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Cultural associations on campus ask students to think twice about Halloween costumes

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Women show off halloween costumes at a Halloween store. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Two women show off their halloween costumes at a costume store. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

With Halloween around the corner, many people are preparing their costumes for the celebrations coming up this weekend. Some students, however, are asking those dressing up to take extra consideration about the cultural implications their costumes might have.

Ohio State’s Vietnamese Student Association, along with other Asian student organizations, including the Asian American Association, are taking part in costume and cultural-appropriation activism on campus to spread awareness on the matter of cultural costumes.

This year, OSU’s chapter of the VSA has tried to start a conversation with students on dressing up as people from different cultures in celebration of Halloween, and how it can be perceived as hurtful and offensive. The student organization has tried to spread the word through social media with the hashtag #CultureNotCostume.

“We use social media frequently because we are able to reach a wider audience and be quickly accessed,” said Vy Do, a graduate student in the College of Social Work.

Yvonne Le, a third-year in sociology and a member of the VSA said the use of social media has been beneficial because of its diversity of users.

“I believe social media is an important platform to take part in the activism movement,” Le said. “We can relate to other cultures and it’s a powerful tool that can also educate people.”

Along with communicating with students online, the VSA and the AAA got together at the Ohio Union on Oct. 18 to speak with students face-to-face, in hopes of better explaining the importance of cultural appropriation, as well as discussing the what the groups consider the negative impacts of dressing up as someone from a different culture for Halloween costumes.

Krist Chhuom, a fourth-year in psychology and VSA member, helped run the event and said the conversations were positive.

“It’s more a matter of mutual understanding and respect. I don’t think anyone intends to hurt other people,” Chhuom said. “There are a lot of people who don’t understand different cultures, they just see something cool and they want to do it.”

The VSA wants more students to become actively engaged while holding these conversations, in an effort that more people are aware of the issue.

“We’re not saying people are horrible, evil, or doing it on purpose, but that people should be more culturally sensitive and aware,” Do said. “We want people to understand and be educated on our perspective.”

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