Brock University Students Union (BUSU) confirmed on their facebook page earlier today that their “Threesome Thursday” Halloween Night on October 30th at Isaac’s Bar and Grill included costume contestants, “wearing black make-up or paint on their faces…” The statement stops short of naming blackface – but claimed that BUSU is, “fully aware of the historical context that this action can represent…” The statement in full is below.
Their response came after students began to post in the Overhead at Brock at Facebook Group as well as on their page and on twitter. The statement does not mention that these students actually won the best costume award of the night and instead focuses on the “1000’s of students that attended.” You can see a photo of the winners and confirmation of their win here if you so wish.
The mention of their win, and photos of their win, couldn’t be found on the Isaac’s/BUSU “Barshots” of the night or in the BrockTV video of the event – but both give context as to the nature of the event wherein 1000’s of people celebrated and awarded blackface as an acceptable costume choice.
This incident follows after social media complaints in September led to the University responding to young men out front of student residences on move-in day holding a sign “Honk If You’re Droppin’ Off Your Daughter.” Those men did not face a disciplinary panel.
Previous to that, last year the University okay’d a speaking event with an anti-choice extremist who publicly claims (and did at the event) that women who access abortions should be charged under the criminal code for murder. Students who demonstrated against the event were forcibly removed and faced the threat of a disciplinary panel.
In the fallout for that event the University was asked for policy on what criteria they use, or would use in the future, to define hate speech and what proactive policies would come from it. In the absence of a response, these events continue to happen on campus and their complaint based responses are clearly not a deterrent. If students had not taken to social media to complain about this event, it is doubtful that BUSU, Isaac’s, or Brock University would even acknowledge it.
It is simply unacceptable that at a University with several student justice based groups, a Social and Justice Equity Program, and numerous academics capable of informing staff on issues like blackface, that Brock still drags its feet. This is a racist costume that finds its way on University campuses regularly – how many more times does this have to happen before the University, BUSU and Isaac’s take pro active stances to explain and educate what is and what is not an acceptable “costume”?