Earlier this October, Kent Union proposed a new set of policies regarding what costumes would be deemed acceptable for the coming Halloween festivities. Halloween is a great time for us all to leave who we are behind, dress up and gain a new persona and live our best lives during the witching hour. Unfortunately, we live in world where our Student Union has felt the need to propose new policies regarding costumes as Halloween approaches. What is an even greater shame is that Kent Union has come to expect the worst of the students it represents, and for good reason.
The new proposition, according to the Union, is as follows: “Students groups are free to engage in fancy dress whilst ensuring they abide by the Fancy Dress Guidelines which include being offensive, discriminatory and prejudice to an individual’s race, gender, disability or sexual orientation or based on stereotypes.” It goes on to state costumes should not centre around political groups and stereotypes.
Our Union may not be so wrong in this new proposal. Of course, many will make fun and debate against the need for these guidelines, as they will argue they should have the freedom to express themselves in any way they choose. But in such a politically correct and sensitive world, we should be thanking our Union for being intelligent enough to anticipate the backlash that potentially socially insensitive costumes might cause. In the proposed ban of these costumes, they are protecting all of our backs.
We do not want to embarrass ourselves like Tokyo Tea Rooms did earlier this year. As such, asking that students do not dress as anything from Conservatives to crusaders, or nuns to the Prophet Mohammad, is perhaps not such a foolish idea.
Such a request is not unreasonable; the costumes mentioned by the Union are either racist, culturally appropriative, insensitive to religious views, or fascist and anti-Semitic. Obviously, students in the past have taken it upon them to wear such costumes and offend enough people to the point where disciplinary measures have been suggested.
The Kent Union Officer Team have therefore proudly released a message regarding the policies: “We are being proactive in looking out for all students whilst empowering them to have a great time at Kent, and this is the narrative which is seemingly being missed in the headlines.”
It is deeply sad that our Union has had to suggest these guidelines because some students have been foolish enough to offend groups of students. Consider some of the costumes highlighted – Nazis? Students dressed as Nazis were being overtly offensive. It was not some poor mistake, they are not uneducated. Thankfully our Student Union cares enough about us having the best possible experiences and that is what news stories seem to be missing. At the end of the day, these new proposed Fancy Dress Guidelines are a positive addition to our university lives. It isn’t as if they are suggesting a ban on dressing like vampires, werewolves and zombies. We all love a good classic horror villain, so whip out the plastic fangs and fake blood and I’ll see you all in Venue for a spook-tacular night (pun fully intended)!