The College Halloween Costume Follies are spreading, and I can only imagine how ludicrous they will be next year. From The College Fix (you’re not going to read this in PuffHo), we hear about the costume policies of Tufts University in Medford, MA. That’s just outside Cambridge, MA, and the academic home of Daniel Dennett.
First, the Greek Life Council at Tufts (recall that the use of the word “Greek” in conjunction with fraternities and sororities was recently deemed a cultural appropriation) sent a letter to the heads of the university’s fraternities and sororities outlining the kinds of costumes that are verboten. You can see the full letter here, and this is an excerpt:
Greek Brothers and Sisters have worn costumes that appropriate cultures and reproduce stereotypes on race, gender, sexuality, immigrant or socioeconomic status. Outfits relating to tragedy, controversy, or acts of violence are also inappropriate. We need to set a precedent that people’s customs cannot and will not be our costumes. As you will agree, the values illustrated by such costumes do not align with the values of the Greek Community at Tufts. It is our mission to promote spaces that allow members of the Tufts community to have fun without feeling as though any part of their identity is being misrepresented or targeted. In order to accomplish this, we ask that you relay this message to your chapters. Please read this email to your chapter during your weekly meetings. When choosing a costume, be aware of the impact your costume might have on others, and be cognizant of any statements—including, but not limited to, cultural or violent messages—your outfit may make, intentional or not.
Tragedy, controversy, or acts of violence? No cowboys or Indians, no zombies or skeletons, no people with arrows through their heads? What are these people thinking?
The letter then adds a threat of reporting to the police, as per University policy. Note the last sentence, in which students are ENCOURAGED to report those wearing “inappropriate and offensive costumes.”
There are consequences for wearing an offensive costume. Mary Pat McMahon, the Dean of Student Affairs, described the consequences as follows: “The range of response for students whose actions make others in our community feel threatened or unsafe, or who direct conduct towards others that is offensive or discriminatory, includes OEO and/or TUPD investigation and then disciplinary sanctions from our office that could run a wide gamut depending on what is brought to our attention and the impact of these actions on others. Any complaints will result in full investigation by University officials and could result in serious disciplinary sanctions through Judicial Affairs.” We encourage all students that feel like they have encountered someone who is wearing an inappropriate and offensive costume to please file a report by filling out [this link].
Have a look at that link. It’s surely Big Brotherism in action! And while Tufts University disassociated itself from the letter, they then reassociated itself in a statement (my emphasis):
In a statement emailed Monday to The College Fix, campus spokesman Patrick Collins clarified that “Tufts University does not have a ‘Halloween costume policy.’”
“The letter was written by students, for students, to encourage a thoughtful and considerate celebration of Halloween within our diverse and inclusive community and to stress the importance of alcohol safety and sexual consent,” Collins said. “We commend the leaders of our Greek Life councils for proactively raising these important issues with their fellow participants in Greek Life and encouraging responsible behavior. As is the case at any time, students whose actions are discriminatory or threaten others can face a range of disciplinary sanctions. Depending on their seriousness, such actions, when called to our attention, can prompt investigations by the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, the Office of Equal Opportunity or, in certain circumstances, the Tufts University Police Department.”
Stay tuned; Halloween isn’t here yet, so lots of students could face punishment.