Sombrerogate: Outrage as Guild ban “racist” outfits

The Guild banned students from dressing as Mexicans, comedy characters and the Native American from the YMCA because they think they're racist

UPDATE: Guild accused of hypocrisy after video emerges of Sabb officer in banned sombrero

• Guild bans students from wearing sombreros and YMCA outfits because they are “racist”.
• Student dressed as Sacha Baron Cohen’s General Aladeen is refused entry to Fab n Halloween.
• Angry students threaten to boycott the Guild, saying it is “ruining our university” 

A third year has accused the Guild of “ruining our university with your stupid games” after students were thrown out of Fab n Halloween for donning “racist” outfits.

In an 800 word rebuke, Jonathan Blausten told how he was refused entry to Fab n’ Halloween because he was dressed as Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedy character Admiral General Aladeen.


Disclaimer: this is not Jonathan

This is not Jonathan

Blausten claims another friend was thrown out of the event because he was dressed as the Native American member of the Village People, while another friend dressed as a Mexican was allegedly denied entry because “Mexico is an oppressed country.”

Meanwhile Carl Raynsford, a member of the Basketball team told The Tab his team were not allowed to attend the event dressed as Mexicans.

He said: “We were dressed as Mexicans which involved only a sombrero and a poncho and potentially a drawn on tache. I’m not sure why its deemed racist nor why the ‘anti-facism officer’ needs any involvement, would I be offended if someone came as an Englishman?”

In a message to the Basketball team VP Sport,Vicki Harris defended the ban. She said: “Heyy, news is not too great I’m afraid. Completely appreciate that this could be a struggle for you to change now, but after speaking with other officers (VP Welfare and Anti-Racism and Anti-Fascism Officer in particular), dressing up as Mexicans would not be okay since it could be seen as imitation of a culture and relate to a stereotype about the race of that particular ethnicity group, even if the intention is by no means harmful at all!

“We are in the process of creating some guidelines which will offer more direction and explanation about fancy dress and the policy than what I am able to give you now, but in the meantime if you have a back-up theme I would recommend going with that instead! Or just going as your original halloween theme but without the mexican aspect to it (from speaking with venues you would be asked to take off mexican-related fancy dress items before coming into the guild). I hope that makes sense, please let me know if not. And thanks again for getting in touch with me about it x.”

In the open letter, Jonathan says:  “Last night, I was refused entry to Fab n Halloween dressed as Admiral General Aladeen from the Dictator, because my costume was ‘racist’. I’m still waiting to hear who I was offending, going as a character from a fictional country in a movie which parodies almost every country on earth with no particular bias.

“Last night, I met someone (Initials JB), who had gone to Fab with his house. They had all gone as the Village People. He just happened to be the one dressed as the Native American, wearing a head dress. He was thrown out of Fab for being ‘racist’. I’m still waiting for the Guild to ban the YMCA.

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 12.11.57

Native headdress “insensitive” and “racist”

“The night before that, a friend of mine (Initials also JB) was refused entry to Fab dressed as a Mexican, with a real moustache and a sombrero, because apparently that was ‘racist’. Standing outside Fab last night being told I wasn’t going to get in, I had the chance to bring up the fact they wouldn’t allow someone in dressed as a Mexican. The response I got was “Mexico is an oppressed country”.

“Earlier in the week, a group of freshers were told they weren’t allowed to wear their costumes into the Guild. They were going as bats, and part of their costume involved painting their faces black. Apparently this was also racist.

“These are just four examples of the Guild’s stupid new ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy at work. Seeing as this is just one week, and just people I know, I’ll assume there are more. Security last night very kindly showed me the three pages of bullet points which comprise this new policy. That’s great. But nobody could answer one question: zero tolerance against what?”

The letter continues: “The Guild are perverting what is actually a very important conversation. By cutting out even the slightest mention of race or even by looking for wrongdoing when it just isn’t there, they’re giving themselves no leg to stand on when someone is actually racist. There’s no difference in treatment, and no room to make an example of someone.

“This stupid, catch-all policy is just lazy, and students are being punished for no reason. I don’t want to get too political with this, but every single person I spoke to last night pointed me in the directon of VPDR Tom Wragg. From security to Guild staff, to members of Guild Council. They were all so willing to give his name up.

“Decisions which affect all of our student lives are made by people who most students didn’t vote for, largely because most students don’t care at all about student politics. There are 15000 students at this University. More people actively voted against Tom (running unopposed) than voted in the Falklands’ elections.

