Several universities have recently admonished their students not to wear a variety of costumes for Halloween that could potentially offend people, frighten people, or reinforce stereotypes.

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for example, some students were warned against donning a Hannibal Lecter-inspired straightjacket costume because it’s offensive to people who struggle with a mental illness.

At the University of Southern Maine, two students wearing Ebola suits to a party prompted massive outrage, a situation that ultimately involved a call to the police.

And at Lehigh University, the entire Greek system has been warned not to host Halloween-themed parties on – or off – campus that could potentially upset any number of people.

Move over, war on Christmas – the war on Halloween on campuses across the country is in full effect.

Some universities offer subtle reminders to students, just little nudges from the campus politically correct police. An email to students at the University of Michigan on Oct. 29 titled “Halloween Safety” reminded readers to “choose a Halloween costume that does not disrespect others by promoting racial, cultural, gender or other stereotypes,” according to a copy of the email obtained by The College Fix.

But some go way overboard. Take this email recently sent to some University of Wisconsin-Madison students by one of its Residence Life coordinators:

Halloween: Questions to Ask Yourself before Donning a Costume


Ask yourself: Is the humor based on “making fun” of real people, real human traits or cultures?Though intended to be funny, the “Mental Patient” costume by Disguise was considered demeaning, dehumanizing, and humiliating to individuals struggling with a mental illness and their families. Complete with a “Hannibal” type mask and a straightjacket, the costume reinforced stereotypes and fears about persons with mental illness.


Ask yourself: Is the “fear factor” based on real forms of violence or grotesque depictions of human traits? “This scary stud can empty out a full house just by walking through the door,” touts the tag line for Fright Catalog’s “Vato Loco” mask. The bandana clad, tattooed, brown-skinned vinyl creation makes light of gang violence, which takes a serious toll on families and neighborhoods across the country. The costume also sends the message that Latinos are violent.


Ask yourself: If the costume is meant to be historical, does it further misinformation or historical and cultural inaccuracies? The “Indian” get-up prevails each year as culture-turned-costume. But did you know few Native Americans wore buckskin and headbands and even fewer wore them together? Did you know “war paint” and feathers carry religious meaning and were never worn by Native American children?


Ask yourself: If the costume is meant to be beautiful, are these characteristics drawn from commercial references, such as movie characters? Too often, beautiful at Halloween means white, blonde, princess masks. What statement does your Halloween costume make about what constitutes beauty — and about who is beautiful and who isn’t?

“While some of the points she makes are legitimate – individuals certainly ought to think before donning a costume, especially in a place with so many international students and professors – I don’t really think that’s the issue here,” said the UW-M student who emailed the memo to The College Fix.

“We are college students and (supposedly) responsible, educated adults. Why, then, does our university feel the need to micromanage our lives? By attempting to impose their liberal ideals on our every move and action (“…what constitutes beauty…” etc.), they deny us the right to think for ourselves and, perhaps, learn from our own mistakes.”

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is not the only university to take political correctness to the next level in time for Halloween.

The University of Minnesota sent a letter to students “encouraging them to avoid ‘culturally insensitive’ costumes that might also land them in trouble with the university.” Specifically cited by UM are “costumes [that] inappropriately perpetuate racial, cultural and gender stereotypes.”

At the University of Southern Maine, where two students were chastised for wearing Ebola suit costumes, a student who was offended by the costumes told the Bangor Daily News: “There was a dead silence in the room, and you could see it on everyone’s faces, we were all terrified… I was thinking the worst, and I know everyone else was thinking the worst, too… We all thought the campus had become a control center.”

The university wants to use the Ebola nurse costume incident to “educate people about how something that was done in the spirit of having fun can be perceived as disrespectful and offensive to others,” USM’s dean of students Joy Pufhal told the Bangor Daily News.

Meanwhile, at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Penn., there’s new policy for Greek events aimed at preventing offensive parties and costumes throughout the year – but especially at holiday celebrations.

“We confront and reject discrimination in all its forms, including that based on age, color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, national  or ethnic origin, political beliefs, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, socio-economics, veteran status, or any differences that have been excuses for misunderstanding, dissension, or hatred,” the policy states.

