The newest frontier in political correctness on college campuses is the destruction of Halloween.

Certain costumes have been deemed a form of cultural appropriation, offensive to others’ sensibilities, and are therefore not tolerated. When a Yale professor suggested students chill out about Halloween costumes, she and her husband were verbally abused and driven from campus.

In the past, choosing the wrong costume would do little more than make you unpopular with social justice warriors but at Tufts University, it could earn you a disciplinary investigation, including possible involvement of campus police. That fear is contained in a letter the fraternity and sorority leadership at Tufts recently circulated.

The letter (pdf.) is included in a blog post by Jake Goldberg of Students Advocating for Students.

He uploaded a letter from leaders of the university’s Multicultural Greek Council, Panhellenic Council, Inter-Fraternity Council, and Inter-Greek Council which warns fraternities and their members about choosing the right kind of Halloween costume.

It begins:

What sets Halloween apart from other weekends on this campus is the fact that there are multiple costume parties being held. The costumes that people choose to wear have an effect on everyone around them whether they realize it or not. This year we want the Greek Community to help prevent inappropriate, offensive and appropriative costumes.

This comes down to both how we publicize and market our social events for Halloween weekend, as well as proactively preventing the alcohol transports and sexual assaults, which are more common during this time. We can accomplish this by being intentional when choosing party themes and party costumes, being a role model for responsible drinking, and asking people for consent if you want to engage in any sexual activity. In that same vein, we can advocate for our friends and our community by being aware of our surroundings and being active bystanders.

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.

That all seems innocent enough despite the politically correct finger wagging. The real bombshell comes towards the end of the letter. (Emphasis is theirs):

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.”

Goldberg pointed out the obvious horror of this on the SA4S blog:

The notion that the campus Police will investigate reports of inappropriate costumes, and that such investigations may lead to “serious disciplinary sanctions,” is absurd. Given that the standard of guilt for a violation of this policy relies on an entirely subjective evaluation – was the complainant offended? – there is no way for students responding to accusations of such a violation to prove their innocence.

This problem is even further exacerbated due to the fact that the policy itself outwardly states that whether or not a student intentionally means to offend others is meaningless. A student who wears an outfit that offends somebody, yet had zero intention to do so, is just as much in violation of this policy as a student who purposefully seeks to insult others with their costume; both students stand no chance of avoiding disciplinary sanctions.

Happy Halloween!

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