To try to avoid a three-year run of shitty Halloween costumes, the College of Charleston has released a new letter and video from the college president urges Cougars to be safe and “think first when celebrating Halloween.”

CofC’s president, Andrew Hsu, wrote an in an email to campus on Oct. 16: “If you will be wearing a costume, hosting a party or going out to celebrate with friends, I ask you to think first about your choices. Make sure you do not choose a costume or party theme that is insensitive to someone’s race, culture, gender or sexual identity.”

“Being respectful of all members of our campus community is the right thing to do, so when in doubt about your decision, err on the side of caution. Whether you intend to or not, your actions can cause harm to members of our community and lead to consequences from the College.”

If that language sounds very awkwardly specific in regard to a fun holiday like Halloween, there’s a reason for that. This isn’t the first time school officials have pleaded with students to think … but it is the first time they’re doing it before the shitty costumes come out. 

In 2017, a student dressed as Freddie Gray, who in 2015 was killed after suffering a spinal injury in police custody in Baltimore. After that, then-President Glenn McConnell told students: “If you have the slightest doubt if your costume/party theme is insensitive, be smart and don’t do it.”

Spoiler alert: They didn’t listen.

In 2018, the College’s softball team was ordered to undergo diversity and inclusion training after a photo surfaced of players in “Team Hispanics and Border Patrol” costumes.

Steve Osborne, the interim president at the time, said in a statement just hours after the photo was posted: “I want to remind everyone in our campus community to make smart choices today and tonight for their Halloween costumes,” and that students should “stop and think through the impact your choice may have on another.”
[content-1] After that photo was circulated, Osbourne released another statement: “I am severely disappointed in these student-athletes and that something like this has, once again, happened at our university.”

College of Charleston students posting racist or offensive things on social media isn’t limited to Halloween, of course. In March, the school investigated posts by students on a class trip referencing a “slave farm.” Late last month, stickers from a white nationalist group were posted around the downtown campus.

Is CofC cursed to have an offensive costume debacle every year, or will President Hsu’s message help prevent another post-Halloween apology? With Halloween creeping closer every day, we won’t have to wait long to find out.

Teaser by Flickr user mmahaffie

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