Halloween at UBC
October 31, 2018
3 mins read

Treat yourself to a safe Halloween

Halloween is an annual favourite for spook-lovers, costume-enthusiasts, and candy-cravers. However, for some, clown masks and Fright Nights aren’t the only things they're scared of this season.

At a time when safety and respect can be a concern, I want to provide you with some tips and reminders to stash in your pocket.

Dress warmly

Dressing up for Halloween is one of my favourite things to do! But while walking through the costume aisle or making a DIY masterpiece, remember to keep practicality in mind.

Some tempting costume choices may not keep you warm in the chill of late October. This Halloween, temperatures can drop as low as 8° C at night, not to mention those familiar rain showers.

If your costume is not suitable for the cold, wear a jacket or bring extra pants/shoes. You’ll have a lot more fun if you’re not shivering...or coffin!

Be aware of cultural appropriation

Cultural appropriation is the act of portraying or using elements from a culture that is not your own, without showing understanding or respect. While you might think to dress up as a geisha, a “Native American Princess”, or a “Mexican dude” for fun, your costume will come off as disrespectful and hurtful.

Making assumptions about certain cultures perpetuates harmful stereotypes. Stay on the safe side and nix the cultural costume! You still have infinite choices for your outfit, whether it’s a pack of french fries, Willy Wonka, or Cheryl Blossom from Riverdale.

Watch what you consume

Whatever you choose to ingest (including candy), be mindful of the source.

At bars and parties, it’s important to be aware of people who might slip dangerous things into your drinks or food, be it incapacitating agents or additional alcohol. Don’t accept drinks (or anything else) from people you don’t trust!

Keep friends close, and be wary of people who seem suspicious. Don’t feel the need to satisfy peer pressure to “seem cool” or “not let anyone down”. True friends wouldn’t force you to do something you’re not comfortable with, so be assertive about your boundaries.

Also, be mindful of the amount you’re consuming! It’s easy to get carried away with the fun of the night. Prior to going out, do your research and ensure that your sources are reliable, so you know exactly what’s going into your body. 

Drink responsibly

Here are a few tips to keep in mind with regards to alcohol:

  • Eat before drinking to slow down intoxication.
  • Stay hydrated to reduce the impact of alcohol on your system.
  • If you're going to a house party, pitch in with your friends to bring your own drinks so you know exactly what you're consuming.
  • Do not leave your drink unattended. When in doubt, get a new drink!

Remember the importance of consent

Attending a Halloween party can go awfully wrong when boundaries are violated. Remember to respect the space and autonomy of others.

Think of consent like this: If you’re asking for $5 from somebody’s pocket and they say “no”, you don’t have the right to take it. If they don’t reply, you don’t have the right to grab it out of their pocket. If they’re unsure because they’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you don’t have the right to take advantage of their vulnerability. If they don’t reply with an enthusiastic and definitive “yes!”, then you don’t have the right to assume you have permission. Lastly, just because they say “yes” to you, it doesn’t mean they’ve given automatic consent to your friend to also take $5.

Just because Halloween is filled with creative costumes, the way that somebody is dressed does not permit assumptions about how they wish to be treated.

If you feel that your own space is being violated, speak up and be assertive. Don’t be ashamed to call for help, or report anyone that’s acting inappropriately.

Look out for your friends

Stay close to your friends and look out for each other. Take time to assess each others’ wellness, and never pressure someone into something they’re not comfortable with.

Be sure to have each other’s contact information, or keep an “accountability buddy” to ensure that nobody disappears! If you’re expecting a late night, plan ahead for transportation, whether it’s a designated driver, a taxi ride, or other safe alternatives.

Going out isn’t mandatory

Don’t have plans this Halloween? Don’t stress! Going out is definitely not mandatory.

Last Halloween, I didn’t do anything to celebrate because I was drowning in midterms. If your time constraints don’t allow it, or if you’re simply not interested, don’t feel bad! Sometimes, taking a break between studies to watch a short horror film is all you need.

However you choose to spend your time is up to you, and nobody will judge you for it! Don’t feel pressured by FOMO either; like a cloud, it will pass.

If you keep these tips in mind, your Halloween is guaranteed to be fangtastic.