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FIRE’s Shibley on the ‘Offendedness Sweepstakes’ This Halloween Season

By October 30, 2014

It’s almost Halloween, and that means that college students across the country are waging war against costumes that they deem culturally insensitive or otherwise offensive. In an article for The Daily Caller today, FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley takes a look at some of the party themes that have been landing college and university students in trouble lately.

Robert leads with a jaw-dropping example:

Northwestern University students are under fire for holding a “Jail N’ Bail”-themed literacy fundraiser with no apparent racial content because it “belittled” the problems faced by racial minorities and the poor.

It’s one thing for students to pressure each other into canceling events. Even worse is the fact that public university administrators legally bound by the First Amendment are punishing students for hosting parties because someone didn’t like the theme:

The “name and shame” effort for those who transgress has already begun on some campuses. At Cal State-Fullerton, the Alpha Delta Pi sorority recently held a Taco Tuesday rush event, for which some members reportedly wore “sarapes, sombreros and in some cases, gang costumes.” You may remember Taco Tuesday as a plot device in the kid-friendly Lego Movie, which even featured a sombrero-wearing and cheese-bearing Lego minifigure.

But for its event, ADPi was slapped with seven conduct violations, all of which were not just wrong on the merits but also unconstitutional. As punishment, ADPi is to suffer more than year of probation and is required to coordinate a “we are a culture not a costume” campaign for the entire university — approved and guided by the administration, of course. As the cultural menace of The Lego Movie is hardly a spent force, expect some students to get in trouble this Halloween for Mexican-themed costumes or parties as well.

For more incidents such as these at colleges and universities this Halloween season, check out the rest of Robert’s article in The Daily Caller.

Schools: California State University – Fullerton Northwestern University