Message to the Dickinson Community on Offensive Costume

On Sunday, Oct. 29, Vice President and Dean of Student Life Joyce Bylander sent the following message to campus in response to an offensive costume:

To the Dickinson Community:

This weekend, I received a photo of a student dressed in an offensive Halloween costume stereotypically representing a person of color while another student pointed a gun at him. The costume and the image were deeply offensive and reflected the exercise of very poor judgment. These decisions and actions in no way represent our Dickinson values, and we will work with those involved to educate them on the impact of their behavior. We must all understand that this action, however distasteful, is a form of free expression. However, their speech does not mean that we must sit idly by and accept their message.

I call on the community to handle this situation as we have handled other difficult moments. We must engage each other in conversations about how individual choices can have a negative impact on other community members. We must answer speech with speech.

We are investigating the gun in the photo. Guns—whether toys or real—are prohibited on this campus, and that issue will be addressed.

President Ensign is aware of this situation and deeply concerned. However, she is dealing with a family emergency that requires her full attention at this moment. She asks that we all find ways to talk to each other in supportive, constructive ways when we are confronted with these issues.

We are a community that values inclusivity, civil dialogue and cross-cultural understanding. We will use this unfortunate incident to strengthen those values.

Joyce Bylander
Vice President and Dean of Student Life 

Published October 30, 2017