“Why are people who represent such a minority of students allowed to act like they can do whatever they want? How on earth is this policy ‘representative’? Who did they consult on this? How can decisions as big as this be made without any care for what the 14000-odd non-political students think?

“I personally will not be visiting the Guild again during my time at university unless this issue is resolved. The Sabb Officers are paid £17,000 tax free to represent the student body. I am struggling to see how my Guild represents me in any way, shape or form.

“The inconsistencies are ridiculous. It appears the Guild deem it ok to go dressed as a Guantanamo Bay prisoner but not as a fictional dictator or as a Mexican. It appears you’re not allowed to paint your face black as part of a bat costume, yet the song playing as I left the Guild last night was a certain Jay Z & Kanye West song set in Paris. Sort it out.”

Read the letter in full here. 

The Tab contacted the Guild for comment but did not receive a reply.

  • Another Student

    Well said.

  • Ali G

    Kazakhstan is a real country…

    • Joshua Issac

      The country referred to is the Republic of Wadiya, which is indeed fictional.

    • nigel

      The character in question is al adeen, from a made up african country. Borat is from Kazakhstan.

    • Me Julie

      Wrong film babe.

  • Anon

    If a white person dressing as a bat and using black face paint is deemed as racist and banned I would be interested to see whether a black person dressing as a ghost and using white face paint would be banned….

  • Anna Horsley

    This is ridiculous… Racism shouldn’t be tolerated, but this isn’t real racism, this is just people dressing up for a bit of a laugh! The thought of classing this as racism just draws attention to their race when no one is bothered by that bit. Loony Toons has a Mexican mouse for instance and it’s allowed on TV… Stop drawing attention to races when they’re not involved in harmless fancy dress!!!

  • Charlie

    It’s just the usual professionally offended thought police again, who arrogantly think they are *always* right, regardless of the great tides of opinion against them. They are an arrogant out of touch elite who, frankly, just need to do one.

    They need to remember who elected them and why. The Guild, from a political point of view, is meant to REPRESENT students, not dictate to them. Sort it out.

  • Marcella

    Supposing you were a real Mexican, dressed in natural dress? Who’s going to know the difference…?

    • Marcella

      *national dress

  • SilentMajority

    We voted against the Guild2014 slate as we knew they were the uber lefty W*#ker$. But hey ho it looks like those we elected instead are just as bad. Wragg needs to remember he only got in because no one ran against him. Students would have happily taken ANYONE over him and his irrelevant arrogant “politics”.

    • arrogantLefty

      this policy does actually have nothing to do with Tom, 2014 or any other of those horrible horrible lefty arrogant “W*#ker$” you so kindly describe.

      In fact it is the result of reports of the NUS, motions passed in Guild Council (some of its members might have even been arrogant lefties oO) as well as three generations of VP Welfares (Luke, Katherine, Jethro) working on ways to prevent sexual harassment, racism, etc. within the Guild.

      So while I welcome your specific and useful criticism of this complex policy, it would be great if you could get your facts right next time you do so :)

  • Anon

    Maybe most students are unaware of the connotations of the indian headdress? I think this has more to do with ostracising and poking fun at an underrepresented ethnic group.

  • Son do

    Don’t forget to ban leprechaun hats on st paddys!

  • Anon

    How about white people stop trying to dress up as the ethnic groups that they’ve oppressed throughout history in the name of ‘having a laugh’.

    • Anonymous

      Firstly, you have presumed that only white people have been doing this. Secondly, why should only white people have to be careful not to offend? And lastly, and most importantly, your comment is far more decisive than some people dressing up as various cultures for fun. Saying that “they” have oppressed them simply perpetuates white guilt and creates an us and them atmosphere between races.
      White people, please feel free to dress in my cultural dress. I feel pride when I see you do it and it warms my heart to see you embrace true multi-culturalism, not the decisive thought police atmosphere that the guild seems to be promoting.

    • Babylen Tatarsky

      ^ this.

  • Alex

    I’m a member of the basketball team that wasn’t allowed to dress as Mexicans. Instead we had a mix and match theme, and our outfits could only offend those with any fashion sense at all. I wore a cardboard sign that said “Not Mexican” and was made to take it off because that, too, could be considered offensive. When I asked how I was simply told that if I kept arguing I wouldn’t be allowed in, even without the sign.

