LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — Several college students were photographed over Halloween weekend wearing what some are calling culturally insensitive costumes.
The students, all reportedly athletes at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, can be seen in photos dressed as Mexican, Asian and African stereotypes.
The incident has caught the attention of college officials and is causing minority student groups on campus to speak out, demanding the college update their diversity training and programming.
“The student made chinky-slanted eyes,” said junior Vi Bui, who called the photos deeply disturbing. “My question is: how many games are these players being benched for?”
“Boys from the soccer team, they dressed up as Mexicans, stereotypical Mexicans,” Ariana Felix said.
The photos show the athletes wearing thick black mustaches with sombreros, with the words Jose Cuervo on their shirts. Another picture shows one student donning a traditional African garb called a dashiki.
One student who mocked Asians wore a pointed hat and soy sauce packets around his neck.
Folusho Olawole, a member of the school’s African Caribbean Association, said someone’s culture is not a gimmick.
“If you think about Halloween and the connotation of Halloween, when you put on a costume, it’s meant to induce some type of entertainment,” she said. “The fact that it was used as some type of joke on Halloween is disrespectful to other cultures.”
“Our identities are something that they [the athletes] can put on and take off, but for us, we have to wake up in these identities every day,” Felix said.
The students say F&M doesn’t handle issues around diversity well. They feel, right now, educating and informing others of diversity and the troubles of mocking stereotypes is on their shoulders. They want the school to take the lead.
“We shouldn’t be doing all the programming, all the teaching skills because it’s honestly not our job to teach and educate these people,” Rachel St. Louis said.
The school sent an email (linked below) Wednesday to students, saying there is no place at F&M for racist actions. The letter says, in part, “in the spring we will hire a director of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
It goes on to say that by the spring, “we will have a bias response reporting system ready to go live.”
For the concerned students, that’s a start, but there’s still much work to be done.
“We want to make F&M a safer place for people who look like us and come from the same places as us,” Felix said. “There’s a number of different clubs who are putting in this labor, that they [the athletes] don’t have to. They have been at F&M for three years, that’s plenty of time to educate yourself.”
The internal email to students earlier this week said that the students who wore the costumes met with college officials and expressed remorse for their actions.
The full email can be found below.