I still remember a nun blinding me in St Salvators Quad. And it was completely socially acceptable.
Like most people in the foam fight a couple Mondays back, I spent most of my time desperately looking for people with vaguely familiar smiles in a sea of foam, for the sole purpose of shoving a brand name product in their faces. But in the end, one smurf always seemed to resemble the others, and it took a blast of hose water in the face to recognise anyone..
All in all, good fun.
The costumes that people wore varied immensely based on the creativity and effort of the parents. Raisin costumes went from an extra large matric card to a purple face with a box of raisins around the neck, while receipts included everything from a fully working chariot to a mound of ice hastily grabbed from a fridge. Despite the differences, most costumes added to the wonderful morale of the occasion, with all the freshers joining together to look completely insane.
However, some families took it a little too far.
The week leading up to Raisin had been filled with anticipation. But for one fresher girl, the anticipation was mixed with a feeling of dread.
“My academic mum is lovely, and so is my dad,” she told me a few days before the start of Raisin, “it’s just there’s been some political opinions have been revealed that I’m not completely in agreement with but I’m just trying to overlook them.”
This wouldn’t appear completely unusual, considering the political differences in every family, academic or not, that erupt at any Christmas dinner anywhere. But these political opinions had a direct effect on Raisin itself.
“[My academic father] is lovely,” the fresher girl said, “but I have recently found out that he is an avid Donald Trump supporter—like, he idolises the man, and obviously, that’s influenced the plans for Raisin Weekend.”
“From what I’ve been told, our Raisin costumes basically entail my academic brother being dressed as Donald Trump and the rest of the siblings being dressed as Mexicans,” she continued, “which is horrendous typecasting, like, sombreros, ponchos, moustaches. I’m not comfortable with it, at all.”
Had this costume idea been more satirical, and not born from an actual reverence for Donald Trump, maybe it could be considered funny, or fitting with the light-hearted theme of Raisin. But the fresher girl states uncomfortably, “I feel like there’s a pressure on me to comply with what they want, with it being under their control for Raisin Weekend. At the same time I’m not comfortable and I don’t want to be associated with that.”
This brings up an important topic surrounding Raisin Weekend itself. To what extent does a fresher have to agree with what a parent wants them to do? At what point can someone stop, and say no, I’d rather not dress up in a Mexican “costume”? Typically, academic parents create an environment in which children feel entirely comfortable, and not pressured to do anything that they don’t want to. But once in a while, a parent will exist who, perhaps unintentionally, expresses beliefs in a way where children feel like they are not able to disagree.
This is particularly damaging in situations like costuming, with the undertones that are clearly expressed in a costume arrangement of Trump and a group of Mexicans. This can considered incredibly offensive so easily, and children should feel every right to express any concerns with such a controversial idea.
The foam fight is such a defining aspect of St Andrews tradition and culture, and the fact that some people didn’t spend it completely hungover and at ease with their family situation is a missed opportunity.
So, as a message to certain parents—if you have an idea of costumes which includes stereotyping a large group of people in the world, and idolising a figure of, well, conflicting ideas, maybe ask your kids what they think first.