/ 13 January 2019

While a fancy dress code party is typically intended to be a fun and carefree event, Kent University Student Union has proposed bans on certain costumes. In a time where exceptional measures are taken to avoid any criticism of being offensive, the UK custom of costume dressing seems to have fallen victim.

The Union has posited a ban on students dressing up as a particular race, culture or stereotype that it deemed to be ‘inappropriate and offensive’ in order for student events to remain inclusive. The long list of unacceptable costumes includes Mexican-style sombreros and fancy dress ‘chav’ and tory outfits, cowboy, Native Americans, crusader, priest and nun.

Students were also warned against using props, such as maracas, to ‘emphasis racial stereotypes’. The union also proposed banning people dressing as a gender or sexuality they “don’t identify with” if the purpose is to belittle. The union also provided a list of acceptable costumes including cartoon characters, letters of the alphabet, aliens, cavemen, ancient Greeks, Romans, doctors and nurses.

The Union Student President justified their proposed ban by pointing to certain complaints over the past few years. The president describes the ban as a ‘guideline as a ‘discussion point’, and explains that it is “part of a proactive approach to ensure that student events remain inclusive”. When we asked Kent University Student Union if they had a timeframe in mind when the draft proposal might become approved, they confirmed that there was no date or in mind to finalise these plans.

Kent University’s statement:

Over the last few years we have received complaints about some student groups choice of fancy dress. The fancy dress policy is currently a draft proposal and we will be consulting with our executive groups to gain further feedback. We of course want students to enjoy themselves and events remain inclusive.