Students fight back against fancy dress ‘rules’

Students at the University of Kent are fighting back as they seek to force Kent Union to overturn its proposed fancy dress guidelines, created to ensure the students do not cause offence when dressing up.

An e-petition has now been launched online, calling for the new rules to be overturned .

UKC Liberty Union, a new society focusing on ideas of freedom and discussions on campus, started the petition last week on Change.org calling to ‘Overturn Kent’s proposed SU fancy dress ban’.

The petition reads:

“We are opposed to the ridiculous nature of the bans on dressing like a ‘Tory’, like a ‘Chav’, as a cowboy, as a Native American etc., as proposed by Kent Union.
Also, we do not condone the overtly one-sided religious nature of some of the dress code restrictions. At this University we must protect the separation of religion and institution, whereas, at the same time, we must defend the freedom of religion of each and every one of our fellow students.
Whilst Kent Union’s intentions may have been well-meaning, banning outfits are steps in the wrong direction. The authors of this petition consider dressing how you want a fundamental of the freedom of expression, which falls under the freedom of speech, and would not normally endorse things banned.
However, it must be stated clearly and unambiguously that this petition does not oppose the bans on dressing as a Nazi officer or blacking up, both of which we agree are highly distasteful and effectively hateful. Yet the conflation of rights to a ‘safe space’ and dressing like a Mexican or a cowboy is where the policy becomes delusional and absurd.
Will someone unaware of the ban who chooses to dress up as a cowboy be punished and accused of racism or bigotry – a potentially very damaging and smearing accusation?
We, the students, are not made of snow.”

The petition has more than 400 signatures at the time of writing.

The news of the petition’s momentum resulted in UKC Liberty Union being featured in a number of national media outlets, including The Independent, The Times and the BBC.

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