“I”dentity Dialogues team writes an open letter to the Union community


Halloween is a painful holiday for some of us at Union.

Union students wear culturally inappropriate and insensitive outfits so often that a dialogue is unfortunately necessary.

Every year, the “I”dentity Dialogues team hosts a discussion before Halloween on the topic of costumes and cultural appropriation.

“I”dentity Dialogues is not the only group that tackles these issues.

There are other organizations on campus that hold programs to discuss the same topic.

These include the Black Student Union, the Asian Student Union and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

However, cultural appropriation is still an issue on campus.

Cultural appropriation is the taking or using of elements of one culture by the members of the dominant culture in a disrespectful and hurtful manner.

After years of tireless work by a small subset of students, faculty and administrators on campus to solve this problem, a great majority of Union’s campus community seems to continually not hear the message.

These discussions, which have been occurring year round for multiple years, are not being recognized.

Every year students continually wear culturally offensive costumes.

Union considers itself a progressive academic community.

Yet, students are not educating themselves.

Even though there are many people in support of educating the Union community, there is still a great majority that either disagrees with or chooses to ignore these dialogues and events.

Since Halloween follows a tradition of dressing up as something or someone you are not, people cross the line between a fun costume and cultural appropriation too often.

This year, we saw many costumes on campus and on Union students’ social media pages that were offensive.

These include (but are not limited to) an Egyptian, people who dressed in prison outfits and labeled themselves as “doids,” countless Native American costumes and many people wearing traditional Mexican-American attire.

Students, faculty, administration and staff all need to work towards making this a priority.

Everyone collectively is a part of the Union community, and the actions of others are a reflection on all of us.

There is a profound disappointment that many students feel on campus right now.

Some students had hoped the campus community would act much better.

However, the honest truth is that we somewhat expected this.

At this moment of disillusionment, we just have two questions:

When will the blatant ignorance end?

Will Union ever be better?

At this moment, it looks like it will not.


  1. I understand your concern for the Union community providing an environment of tolerance for people of all races, religions, gender, sexual orientation, and other shapes and forms that we humans come in. It’s imperative and shouldn’t be ignored. Having said that, I think your argument is a little extreme and highly sheltered from the realities of the real world. The college does not have an obligation to create “safe spaces” for those that feel offended over Halloween costumes. Do you really think that the intention of the students wearing these costumes is to be offensive or threatening to people of different backgrounds? Halloween is a day for people to dress up as someone else, to show cultural appreciation for the many unique types of people in the world and on our campus. I find it difficult to understand how someone wearing an Egyptian outfit is offensive. I’ve traveled the world a fair amount, and have had the privilege of encountering fascinating types of people who have welcomed the idea of me wearing the clothes that their culture holds very dear to them. What’s so offensive of someone wearing the clothing or attire of another culture? I thought our generation was supposed to be open-minded?

    The reality is, the world is an unfair place. Our country is fortunate enough to be able to survive on democratic principles and ideals that make our country special. Lets not take that for granted. Once you leave college, you’ll be shocked of the intolerance and hate that breed society in all countries, not just the United States. The world is not a utopia where everyone is a progressive and everything goes your way, and your thin skin approach to people of different opinions than you is going to haunt you in the long run. So lets relax, stop race baiting, and calling people “uneducated” because they think this issue is entirely blown out of proportion.

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