“In the spirit of this statement, our belief is that any event sponsored or endorsed by a Fraternity or Sorority in Lehigh’s Greek Community, may not discriminate against any class listed above. Failure to adhere to this … would result in investigation and adjudication …. This includes on and off-campus events, activities and actions as well as actions taken on-line via use of social media.”

So much for people’s private lives staying private. The PC campus police at Lehigh presume to dictate how students operate everywhere, period.

Requests by The College Fix for details about this policy were not immediately returned.

This year’s admonishments follow along similar ones established in year’s past.

Last Halloween, a picture of four Washington University in St. Louis college students dressed up for Halloween in costumes resembling SEAL Team 6 members holding water guns toward a fifth student dressed like Osama bin Laden with the American flag draped in the background prompted outrage and controversy. A man wearing an Obama Halloween mask was deemed racist.

And the University of Colorado Boulder told students in a memo that “sombreros … geishas, ‘squaws,’ … cowboys and Indians” all fall under the insensitive category.

College Fix reporter Dominic Lynch is a student at Loyola University Chicago.

CORRECTION: An earlier edition of this article stated the cops were called on students wearing Ebola suits. In fact the students in the costumes reportedly called the police because they felt threatened.

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An eight year-old boy at Harold McCormick Elementary School in Elizabethton, Tennessee brought home a handout which stated those on Mount Rushmore were … racists.

The handout, provided by the Nation of Islam(!), was titled “What does it take to be on Mount Rushmore?” and noted that George Washington was a “prime breeder of black people,” and that Teddy Roosevelt called Africans “ape-like.”

Fox News reports:

There were also disparaging remarks made of Thomas Jefferson (he enslaved 200 Africans) and Abraham Lincoln.

She [the mother, Sommer Bauer] said her jaw dropped when she followed the link to a website that was listed on the handout. Imagine her surprise when up popped the Nation of Islam home page.

The Nation of Islam believes there is no God but Allah. They also aren’t all that keen on white folks or Jewish folks.

“It raised a number of red flags,” she said. “They are basically saying our Founding Fathers are racists.”

Sommer told me she reached out to the teacher for an explanation – hoping it was an honest mistake.

“At first, she did not recall which paper it was,” she said. “Later in the day, she found the paper and told me she didn’t like what it said – and said she must have printed it by mistake.”

The teacher also told Sommer that her son was not supposed to take the Nation of Islam handout home. It was supposed to stay in the classroom. That bit of news caused her great alarm.

Ms. Bauer said she is still waiting for the results of a promised investigation by the principal, but Fox reporter Todd Starnes managed to get a comment from the district superintendent.

“My goodness, that we would promote bigoted or racist points of view – merciful heavens,” Superintendent EC Alexander said. “I can assure you that is not the case.”

But Alexander offered a different version of events from the school’s, saying that the handout was “never meant for public distribution” and that Bauer’s son “took the handout from the teacher’s work station without her permission.”

Read the full article.

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A legal activist professor’s quest to convince the Federal Communications Commission to ban the NFL team name Washington “Redskins” on air by having it dubbed profanity gained steam Tuesday.

The chairman of the FCC said he will seriously consider the petition by George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf, which asks the agency to deny the renewal of a Washington Redskins-owned radio station license under the auspices that the repeated use of the word “Redskins” amounts to obscenity akin to “profanity” and a “hate crime.”

Banzhaf, a professor of public interest law, told The College Fix in an interview that the chairman’s comments represent “a very positive development” because it means a hearing will most likely be scheduled to address the petition.

Banzhaf has successfully lobbied the FCC in the past to force diversity regulations upon broadcasters, and he submitted his Redskins petition to the FCC earlier this month.proftp

“The agency would never countenance stations broadcasting words like ‘N*gga,’ ‘Sp*cks,’ ‘W*tB*cks,’ ‘F*gs,’ … even as the name of a team or a musical group,” the petition states. “If the N-word (like all the others) is impermissible because it offends many blacks, the repeated and unnecessary use of the R-word should also be because it similarly offends many Indians.”

Nevertheless, an ESPN poll taken in early September found that 71 percent of Americans think the name should not be changed, down from 89 percent in 1992.

At Tuesday’s news conference, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said his agency will review Banzhaf’s petition and deal with the issue “on its merits” and will “respond accordingly.”

“There are a lot of names and descriptions that were used over time that are inappropriate today,” Wheeler said. “And I think the name that is attributed to the Washington football club is one of those.”