  • Zain Luke Ali

    The Guild are almost setting themselves up to be racist…

    ‘You must not dress up as anyone or anything that is associated with any other country or culture other than this one’


  • Jonathan Blausten

    For what it’s worth, this isn’t political correctness gone mad. The rule was clearly made with good intentions but it’s either been badly-written or badly-implemented.

    I’d like to add that I am now aware of the inappropriate nature of the Native American costume. However clearly the problem here is not that the costume was worn, but that nobody knows why it isn’t appropriate. I doubt anybody would actually wear the costume if they knew.

    Cultural appropriation is of course dangerous. However, I’d argue that Mexico is hardly the kind of country at risk from this. I’d like to think that anyone attending this university is educated enough to know that Mexico is an amazing country with amazing history, culture etc. It’s offensive to suggest that wearing a sombrero detracts from this. It’s offensive to the richness of Mexican culture and to the intelligence of the students at this university. Why is a sombrero banned, when, say, a cowboy costume, or a toga, or a sumo costume, wouldn’t be?

    Main point being, that racism is a massive issue, so we should fight racism, and make it clear what is and isn’t allowed. But fight it where it exists, don’t go looking for it where it isn’t. Banning things like the bat costume, whilst allowing something like Guantanamo bay prisoners, or Jesus etc… There’s no consistency.

  • Anonymous

    Your rights end where my feelings begin

  • Ali G

    My bad wrong film. But thought this was relevant to those who don’t vote in Guild elections because they’re not interested in Guild Politics

  • Anonymous

    If I wear jack wills and a gilet will I be kicked out for dressing as a white guy?

  • Anonymous

    Liberal fascism is all this is. Ironic that we have an anti-fascism officer who stands for censorship in a very fascist way.

    Down with the Guild.

  • Dan

    I wonder if the guild is missing the tragic irony of all this. They are the only ones trying to draw the connections and ‘turn it into’ racism. I know people from all over the globe, and most, if not all, really wouldn’t care if someone imitated their nation’s cultural dress. But no, the guild decides who is offended and how, because they are the infallible moral authority.

    I’m done with their insane, sanctimonious PC nuttery. I’m done. The only good that has come from this is the guild looking more ridiculous.

  • Anonymous

    The Guild is that extreme left that it isolates the majority of those it’s meant to represent.

    The only decisions it makes that get brought to my attention (regardless of whether that is through my ignorance or the Guild’s poor brand management/communications strategy) are those that are negative, extreme and seem to just piss of the majority of individuals.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been to Mexico, and they encourage sombrero’s, fake moustaches and ponchos (to the point where they’re forcing them on you for pictures). Why are caricatures of a certain culture automatically deemed as racist?

  • a contributor

    the man in the kebab shop said it wasn’t offensive and he’s an immigrant so it clearly isn’t offensive


  • Anonymous

    Bloody eft wing socialists

  • anon

    Why doesn’t everyone dress as mexicans for the next fab and see if they turn all 2000 away?

    • Juan

      Fab and Fajitas….

  • K. Stewart

    If a mexican international student arrived at Fab n Fresh in traditional mexican dress of serapes or rebozo and a sombrero would they be refused entry?

  • anon

    Next fab is fab n fajitas as thousands of students don sombreros in defiance of cultural marxist bollocks. #fightback

  • Charlie

    Don’t just sit back and let them get away with it though – check out the Guild Development Forum. Its what they wan’t, people just to be so disengaged with Guild politics that nooone bothers to challenge them. They rely on being as unaccountable as possible.

  • Tom


  • Karl

    Stupid fucking leftys ruining our university – OUT OUT OUT

  • Cadburyman

    Erm, aren’t there more important things in the world going on to get worked up about?

  • srsly

    if your idea of fun is going to fab, then racism isn’t your only problem…

  • Alex

    Fab n’ Fajitas sounds like a wonderful idea! Two of my favourite things… Fab…. and Fajitas!

  • Steve

    At the end of the day its just fancy dress, FANCY dress its not meant to be serious. Racism and Fascism GROW UP. Stop trying to out liberal each other.

  • Dom

    I hate White people, I get to white up every Halloween no questions asked. I didn’t get turned away by the guild.

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  • Nigel

    As a student who doesn’t tend to get involved in the university wide debates, which seem to lack meaning or substance and argue for argument’s sake, I genuinely feel that this is getting ridiculous and is just an exaggeration of a nationwide endemic.

