EDINBURGH, Scotland – The Edinburgh University student union claims it was working to “broaden free speech” when it banned students recently from wearing any type of costume that might offend anyone.
Students can no longer dress up like Native Americans, Arabs, Nazis, or depict police brutality because those costumes are “based on racial or cultural stereotypes.” Students are also now prohibited from wearing any outfits that “mock or are based on stereotypes of disabled people,” or “cross-dressing for the point of humor,” Express reports.
That means dressing like Caitlyn Jenner is out, as is a Chris Brown costume, because they use “gender-based or sexual violence for the purpose of humor,” according to the news site.
The new rules – which also ban costumes depicting Pocahontas, Mexicans, blackface, “camp men,” gangsters and others – is the latest in a long line of politically correct edicts from the Edinburgh student union in recent years that are slowly eroding what students can say and do on campus, the Edinburgh Evening News reports.
Specifically, the recent guidance from the student union informs students “You may not intend to hurt anyone when picking out your costume, and you may not even think there’s a problem, but it’s important to consider the impact your choices will have,” according to the news site.
“It is also not acceptable to use props to emphasize racial characteristics in order to convey an individual or character,” the guidance reads. “A good costume should be clear enough that you do not need racial or cultural additions.”
Student union president Jonny Tatam told the Evening News the goal is “to broaden free speech, not restrict it.
“We’re committed to ensuring everyone feels able to participate in debate and discussion within our venues,” he said.
The student union previously stoked controversy when it banned students from Robert Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” because it allegedly promotes rape culture. The student union has also banned straws, because some students used them for binge drinking, Express reports.
Edinburgh philosophy student Charlie Peters, 19, told the Evening News he started a petition to reverse some of the changes because they’ve become “a bit of a joke.
“We have a national approach of strict laws in censorship of speech,” he said. “The (university) has taken that and gone beyond and to absolute extremes. I’m sure their intentions are nice, but it takes away the potential to speak freely.”
Another “furious student” who was not identified shared the same perspective with the Express.
“While I understand the student union are doing this out of concern for vulnerable people, it their usual style they have overreacted,” the student said. “I see no issue with dressing up as my favorite Disney character, especially as characters like Mulan and Pocahontas are strong female roles.
“To make matters worse that I can’t listen to the catchy beats of Robin Thicke or drink using a straw,” the student continued. “EUSA need to learn the difference between offensive behavior and a sense of humor.”
“I wouldn’t want to go as the Little Mermaid in case I offend fish,” the third-year student said.