Halloween Bias Incident sparks outrage and change


Isabelle Boudreau as posted by the official Le Moyne Softball account on October 29th

Olivia Poust, Editor-in-Chief

On October 30, the Office of Inclusive Excellence and Global Education posted its annual “Culture is Not a Costume” campaign on Instagram. This particular year’s post included the text, “It’s not a joke. It’s not funny.” Years past have relayed a similar reminder in the copy of the campaign: “You wear the costume for one night and reduce me to one image,” and “Just because I can wear it doesn’t mean I should.” The slight change in focus this year follows a recent bias-related incident that has grabbed the attention of students, faculty, and alumni. 

News broke among students on October 29 that the official Le Moyne softball Instagram account (@lemoynesoftball) posted and removed a picture from the team’s Halloween event featuring a student dressed as an “illegal immigrant,” as her orange shirt read. Her costume included handcuffs and a drawing of prison bars. The post quickly spread after being shared on Instagram, Twitter, and Reddit. 

A statement was released on October 30 from the Director of Athletics Bob Beretta. Beretta apologized for the “unfortunate incident” and the “harm it has caused.” He also wrote, “The incident in question is regrettable. I am confident that all involved see this as an opportunity to learn and improve.” 

On the Athletic Department’s Instagram page (@lemoynedolphins), this statement received 177 comments. Clubs reposted the statement, adding their thoughts on how it responded to the issue at hand. The caption on the reshared post by X (@x_lemoyne) reads, “THIS IS BEYOND DISGUSTING. Don’t give us your fake apology, hold them accountable.”

On October 31, President Linda LeMura released a statement which explained the steps that were actively being taken and anticipated by the Bias Response Team. The statement pointed out three student organizations in particular, X, El Progreso, and Asia Club, as being involved in providing statements to the BRT. 

Dr. Tabor Fisher is the Chair of Le Moyne’s Bias Response Team and explained that the BRT follows a Restorative Justice Process when reviewing bias-related incidents. This involves a three-step process that includes both sides to “restore the dignity of everyone involved,” both the person or group harmed and the perpetrator. 

The BRT is currently still on Step 1 of the process, “Pre-conference meetings.” The board for this response—comprised of Fisher, Fr. Charles Oduke, and Barb Karper—is meeting one-on-one with everyone involved. Since this particular incident was a public event which caused harm to a large group, rather than a targeted individual, there are many people involved. The board found representatives by contacting people who reposted on social media, emailed administration, and serve as Presidents or on the E-Boards of culture clubs on campus, like those mentioned in President LeMura’s statement, among others. Fisher noted that the BRT has been holding meetings almost every day. She hopes that they will be able to release updates later this week with new timelines, and is aiming to come up with a resolution before Thanksgiving.

Step 2 of the process is a “Restorative Justice Conference” which brings both sides together and provides the opportunity for a dialogue on what they need and how they experienced this incident. Step 3 can be put into action once a plan is agreed upon. Both sides are then asked to sign a written agreement which states the action steps that are required of them to move this process forward. 

Under this model, as Fisher explained, consequences are determined by those involved, not the board. 

She also elaborated upon the role of social media, and noted that the college has realized it needs to rethink the process of posts on official Le Moyne accounts. 

There are currently four active bias-related cases. Last academic year, the “overwhelming majority of cases” involved race, according to Fisher. 

“It’s made clear that there are larger systemic issues. One of the questions we ask when we do have these pre-conference meetings is ‘Do you feel there are elements of our larger culture that facilitate this kind of event happening?’” said Fisher.