The Office of the Dean of Students at the University of Connecticut has reminded students to be cautious in their Halloween activities, in light of recent racially motivated incidents on campus.
A statement released by Eleanor Daughterty, associate vice president and dean of students, made reference to incidents last year involving students clad in costumes appearing to mock ICE agents arresting individuals of LatinX heritage.
“This is not an issue of free speech. This is a call to care for one another when we have failed to do so effectively in the past,” the Office of the Dean of Students said in its statement. “Jokes and costumes cannot be used as an excuse to belittle the significance of identity and inclusivity on our campus and our world. These are our choices. Our actions. Our commitment to care.”
The statement comes following the recent arrest of two students found in violation of the University’s Student Code of Conduct.
“I think it’s important, it shows that the university cares about how we feel as students and us being respectful,” Karen Edmonds, fifth-semester allied health major, said. “Not everyone is educated on what’s offensive to certain groups of people, so trying to educate and remind is a good thing.”
The office reminds students to consult the university’s policy on diversity and inclusion, which speaks specifically to cultural appropriation and encourages students to redirect their thinking about certain Halloween costumes.
“Because of what happened last year, I think it was important for the university to remind us of that, but it is simply embarrassing that college adults have to be reminded of such simple Halloween etiquette,” Gleimy Rodriguez, fifth-semester management and engineering for manufacturing major, said.
Rodriguez wants to remind students of all backgrounds that all cultures need to be respected while selecting a Halloween costume.
“The White community — and yes, I will point them out, because they are the problem here, as we saw last year — should not need those reminders,” Rodriguez said. “They should know to respect other cultures and see it as more than jokes and just costumes.”
As part of the collective efforts to combat racism on campus, USG has launched the Task Force Against Hate Speech and will be hosting a forum on cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation today.
“I think it’s crucial for students, faculty and just people in general to keep in mind the importance of not appropriating an identity or culture with a costume,” USG Senator Sofia Rodriguez said. “With the climate of things specifically at UConn right now, it’s important to be extra mindful of people’s identities, cultures and feelings. The discussion today really emphasizes where we draw the line between the two concepts.”
The Office of the Dean of Students has also called for a collective effort in fighting against hateful racist behaviors on campus.
“It has happened too many times, and we ask you to join this task by advocating against those behaviors that do not celebrate our values,” the Office of the Dean of Students said in its statement.
USG External Affairs Chair Damani Douglas also echoed the office’s plea for a joint effort in standing against hate speech.
“I think raising awareness on racial issues and racial insensitivity is the responsibility of not just the university, but also everyone in the wider campus community,” the statement said. “We all bear that responsibility, it shouldn’t take sitting through a lecture to know what can be deemed racist.”
Nicholas Martin is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org