College of Charleston President Andrew T. Hsu shared the following message on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, reminding students to think first this Halloween:

Dear Students:

Halloween is approaching, and I am asking you to think first about your costume choices and party themes that could be insensitive to someone’s race, culture, gender or sexual identity.

I would like to share how some of our student leaders feel about Halloween:

• “The Asian Student Association feels Halloween can be a very fun time for students of color, and for many, it is considered their favorite holiday! However, students of color are wary of the dangers of Halloween as well, as they can be targeted for hate crimes. We are also worried about racially charged costumes, as well as costumes that mock or mimic certain ethnicities. We want non-students of color to be aware and cognizant of their costumes and how it can offend others; it is especially important to stay away from costumes that are tied to someone’s ethnicity or identity!” – Neal Kakadia, President, Asian Student Association

• “The Black Student Union believes providing a personal response on the upcoming holiday for others is disheartening itself. Halloween is a traditional holiday that is celebrated by many; however, for minorities, the holiday is coupled with emotions of excitement and uneasiness. We are excited to celebrate the occasion with close friends and family; however, we are uneasy as a result of what intolerant and ignorant acts may be displayed. 

“While celebrating the holiday, non-students of color need to understand the extreme heightened vigilance of minorities based on the trauma of insensitive acts continuously displayed on Halloween by others. We want everyone, regardless of race, to be granted the opportunity to celebrate joyfully; however, we want non-students of color to be conscious when choosing costumes and planning celebrations during Halloween. Non-students of color need to recognize that minorities are not allowed the same privileges to plan obliviously for the holiday.” – Zora Brewster, President, Black Student Union

• “For diverse students, Halloween makes us a bit uneasy because the possibility of cultural appropriation is very high. It makes us feel uncomfortable when we see someone use someone else’s culture as a costume because of the heavy history associated with it. We would like non-students of color to remember that while our cultures are beautiful, they are not a symbol to play pretend. It isn’t ‘cool’ to pick up a culture for a night because you don’t have to face the racism/unfair treatment associated with that culture on any other day. I appreciate the mass emails sent out in previous years, and we hope that students listen to them. We remember how uncomfortable and upset we were when we saw students dressed as something very insensitive in years past; we hope we can do better than that this year.” – Pamela Painter, President, Hispanic Latino Club

I encourage everyone to think first this Halloween so that we can ensure that our campus community remains welcoming and inviting to all.



Andrew T. Hsu, Ph.D.
College of Charleston