But shortly after the petition had been filed, Wheeler had said that Redskins owner Dan Snyder should “see which way things are going” and make the decision himself. Wheeler’s new statements seem to represent an about-face to his previous comments.

Banzhaf said Wheeler now seems ready to confront the issue head-on, instead of waiting for Snyder to cave to public pressure alone.

“I am increasingly optimistic that the team name will have to be changed,” he said in an interview with The College Fix. “It’s very unusual for a majority of any agency to comment in your favor on a matter which is already before them.”

He said he does not expect them to take immediate action, however.

“In terms of timing, the agency tends to move slowly and deliberately on controversial issues,” he said.

The “threat” of the FCC to delay renewal of the radio station’s license will “move the industry towards seriously addressing the issue,” he said.

Banzhaf said any type of delay will have an “adverse and perhaps coercive effect” on the radio station and the team – “hanging like a Sword of Damocles over the station,” he said.

“It’s hard to see how a team can operate if its name isn’t going to be used on the air,” he said.

A ruling against the Washington Redskins could further tarnish the team after recent developments in which The Washington Post and the New York Daily News announced they would cease the use of the team’s name in its editorials.

In addition, the University of Minnesota has been caught in its own set of controversies involving the team, because the campus is set to host an NFL game in November between the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Redskins. The university has asked the Redskins to not display its logo or sell any of its merchandise when they visit the campus stadium next month.

College Fix reporter Andrew Desidero is a student at The George Washington University.

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Katherine Timpf reports for National Review Online on the latest uproar over college students daring to wear sombreros and eat tacos on Tuesday:

A sorority at California State University Fullerton is in serious trouble because it hosted a Taco Tuesday event where students wore “culturally insensitive attire” such as sombreros.

The school’s chapter of Alpha Delta Pi hosted the event on August 19 as part of recruitment. Ninety percent of attendees wore costumes, which also included sarapes and “in some cases, gang costumes,” according to an article in the Daily Titan, the school’s official newspaper.

The sorority claims it never asked people to wear costumes and that some had chosen on their own to do so. CSUF isn’t buying it, though, and has decided to take “serious sanctions” against every single member of the sorority, whether she attended or not. … In addition to being banned from this semester’s recruitment, the sorority also faces a year of probation, through December 31, 2015.

ADPi must also develop and promote a “We’re a Culture, Not a Costume” program, an initiative that began at Ohio State University in 2011 to stop people from promoting racial and cultural stereotypes through Halloween costume choices.

Read the full article.

We here at The College Fix are not surprised by this ridiculous turn of events. Chronicling extreme overreactions by the campus political correctness police over Mexican-themed parties is something of a hobby for us:

Pi Beta Phi sororities’ all-you-can-eat “Pi Phiesta” taco bar fundraisers at their respective campuses to raise money for charity are deemed racist and culturally insensitive;

A sign at UCLA offers students a guide to a “racist-free Cinco de Mayo,” advice that included warning students not to speak their shoddy high school Spanish on the day;

At North Carolina State University, its dining services officials had to apologize for handing out “offensive” chocolate mustaches for dessert on Cinco de Mayo;

A similar kerfuffle also occurred at the University of Maryland after two Latino students were offended when the university’s dining services staff voluntarily wore fake mustaches and sombreros during its Cinco de Mayo dinner;

And at Stanford, more sombrero-wearing dining staff raised angst.

And all this was just in the last year alone.

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Was it all just one big misunderstanding?

In an interview with The College Fix, University of Mississippi’s chief communications officer Tom Eppes strongly denied the campus will eliminate or diminish its widely used and beloved “Ole Miss” nickname due to its historic ties to slavery.

The recent idea that “Ole Miss” would be axed or used less frequently because some people are uncomfortable with it had been met with a huge backlash, prompting national headlines, a petition that called for Chancellor Dan Jones’ resignation signed by about 3,000 people, and a protest march against the changes.

But the notion – prompted by a recent report by Chancellor Jones that called on “developing a plan to provide guidance on best uses of the terms ‘The University of Mississippi’ and ‘Ole Miss’ ” – was misunderstood, Eppes said.

