Students can agree on reasonable Halloween costume regulations

Jacob Gottesman, Contributing Writer

Every Halloween, students come to school dressed in a variety of costumes.  However, the school administration places basic restrictions on these costumes, such as prohibiting masks, swords, and other weapons, as well as other “offensive” costumes.  This raises the question as to what exactly defines an “inappropriate” costume, such as costumes that might mock gender, race, religious beliefs or personal handicaps.  Therefore, the administration should place more comprehensive restrictions on student costumes.

As the school is liable for the concerns of students, safety clearly needs to be the first priority.  Although many costumes may include props, such as swords and fake guns, the administration must prohibit these accessories in order to ensure that this enjoyable holiday will not institute an opportunity for students to bring weapons or dangerous objects into the school environment.  Additionally, students are forbidden to wear masks, for teachers would be incapable of identifying students, which could cause issues in the hallways and classrooms.

“It’s difficult to try to come up with costume restrictions that are workable,” said freshman David Weiner.

Besides the obvious safety concerns, there is the more complicated problem of whether the school should take measures to prohibit costumes that others may find offensive.  However, these regulations are difficult to decide upon, since defining what is offensive is often subjective. In years past, students have dressed up as Native Americans, and it is now clear that perpetuates offensive stereotypes and exemplifies cultural appropriation. There are certain costumes, such as blackface, that are seen as universally inappropriate. However, there are certain costumes that most people can agree are clearly offensive.  For example, wearing blackface is universally agreed to be inappropriate.

“I personally think that any costume that represents violence towards a certain culture or religion or any racially discriminatory costume should be banned,” said freshman Rebecca Packer.

But how can the school can actually regulate such a complex situation?  Realistically, the school is unable to make a list of exactly which costumes are and are not allowed since there are too many to enumerate.  On the other hand, if the school releases a blanket guideline for students to not wear offensive costumes, students will be unable to clearly identify whether a costume is acceptable.

“I think it would be impossible for the school to define exactly what is permitted and what isn’t.  It really should be left up to the students with guidelines from the school,” said senior Sarah Gottesman.

Fortunately, many of the regulations that the administration places on Halloween costumes are not that restrictive.

“There should be some restrictions, but the administration shouldn’t go too far so as to ruin the spirit of Halloween,” said Weiner.

However, before spending money on elaborate Halloween costumes, both parents and students should spend time learning the costume polices that are enacted by their child’s school.  If a student is unsure whether their costume is appropriate, they should err on the side of caution, especially since there so many non-offensive costumes out there.  Therefore, we can prevent unwanted disputes over costume regulations between the staff and students on this fun holiday.

The school should create a policy that says that students should use their best judgment in choosing their Halloween costumes.

“Ultimately, students should be able to wear whatever they want as long as the costume is not offensive to somebody and won’t hurt anybody in any way,” said freshman Zoe Cotronis.

Although Halloween is an enjoyable holiday, we must remember that we must avoid avoid disrupting the academic environment. There are lots of costumes out there, so why take the chance?