College creates Halloween costume guidelines to help students avoid 'cultural appropriation'

Dickinson College in Pennsylvania has compiled a list of questions students should ask themselves in order to assess the "appropriateness" of their own Halloween costumes.

These questions include whether or not the costumes "represent" any "certain group of people" or "belief" and whether or not any represented culture has had "negative experiences."

In preparation for Halloween, one Pennsylvania college has curated a guide for students wondering which types of Halloween costumes to avoid in order to ensure that any Halloween fun remains within a politically correct framework.

Dickinson College’s Women’s and Gender Resource Center has posted a guide to assist its students in “How to Assess the Appropriateness of a Halloween Costume.”

The guide begins by prompting students to ask themselves questions like whether or not the costume is “offensive to any race, religion, culture, belief, [or] group of people” and whether or not it reinforces stereotypes. 

Dickinson does not offer any standard on how to answer this question, but prompts students to ask themselves “Does [the costume] mock/make fun of/or represent a certain group of people/culture/belief?” 

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If their costumes do in fact represent another culture, the college asks students to consider whether people from said culture had “negative experiences that people from your culture have not?” and whether or not they think the costume is acceptable simply because their “favorite celebrity/icon/whoever is wearing it.”

The questions are sourced from an article titled “A Guide to Understanding and Avoiding Cultural Appropriation” and an educator toolkit called “Addressing Cultural Appropriation in the Classroom: Tools and Resources.” The article defines cultural appropriation as “taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission,” but emphasizes that “intent” is the most important factor when determining whether or not an act of “appropriation” is problematic.  

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The toolkit uses the same definition, but goes into further detail regarding how cultural appropriation came to be an issue in today’s society, at one point asserting that Americans “have a sense of entitlement around the concept of ‘the melting pot,’” which supposedly “carries with it the assumption that because we have a diverse amount of cultures in our country, that all of them belong to all of us.”

Campus Reform reached out to Dickinson for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication. 

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