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U of M to students: Wear appropriate Halloween costumes

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Memo to U of M Halloween revelers: University officials expect students to wear tasteful costumes.

The Office of Student Affairs sent an Oct. 10 email letter to students noting that some costumes “inappropriately perpetuate racial, cultural and gender stereotypes,” the Star Tribune reports.

A university official said she’s heard several students complain about costumes that stereotype American Indians and African-Americans, although not necessarily on campus, the newspaper reports. The letter was simply designed to encourage students to be thoughtful and respectful, the U official, Danita Brown Young, the vice provost and dean of students, told the newspaper.

Other colleges and universities have sent similar missives to students, but this was a first for the U of M, the Star Tribune reports.

When Syracuse University officials several years ago cautioned students about costumes, First-Amendment advocates scolded them. A campus university newspaper urged students to "Let creativity and intelligent humor be your guide ... rather than crass and thoughtless idiocy."

Two students at Northwestern sparked national outrage when they donned black face at a 2009 Halloween party. A Penn State sorority was placed on probation last year after a Mexican-themed party where students wore ponchos and sombreros. One woman in a photo from the party held a sign that said, “Will mow lawn for weed + beer.”

An Ohio University student group started a “We're a culture, not a costume” Halloween campaign.

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