UNT asks if certain Halloween costumes should be allowed

Students at the University of North Texas (UNT) were recently asked, “whether certain Halloween costumes are appropriate” at a public event.

The “Tent Talk” event was announced via a tweet by the UNT Multicultural Center’s Twitter account, which asked students to “Go voice your opinion!”

As a part of the presentation, a white board was placed near the school’s Library Mall area. Pictures of various costumes were displayed along with the header, “Should people be able to wear these costumes? Why or why not?”

[RELATED: Dorm display warns against 'cultural appropriation' on Halloween]

Costumes featured included an obese, white, rural man holding a six-pack of alcohol, an African-American man with dreadlocks and gold chains, Mexican attire replete with sombreros and maracas, an extraterrestrial “illegal alien” in an orange jumpsuit, a kimono costume, a woman in a burqa, and a Native American headdress.

Students were invited to write their opinions under the header question on the whiteboard.

“No; most of the costumes shown show a great exageration [sic] of a culture/group of people that end up disrepecting [sic] mentioned groups or their cultures,” one student wrote.

“I think it depends how people interpret them. I try not to take things like this too seriously,” another student wrote, but stipulated that some people may hold “strong beliefs,” on the subject.

Other students had differing opinions. Students wrote, “yes, people have the right to free expression,” and “Sure! The majority of these are satirical.”

“I think people should be able to wear them because they have a right to, but should have the discretion to know if it is offensive or acceptable,” another student proclaimed, while one student simply wrote, “It is funny.”

One student questioned the premise of the exercise, asking, “Why is it okay to control what people wear in some situations but not others?”

According to the UNT website, the demonstration is part of a program dubbed “Tent Talks” under the UNT Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The talks occur on the first Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of every month.

Previous topics have included, “What are your views about interracial relationships?” "What are you positive, negative and/or neutral thoughts about religion?" and "What are the societal challenges of immigrants in America?”

Other trainings, centered on the idea of “cultural appropriation,” are offered by the university. The training, “My Culture is Not a Costume,” offered through the UNT Multicultural Center, is described as, “a means to kickstart a conversation around cultural appropriation, race and ethnicity.”

The purpose of the "Tent Talks" is to "provide space for impromptu dialogue on Library Mall and Discovery Park on topics related to social justice and to promote events that the Pride Alliance, Multicultural Center and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion are providing for the semester," according to Teresita Hurtado Ramos, the assistant director of diversity and inclusion at UNT.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @rMitchellGunter