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Colleges Investigating Offensive Halloween Costumes

Colleges Investigating Offensive Halloween Costumes
Susan Dutca-Lovell

Halloween Day hadn't even officially arrived and college students (and even faculty) sparked outrage over their offensive and "racially derogatory" costumes. One of the images that went viral over the weekend was that of a police officer from the University of Nevada at Reno, who was dressed as former Quarterback Colin Kaepernick - allegedly in blackface and wearing a sign that read "Will Stand for Food."

At Dickinson College, another incident is being investigated after a "racially insensitive" photo showed a student dressed as Colin Kaepernick with someone nearby who appeared to be holding a gun. The college's Vice President, Joyce Bylander stated that although "it definitely doesn't belong on any college campus," "we must all understand that this action, however distasteful, is a form of free expression." In response to the incident, Bylander asked students to "answer speech with speech to find how individual choices can have a negative impact on other community members." Some students believe this course of action is better than suspension or probation.

One student at the College of Charleston was criticized for his costume of Freddie Gay in an orange jumpsuit, a black man who died in Baltimore back in 2015 while in police custody. The Snapchat caption read "ur going to jail tonight." A similar photo depicted a shirtless student with a racial slur written on their back, along with other drawings. College President Glenn McConnell issued a statement that said "this whole situation is very painful to many people" and that "in no way does this behavior reflect our College of Charleston core values, especially as it relates to diversity, community, and respect for the individual student." While the college's Black Student Union believes that students involved should be expelled, McConnell and the College's Division of Student Affairs and Department of Public Safety are conducting a full investigation and will take appropriate action if they "determine that the institution's student code of conduct or any other college policies have been violated."

In your opinion, should these, and similar costumes be allowed as an exercise of freedom of speech? Why or why not?

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