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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Scott Kull: The new Director of Athletics
Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

Halloween horror: organizations combat cultural appropriation on campus

Photo+courtesy+of+Mark+Olencki%0AThe+Spooky+Terrier+Halloween+statue.+Halloween+is+celebrated+everywhere+by+people+dressing+up+in+costumes%2C+but+sometimes+costumes+cross+a+line.
Photo courtesy of Mark Olencki The Spooky Terrier Halloween statue. Halloween is celebrated everywhere by people dressing up in costumes, but sometimes costumes cross a line.

Wofford students have been at the forefront of people’s minds recently for the cultural appropriation that has been allowed to occur in campus history. From the KKKA yearbook photos to students dressing up as cholos, Wofford students have had a plethora of inappropriate and offensive Halloween costumes.

This year, Wofford Asain and Pacific Islanders (WAAPI), Black Student Alliance (BSA), Wofford Antiracism Coalition (WARC), Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS), and Wofford Women of Color (WWC) had the goal of coming together to put on an event to educate students on what cultural appropriation looks like and how to avoid it.

As a result, they made it easier to learn about sensitive issues while also giving students a platform to ask questions about what costumes are appropriate for Halloween. 

With WAAPI’s second annual Truth and Treat event having come and gone, and Megan Santos ‘23, WAAPI archivist, expressed that the event had a positive impact because “you get an assortment of candy and some insight about cultural appropriation before Halloween weekend.”

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Even though this can be a difficult discussion to have, Wofford is becoming more open to the idea of talking about these kinds of subjects. In understanding that these issues still have a presence on Wofford’s campus, it is important that students understand the significance. 

“I feel like, even though cultural appropriation is a known topic, it’s important to remind people about it,” Santos said.

To expand the event, this year WAAPI was able to include more organizations to help host. Through this, they have been able to spread awareness to more people on campus.

“I think the most successful part of this is WAAPI’s collaboration with other organizations. In the past, we spoke about cultural appropriation and blackface, working in tandem with BSA,” Santos said. “This year, we were fortunate enough to collaborate with OLAS, WARC, and WWC.”

Jeanae Escobar ‘24, president of WARC and vice president of OLAS, added to these sentiments. 

“We purposefully planned the event during lunchtime at Zach’s so that we could reach a wider audience of students, and that turned out to be successful!” Escobar said. “We made over 100 goodie bags the day before that included a variety of candies from different countries and an educational pamphlet on cultural appropriation, and we were left with a little under 15 by the end of the event.”

“I’m glad to see that several people went to the event,” Santos continued. “Most people were really receptive, but of course there were some that did not understand the need to host such an event.”

Escobar elaborated on this: “It’s hard to tell whether our efforts to raise awareness on subjects like this will be taken in by the students we met during the event, but knowing that we made that effort in the first place tells me that at least we are dedicated to making change. Putting that information out there is the first step.”

These organizations are making it their mission to do what they can to help bring awareness to the issue and change the narrative surrounding Halloween on Wofford’s campus. 

“As a Diversity Organization leader and member, I believe that our work is vital,” Santos said. “The information we all put out helps to attempt to provide a little bit of respect throughout Wofford. My hope is that people share the information we put out there beyond.”

Through students reaching out to their peers to help them understand, Wofford is able to create a more inclusive community that thinks a little bit more about their Halloween costumes and how it affects the people around them.

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