THE SANTA CLARA
October 29, 2015
This Halloween, Santa Clara’s administration made a point to emphasize that students would be representing our school when they were out at night, specifically when it came to their costumes. We were strictly warned to “appreciate not appropriate” and choose costumes that were in “good taste.”
Cultural appropriation is the usage of another culture’s elements in a thoughtless way that can appear disrespectful.
What did the student body think of this? Would students help achieve the university’s goal? I decided to take to the streets to find out.
The first person I interviewed was Brooke Bagot, a fellow freshman. I posed the question, “Why is it important to choose costumes that don’t culturally appropriate?”
She responded, “I think it’s important to choose costumes that don’t culturally appropriate so that we do not become a society that gets used to the idea that it is okay to make a joke of someone’s culture or background. I think that people should consider the background and history of a costume and determine if there was ever a negative connotation linked to it, and also consider if the costume might offend a group of people. This is so that we can be a more culturally aware society.”
I then asked if being careful not to offend others can get annoying when it comes to choosing a Halloween costume?
She responded, “Honestly, no. There are so many costumes out there that don’t come close to cultural appropriation that it isn’t really an issue. It comes down to basic respect, in my opinion, that we owe our fellow classmates.”
I also interviewed a Jewish student who asked to remain anonymous. The Jewish culture is often culturally appropriated on Halloween, with people dressing as rabbis and other Jewish religious figures. Again I asked, “Why is it important to choose costumes that don’t culturally appropriate?”
He responded, “As a person who practices Judaism, when I see costumes such as rabbis or other religious officials, I am immediately offended. That person doesn’t understand the great sacrifices and dedication these religious officials have for their religion, and to me, they seem to be mocking it. I know people of other cultures and backgrounds are thinking the same thing when something similar happens to them.”
I also asked him“Were you happy the school was so strict about cultural appropriation this year, and do you think the students followed the rules well?”
He responded, “I felt that it was necessary for the school to step in because it is a relevant issue today and cultures need and deserve to be respected on a college campus. From what I saw, the regulations were effective. I saw very few costumes that would be deemed offensive, and I really appreciated it. I can imagine peoples of other cultures and backgrounds did as well.”
On Halloween, I was definitely proud to be a Bronco. The school did an effective job raising awareness on the subject of culturally appropriated costumes, and we as students did a good job respecting our peers.
There will always be room for improvement in this area, for it will be a long time before cultural appropriation is no longer an issue in our society, but I would say that Halloween costumes were a victory for Santa Clara this year.
Samantha Perez is a freshman English and political science double major.