Halloween and the University of Colorado have always been an explosive combination, dating back to the raging parties that used to take place on the Pearl Street Mall. This year, in a memo posted online, the university asked students to be careful of "stereotypical and offensive" costumes. "As a CU Buff, making the choice to dress up as someone from another culture, either with the intention of being humorous or without the intention of being disrespectful, can lead to inaccurate and hurtful portrayals of other peoples' cultures," the memo said, before singling out blackface, sombreros, serapes, geishas, Indian "squaws," white trash, ghetto, hillbillies and prostitutes.
And it's a nice sentiment, but one that sounds a little funny coming from an institution that has a tendency to embarrass itself without any help from its students, including recent charges of, yes, racism, after the firing of head football coach Jon Embree. But the guy who leveled those charges, former coach Bill McCartney, has a few Halloween skeletons in his own closet — which is why he kicks off our list of offensive and politically incorrect costumes that will probably not make it onto CU's approved list.
University of Colorado
Bill McCartney, who founded the Promise Keepers, a right-wing Christian men's group, was a football hero, but he had a little trouble focusing on his own family; his daughter had a baby with star quarterback Sal Aunese (who died of cancer in 1989). This story had many tragic twists to it, but McCartney continues to prattle on. A costume would include a Buffs gold tie, a black V-neck sweater vest, a Bible and a "No girls allowed" sign.
Churchill is the former CU professor of ethnic studies who wrote an essay after 9/11 in which he said that the attacks were a result of U.S. policy and called those employed in the World Trade Center "little Eichmanns." But Churchill had other problems, including accusations of plagiarism and research misconduct, for which he was fired in 2007. Many lawsuits and court dates later, it was ruled that CU was allowed to can Churchill, who also claimed Native American ancestry. A costume would include his trademark long, straight hair, a fake Indian headdress and a Nazi SS outfit.
Chip the gangsta mascot
Okay, maybe the university has a point about those cultural stereotypes. In January 2008, CU's fake mascot, Chip the buffalo (not to be confused with Ralphie, the real bison), wore a gangsta-themed costume to a "kids' night" Nuggets basketball game in Denver. The outfit included a white T-shirt and baggy pants, a do-rag, fake gold teeth and a teardrop tattoo below one eye. Speaking with the Boulder Daily Camera, a CU spokesman admitted that the outfit was "insensitive, unfortunate and thoughtless" and said the students responsible were sorry. The costume is all laid out for you.
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The Wife of Bath
Who? We're glad you asked. In "The Wife of Bath's Tale," from Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the lead character rhapsodizes about women's roles during the Middle Ages, including their sexuality. And in one stanza, she also uses a word that got CU president Betsy Hoffman in trouble during a massive football-and-bad-behavior scandal in 2004, after which Hoffman resigned. Hoffman, in a court deposition, refused to criticize the use of a vulgar word that was used by one player to describe a female player. In fact, Hoffman invoked Chaucer to defend the word and said she'd even heard it used as a term of endearment. Which word? We'll let you pick it out of Chaucer's writing: "What ails you that you grumble thus and groan? Is it because you'd have my cunt alone? Why take it all, lo, have it every bit; Peter! Beshrew you but you're fond of it."
In 2011, Playboy anointed CU the nation's number-one party school — in part because of Colorado's pot-friendly laws and the university's huge annual smokeout on April 20. But the following spring, the school cracked down on the 4/20 event, closing the campus and spreading fish fertilizer over Norlin Quad in an effort to keep people away. The stinky strategy worked, and although CU decided not to spread the fertilizer again in 2013, it did close the campus again. An appropriate costume? How about a massive trophy fish head and a bong?