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Queen’s University Students Held a Party and the Theme Was Racism

We thought racist costume season was over but here is photos that say otherwise.
November 22, 2016, 10:56pm

Well, with Halloween in the rearview mirror, racist costume season is certainly behind us, right?


Behold, a set of photos showing a shockingly racist party that reportedly took place at Queen's University in Kingston on Saturday night.

The set of 12 pics were tweeted out yesterday by comedian Celeste Yim who came across them on Facebook. They show (mostly white) people dressed as monks, some decked out in sombreros and prison jumpsuits, others in a get-up that can only be described as Viet Cong-esque, and even a couple of dudes sporting Arab head coverings and fake facial hair.


The whole gang is having a rollicking lil' racist time.

"I was shocked. I couldn't believe how blatant they were, there was nothing nuanced about them. They were jarringly racist," Yim told VICE.

"The photos are indisputably offensive, in context or out of context."

Now, not all of the costumes at the party were stereotyping a group of people but according to these pictures a hell of a lot of them were. The photos, while not available on Facebook anymore, can still be found on Yim's twitter account.

It seems the photos came from an annual party on campus that some called "Beerfest," which, much like the movie, is based around an evening of drinking games. The party was apparently held in a massive tent set up in a backyard. The attendees were told to dress up as a specific country.

According to a Queen's graduate who is aware of a previous iteration of the party in 2011, students paid about $75 to attend and were put into different country-based teams to win prizes. VICE was unable to confirm if $75 was the price of admission this year. According to the graduate, participants were encouraged to paint their skin for believability in previous years. The party was considered an "it" party and hosting it is a tradition that she claims gets passed down to new students.

One person who briefly attended this year's party told VICE she wasn't surprised to see people dressed in this way.

"This isn't an isolated event at Queen's," she said. "All these things are brewing and adding up and it's pretty frustrating and it's pretty disappointing to see from the student body here."


In a statement regarding the party, Daniel Woolf, the Principal of Queen's, said "Queen's strives to be a diverse and inclusive community free from discrimination or harassment of any kind. Any event that degrades, mocks, or marginalizes a group or groups of people is completely unacceptable."

"As far as we can ascertain, this event did not occur on campus. No event of this kind would be sanctioned by the university's senior administration. However, we are taking the matter very seriously, and continue to look into it."

Queen's student government, the AMS, also released a statement soon after Yim's tweet: "We believe this was wrong, and actions like these make students feel uncomfortable and unwelcome on our campus"

A photo album containing similar pictures to the ones from the party were posted on a page called All Your Schoolmates. The group has since removed the album and deleted their page but it can still be seen on the cached version of the website. The group, which describe themselves as "30 young social individuals who love to plan bangers," did not respond to VICE's request for comment.

The name All Your Schoolmates uses the same acronym as All Year Social, an event planning group connected to the Commerce Society of Queens. All Your Schoolmates is not connected to All Year Social nor the Commerce Society. In a statement provided to VICE, the Commerce Society confirmed that up until 2015 All Year Social did run an event called Oktoberfest in which "event attendees dressed up in costumes that could have been considered offensive." The event was banned by the Commerce Society this year but put on by All Your Schoolmates in 2016 regardless.


However, the Commerce Society stated that All Year Social, All Your Schoolmates and itself did not put on the particular party in November. They said to VICE it was put on by an "individual student for the general public of Queen's."

Yim said most of the people who have seen the photos agree they're offensive but she said there has been a backlash to her original tweets condemning the party.

The people defending the event are saying it was all in fun and the costumes were meant to celebrate countries not denigrate them. One former partygoer described the attendees of the party to VICE as "good people with no malicious intent, a grounded worldview and therefore had generally tasteful costumes. It is a beer drinking tournament, not a means to offend other cultures."

Yim, disagrees with this.

"I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding about being racist or having these racial biases that people feel precluded from when they don't use racial slurs or they have friends who are people of colour," said Yim. "People feel that somehow this makes it fine for them to behave in any way they want."

"There is a real lack of accountability that people have when they're talking about race or when they're dressing up in racist costumes. I think that people need to understand that racism isn't this issue that is a checklist, it is a continuously growing and morphing idea that anybody can be a part of, you can still perpetuate it," she added.

"The second you put on a rice hat and go out and party, the responsibility for the repercussions is all on you. It's not anybody's else's responsibility that you behaved in a way that is racist and that you hurt other people, it does not matter whether or not you meant to do that."

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