Whether you celebrate Halloween or not, it’s impossible to avoid at Denison.
From themed costume parties to dances, students make a trend of dressing up in several themes and costumes when they aren’t culturally appropriate.
This issue needs to be addressed at Denison and on many other college campuses in the U.S. — dressing in another culture is not only inappropriate, but disrespectful when the people who are dressing up do not directly identify with that culture or way of life. This does not only apply to Halloween costumes, but to party themes and overall party culture.
For instance, at Denison, there’s a themed party event titled “Around the World” that happens every fall semester, in which fraternities decorate party rooms in various dorms on East Quad to showcase a specific culture by also dressing the part. Not only is this extremely disrespectful and unnecessary, it de-normalizes cultural appropriation on campus through this disregard to how students of these cultural backgrounds can feel offended and ostracized.
From parties themed at “Hawaiian Date Night” to Mexican dance parties hosted by non-Mexicans, there seems to be a miscommunication with administration on what is expected from all students: respect for others and their cultures.
Students unable to emphasize with their peers cultures will create a difficult social future for them. Therefore, being held accountable for these actions should be part of any liberal arts education.
Even though I have observed the previous listings through my own personal experiences, I further went to ask my peers their opinions and concerns on party culture at Denison year-round.
“On Cinco de Mayo, I went outside and saw students were wearing ponchos and sombreros and drinking tequila. The majority of them were white students, going to a party, seemingly involved in Greek life. I thought then: They’ve never experienced Mexican culture or don’t identify with it. What gives them the right to wear something that is not culturally part of theirs? Do not wear what does not belong to you. You are disrespecting one culture and oppressing it by remaining ignorant to your privilege.” says Daniel Muñoz ‘21, an anthropology and sociology major from Chicago, Illinois.
Respect can seem slim to none on most Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights at the Sunnies. Not only are some parties non-inclusive, they adhere to a specific model of person they would like to attract and if someone else wants to participate, they can forget about it.
“Myself and seven other African American students went to the Sunnies last fall to check out the parties. We just wanted to have fun, but when we arrived at Delta Chi’s party, we were told that the party was full, and that we should wait outside the door. We sat on a couch next to the door and waited. A couple of minutes later, a group of seven or so white girls were allowed into the party. During this time no one had left the party. Fed up, my friends and I got up and left, only to hear them laughing as we walked away,” says Rakeb Girma ‘21, an educational studies major from Somerville, Massachusetts.
Hearing this and many other personal stories from peers I can’t help but wonder what Denison’s administration is trying to do to solve this problem at Denison. It seems that Denison is failing to completely educate some students on proper manners and cultural appropriation, along with letting students get away with simply racist acts. If you feel offended by any of this information, then perhaps you’re part of the problem.