If you are a Sheffield University student, you aren’t allowed to wear a sombrero for your Halloween party because it offends Mexican people, somehow.
That’s also the official stance of Yorkshire University, which has sent out new guidelines saying that the Mexican wide-brimmed hat is apparently “offensive” and inappropriate to be worn on Halloween.
As first reported by the student news network The Tab, a series of posters have been put up at SU advising against the wearing of outfits associated with other cultures.
They bear the slogan “My culture is not your costume” under the images of a sombrero, a Native American war bonnet, and a traditional Arabian female outfit. One poster reads, “My disability, impairment, condition or illness is not your costume.”
The ads advise: “This Halloween, question whether your costume choice mocks or demeans other people for their race, religion, culture or disability.”
A spokesperson for the SU students union said: that the ad campaign aims to spur a conversation on “the common practice of cultural appropriation in Halloween costumes and celebrations” but doesn’t enforce an actual ban.
The Tab reports, however, that security will now challenge those who decided not to follow the new guidelines on club nights.
The move appears to have resonated poorly with some students. One reportedly wrote on Facebook, “As a Mexican I can legit say f**k this s**t,” while another asked whether leprechaun hats will be banned on St. Patrick’s Day.
Check Your Privilege (and Costume)
The guidelines follow a Halloween instruction devised by the National Union of Students for students to “check and double-check their costume to avoid the exploitation and degradation of others”. The Union said: “Don’t let Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Transphobia and Ableism be the real Horror this Halloween.”
This is not the first time Halloween ‘wokeness’ has sparked controversy in academia. Last year, the Union’s chapter in Scotland warned Halloween revellers against wearing “fake Afro, Native American headdress, ‘sexy’ niqab, blackface Gangsta outfit.”
Also last year, Kent University’s student union banned students from dressing up as members of the Conservative Party, cowboys, priests, Nazis, nuns, Native Americans, Israeli soldiers and the Prophet Mohammad. Sombreros were also a no-no.
The rationale, as per the university guidelines, was to prevent such outfits from being “offensive, discriminatory and prejudice [sic] to an individual’s race, gender, disability or sexual orientation or based on stereotypes.”
The list goes on: in 2015, Yale University’s intercultural affairs committee requested that students refrain from wearing costumes that may be deemed as racially insensitive, specifically calling out Native American headwear and turbans.
That same year, Wesleyan University in Connecticut circulated a flyer advising students to avoid costumes with dreads and afro hair styles, while the University of East Anglia banned a Mexican-themed restaurant for handing out sombreros to its students.
In 2013, a sports team at the University of Birmingham were denied entry to a Halloween party because they were wearing sombreros and ponchos to pose as Mexicans. One student was reportedly turned away because he was dressed as Felipe Rose, the indigenous American member of the Village People disco group, and another was denied entry for posing as Sacha Baron Cohen’s character from ‘The Dictator.’