Throughout the fall, many student organizations have been able to put on in-person programming after over a year of virtual events. For some, this means the exciting return of past traditions. On Oct. 29, the Oxford Sexual Assault Peer Advocates (OxSAPA) and Student Activities Committee (SAC) got to bring back their annual Halloween party “My Costume Is Not Consent.”
To close out Halloweek — SAC’s series of events leading up to Halloween — the party hosted Oxford students at the Oxford Student Center for a night of fun activities and provided information on relationship violence, sex education and resources for sexual assault.
“It felt like a revival in the Oxford community in a way, you know,” OxSAPA President Divya Pereira (22Ox) said. “It was one of the bigger events of the year so far, [and] as sophomores, we’ve never seen everyone in a place like this in like ever because last year was so dead.”
Planning for the event began in early September. SAC and OxSAPA worked closely together in organizing, reserving rooms and advertising the event in the weeks beforehand.
“It’s something that we’re both really passionate about,” SAC President Anya Kasubhai (22Ox) said. “So we talked about that for a while, and then we created a little committee to start brainstorming the ideas [and make] a shopping cart list.”
Pereira said the event was well planned, as OxSAPA coordinated the theme, activities and communication while SAC organized the food and decorations.
Pereira emphasized that the goal of the event was to make sex education fun, accessible and upfront by throwing a party that the entire student body could enjoy. To touch on the theme of the night, one activity was pin the tongue on the clitoris, a game played similarly to pin the tail on the donkey. Other options included cranberry juice pong, board games, a costume contest and dancing.
Leading up to the event, OxSAPA distributed flyers, stickers and brochures on campus for sexual assault prevention, general safety tips and warnings against red flags in relationships. They also advertised the prizes – various sex toys – for the M&M’s jar guessing game and the costume contest.
Though the unconventional aspects of the event piqued students’ interests, many were grateful for simply having a safe place to dance and spend time with friends.
“I felt like more people knew that it was happening,” said Edgar Sanchez (23Ox). “It was kind of a two-part thing, too. Me and my friends were gonna go there, and after that, we would just hang out.”
Students were not only excited for the party atmosphere. Some, like Ray Asante (23Ox), were also delighted to discover the theme of the event.
“I really like the whole idea of not being judged for whatever outfit you’re wearing,” Asante said. “It’s Halloween, it’s about having fun. Bodies are bodies — they’re not inherently sexual.”
However, both Asante and Sanchez emphasized how the crowd became more energized shortly before the party ended. Asante wished that the party had stretched into the early morning. Pereira agreed, saying that next year, she hopes OxSAPA and SAC would extend the hours of the party.
“I’m just really happy that everyone came out, and I hope that they come out for more of our events,” OxSAPA Events Chair Michelle Dai (22Ox) said. “I know we’re probably doing a Valentine’s Day party because we do that every year — it’s called the ‘Pussy Power Party’ — and we’re trying to find out what unique activities to do with that.”
As for “My Costume Is Not Consent,” Kasubhai couldn’t have been more satisfied with the success of the event.
“We were able to throw out T-shirts at the crowd, and it was really great to see how many people got hyped about our merch,” Kasubhai said. “Everything was worth it, [and] all of our hard work paid off.”
And for Pereira, whether or not to have the event in coming years is a no-brainer, as she’s seen the impact it can have on students.
“There was this one person who came up to me near the end, and they said, ‘Thank you for putting this on because I didn’t really have any Halloween plans, [and] this kind of made me have a place to be [during] this really hard time in college,’” Pereira said. “And I was like, ‘Wow, this is so good. That was the whole point of the event.’”