For the past few nights, it’s been quite common to come across college students dressed in all different costumes walking about the campus.
Halloween is here, the time of year everyone in America loves for a different reason. For children, it’s to go out and get bucketloads of free candy. For parents, it’s getting to eat out of their children's buckets of free candy. The holiday is a time for people to have fun together as a community and be a little goofy.
That fun doesn’t seem to be stopping in college.
College is always held up as a point of crunch and responsibility in the lives of people. That dreaded hour in your glory days where you have to bear the weight of overwhelming classwork and balance them with your dwindling wallet.
And while that is certainly a reality for some people, for a good deal of others, college is a time to party it up. Partying is, to no surprise, what often comes to mind when people think about the holiday on campus. It’s an excuse to dress up in a revealing or hilarious costume and go enjoy yourself. In other words, it’s a typical Saturday night at Morgantown, with some extra hassle in terms of your appearance.
Costumes have been getting some recent attention though. With the surge of political correctness in our modern culture, many Halloween costumes are seen as the cultural appropriation or simply insensitive and racist. Usually, it’s divided in the forms of the innocent and unintentional, and the purposeful and maliceful.
Harmless, unintentional cultural appropriation can come from simply wearing costumes that display traits, outfits or customs of a race or cultural body that is not your own. This can be something as simple and unharmful as a young boy wearing a stereotypical Native American Indian costume.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some costumes can be purposely offensive or racist for the purpose of humor. The most well-known and common example of this is blackface, which has deep roots in many colleges across America, stemming from blackface routines all the way back in the pre-civil war days of the United States.
Concern over costumes and their potential offensive nature has reached such a critical peak that some college campuses are taking actions to punish students for offensive costume choices.
The University of Michigan enforces infractions on students whose costumes are deemed as offensive. An older example comes all the way back from 2010 when university police at Syracuse University patrolled the streets on Halloween night and forced students to remove offensive costumes.
Despite the concerned eyes lingering over the holiday, many universities have Halloween as part of their longtime traditions. For example, Georgetown University has the Healy Howl, an event where students watch the Exorcist at the cemetery near Healy Hall, where parts of the film where filmed. At midnight, all the students gathered there howl at the moon together.
At the end of the day, Halloween at its core is a celebration of the weird and the rebellious. It’s a time where anyone can dress up as anything they want, whether it be to express an idea or represent a cause they triumph, or to simply look like their favorite book, movie or video game character. There’s a reason why the hobby of cosplaying has peaked in the last decade.
Eat some candy, dress up as your favorite monster and go have some fun. Make your experience here at WVU just a little scarier before the real terror starts kicking in—finals.