    I am yet to see or hear from anyone on any of these threads that are offended in the slightest by any of these costumes. And I just cannot understand the premise for this ridiculous policy.

  • Julian

    Just to clarify some things:

    This policy came via the NUS, was worked on for much of last year by the previous VP Welfare (Katherine East), who consulted with lots of different groups on it, the final policy then went to Guild Council in May where it passed with 97% support from (elected) Guild councillors.

    This policy is not the result of a secret maniacal fun-hating cabal, and like all Guild policies, can be changed/amended by motions in Guild Council, which anyone can submit motions to/attend/speak at.

    Statement from the Guild:

    Statement from BEMA, the the Black & Ethnic Minorities Association about this:

    A pretty good blog post that explains what cultural appropriation is, and why it’s pretty darned uncool:

    • Charles Potter


      I genuinely can’t believe any credibility is being given to an organisation which claims that this institution and also society is one which is white-supremacist!

      As a member of the Guild Council who wishes to remain anonymous for the fear of persecution, I can honestly say the vast majority of people are too intimidated to present this idea at the Council meeting for the fact that most of the students who attend these meetings do not represent the ‘normal student population’ and would not sympathise with the under represented majority!

  • Nick Griffin

    It’s political correctness gone mad. It’s another example of how British indigenous people are being persecuted in the country that their Grandfather died for. Disgusting.

  • Nigel

    I can’t believe your quoting what BEMA have to say. THEY ARE the racists. Insisting upon a permanent black member on the guild council for no apparent reason. Describing the university as “white supremacist”. Why am I not allowed to join their group?
    I’m so tired of listening to this lefty rubbish. We need a total change. START THE REVOLUTION!!

  • Juan

    This is ridiculous. As an American, believe me when I say I know anti-Mexicanism when I see it. A sombrero and poncho are not even close.

  • Bham Anti-Pigeonor

    Our unayy is frequented by some right pigeons…On all sides.


  • Anonymous

    Fuck off julien you loser – REVOLUTION

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  • Trofim

    I’m thinking of going in a flat cap with a whippet. Are northerners a race? No? But they are oppressed by southerners, aren’t they? Bugger. Well, what about a stetson with corks hanging? Might offend Australians? Mmm – fur hat with ear flaps down and a bottle of vodka? Oh, Russophobic. Kilt and sporran – no, perhaps not. Top hat and pin-striped suit? Come off it – bankers aren’t a race!!! Bankers might be offended? I’m thinking of going in a flat cap and a whippet. Are northerners a race? Bugger. Well, what about a stetson with corks hanging? Might offend Australians? Mmm – fur hat with ear flaps down and a bottle of vodka? Oh, Russophobic. Kilt and sporran – no, perhaps not. Top hat and pin-striped suit? Come off it – bankers aren’t a race!!! Bankers might be offended? Oh, alright. Worzel Gummidge, then. Rusticophobic? Ah, well. I’ll have to go as one of those people they used to have on jam jars. Am I allowed to say “jam jars”?Rusticophobic? But I am a country yokel by birth!! Ah, well. I’ll have to go as one of those people they used to have on jam jars. Am I allowed to say “jam jars”?

  • Trofim

    I’m thinking of going in a flat cap with a whippet. Are northerners a race? No? But they are oppressed by southerners, aren’t they? Bugger. Well, what about a
    stetson with corks hanging? Might offend Australians? Mmm – fur hat with ear flaps down and a bottle of vodka? Oh, Russophobic. Kilt and sporran – no, perhaps not. Top hat and pin-striped suit? Come off it – bankers aren’t a
    race!!! Bankers might be offended? Oh, alright. Worzel Gummidge, then. Rusticophobic? Ah, well. I’ll have to go as one of those people they used to have on jam jars. Am I allowed to say “jam jars”?

  • Pingback: Was 2013 the year of the ban? | The Tab()

  • Isabel

    I think the only logical approach for the Guild to take would be to introduce an ultra non-offensive uniform, to be worn all those wishing to enter the premises.

  • Dave Wild

    Brilliant. I was at this Uni 20 years ago and it was the same silly stuff from the sabbatical officers back then. In my day the Sabbs changed the spelling of the word Disabiltity as they wanted to create a new word without the same stigma attached. People with too much time on their hands?! I’d be more concerned with the member of the Village people waving a hammer around (see photo) than the indian head dress. I assume the hammer was allowed entry.

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