Last week, Beaver and College avenues were flooded with zombies, cops in high heels and hippies. Harry Potters were waving wands, monkeys were making grunting sounds and cowboys were clicking their boots.
But some Halloween costumes weren’t sexy or funny. One group of girls painted their faces black, stuffed pillows under their shirts to make themselves look pregnant and carried guns. Another student wore blackface as part of a costume portraying Aunt Jemima, a character inspired by minstrel shows that poked fun at blacks and stereotyped them as lazy, ignorant, gullible buffoons.
Before breaking out the face paint next year, students should think about how they would feel if this stereotype were about them. Really, it isn’t necessary to be so offensive when there are many costumes that are clever and won’t offend large numbers of people.
Do we want to appear as though we have no regard for other races, ethnicities and cultures?
In another setting, these types of costumes wouldn’t fly. In 2002, two fraternities at the University of Virginia were suspended for posting pictures on the Internet of white students who painted their faces black.
Last month, four Colorado College hockey players were suspended for four weeks after dressing in blackface to portray characters from the show “Family Matters.”
Currently, the University of Illinois is investigating four white students who dressed in blackface to portray Jamaican bobsledders from the 1993 movie “Cool Runnings.”
After leaving Penn State, students never know who these costumes might offend: bosses, co-workers, neighbors or the cute girl dressed as Little Bo Peep standing by the shrimp cocktails.
And you never know how an offended person might react. Even in State College, students in offensive costumes risk their personal safety.
Last week, someone wore a pink Ku Klux Klan robe and pretended to be a gay member of the KKK.
But other students didn’t think it was so humorous and ripped off his costume, he told The Daily Collegian later.
This should serve as a lesson for students: If you wear an offensive costume, be ready to accept the consequences. Whatever they might be.
Staff Editorial Daily Collegian Penn State U-Wire