenty of ways to have fun. Dressing in a way that is insensitive to a large portion of people, including your peers, is not one of them.