Things That Matter

This Student Athlete Dressed Up as an ‘Illegal Immigrant’ for Halloween and Was Celebrated by Her Team on Instagram

Screenshot via Instagram

We like to think that, in 2021, we’ve come to a point where we’ve evolved past Halloween costumes that are racist, degrading, or insensitive. Unfortunately, we’re not there yet. Every Halloween a mindless, misinformed person decides to wear a tone-deaf costume that belittles an entire community. 

This year, a student at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York dressed up as an “illegal immigrant” for Halloween. She wore a head-to-toe orange outfit, her wrists in handcuffs. 

What’s worse, the school’s softball team highlighted the costume on their official Instagram page, captioning the image “Spooky Season” along with the emojis of a ghost and a pumpkin.

Naturally, the picture made the rounds on social media and quickly garnered criticism. “The @LeMoyneSoftball coach that allowed this player to participate in practice should be fired, and the player removed from the team,” wrote Twitter user Tyler D. Sperrazza, a former LeMoyne student. “These are not people who deserve to represent @LeMoyne. As an alumnus I can’t say I’m surprised that this type of bigotry exists on that campus.”

Soon after, the picture was deleted (but not before it garnered at least 28 likes).

LeMoyne College’s administration responded to the controversy with a run-of-the-mill statement, calling the photo an “unfortunate incident.”

“I am writing to assure you that the College is taking steps to address what happened,” wrote President Linda LeMura in a statement. “After reviewing the circumstances around the posting, the College has determined that it was a bias-related incident and, as such, has referred it to the Bias Response Team (BRT)…”

“On behalf of the college, I apologize for the harm this has caused,” she continued. “Through the work of many students, alumni, administrators and faculty, we have worked hard in recent months, through the Racial Justice Committee, the work of the BRT and in other ways, to create a campus culture of understanding and tolerance. Though progress has been made, events such as this show that much work remains.”

But the administration’s apology ringed hollow to some. After all, it is the responsibility of administrators to correct student actions before they cause harm to other students. 

For many, the question remained: how did this happen? And why did the school choose not to discipline the unnamed student (as well as the coaches) more thoroughly? After all, sending the offending player to “BRT” lessons doesn’t exactly constitute real consequences.

In fact, according to images posted on Twitter, fellow LeMoyne college athletes are defending the softball player. One Latinx student posted a Snapchat exchange between two students that illustrated this outlook.

“Again I’m not saying it’s right but people make mistakes and it could ruin her softball career,” wrote the alleged LeMoyne lacrosse player to another student. “And when people keep harassing her and dying to know who she is isn’t helping the situation.”

Others on Twitter pointed out that the LeMoyne softball team hasn’t made any statement on the matter, or apologized.

“This isn’t a learning experience bc she has to know by the time she’s in college that this is an act of racial violence. She did it this bc she knew she’d get away with it,” said another Twitter user.

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