VIDEO: Students outraged by cultural appropriation...except for 'hillbilly,' nun costumes

  • Syracuse Campus Correspondent Justine Brooke Murray asked students about specific Halloween costumes and whether they were offensive.
  • Many students agreed costumes representing “cultures” or “religion” were offensive.
  • However, students did not think costumes depicting white people and nuns were as offensive.

With a recent poll finding that a majority of college students want punishment for “highly offensive” costumes, New York Campus Correspondent Justine Brooke Murray spoke to students at Syracuse University to find out where they came down on the issue and what types of costumes they find "offensive."

Murray showed students pictures of people in several different types of Halloween costumes, including a Native American, a woman in a Japanese kimono, a man in a sombrero and a poncho, a “hillbilly,” a rabbi, a nun, and a man dressed in traditional Saudi Arabian garb. Murray also asked students to compare the offensiveness costumes, and whether or not they agreed with the poll.

"the main reason why it’s less offensive is because it’s a white person"   

Many students agreed most of the costumes were offensive. 

Editor's note: Due to copyright concerns, the images depicted in the video are slightly different from those shown to students but convey the same concept. 


“I think there are certain things that should just be left for cultural purposes and only be worn by people who pertain to that culture,” one student said. 

However, when presented with a stereotypical costume of a “hillbilly,” students felt the costume was less offensive than the others. 

“I think the main reason why it’s less offensive is because it’s a white person,” one student said. “The insensitive part is who dresses up as it, and all these images you showed me were of white people dressing up as different cultures.” 

[RELATED: POLL: Majority of students want PUNISHMENT for 'offensive' costumes]

Similarly, when the students were presented with costumes depicting religious figures, students found a costume representing a nun to be less offensive than one representing a man dressed as a Saudi, which one student equated to being from a "Muslim country."

“Nuns represent a very long history of an organization that’s in a position of power. It’s less offensive making fun of people who are in power than it is people who aren’t in power,” a student remarked. 

However, when Murray asked whether they would support punishment for offensive Halloween costumes, students seemed split on the issue. 

“It is a holiday where you’re allowed to dress up and be whoever you want to be or think is funny or dress up, and I think that’s okay,” a student argued. 

[RELATED: College creates Halloween costume guidelines to help students avoid 'cultural appropriation']

“It’s 2019, like you don’t need to be offensive. It’s really not that hard. There are so many different [costume] ideas,” another student said. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @eduneret



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Justine Murray | Campus Correspondent

Justine Brooke Murray is a New York Campus Correspondent, reporting on liberal bias and abuse for Campus Reform. She is a sophomore at The Maxwell School at Syracuse University, where she is pursuing double majors in Political Science and Citizenship & Civic Engagement. Justine is currently the Chief of Staff for the New York Federation of College Republicans and previously served as Vice Chair of federation’s Women’s Leadership Caucus. Justine is a reporter and political analyst for CitrusTV, the student television station at Syracuse University, and she works on the Prager University Video Production Committee.

6 Articles by Justine Murray