Michigan State University is about to host one of the biggest football rivalries in the Big Ten on Saturday when the Michigan University football team travels to Michigan State’s Spartan Stadium. So, today, in an email, the Michigan State University Dean of Students asked parents and their adult students to be respectful and behave appropriately at the upcoming game. The letter also included a section on “tips to remember as you celebrate Halloween,” with a link to discover more information from MSU about how not to be offensive when you choose your costume.

The article, written by Henry Mochida, Beth Brauer, and Bethany Balks, warns against hurting the feelings of “many visible and invisible identities” and warns that Halloween “can become a breeding ground for racist, sexist, culturally insensitive, and biased behaviors.”

The link takes the user to a page where MSU social authorities talk to adult students like pre-schoolers about what they deem socially acceptable or unacceptable:

Choose Halloween costumes that demonstrate respect, avoid appropriating other cultures, or promoting racial, cultural, gender or other stereotypes.

“Misrepresentation and acts to dehumanize others have long been a way for certain groups to exercise racial superiority,” said Dennis Martell, director of Health Promotion. “When we dehumanize others, we position ourselves to justify and accept other forms of violence such as sexual assault and murder.”

Discriminatory representations are not limited to race and ethnicity. Marginalized groups can become a target if people are given a pass to assume a new identity.

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“Historically, members of racial and ethnic, as well as sexual and gender minority communities, have been ridiculed and portrayed as deviant, lazy, sub-human and unintelligent,” said Dr. Jabbar R. Bennett, vice president and chief diversity officer. “When people dress in costumes that portray such negative images, it gives credence to these stereotypes.”

Furthermore, costumes can elicit trauma if they poke fun at the experiences of historical harm, bigotry or displacement.

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“It is crucial to avoid costumes that mock or show insensitivities around traumatic experiences,” said Dr. Genyne L. Royal, assistant dean for Student Success Initiatives and director of the Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative.


  • Pandemic victim
  • Black face
  • Holocaust victim
  • Cultural stereotypes
  • Body-shaming and objectifying
  • Islamophobia
  • Transphobia
  • Mental illness
  • Sexual harassment
  • Homelessness
  • National tragedies

We’ve chosen a few Halloween costumes, that based on their list that may be considered “insensitive” by MSU that include pandemic victims, cultural stereotypes and national tragedies that would (hopefully) include the invasion of the United States by illegal aliens.

“Cultures are not costumes; marginalized people carry the hardships coming with their identities every day of the calendar and cannot simply shed our identities after Halloween night. My peers should reflect on what a costume signifies and consists of to make wise decisions about dressing up,” said Arcota.

“Our entertainment should not ride on the heels of someone else’s suffering,” said Suchitra Webster, community liaison at MSU. “And costumes that misappropriate can be very hurtful and damaging. There are many opportunities for cultural learning at MSU and it doesn’t need to start with a misstep on Halloween.”

Should colleges be telling adult students which costumes they should or should not wear while celebrating Halloween? At what point will colleges respect the First Amendment right of the students who pay their salaries? When will colleges stop dividing students by pushing their radical agendas on them?


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