Halloween Costume Protocol

Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) is dedicated to creating Halloween celebrations at Isaac’s Bar and Grill that demonstrate integrity and respect and which honor our diverse student community. At BUSU it is our priority to prevent costumes that reinforce harmful stereotypes around race, gender, ability, culture and mental health from entering our venues.

The Halloween Costume Vetting Protocol is a way of communicating to students what is not acceptable, encourage students to be mindful of their costume choices and prevent offensive representations of our friends, family members and co-workers from permeating our spaces in an oppressive and offensive way. Vetting Halloween costumes isn’t a matter of telling people what to wear. It’s a matter of paying respect to the stories and experiences of marginalized groups who are depicted in these costumes: their culture, history and lives should never be desecrated, but understood and celebrated. BUSU stands in solidarity by prioritizing that cultures are not costumes.

BUSU also recognizes our community includes students who wear hijab, bindis and other items depicted below. Clearly, this Protocol in no way prevents individuals from entering our space wearing their usual attire

What if my costume violates the BUSU Halloween Costume Protocol?

  • A member of the security team may discreetly ask you to identify your costume if it’s hidden under coats;
  • If in violation, you will be asked to remove the problematic costume items;
  • You will not lose your place in line;
  • You will be able to coat check your costume or parts of your costume upon entry;
  • You will still be granted entry into the event if compliant;
  • No disciplinary or punitive action will be taken if compliant;
  • If you are not compliant, you will be asked to leave the premises;
  • If you are belligerent or threatening, campus security and Niagara Regional Police will escort you off site.

Here is a list of some costumes to avoid:
(unless they connect with your own experience or identity!)

  • blackface

    It doesn’t matter what skin tone you’re trying to portray. Blackface, brownface, yellowface, redface. Any colored-face you wear that isn’t yours is racist. Blackface has a long, painful history that perpetuates dehumanizing stereotypes. Portraying yourself as someone of a different race is not just a representation of a person but rather using someone’s skin tone as a costume.

    Learn More.

  • headressess

    For the most part, headdresses are restricted items. In particular, the headdress worn by most non-natives imitate those worn by various Plains nations. These headdresses are further restricted within the cultures to men who have done certain things to earn them. It is very rare for women in Plains cultures to wear these headdresses, and their ability to do so is again quite restricted.

    Learn More

  • caitlyn-jenner

    This costume mocks the transgender community and promotes transphobia by reducing people who identify as LGBTQ2+ to a stereotype. It reinforces the superficial misunderstanding that gender identify is premised on a superficial costume change. The transgender community still faces disproportionate barriers to employment, education housing and healthcare as well as anti-transgender violence as a marginalized group.

    Learn More

  • day-of-the-dead

    Just like dressing up as a Native American for Halloween is considered cultural appropriation, it’s also a form of cultural appropriation to paint your face as a sugar skull. Contrary to popular belief, the Day of the Dead is not the Mexican version of Halloween. It’s also not a day of sadness, but it’s a day when Mexicans celebrate and remember their deceased loved ones. If you’re not sure if something is considered cultural appropriation or not, then it might be. It’s best not to do it.

    Learn more.

  • bindi

    A Bindi, originating from the Sanskrit word ‘bindu’ meaning ‘dot’ or ‘drop,’ holds great significance to South Asian cultures, including those of India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Mauritius. Spiritually, the Bindi, which is worn between the eyebrows, is associated with the third eye in the Hindu religion. Wearing a bindi for purely aesthetic reasons, without any connection to South Asia or South Asian religions, erases its history and transfers its ownership to cultural outsiders.

    Learn More – Link 1

    Learn More – Link 2

  • geisha

    US soldiers stationed in Japan following World War II incorrectly referred to a broad category of female Japanese workers — a group that included prostitutes and nightclub hostesses — as “geisha girls.”This American mistake contributed to a global misunderstanding of what geishas are — a warped perception that persists today. Since geishas historically have never been part of the sex industry in Japan, many argue that wearing or selling “sexy” geisha costumes is disrespectful, as it diminishes the important role of geishas in Japanese culture and perpetuates the westernized misunderstanding of what they do.

    Learn More

  • thobe

    Every Halloween, social media gets flooded with images of costumes that disgracefully play off stereotypes or make costumes out of normal attire. These are costumes that poke fun at terrorism, normal clothing that many Arabs wear, and stereotypes so old they’re not even funny. Instead of choosing a costume from this list, pick one that’s fictional or spooky. Halloween is about having fun and a good scare, not mocking the culture and traditions of people who are different from you.

    Learn More

Other prohibited costumes include (but are not limited too): Costumes perpetuating harmful stereotypes and tropes of marginalized people; costumes in poor taste which make fun of suicide or sexual violence; costumes depicting symbols or images of hate and violence.