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 | New York Campus Correspondent

Justine Brooke Murray is a New York Campus Correspondent, reporting on liberal bias and abuse for Campus Reform. She is a Junior at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, majoring in Political Science. Justine is the Founding Chair of Syracuse University’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter and the former Chief of Staff for the New York Federation of College Republicans. She stood with President Trump at the White House when he signed the Campus Free Speech Executive Order in March 2019. Justine has appeared as a guest on numerous new shows, including FOX News Digital, OANN, the Joe Pags Show and the Dennis Prager show. She is a student ambassador for Prager University where she works on the video production committee. Justine is a fellow for CAMERA on Campus. She also is the reigning Miss Northern Highlands in the Miss America Organization, and uses her title to further promote free speech on college campuses. She will be competing for Miss New Jersey this June.

15 Articles by Justine Murray