Guidance on Themed Events

Social events are a part of life. Make good choices.

Delaware Colony

With Halloween approaching, I am certain that many of you are already in the midst of planning chapter Halloween parties. Unfortunately, each year, as fraternity men and sorority women search for Halloween costumes, there are a few members who choose to dress up in ways that are offensive and insensitive to individuals of various races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, abilities, and/or genders. In a world of instant connections and social networking, pictures of these events and costumes inevitably end up posted online, leaving universities and inter/national headquarters with a responsibility to address the behavior.

In consideration of our values, and recognizing that social events are a part of our engagement in campus life, party themes should be respectful of the race, ethnicity, national origin, familial status, sexual orientation, gender, religion, class, age, and ability status of all. Cultural appropriation (the adoption of some specific elements of one culture for entertainment value) should be avoided. When art, jewelry, dress, etc. are used outside of educational context and without respect to cultural tradition, our values are compromised and our reputations are damaged. Impact, not intent is important within this context, and as such, please take the time to have a conversation within your brotherhood about expectations for celebrating Halloween as well as what plans that are in place to address those who do not comply with said expectations. Additionally, should it be necessary, use chapter accountability to address poor decisions made by members.

This year, we ask that each of you model for your community what it looks like to be a TRUE PIKE in both how you dress and how you choose to behave. If you are a chapter officer, please take the time to plan ahead and discuss how you will respond if a brother or guest tries to enter your party with an offensive or insensitive costume. If you have questions, you should engage with your chapter advisor and/or alumni advisory board. Additionally, your chapter consultant, or Kim Novak, Director of Health & Safety can provide advice and counsel on these areas and any other situations you may need help with.

Always remember Pi Kappa Alpha’s True PIKE Commitment and be sure to continue to ensure that your conduct at all events and activities reflects Pi Kappa Alpha in a positive light. Have a safe and enjoyable Halloween!

Kimberly Novak
Director, PIKE Health & Safety
The Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity

Additionally, our insurance provider, James R. Favor & Company, reminds us of the importance of fraternal organizations continuing to promote a healthy and safe environment with and for their members and guests. Please remind your members about the social event policies your organization has in place, as well as about what is acceptable behavior when it comes to alcohol consumption.

Alternatively, fraternity communities on a number of campuses have discovered that “going dark” on Halloween is beneficial. By “going dark” no chapters in those communities hold any events in their chapter houses on Halloween. The lights in the common areas are off and the doors are locked. The fraternity communities which “go dark” find that the advantages are substantial:
(i) no property damage from an event;
(ii) no problems with uninvited guests who think that a costume will entitle anyone to enter;
(iii) no problems with non-students who regard Halloween as an opportunity to invade campus and harass female students while fraternity men take the blame; and

(iv) significantly fewer altercations between the “townies” and the fraternity members. A well-planned and publicized “going dark” for the entire fraternity community is also highly regarded both the local and campus police, as the “going dark” drastically reduces the burdens on them.

College campuses look forward to Halloween celebrations every year. By sharing these quick reminders, members of fraternal organizations can have fun, while staying true to the important values of your organization.

For more information contact the Pi Kappa Alpha Foundation at (901) 748-1948 or