Washington University Responds to Bin Laden Costume Controversy

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Washington University officials responded Thursday to a controversy over five students’ Halloween costumes.

The students, members of a WU fraternity, dressed as Seal Team 6 soldiers and Osama bin Laden. When a photo circulated on Facebook, many took offense to the costumes.

Senior student Mahroh Jagangiri wrote a seven-paragraph response to the photo, stating that it represents “a broader, more aggressive (and apparently violent) Islamophobia rampant here at WashU and in the United States.”

In response to Jagangiri’s widely-circulated post, university officials scheduled an emergency meeting at 8 a.m. Thursday. At 3 p.m. the university’s Office of Public Affairs emailed a statement to Washington University students and staff.

“Whatever the intention, the image has offended and hurt members of our community,” the statement said. “The image also is entirely inconsistent with who we are as an institution, our values and the way in which we engage in the world around us. We are deeply disappointed and saddened that this has occurred. We must expect better of ourselves and of each other.”

To Jagangiri, the post represented a violent undertone in America toward racial and religious minorities.

“This photo and its ‘Amurrica’ caption imply that ‘Amurrica’ is white (male) Americans; people with beards, or of darker color, or implicitly Muslims, are not. This photo implies that not only are Muslims not American, their lives are expendable,” she wrote.

University officials announced they are “looking into” events leading to the Facebook post but declined to say if disciplinary measures were being considered.

“Every one of our students must feel safe and valued, and must be able to pursue their studies. This is the only way we will create the inclusive community we aim to be,” the university stated said.

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