The Guild will not let you wear a sombrero this Halloween

You need to ‘dress responsibly’

Blacklist Blurred Lines costumes guild Halloween offensive sombreros UEA university university of birmingham UoB

So, it’s October and the countdown to Halloween has begun.  For most of us, we’ll have had at least one conversation with our friends about what we’re thinking of dressing as.

Just a word of warning though- if you’re planning on going to Fab N Halloween, or indeed any where near the Guild of Students during your time at university, be careful not to wear anything that might be construed as even mildly offensive.

It's time to rise above the simplistic rut

Every year there are stories about people being turned away at the doors.  Last year’s victims included people dressed as Mexicans, Sacha Baron Cohen, bats, and Native Americans, because these costumes were deemed offensive by the Guild.

Lookin' cute. Apart from the racism of course.

Lookin’ cute. Apart from the racism of course.

How PC are we going to have to be this Halloween?  It’s not looking good given that already this year the Guild banned Chiquito, a Mexican themed restaurant chain, from handing out novelty sombreros amongst other Mexican themed freebies at the Freshers’ Fair.  (Although they didn’t mind Chiquito giving out sombrero shaped discount cards, because hey, what’s the Guild if not consistent.)

It’s worth pointing out just how lucky the Guild have been here to avoid facing the same criticism as the University of East Anglia, which has been slammed by national newspapers for adopting the same policy as our own Guild by not allowing sombreros to be handed out.

Ciara, a third year English student, said, “I don’t really know what they’ve actually banned- there’s no place you can go and see what you aren’t allowed to wear. On one hand I am a self-declared social justice warrior but then on the other, Chiquito is a Mexican themed restaurant and it seems a bit silly.”

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Sorry these are sexist

In an attempt to find some information on the Guild website about what rules they have in place regarding fancy dress, the only mildly helpful thing that cropped up was the University’s student guidelines.  The guidelines state that, “Any student shall be subject to disciplinary measures” if they are found to have breached any of 24 regulations including: “violent, indecent, disorderly, threatening, intimidating or offensive behaviour or language.”

This is presumably where the Guild has sapped its justification for random bannings from, although they make no effort to be more specific than this.

Unfortunately for us, “offensive” is a foggy term at the best of times, but when last year the women’s basketball team got turned away for being dressed as bats,  because bats are black (and a widely used image for Halloween but okay we’ll ignore that for the sake of their colour), how on earth can we know when we’ve crossed the line?

Ireland is offended, please go home and change

It wouldn’t be surprising at this point if pumpkins were turned away for being fatist, witches for being sexist, or Ron Weasleys for being ‘gingerist.’

The Tab approached the Guild for comment and Guild President, Jack Mably said: “Halloween is a fun time of year and the Guild’s Fab N Halloween event is always a great night enjoyed by all.

“In previous years, our Student Mentors have ran popular free face painting sessions on the Vale to get students in the mood.

“In the interest of keeping things positive and enjoyable for everyone – and as a Union that represents students from such a diverse range of cultures – we ask that students avoid outfits that mock, stereotype or offend so that all of our members are able to enjoy Halloween.

“Therefore, our advice to students is to bear this in mind, to dress responsibly and to be aware of the impact that their costume can have on others.”

Hawaiin garlands are also probably a no no

Hawaiin garlands are also probably a no no

The Guild has a zero tolerance policy on racism and sexism and that’s truly great, nobody is contesting that.  What we should be contesting is whether innocently intentioned costumes can really be condemned as offensive.

Back in 2013 the Guild also caused a stir by banning Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines.  It wasn’t the only students’ union to do this, and whilst there is certainly reason to denounce the song for excusing rape culture, is there really any justification for banning it along with all these other things on the Guild’s ever growing blacklist?

University is an adult institution, everyone here is responsible for themselves and accountable for their own decisions so why can’t the Guild accept that?  Do we really need to be mothered to the point where the Guild dictates what we listen to and what we wear?

Say no to racism, but don’t say no to a little fancy dress fun.