The SU made a statement on offensive Halloween costumes
Yet somehow, they failed to make a clear point
Warwick SU have released a statement giving ‘advice for students’ on dressing ‘appropriately’ this Halloween, and in particular, for the Halloween Ball.
In what seemed like a progressive gesture to warn students against cultural appropriation and insensitive costumes, the SU have managed to write five paragraphs of advice, with no real advice.
The SU, which organises the Halloween Ball has asked students to pick outfits which aren’t ‘provocative’ or ‘offensive’, otherwise they may be turned away ‘on the door if their outfit was deemed provocative and liable to cause offence.’
The SU is a charity, completely separate from the university itself, whose aim is to support us and to ‘positively impact students’ lives at Warwick and beyond’. We all become a member of the SU from the moment we enrol and they provide us with a voice to speak about our views. Therefore, we would hope that when they give advice about ‘appropriate outfits’ for Halloween, they will do this in a way that is helpful to us, rather than ambiguous.
They discuss national newspapers running features on ‘offensive Halloween costumes worn by students’. We can only assume that here they are either talking about dressing up as victims of tragedies, or wearing racist or cultural appropriative costumes. These are obviously offensive and hopefully the rest of the student body are aware that they are. But it would also be helpful if the SU reiterated that, rather than beating around the bush and discussing the potential negative attention the students may attract to the university.
The issue here is that there is a vast range of outfits that can offend. For example, those depicting certain injuries or those mocking oppressed cultures, may seem appropriate for Halloween to one person but may cause offence to somebody else. A clear line needs to be drawn by the SU, but they failed to define what is offensive and what isn’t, instead skirting around the issue and making no real point.
They did link an article on examples of offensive costumes, which provided some clarity, but in a time where political correctness is seen as ‘overreacting’, it would be even better if the SU took a clear stance against big issues prevalent in our society today.
Fresher Lauren commented: “We are all likely to have different opinions on what is liable to cause offence. I would hate to offend anyone but there’s always a chance that someone might get turned away for wearing something which they think is fine but that a particular worker on the door sees as inappropriate, and the SU should have been more clear.”
As a result, we are completely in agreement with the SU that, even on Halloween, it is not fair to consciously offend anybody by your choice of clothing. What we are questioning is why they made a statement, which is completely ambiguous in its advice and makes no true argument, potentially leading to a lack of consistency in who is and isn’t allowed into the Halloween Ball. There was a real opportunity to take a clear stance against offensive costumes and somehow they’ve managed to pass up on it.