In the report, Jones said the plan should follow “traditional convention” that uses “Ole Miss” in athletics and school spirit references, and “University of Mississippi” in reference to academics. Eppes said that’s actually been standard operating procedure for years. But some interpreted that as a policy change.

“As has been the case all along, we will use ‘University of Mississippi,’ the formal name of the university, in first reference in news releases and when referencing academic research or communicating on behalf of academic schools or departments,” he said.

“Ole Miss” was originally used by slaves when referring to a plantation owner’s wife, and that “Ole Miss” officially became the nickname of the university following a yearbook contest in the late 1800s, The Associated Press reports.olemiss.ken-lund.flickr

Today, most people don’t think about slavery or racism when the moniker “Ole Miss” is used, Eppes said, adding the campus will not scrap the venerable nickname, nor change their “OleMiss.edu” email address and website URL, because of a few concerns.

“Neither the website URL nor the email address are changing, despite media reports to the contrary,” he said.

“National research clearly demonstrated that the name carries none of the antebellum meaning that concerned some faculty,” Eppes added. “In fact, it’s regarded very positively nationwide.”

The report by Chancellor Jones, published Aug. 1, states that campus evaluations found “the vast majority of current students of all races embraces the name and does not attach any meaning to it other than an affectionate name for the university.”

What’s more, researchers found that a significant margin likes and prefers the “Ole Miss” name over the full University of Mississippi title.

“The affectionate term ‘Ole Miss’ is and will continue to be an important part of our national identity,” Jones had stated.

Eppes said “confusion” was also prompted in part by concerns stemming from a University of Mississippi history professor, who told The New York Times earlier this year about his frustration with the name.

“If you bill yourself as Ole Miss and you call yourself the Rebels and the first thing a visitor to the campus sees is a Confederate monument, whether intentionally or not, it conveys an image,” history professor Charles Eagles told the newspaper.

“If I could do one thing,” Eagles continued, “the place would never be called Ole Miss again.”

Those quotes were then connected more recently with Jones’ report, which detailed an “action plan” on how the campus will distance itself from its controversial Confederate past.

In fact, some changes are in the offing.

Campus officials will rename a street on campus from “Confederate Drive” to “Chapel Lane.” The University of Mississippi will also hire a “vice chancellor for diversity.”

“It is my hope that the steps outlined here … will prove valuable in making us a stronger and healthier university,” Jones said in his report, “bringing us closer to our goal of being a warm and welcoming place for every person every day, regardless of race, religious preference, country of origin, ability, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or gender expression.”

But the confusion over the fate of “Ole Miss” prompted fierce debate on both sides.

Student Emma Jennings penned an open letter to Chancellor Jones in which she addressed those who may want to change the university’s email domain, currently @olemiss.edu, saying the impact on racial diversity will be negligible.

“Does changing our email address URL from ‘olemiss.edu’ to ‘umiss.edu’ promote diversity?” she asked in her letter. “Or does it suggest that we are a school that is ashamed of itself and ashamed of its past?”

She also slammed the idea of hiring a vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion.

“By creating [this position] … you are suggesting to the rest of the world that Ole Miss is inherently a racist school, and her students are incapable of change on their own,” she wrote.

Jennings also fired back at Jones’s report, saying it “could use some more research, investigation, and a broader base of opinion quotes to be truly on the right track to a diverse university.”

The student government also recently came out in support of keeping Ole Miss around.

“The Associated Student Body is glad to read that the chancellor’s report underlines the importance of retaining the term Ole Miss as our university’s nickname,” it stated. “Representing our student body, we agree that the overwhelming majority of students of all races see the term affectionately and would be upset with its removal. We believe that the goodwill that the university gains through retaining the beloved nickname is irreplaceable and its removal would be a great detriment to our university.”

In contrast, senior Sierra Mannie penned an op-ed in Time in which she claimed the university “has spent too long marinating in such an idyll, willfully and disappointingly ignorant of the antebellum period and its shame.”

Mannie stated she even “teared up” after reading Jones’ report, praising his leadership on the issue. But she admits she still uses “Ole Miss” when not speaking about academics. “It’s much shorter,” she wrote.

The Ole Miss Alumni Association did not return a request for comment by The College Fix on this issue.

College Fix reporter Andrew Desiderio is a student at The George Washington University.

