Gonzaga warns against ‘potentially harmful’ ‘cultural appropriation’

Gonzaga University in Washington State warned students about “insensitive behavior” like “cultural appropriation." 

Gonzaga University Vice President for Student Development Judi Biggs Garbuio and Gonzaga Student Body President Athena Sok, cautioned the student body on Thursday against “cultural appropriation” during Halloween in a campus-wide email, that has been obtained by Campus Reform.

Halloween “has also become known for more dangerous and damaging traditions like binge drinking, sexualized or culturally inappropriate costumes, and vandalism,” Garbuio and Sok wrote to students. “We urge our community to be aware of the potentially harmful impact insensitive behavior can have on fellow students, other members of the Gonzaga community, and our Logan neighbors.”

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“One of these behaviors is cultural appropriation -- the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing respect of [sic] that culture.”

The administrator and student leader said that people interested in a conversation about “cultural appropriation and the sexualization of Halloween costumes” could attend two “Courageous Conversation” events entitled “My Culture is Not a Costume” on Tuesday and “The Sexualization of Halloween” on Wednesday.

“This email is sent out every year and it is unnecessary and shows that Gonzaga wants to create problems out of nothing,” Gonzaga senior, Megan Lavagnino, told Campus Reform.

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The concept of “cultural appropriation” is not a new one. University of Washington-Seattle student senators proposed a bill in spring 2018 that would task fraternities with “preventative strategies for eliminating” instances of it. Students at multiple schools, including California Polytechnic State University and the University of Virginia, have accused white students of cultural appropriation for wearing braided hair. Students even expressed anxiety about the phenomenon in relation to St. Patrick’s Day, when Campus Reform's  Cabot Phillips asked.

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