Student group at England's University of Birmingham bans sombreros

Nov. 5, 2013 at 3:18 PM

BIRMINGHAM, England, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Students at a British university were turned away from Halloween events for dressing as Mexicans or American Indians.

The ban on what were described as "discriminatory" costumes by the guild of students at the University of Birmingham has left many angry and confused, The Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday.

Carl Raynsford, 21, said he and fellow members of the basketball team were barred for wearing sombreros and ponchos.

"I'm not sure why it's deemed racist nor why the 'anti-facism officer' needs any involvement," Raynsford told The Tab, the student newspaper at Birmingham. "Would I be offended if someone came as an Englishman?"

Jonathan Blausten, 21, said he got into trouble for dressing as Admiral General Aladeen, played by Sacha Baron Cohen in the 2012 movie "The Dictator." Blaustein said he also knew of a group who dressed as the Village People, and only the one wearing a headband and feather was turned away from a nightclub.

"I'm still waiting to hear who I was offending, going as a character from a fictional country in a movie which parodies almost every country on Earth with no particular bias," Blausten said.

There was also confusion when students learned that Dave Charles, the guild's vice president for housing and community, had been filmed wearing a sombrero. That was done for a promotional video made before the guild banned sombreros.

Vicki Harris, the guild vice president of sport, defended the ban, saying sombreros and similar costumes perpetuate racial and ethnic stereotypes.

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