Student costume party sparks outrage

Kingston, ON, Canada / CKWS TV

These are photos of Queen’s students, taken at an off-campus party last Saturday.
A costume party that’s stirring outrage around the university and beyond.

Jacqueline O’Rourke: “It’s sad that those photos happened. It’s not a good representation of our school.”

The unsanctioned party was called ‘Beer-fest,’ though no one is quite sure who sponsored it.

Students paid 40-dollars a ticket to play a beer drinking game called ‘flip cup’ while dressed in costumes based on the theme: ‘Countries of the world’.

But the party has led to criticism of students promoting racial or cultural stereotypes; offending many, including the school’s principal.

Daniel Woolf: “I am deeply upset, as are many members of the Queen’s community at reports of this party. We still have very few facts about it and that’s why we’ve launched an investigation into it.”

The party featured students dressed as Viet Cong guerrillas, Buddhist monks, Middle Eastern sheikhs, Mexicans in sombreros, dread-locked Rastafarians and other cultural groups.

Earlier this week – a Toronto comedian found some of the party photos, and in subsequent Twitter posts, which have now been taken down, she called the event ‘A very shockingly racist party’.

The school says it’s too early to know if there will be any disciplinary action

Daniel Woolf: “We do have a student code of conduct which does apply in certain circumstances to activities off-campus. So once we’ve assemble all the facts then we’ll be in a better position to judge what follow up there should be.”

A quick survey around campus found that most think it is unfortunate the small group of students decided to wear the costumes, but insist that small group does not represent the entire student body.

Chris Reid: “Too bad, especially with everything that’s been happening in the world recently.
There’s been a lot of hate, a lot of issues around racism, sexism, xenophobia and stuff like that. It’s just very, very poor judgement I think.”

James McNeice: “You’re not pleased to see people being disrespectful or doing things that could be construed as disrespectful, maybe they didn’t think it was disrespectful. I largely don’t think they would have thought they were being racist when they made those costumes.”

The Queen’s Alma Mater Society said it was too busy for an on-camera interview, instead providing an email statement condemning the party: “We believe this was wrong, and actions like these make students feel uncomfortable and unwelcome on our campus.”

Queen’s is home to a large number of international students. And today, campus leaders are stressing the need for a diverse and inclusive community free of discrimination.

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