Augustana discusses cultural appropriation for Halloween

Katherine Hogan

On the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 24, The Office of Student Inclusion and Diversity (OSID) and the Office of Student Life (OSL) hosted “My Culture is not a Costume”, an initiative that educates students about cultural appropriation, for the fourth year.

The event started off with an introduction by the OSID professional staff.

After that, student workers took over with a powerpoint presentation that explained cultural appropriation.

In between slides, the student speakers had several interactive activities planned for the students.

After a guest speaker, the professional staff of OSID left time for a question and answer session.

Jessica Miller, a sophomore employee of OSID and one of the two student workers who spoke during the event, was excited to help put the event on when she heard all of the positive responses the event had gotten last year.

While the event “My Culture Is Not a Costume” has been an annual event at Augustana for several years now, Miller comments that this was the first year they brought in a guest speaker for the event.

“I thought it would be really cool to put a face to a culture that we do not really see that often,” Miller said.

The speaker was Regina Tsosie, a member of the Navajo nation and a resident of the Quad Cities, who came and spoke about missing Native American women during Miller’s Women and Gender Studies class last year.

“I really believe that cultural appropriation can lead to misunderstanding, the perpetuation of stereotypes, misguiding of minds that have no idea of the true value of someone’s culture and also for me it is a form of identity theft and we know that’s illegal,” Tsosie said. “If people think of it that way, maybe they will think twice.”

According to Miller, the event this year was a lot bigger than usual:

“We normally have it smaller so we can have more in-depth conversations but there were so many people that conversations kind of went quicker.”

A big part of this was that the president of Greek council reached out to Miller before the event to discuss the issues those in Greek life sometimes encounter when it comes to cultural appropriation.

“We realized it was a bigger issue and thought it would be best if we make it mandatory for Greeks,” Miller said.

Bridget Grimm, a sophomore and a member of the Phi Rho sorority, attended the event. Grimm said that while her attendance at the event was made mandatory by her sorority and Greek council, this wasn’t a bad thing.

“I also went to it last year and it was really cool. I was a part of the PACE program so this stuff is really interesting to me,”  Grimm said. “Greek life is a big part of party culture and I feel like that is were a lot of the problems are with cultural appropriation so tackling that right at the root of the problem can be really good. I think Augie is really good about not doing this but just making sure.”

Rosie Flores is a senior and a member of the Chi Omega Gamma sorority who also attended the event.

Overall, she felt that the event went well and felt that the speaker put into perspective things that she had not previously thought of.

“Everyone has that responsibility to call each other out [on cultural appropriation] regardless if they are in Greek life or not,” Flores said. “Greek life has had its history of appropriating things or doing things that aren’t cool so I do think that within the chapters and overall Greek life we do have a responsibility to call each other out and challenge perspectives.”