A university student was barred from an on-campus Halloween party for daring to wear a costume involving face-paint by officials who accused him of donning “blackface”.
Ryan Lytwyn had dressed as a demon for an event at Edinburgh University, a costume which saw him wear pitch black face paint with white and red highlights around his eyes:
But his hellish visage fell foul of zealous costume inspectors at the event on Saturday night.
While waiting outside the venue, Lytwyn was approached by staff at Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) who said he had to remove the paint because it “could be construed” as mocking black people.
Speaking to Heat Street Lytywn said: “A member of staff came over to me and said that I wasn’t allowed in unless I wiped my face paint off. He said the manager had sent him over to me.”
Lytwyn tried to argue that his costume had no racial undertones, but was given an ultimatum: face paint = no entry.
He said: “I told the SU staff it was ridiculous. I was obviously dressed up for Halloween as a demon – I had black, white and red face paint on – but they said I wouldn’t be allowed in as it ‘could be construed’ as black face. Someone in the queue offered me tissues so I wiped it off and then they let me in.”
The controversy is in many ways typical of Edinburgh university, which has proved itself one of the most sensitive in the UK.
Earlier this year, vice-president of academic affairs Imogen Wilson was threatened with being kicked out of a EUSA meeting for violating safe space protocol by raising her hand. She was almost kicked out a second time for shaking her head.
Lytwyn’s recent experience falls into EUSA’s notoriously censorious history of banning costumes.
The Student’s Union also have a regulation against blackface, which they cited in Lytwyn’s case: “I was wearing black, white and red face paint and dressed up for Halloween as a demon, so I didn’t think I was in blackface.
“I also pointed out that no one had complained, that I wasn’t impersonating a black person, and that other people were wearing black paint too. I was told the manager wasn’t interested.”
EUSA confirmed that Lytwyn was asked to change his outfit, but have so far declined to justify the decision.