Baylor commits to lesson on cultural sensitivity

Jessica Hubble | Multimedia Journalist

By Pablo Gonzales | Assistant News Editor

For many, Halloween is a time for fun and expression through embracing a costume that expresses your personality in a creative way. For others, Halloween is concerning because the costumes people choose may be culturally insensitive.

Baylor has made its commitment to cultural sensitivity and inclusion very clear. Last year, Dr. Kevin Jackson, the vice president of student life and former student body president Lindsey Bacque sent an email to Baylor students, faculty and staff encouraging those who celebrate Halloween to wear costumes that are respectful to others, but also to celebrate Halloween in a way that is fun and accepting of Baylor’s diversity.

A national campaign slogan was created by Ohio University students to spread awareness of the importance of cultural sensitivity when choosing a Halloween costume. “My culture is not a costume” was coined by students to show that their cultural identity should not be reduced to a costume.

Houston senior and president of the Multicultural Association of Pre-Health Students Maya Fontenot said cultural sensitivity is not about walking on eggshells or being politically correct; it is about understanding that someone’s cultural identity is sacred and not something that you can just throw on.

“It is easy to just wear a costume and not understand the cultural significance behind it,” Fontenot said. “When you wear articles of clothing that are sacred to another group of people but don’t understand it, you aren’t being respectful of them. This isn’t just about being politically correct; it is about respecting others.”

Dr. Elizabeth Palacios, dean for student development and special assistant to the president on diversity, wants students to consider their intent and the impact of their costume choices. Think about choosing a character rather than depicting a stereotypical aspect of a cultural group.

“Students should ask how their costume is going to impact their fellow students,” Palacios said. “Ask yourself, ‘If we are in a Christian environment, then why would I want to create something that will separate me from my Baylor family?’ Be self-aware on how your costume will impact others.”