By Melissa Fernie
Four law students are at the centre of a race row after painting their faces black for a society night out in Edinburgh this week.
The Edinburgh University students were attending the annual law society ‘Beerienteering’ event, which is highly popular night for the society. It consists of a steeplechase around the bars of Edinburgh with challenges and surprises along the way. This year’s theme was ‘Around the World’ and students were encouraged to dress to impress.
However a team made up of three boys and one girl decided to dress as Somali pirates for the event and subsequently painted their faces black. They happily posed for photos before and during the evening but were called out on their costume choices by members of both the Amnesty International Society and the Vegetable Society at the Three Sisters Pub. Many of those involved and attending the event were surprised the law society let the team continue competing.
Speaking to students who attended the ‘Beerienteering’ event, one said: “This is an image of black and ethnic minority oppression becoming manifested in students’ costumes. Racism should be opposed on every level at Edinburgh University and we as a student body should do all within our power to make sure these attitudes are called out.”
Nadia Mehdi, Vice President of Societies and Activities at EUSA said: “I’m shocked to see that in this day and age these student weren’t aware of or choose to ignore the offence they would cause by painting their faces black.”
The law society hit back at the negative comments and Keir Gilius, President of the society said: “As a society we try to arrange our events within innovative and interesting themes leaving scope for attendees to use their imaginations. In no way was this theme intended to incite racism of cultural appropriation and as a society, we are vehemently opposed to discrimination of any form.”
Gilius apologised if the team’s costumes upset anyone and said: “In future we will strive to ensure that any fancy dress events will actively discourage the use of any costumes that could be perceived as being offensive.”
However not everyone believes the costumes should have incited a race row. One student said: “This is another fine example of some idiots looking for a reason to be offended. Not sure how on earth this is in any way racist or offensive. Absolute morons who need to get a life outside of the veg soc.”
Other students also believe too much fuss was made over the costume, with one student saying: “This is absolutely ridiculous and shows how far political correctness is being exploited. How is painting your skin black a form of minority oppression, discrimination or racism? They weren’t portraying black people in any sort of racist derogatory way. It’s annoying how so many kinds of discrimination are allowed to let slip but as soon as skin colour is involved it’s a different story.”