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INSIDE IMAGE: Ken Lund/Flickr

No indication fraternity will kowtow to pressure after student government, Asian Pacific student group demands it stop using the venerable ‘FIJI’ moniker

The 166-year-old Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, which for more than a century has used FIJI as its nickname, is apparently not backing down from the moniker, even after some students called the frat racist for using it.

Numerous requests for comment by The College Fix to the national chapter of the organization to speak on the allegations went unreturned, but its website still prominently displays the FIJI brand in photos and wording.

Likewise, the Phi Gamma Delta website for UC Irvine, where the controversy unfolded, maintains pictures and wording to indicate its members will also not kowtow to the pressure. In addition, the UC Irvine chapter’s Facebook page still has the words “FIJI” in the title.

While recent history shows that often campus student and Greek groups are quick to apologize when accused of offending other cultures, it appears this fraternity is not willing to buckle under such pressure.

The controversy stems from a fundraiser in May called the “FIJI Islander Party” at which the UC Irvine Phi Gamma Delta fraternity members and guests wore Island-inspired garb such as grass skirts and coconut bras.FIJIFACTS

But student government leaders and the Asian Pacific Student Association not only condemned the fundraiser as offensive and insulting to the Fijian culture – but took it one step further, denouncing the fraternity’s venerable nickname as racially insensitive.

“It is too often that fraternities and sororities choose racist themes for their parties and events,” the Asian Pacific Student Association stated in condemning the fraternity. “APSA at UCI will not tolerate, be silent, nor be complicit in acts of cultural appropriation that hurt marginalized People of Color communities because they maintain and fortify white male hegemonic structures.”

The association, in its statement, demanded that the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity strip the name “Fiji Islander” from their philanthropy event, cease the use of coconut trees and other “stereotypical displays,” and even end the use of “FIJI” as their fraternity’s nickname – a name that has been used since 1894.

They asked for a public apology from Phi Gamma Delta – one that demonstrates “that they acknowledge the racist nature of both their appropriation of the ‘Fiji’ name and their conduct at the ‘Fiji Islander’ party.”

In late May, the student government voted 14-0 to condemn that FIJI fundraiser, form an ad hoc committee to explore the accusations against the Delta fraternity and, in meeting with university officials, determine a proper punishment for the fraternity, The Daily Pilot reported.

On UC Irvine’s Associated Students website, a meeting agenda from May 27 acknowledges that the ad hoc committee was created, and even goes as far as deciding that “silence or action” among the accused fraternity and other Greek organizations on campus “would reinforce the racism against, dismissal of, and silencing of Fijian and Pacific islander student voices.”

However, the student government has no authority to force the fraternity to make such changes. UC Irvine student government leaders, nor UC Irvine campus officials, have responded to requests for comment this month by The College Fix to discuss the subcommittee’s outcome.

Meanwhile, the fraternity stands proud.

As recently as late June, the “FIJI Islander Week” is still touted on the fraternity’s website as such, as they describe it as “a competition between sororities and their FIJI coaches as they battle it out in crazy games to raise money for Red Cross.”

They also note that last year this event raised over $5,000 for Japan tsunami relief.

In addition, the corresponding social event, known as “FIJI Islander,” is also still advertised on their website as a “nationally recognized classy social event.”

What’s more, the UC Irvine chapter is actually “ethnically comprised more by members whose lineage hails from South and East Asia than those whose bloodlines originating in the cool climes of Northern Europe,” writes Timothy Whiteman in the Examiner. Whiteman is described in his tagline as being of Pacific Islander heritage, a “descendant of the Chamorro people of the Micronesian Marianas Islands.”

Members of European heritage are actually in the minority, Whiteman notes, saying it is “not quite the bastion of Caucasian domination as depicted.”

“Someone really needs to get lei’d,” quipped Whiteman in his piece.

Still, administrators pounced on the controversy.

“The administration and student affairs is using it as an opportunity to show to fraternities what cultural appreciation is and how they might be more sensitive, to be able to have their week of philanthropy that ends in a social event without offending others,” Cathy Lawhon, a UC Irvine spokesperson, told Campus Reform.

Lawhon had added the fraternity would not be punished because the fundraiser was not a conduct violation.

College Fix contributor Andrew Desiderio is a student at The George Washington University.

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IMAGES: Main, Facebook screenshot; Inside – FIJI website