The same Texas university where students protested the state’s campus carry law by strapping on dildos now faces a crisis, triggered by Halloween costumes and theme parties.
The Office of the Dean of Students’ Sorority and Fraternity Life (SFL) at the University of Texas at Austin issued a two-page Halloween “Costume & Theme Selection” checklist to guide students into making better costume and party theme choices.
This list prefaces that the Dean’s office has “offered voluntary guidelines” for several years, although it states UT-Austin does not “place limits on students’ freedoms of expression” or “regulate their speech or enforce costume guidelines as rules.” They claim only to seek “to educate students and remind them that they are accountable to each other and their actions negatively impact other members of the university community.”
The culprit is “cultural appropriation,” which the checklist defines as “when somebody adopts aspects of a culture that is not their own.” The Dean of Students’ SFL office asked member students to come up with costumes and theme parties ideas that minimize “negative reactions.” It notes if students “choose not to take these considerations seriously, we are fully prepared to deal with the consequences.”
KVUE reported that a Dean of Students spokesperson said national organizational chapters overseeing campus sororities and fraternities can discipline students should they feel these college kids cross the line.
Ironically in 2015, UT-Austin students protested the state’s new “campus carry” law, Senate Bill 11, armed with 4,500 donated dildos in a “Cocks Not Glocks” campaign. Students made homemade signs bearing raunchy slogans like “packing meat,” “good vibrations,” “cum to Texas, y’all” and “follow your hard on.” Somehow, “appropriation” never came up, but say “trick or treat” and the PC police step in.
The Dean of Students SFL office checklist advises Halloween themes and costumes can hurt feelings regardless of whether or not it is intentional. It urges sorority and fraternity party planners to consider: “Why are we considering this theme?,” “How does these theme align with our organization’s values?,” “Is the theme or costume referring to a living culture or people?,” and “Is it about a current subculture?”
SFL recommends a Texas beach party over a jungle themed event. The checklist reminds students there is a difference between “native peoples” and people from a place. Being born in Hawaii “doesn’t make you native Hawaiian.”
UT Campus Climate Advisory Board member Emily Gitten told KVUE her group ensures no one on the campus infringes on the rights of any other culture or community. Social justice warriors disavow costumes or themes reflective of a certain racial group, gender, and/or economic class, stereotyping, oversexualizing, or sensationalizing women, transgender, homeless, low income, or people of color.
According to the checklist, this means no hobos, Japanese Geisha girls, gypsies, or “anything ‘Squaw.” It puts the kibosh on Hawaiian and “leied” themes, “Ghetto Fabulous,” “Urban,” “South of the Border, “Fiesta,” “Pimps and Hoes,” “Trophy Wives,” “Trailer Trash,” “White Trash Bash,” “Rednecks,” “Around the World” and “Cowboys and Indians,” among others. No cowboy boots and cowboy hats either. SFL frets that even a country western theme can go south should Halloween party guests “arrive as harmful stereotypes of indigenous peoples.”
The checklist asks if students “consulted with ‘experts” about their Halloween plans, or if their costume idea or party theme is “educational.” They warn students “generic store-bought costumes or decorations” that even “hint” of non-authentic representation could be offensive. The SFL suggests “tabling” Halloween parties with a “non-social event” like community service or a speaker as a more effective way for the millennial-minded to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve.
Among the suggested checklist costumes are dressing up like a letter of the alphabet, a Rubik’s cube, or a memory match game. Theme party ideas to consider are “When I grow up” and “Catalina yacht mixer.” Last year, UT-Austin applauded these costumes — a squirrel, a spoon, a loofa, a flamingo, Plato, grapes, and Dunkin’ Donuts, Breitbart Texas reported.
The SFL list also proposed students relive their “glory days” as a high school hero. Decades and time periods like the 1960’s, 1990’s, and early 2000’s made the list.
The female millennial-geared Popsugar recently listed 31 Halloween costume ideas inspired by the early 2000’s including characters from “Mean Girls,” and “The Princess Diaries,” to “Kim Possible.” Wearing a velvet sweat suit to emulate J Lo, whose “famous booty was the icon of Juicy sweats” made their list. An Angelina Jolie “Lara Croft” inspired getup consisted of hiking books, cargo shorts, and fake handguns.
Reactions to the Dean of Students checklist were mixed. Phi Delta Theta fraternity member Bryan Ross said it went overboard. He told KVUE: “If people cool it down a little bit, just go a little open minded and don’t take everything so personally, we wouldn’t even need a list like that. More people would have more fun and kind of stop take themselves too seriously, honestly.”
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